My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 11

25 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 11 – Friday August 2

This morning after breakfast, I started the southern portion of this road trip, by heading southeast on I-35E, about 30 miles, to visit the Holz Farm Park located in Eagan, MN.  This picturesque 80-acre farm was originally settled in the 1870s, and farmed by the Holz family until 1993.  The city of Eagan purchased the property in 1995 and converted it into a living farm park. The farm offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience rural life as it was in this part of Minnesota in the late 1800s thru the mid-1900s, with hands on participation and special events.

Next I continued south on I-35 about 60 miles to visit the Steele County History Center & Village of Yesteryear, located in Owatonna, MN.  The museum displays rare photos, artifacts, and memorabilia that follow the history of Steele County, MN.  The Village of Yesteryear is a collection of 19 restored structures, relocated from various locations in Steele County, to preserve the history of the way of life of the mid-1800 pioneers who first settled in the Owatonna area of Minnesota.  I passed up the opportunity to take the tour of the “Village” since the next tour wasn’t scheduled until later in the day.

Another 30 miles south on US-278, I visited the SPAM Museum located in Austin, MN.  This is a very interesting museum that tells the history of SPAM (originally called Spiced Ham by its inventors) over the years.  SPAM was created by the Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937, to meet the need housewives had for cheap, quick meals requiring minimal preparation.

Then the military got in the act, and during WWII Hormel supplied hundreds of millions of cans of SPAM to U.S. and allied troops all over the world.  That may be one reason why so many U.S. veterans turn up their noses at the word SPAM.  It’s been rumored that some G.I.s believe SPAM is an acronym for what they call “Scientifically Processed Animal Matter.”

That doesn’t seem to matter to people all over the world, as witnessed by the creation of original SPAM recipes from over 44 different nations.  I was surprised to find out that SPAM is now available in 17 different flavors.  The samples I was offered at the museum were “Hickory Smoke” and “Roast Turkey.”  I thought they were both quite good.

As a side note; it looks like I measure about 22½ SPAM cans high.  How about that for an unusual method of measurement?

Now I headed west on I-90 about 25 miles to visit the Freeborn County Historical Museum located in Albert Lea, MN.  This museum displays some 40 exhibits, as well as artifacts and memorabilia, tracing the history of the city of Albert Lea and Freeborn County.  An unusual exhibit is the museum’s collection of rare vintage WWI and WWII posters.  The museum also maintains a late 1800s “Village” consisting  of 18 restored buildings, including a one-room schoolhouse, church, general store, and train depot, that will help visitors to this museum see how early settlers to this area lived and worked.  

As I headed south on I-35, I crossed the border into Iowa, on my way to visit the John Deere Tractor Museum.  Greta (my Garmin) took me off I-35 and onto some small backroads, where I happened to see “The Little Brown Church in the Vale,” and had to stop for a photo.  I am always looking for unusual houses, churches, or buildings on my trips.  I love to see how creative people can be.  In this case, it was the name of the church that got my attention, not necessarily the small quaint 1860 church building.

By the time I got to Waterloo, IA it was too late to visit the John Deere Tractor Museum, and besides that my stomach was still acting up.  So before heading for the motel, Greta helped me find the Chick-fil-A there in Waterloo, where I enjoyed an order of their Grilled Chicken Nuggets and another bowl of their extra special and healthy Chicken Soup for my evening meal.

Then it was off to find the motel, there in Waterloo, get checked in, and record today’s events.  As usual, there was nothing worth watching on TV, so I just called it a day and hit the hey.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.




One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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