If coronavirus hadn’t ruined everything, I’d be regaling you with stories of our day trips along the Costa Brava in Spain, our attempt at via ferrata in tiny Andorra, and our cycling adventures up and down the French Pyrenees.  But lucky for you, Minnesota has something those lofty European destinations do not.

It has the Spam® Museum.

We don’t often travel within Minnesota.  We travel out of Minnesota, usually heading south to Des Moines, then west through interminable Nebraska toward the Rockies.  Every time we do this, we pass a sign for the Spam® Musuem, and every time—without fail—the Spam®-loving husband threatens to take the exit.  I put up the usual resistance: We’ve just gotten started!  We have twelve more hours of driving ahead of us!  It’s out of the way!  Don’t you dare!  Then we have a little laugh over our age-old joke and continue on our way, watching the sign get smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror.

This time, though, the Spam® Museum was our destination.  Located a few hours away in Austin, Minnesota, we thought we’d make a day-trip of it.  Naturally, because the husband was involved, this had to include cycling.  Pulling out his trusty Cycling Minnesota book, he found an Austin-based 33-mile route, we loaded up the bikes, and away we went.

The husband loves to visit small towns, and Austin has all the quirk and kitch one would expect of small-town America:

It has clever signs.

Spam-Austin (28)
I love me a good play on words

It has something unexpectedly small . . .

Spam-Austin (2)
A prayer chapel right next to a church?  Seems kinda superfluous to me, but . . . 🤷‍♂️  Maybe Austinians are a particularly sinful bunch.  Gluttony?

. . . as well as something unexpectedly large.

Spam-Austin (34)
A giant cow.  Of course.

It has the latest innovations in privacy fencing.

Spam-Austin (5)

It has decorative train cars goin’ nowhere.

Spam-Austin (37)

It has interesting choices in furniture.

Spam-Austin (46)
Strikes me as a little uncomfortable, but I’ll bet it’s sturdy.

And of course, Austin has the requisite patriotic benches on Main Street.

Out past the Austin city limits we had some quintessential small-town experiences.

We found out where the Zieglers live.

Spam-Austin (42)

We had fun riding back and forth over the yellow road line, which in this case happens to be the state line.  Standing in Minnesota or Iowa . . . hard to say which is more exciting.

Spam-Austin (4)
Greetings from sunny Iowa!

And of course, it wouldn’t be us if we didn’t get chased by dogs.

Spam-Austin (3)
Moments after this shot was taken, this German Shepherd, barking like the apocalypse was nigh, demonstrated for its pup how to charge a human to within feet of the shin bone.

Due to “faulty information,” the husband’s 33-mile route ended up being 45 miles.

Spam-Austin-edited (32)

There was a massive headwind and, though I know this sounds meteorologically impossible given the semi-rectangular, polygonal route, I swear 80% of our ride was straight into it.  Also, the extra time in the saddle rendered my sunscreen application inadequate and thus my poor, overworked legs paid the ultimate price.


Finally, we rolled back into town and risked a public indecency citation by getting changed in the car.  Two blocks later, we found ourselves outside the crème de la crème of tourist destinations, the pièce de résistance of Austin, Minnesota: the Spam® Museum.

Spam-Austin (7)

And in a scene straight out of National Lampoon’s Vacation, this was on the door:

Spam-Austin (17)

Prompting visions of this:

Sorry folks.  Park’s Museum’s closed.  Moose Pigs outside shoulda told ya.
Spam-Austin (14)
This is my “sonofabitch!” face, or if you prefer, my “you’vegottabef&%#ingkiddingme” face.  I just drove two hours, cycled into the wind for three hours, and seared my flesh for nothing?!

It’s worth pointing out that the Spam® Museum is free, so of course they’re not fussed about closing it.  The Spam® Museum store, however, is wide open for your shopping pleasure.

Spam-Austin (12)
Of course it is.

In hog heaven—literally—the husband walked around in a heady daze.

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Do you have a shopping cart? This basket isn’t going to be big enough.

In addition to every flavor of tinned meat you can imagine, of which the husband bought a case, was merchandise beyond your wildest dreams.  If you can stick a logo on it, it’s here.

The one thing that could have been interesting—the elevated conveyor belt of tinned Spam—was turned off.

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Me: Any particular reason it’s not turned on?

Saleswoman (with a shrug): No.  We just decided to turn it off.

Spam-Austin (23)
The stroppy mood I was in for the last dozen miles of the bike ride just returned with a vengeance.

Finally, the saleswoman wished us a “Spamtastic day” and the husband, grabbing his armload of acronymed meat, verily skipped back to the car.  I got in beside him and turned the ignition, feeling defeated.  But I was grateful for two things: a) the husband didn’t buy the $80 logo-studded Hawaiian shirt.  (“Expensive, but worth it,” said the deranged saleswoman.), and b) coronavirus prevented the store from serving us “Spamples.”  (Her word, not mine.)

As we made our way home, the husband took over the sound system and forced me to listen to the best of Weird Al Yankovic.  I succumbed to the inanity and tried to sing along through the laughter, though I did get a bit misty-eyed at this one:


Now the husband’s insisting that, as long as I’ll do anything for a post, we’ll be off to the town of Darwin next.  Something about a big ball of twine . . .

61 thoughts

  1. O my goodness, just look at all the stuff on the shelves, so much to choose from! Your husband must have been delighted to finally visit. It’s not popular in Ireland, if you are really eager, you might find a tin or two on the bottom shelf. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow! Now this is an adventure on so many levels that I don’t know where to start. The museum was closed, but the shop was open! I guess the sale of food, such as it is, must go on. An essential business, as it were. Great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Proof that your husband and I truly are cut from the same cloth (minus the accent): https://markpetruska.com/2011/06/27/getting-my-griswold-on-day-6-austin-mn/

    I was rushed for time and didn’t get to see much of the town itself, but the museum was surprisingly interesting and fun. I still use my Spam shot glass whenever I’m mixing up cocktails, too! I’m planning to take Tara there next summer. It will be the 10th anniversary of my visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well there you go. I’ll consider myself to have “seen” it through your blog post. You stepped up when the Spam Museum let me down. You gotta feel pretty good about that. Also, you’ve seen a little bit of the town and the surrounding area from my post, so two backs scratched, if you ask me.

      By the way, I don’t know how Tara is going to contain her excitement for a whole year. She won’t be able to sleep for the next 12 months! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! I sense sarcasm in your words.

        We’re both looking forward to venturing east a bit. Ideally, I’d like to take her all the way to Dayton, the ultimate destination of my summer road trip in 2011. It would be kind of cool to do a 10th-year anniversary trip…especially with a partner this time!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, I know this wasn’t your finest day but this post did make me smile. Except for the idea of ‘spamples’. That thought makes me slightly nauseous. Loved the small town images though. As a Brit who has never made it to the States (yet!) the idea of small town America fascinates me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad it made you smile. You might know this already if you’ve read my about page or certain other posts, but the husband is a Brit, which probably explains his fascination with small town America.


    1. Thanks! That’s the exact reason I went. Definitely not for the Spam. Yesterday the husband managed to track down some squares of dried seaweed so he can finally make Hawaiian Spam Musubi (like sushi, I think). I’ll probably be eating something else instead. 🙂


  5. I had no idea Spam was a ‘thing’ over there! Let alone a museum dedicated to it!! I thought it was a joy reserved only for British palettes! (Nice work turning up when it was closed though – you got me all geared up for some spamtastic facts!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And by the way, don’t think you’re off the hook for reading this. I happen to know for a fact that you are several posts behind. (I consulted my “Has Liveandletthai Read My Post?” spreadsheet.) Stop making alcohol and get reading. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As a native Minnesotan, I absolutely LOVED this post!!! I have several college friends from Austin, so I have been there many times. I loved reading about your perspective on it. I have never been to the SPAM museum though. I have to say, the whole go thru a ton to get there and then realize it is closed thing is something that I find happening to me constantly, so I am glad I am not the only one. Look at it this way though, you got some great stories and a great blog post out of it! 😀👍


  7. Looks like a fun little town. Riding all that way for a closed museum though is a bit of a shame, although I’m sure the hubby didn’t mind too much!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hahaha, well, I guess you could say that your adventures turned out non-spammy, at least. Kinda sucks to have done all that to reach a closed door, but now that two years have passed, I’m sure you can look back at this with a smile on your face. That ‘Dear Crossing’ sign is amazing. Reminds me of the time I stayed in a hotel, and their slippers were labelled ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’. Tiny details like this give me a kick.

    Liked by 1 person

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