Getting OUR Griswold On: Day 8 – Austin, MN

How Cheesy!

And just like that, we’ve arrived at our final destination: Austin, Minnesota. It’s hard to believe we’ve been on the road for an entire week already. On the other hand, Sioux Falls already feels like a lifetime ago. This has been a fantastic trip.

Tara is ready to be home, while I kinda wish we still had a few more days. Still, I’m sure I will be very happy to pull into our driveway tomorrow afternoon. I’m going to try to keep this post short. Ish. Ha. Good luck, self.

Because we only had a 3.5-hour drive today, we were in no rush to leave Madison. We (sort of) slept in…if 6:30 counts as sleeping in?…and then grabbed breakfast at Cracker Barrel. We made a quick stop at a cheese shop, because…when in Wisconsin, right? Loaded up on cheese blocks, cheese curds, and cheese spreads. Tried the cheese curds in the car. Wisconsin lives up to its billing when it comes to cheesiness.

The drive through Wisconsin to the Minnesota border was beautiful, all rolling green pastures and lakes and dairy farms and puffy clouds. This is probably my favorite part of the country.

The Mississippi River at the Minnesota border


We got to the Spam Museum at about 1:30. Parked the car and Tara asked me where the entrance was. I was confused, because it looked nothing like I remembered from my visit 10 years ago. Well, no wonder: we learned they moved to a smaller building in the heart of downtown Austin, Minnesota five years ago. Hormel needed the office space, so they took over the museum. How rude!

The Spam Museum might have downsized, but it’s still pretty freakin’ interesting.

I especially liked the exhibit devoted to old products and cans. Some of which are admittedly questionable.

Man, I wish they still sold ox joints in gravy!

We killed an hour in the museum and then dropped $160 in the gift shop. Yes, we loaded up on Spam paraphernalia…but a lot of that is gifts for our coworkers. Boy, are they in for a treat!

We Accidentally Went to a Gay Bar

After getting our canned meat’s worth of entertainment, we checked into our motel, then stopped into a bar that…whoopsie…turned out to be a gay bar. Haha. The name alone should have tipped us off (B&J’s), but I didn’t realize that until I saw a few of the patrons at the bar. Doesn’t matter; the fried pickles and Spam sliders hit the spot! As did my Old Fashioneds and Tara’s cider.

After the bar, we walked around downtown Austin. Like so many small towns in America dating back to the 1880s, it’s pretty cute.

The tree in this photo is known as the Millennium Maple. It was the first tree planted in the new millennium, going into the ground at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2000.

I don’t have the heart to tell them the millennium actually began on January 1, 2001. There was enough debate about that 20 years ago.

We are now in our hotel room, drinking whiskey and cider and about to play cards. We ordered a pizza from Domino’s, which may not be an ideal final meal on our road trip, but it was cheap and convenient. Tried to order from a “local” joint but the lady on the phone told us they were in Albert Lea, MN, which is 22 miles away. Not shockingly, they don’t deliver out here.

We’re going to play some cards and enjoy our last night on the road before heading out early tomorrow.

Next stop: home, sweet home!

50 thoughts on “Getting OUR Griswold On: Day 8 – Austin, MN

  1. The Spam Museum. Damn, that might beat our visit to the Bush’s Baked Bean museum. Well done sir! It sounds like you had a wonderful vacation…. and if go home with a trunk full of cheese? All is right with the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That trip was a slice of Midwest America, right there! Two places I won’t step into, though . . . Waffle House and Cracker Barrel.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t realise I needed to see the Spam Museum until you shared pictures of it 🙂 Also love the observation about the tree being planted at the beginning of the new millenium. To really wind people up, you can also tell them that the year 2000 shouldn’t have been a leap year either.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here. I won points on my first visit to my future in-laws by my willingness to try head cheese and some weird fish, the name of which I forget. Neither was great, but my future FIL was impressed. His son wouldn’t even try it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Too bad you and Tara don’t live closer. A classic rock and 90s cover band is playing at a local brewery soon. Because I’m friends with the head bartender, I got permission to bring 150 indoor snowballs so we can have an epic snowball fight during the band’s breaks. It’s sure to be loads of fun. 🙂 I should post about the last time the band came and how I snuck on stage during a break to play the drums.
        P.S. Why is “snuck” not a word?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That sounds like a blast! I’d be down.

        Snuck IS a word, though in most cases you would use sneaked. Maybe this will help:

        Sneaked is the past tense of sneak when the verb is treated like a regular verb. Snuck is the past tense of sneak when the verb is treated like an irregular verb. Some people frown upon snuck, so if you’re in doubt about which form to use, sneaked is always the safer option.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. A regular verb is one whose past tense usually ends in “ed.” Play, played. Work, worked. That sort of thing. An irregular verb – you guessed it – has a past tense that does NOT end in “ed.” Go, went. Blow, blew. Sing, sang. And so forth and so on.


  4. I’ve decided to take desperate measures. I’ve unfollowed you, logged out, logged in, and followed you again. Here’s hoping that solves my “why aren’t my comments showing up on your blog?” problem.

    As for the Spam Museum, I guess it pays to go as a worldwide pandemic is winding down, rather then when you’re in the thick of a worldwide pandemic, when the museum will be closed. Lesson learned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I took your earlier advice to heart when you posted about it and made damn sure they were open before adding Austin, MN as a travel destination. Although honestly, even without the Spam Museum, Austin is a pretty cute little town. It would have served as a great stopping point regardless.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ok. That’s weird. That was a test comment from my phone. I’ve been commenting on every post of your trip (from our laptop) but nothing has gone through. I even tried unfollowing you and refollowing you but it didn’t work. Now I’m trying from my little phone and it worked. I hate you, technology!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, this one was still in my spam folder, too (not to be confused with my Spam Museum fodder.

      WP is very weird sometimes. I’m hoping by releasing all these comments your account will no longer be flagged as spam (and I have NO IDEA why it would’ve been in the first place!), but I’ll be sure to check in there more frequently. There were a couple of legitimate comments from other followers in there, too – but nothing like yours!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That old Spiced Ham can can’t be too far beyond its expiration date, right? We actually had SPAM for breakfast today – it’s been a while. It’s become rare on the grocery shelves. I never made it to the SPAM museum – I’m not sure I ever made it to Austin.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This has been a fun road trip for all of us. I didn’t even know there was an Austin, Minnesota!
    A spam museum. Now I’ve heard it all! You guys are so cheesy and I do enjoy a nice gay bar; everyone is always so nice!

    Liked by 1 person

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