Monday, September 24, 2012

Walking in Austin

Yesterday was sunny, but brought the word, cold, into the vocabulary. The temperature got right down to freezing over night and then came a strong wind.

I decided to drive down to Austin to do the walk there. It started from a truck stop along I-90. A walk across the parking lot brought me to a bike trail that ran parallel to I -90 and then across the freeway on a bridge. This brought me into an industrial area on the left hand side with a railroad track on the right hand side -- safe walking, but not too scenic. A few minutes later I connected to some city streets and then got into a park area long the Mill Pond.

Fall Flowers along the Mill Pond
A bit later in the walk I caught up with some history signs and learned the Mill Pond is made from controlling the Red Cedar River. The water in the pond was originally used to power both a lumber mill and grist mill.

At the end of the pond I walked over to Main Street and to the SPAM Museum.

In front of the museum is statue.

Yes, this is all about pigs.

SPAM is made from pork shoulder. This is a meat that in the United States went somewhat unused. When I heard this I couldn't help but think about the delicious grilled pork shoulder that is made during bonfires at Reymontowka. I've always know about SPAM but on this visit learned the name was hatched at New Year's Eve party. The product was being tested and needed a name and one guest came up with SPAM, taking the first two letters from spiced and the last two letters from ham.

One walks into the museum under a display that may go unnoticed since it's over one's head. The clerk at the reception desk called my attention to the 3, 390 cans of SPAM.

This looks impressive -- a family could eat for a long time with this much. But a bit later in the museum I learned that 13 people can produce 21,000 cans of SPAM/hour!

The product really came into its hey-day during World War II. Because it was canned, it could be shipped everywhere without spoilage. It appears the U.S military lived on this and also introduced it all over.

The figure at the far right is to be Eisenhower. He is standing by a letter in a display.

The letter, dated in 1966, congratulates Hormel on its 75th anniversary. Eisenhower says he ate a lot of SPAM, along with all the soldiers.

The museum is free, worth of the stop if you are in the area, but should be free because it is somewhat an advertisement for Hormel.

One walks into a display of many different products.

Much to my surprise, this product is made in Minnesota.

Somehow I missed knowing that Hormel owned Jennie-O.

Hormel bought Dinty Moore in the 1930s when a change in farm policy left the company with 500,000 empty cans and nothing to put into them.

Herdez is owned by Hormel but the label said the product was made in Mexico.

A woman was walking about offering samples of SPAM.

I looked at the calorie count on this -- definitely not diet food.

I overheard guests saying they liked the samples of this. The staff person explained this product was made primarily for the New Zealand and Australia market, but was being introduced into the United States as well. (Still not diet food!)

After leaving the museum the route took me back along the other side of the Mill Pond, then to the bike trail and back along the industrial area and to the truck stop where I had left my car.

Good exercise -- glad I did this once, but probably won't do this twice!

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