I recently took a trip to Iowa. Since I live in a neighboring state, it wasn’t by any means a long road trip, but I was away from home for four full days. I left early on a Thursday morning and didn’t get home until later in the day on Sunday.
I went to the annual Moto Guzzi National Motorcycle Club Rally in Elkader, Iowa. At one of these rallies, all one does is look at, talk about, ride and live with motorcycles and other motorcycle aficionados for the four days. Oh, and we eat too, usually while we’re out taking a ride in the countryside.
|Early morning fog waiting for Ole Sol to burn it up in Elkader, Iowa, along the Turkey River|
Someone that has been to the area before will have had a good meal or found a unique spot and it will be suggested that the group ride there and sample what the giver of information is talking about. In this case, the small almost completely dead town of St. Olaf beckoned with the St. Olaf Tap and their claim to fame, the pork tenderloin sandwich.
The town of St. Olaf isn’t far from Elkader. There are signs that this was once a vibrant community. But these days, the downtown of one block had most buildings empty or at least the windows curtained off, and no business was there let alone open, except for the St. Olaf Tap. And that wasn’t at all busy for a Friday noon lunch crowd as we found ample parking right out in front for our group of four motorcycles.
Inside was just as old and rustic as the outside. A metal paneled ceiling, an original from that era, around 1900, covered us overhead. The worn wooden bar was warm and inviting. That day, there was one other patron sitting at the bar, drinking a beer.
Their claim to fame is this pork tenderloin sandwich. The one-page printed on colored paper menu had three sizes listed. A large, a medium and a mini. When our waitress came to the table with the beverages we ordered, someone asked her about the sizes.
|The "Medium" size Pork Tenderloin at the St. Olaf Tap|
“The large is as big as the menu, the medium is about half that and the mini is the size of the bun.”
|The disappearing "Medium"|
I ordered the medium. Mrs. Spadoman had the mini. Both were very good, mine was bigger. I am bigger than Mrs. Spadoman, so it made perfect sense to order the larger medium.
As far as the weather, it was beautiful for motorcycle riding, or any outdoor activity for that matter, every day. We had sun and warm temperatures. The nights were cool and the best part, no mosquitoes. Really. Around here, this is like a miracle not to have the pesky devils nibbling any piece of exposed flesh and through any thin layer of clothing. No need for bug dope. The fireflies came out in force and put on quite a show in the early evening as well. The tents were cozy with the night time temps dropping into the 60’s.
|Spadoman's motorcycle parked near the tent in Elkader's City Park|
The accomodations in Elkader’s City Park were wonderful. Shade trees in the camping area and the public swimming pool were a blessing. Hot showers and indoor toilets were available as well. The town itself has been welcoming this group there since 1971. Camping and four meals were provided with the registration fee.
|Motorcycles in large numbers clustered together at the rally|
Mrs. Spadom,an doesn't travel anywhere without her "coffee kit". Everyone in our group enjoyed a great cup in the morning each day of the rally. Brewed like we do at home, one cup at a time.
|Can you guess whose cup that is?|
On Saturday, we rode cross country towards the Mississippi River and the town of Guttenburg. I was told they pronounce this town Gut’-in-berg. I have called it Goot’-en-berg for years! No matter what you call it, it sits on the Mississippi River and is a gateway to some of the most beautiful country anywhere. We rode South to Balltown and had lunch. That’s where Mrs. Spadoman and I broke away from the group and headed back to Elkader using back country roads all the way.
|The Mississippi River bluffs from the Balltown, Iowa overlook|
All in all, the trip was grand. Lots of good food, good riding, good scenery and good time in lawn chairs talking with friends. On Sunday, I loaded up my Triumph and rode home. I saw wet pavement and an overcast sky, but the rain had passed before I got there. I rode into the sunshine just North of LaCrosse and the tips of my toes, which had gotten a little damp from the overspray, dried completely by the time I got home, 210 miles from Elkader.
I’ll return to this event next year. The folks I went with have been going for many years and now I see why they do it. Next weekend, I’ll be headed to Viroqua, WI and the Lorem-Ipsum antique bike show. A longer trip is planned for the end of August and into September.
Peace to all