June 22: 61 Drive In Theatre, Delmar IA

It’s Day 173 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I left Wisconsin behind, driving a bit less than two hours via the fastest route, through Dubuque, to reach the 61 Drive In Theatre about a mile west of Delmar IA. The much larger town of Maquoketa is just about four miles north of the 61.

The 61 Drive-In opened around 1950 and has been in operation ever since, taking time out to repair screens destroyed by storms in 1960 and 1995. It’s a small, narrow drive-in surrounded by farmland and has a capacity of 180 cars.

According to an article last year in The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, owner Dennis Voy bought the 61 in 1972 “over a cup of coffee.” That’s when he started the free “train rides” for kids, as shown in the Gazette’s YouTube video embedded above.

Voy also told the Gazette something that I’ve noticed over the past decade or two. “People always ask me if they still come in the trunks — to my knowledge, no one does anymore,” he said.

I should buy some shares of Disney. After seven paid viewings, mostly last month, of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, this was my fifth round with Cars 3. Even in those GotG days, I never saw the movie four nights in a row as I just did here. It kept me thinking about the Cars universe – we see a few children, but do they grow? Are they manufactured (as in 2005’s Robots) or created organically? I’ll keep watching for clues.

Miles Today / Total:  95 / 22258 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Cars 3 / 89

Nearby Restaurant: Of course I was attracted to Flapjacks Family Restaurant in Maquoketa. On one hand, it’s got a great salad bar. On the other, it serves breakfast all day. Breakfast is healthy, right? I chose the Maquoketa Meal Deal with bacon, eggs, sausage, and flapjacks of course. Maybe my next meal will just be salad.

Where I Virtually Stayed: After staying in one chain hotel or another so many nights, I was able to spend the night somewhere historic. The Decker Hotel in downtown Maquoketa has been around since 1875, but it still works. There was no fridge this time, but there was a flat-screen TV and wifi, plus I got a pass to the nearby YMCA if I wanted to work out. There was coffee in the morning, and I saved enough cash by staying here that finding breakfast was no problem.

Only in Delmar Maquoketa: There are any number of museums, sideshows, and tourist traps with two-headed critters, but the Jackson County Museum is the first I’ve heard of with a two-butted lamb. There are 22,000 square feet of exhibits over two floors, but the player pianos won’t stick in your head the same way. If you can’t make it in person, Roadside America has a photo.

Next stop: Midway Drive In Theatre, Sterling IL.

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