June 25: Blue Grass Drive-In Theater, Blue Grass IA

It’s Day 176 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I jogged back from Galesburg IL, north across the border, past Davenport to the Blue Grass Drive-In Theater just west of Blue Grass IA. The drive only took about an hour, and the backpedalling was worth it to make sure I was at a drive-in with a Sunday night show.

The Blue Grass is one of those perfect modern success stories of a drive-in. After years of NIMBY obstacles, Randy Lorenz finally found an approved site, and in 2014, he built his drive-in.

There are just a few drive-ins with screens back-to-back, with one tower and two projection booths. Lorenz took that to the next level, building a a four-screen cube in the center of his complex. Only two are active now, but he’s got room to easily expand.

According to The Des Moines Register, Lorenz had planned to called it the Reel-to-Reel Drive In. (In fact, its Facebook page is still facebook.com/reeltoreel/.) Then came the change to digital projection. “I have two 35mm projectors in my garage that are basically paperweights right now,” he said. “They’re pretty much worthless.”

Once again we turn to WQAD, the Quad Cities’ News Leader, and this time they show the right way to promote a drive-in during a morning show – they visited the Blue Grass in the pre-dawn hours before the drive-in’s opening night this year. On the other hand, WQAD’s page on that story had a video from a projection booth (above), one from the concession stand, and one from the storm shelter(!), but nothing online that showed what the movie looked like on the screen. Maybe it was a big tease, or maybe the full morning show included that segment.

It was nice to have a choice of movies, so I was able to catch the latest Transformers entry, which is just as noisy and drive-in-worthy as the rest of them.

Miles Today / Total:  66 / 22489 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Transformers: The Last Knight / 92

Nearby Restaurant: Unless you want a Subway sandwich or convenience store food, the best restaurant by default in Blue Grass IA is in an unassuming building downtown, The Corner Grill. Fortunately, it’s pretty good. I enjoyed my grilled salmon salad since I was trying to eat healthy on alternating days, at least. Even better, there are lots of TVs and a bar. I’m glad to have found this place.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There just aren’t any hotels that close to the Blue Grass. I ended up heading almost 10 miles to the Comfort Inn in Davenport. My king bed room had all the standard amenities and good wifi. Breakfast in the morning was the standard Comfort Inn fare – a few hot options to go with continental breakfast – with a fireplace in the lobby. All of this for a pretty good price.

Only in Blue Grass: Ten miles north of the Blue Grass is the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum, adjacent to the self-proclaimed World’s Largest Truckstop. That truckstop’s founder, Bill Moon, had a passion for collecting antique trucks and other trucking memorabilia, and the collection is truly amazing. The truckstop has a full food court, a buffet, and a full-service restaurant that served me the best biscuits and gravy that I’ve eaten in decades. Definitely worth the stop!

Next stop: McHenry Outdoor Theater, McHenry IL.

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