Even by our adventure-packed standards, the last couple of days have been eventful. On Wednesday alone, we met a Presidential candidate, a Hobo Queen and slept where a President slept. And that's not counting the ice cream breakfast and the big ball of popcorn.

We had hoped that our travels though Iowa would correspond with those of at least one Presidential hopeful. Thanks to the Barack Obama campaign for organizing a stump speech in the small town of Storm Lake just about 45 minutes after we were planning on driving through there on the way to the Grotto of Redemption (a bizarre and alluring folk art religious installation) and the aforementioned World's Largest Ball of Popcorn. (We are nothing if not varied in our interests and America is nothing if not accommodating in its variety.) It took only a bit of re-jiggering to coordinate our schedule with Senator Obama, and so we got to hear his speech, ask him a question about his plans for helping revitalize New Orleans (a subject dear to the heart of Mary, as a New Orleans homeowner and author of Frommer's New Orleans) and shake his hand. Too bad the pictures were crappy. Darn clouds and sun position.

Having already met the Old Coot of 66, it seems only fitting that we also got to meet Connecticut Shorty, the Hobo Queen (there have been others, but once a Queen, always a Queen) of Britt, Iowa, home since 1900 of the annual Hobo Convention and the Hobo Museum. Hobos, who travel to work, are very different from tramps, who only travel and don't work, Ms. Betty (her real name) explained, as she regaled us with what happened when she decided, at a fairly advanced age, to succumb to the romance and adventure of riding the rails.

And then we got to our B&B in Mason City (the hometown of Meredith Wilson, who used it as inspiration for his classic The Music Man) and we discovered that Rick's room was occupied just one month ago by Bill and Hilary Clinton.

That's just one day for the Plucky Survivors, and that wasn't even the whole of that one day. There's only two more days to go, so please, come along for the ride. We still have Spam, cheese, toys, Chicago dogs, a really big metal sculpture, and much more, to go.

Discover the conclusion to "Plucky Survivors See America 2: The Midwest Express" through detailed entries, complete with photos and even the occasional video blog entry, daily at

Talk with other readers on our Road Trip Message Boards.