Californians roll through Saturday on their Perry pilgrimage

Perry and Diana Lobel of Irvine, California, catch the spirit of Perry at the Raccoon River Valley Trail trailhead Saturday.

There are 24 towns named Perry in these United States, and Perry and Diana Lobel mean to visit all of them.

There are 24 towns in America named Perry, and Diana and Perry Lobel of Irvine, California, have visited about one-quarter of them since May 1 and might well see them all before the summer’s over.

And that’s not even counting the Perrysburgs, Perryvilles, Perrytons or Perrytowns.

These whimsical wayfarers are seasoned world travelers who only recently turned their attention to the byways and backroads of these United States. Saturday began in Wisconsin and ended in Kansas, but along the way the Lobels made a stop in our own Perry, Iowa.

“The idea for this was born in 2007, when we drove across the country and stayed in Perrysburg, Ohio,” said Diana Lobel. The seed planted then for a Perry-themed pilgrimage is bearing fruit this year.

“Finally this year, after being cooped up from the pandemic, we are on the road,” she said. “So far we have been to Perry, Florida; Perry, Georgia; Perry S.C.; Perry County, Tennessee; Perryville, Missouri; Perry, Missouri; Perry, Illinois; and Perry, Wisconsin.”

The Lobels left Orlando, Florida, in their Navigator Holiday Rambler May 1 — with their intrepid driver, Von, behind the wheel — and so far they have tasted the Perfect Pear in Perry, Georgia, slept in the Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, and dined at Perry’s Steakhouse in Franklin, Tennessee.

Diana writes about their wanderings and adventures at PerryorBussed, which she describes as “a blog about our travels to towns named Perry. Or Perryville. Or Lobelville. An ego-driven drive across America, from Orlando, Florida, to Irvine, California. Just a couple of boomers hitting the road in a big-ass r.v.”

Lest anyone suppose theirs is a purely hedonistic tour filled only with fine wines, choice foods and exotic environments — the poppy seed cake they were served in Charleston, S.C., would alone make the trip worthwhile — one should be aware that while it is that, it is also an exercise in giving back to the profusion of America’s Perrys.

“We have donated to charities in each community we have visited,” Diana said, “and you can find links to those charities on my blog.” Indeed, the  Perry High School Music Department NYC fundraiser is now listed as a recipient of these Perry peregrinators, thanks to a recent letter Diana saw in, and a cash donation was also made to the Raccoon River Pet Rescue at the desk of the Hotel Pattee, their first stop here.

Perry’s goodwill ambassador Jenny Eklund shared the story of the hotel, including the philanthropy showered upon the town by the Lobels’ fellow Irvine resident, Roberta Green Ahmanson, who restored the hotel and several other aging structures in the 1990s together with her husband, Howard Ahmanson.

After a brief tour of the Second Street shops and a stop for photos at the Raccoon River Valley Trailhead and the Welcome Depot’s Big Bike, the Lobels were back on the road, barely missing the 5 p.m. deluge that pounded down on our town.


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