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Friday, July 22, 2016


   Crossing the Mississippi is a big deal. A bridge lifts you from the East and sets you down in the West, in my case LeClaire, Iowa. I loved the Mark Twain-ness of this cute-sy
berg. An old paddle-wheel steamer was displayed next to the Big Muddy which was adjacent to the  Buffalo Bill Museum. 
William (“Buffalo Bill”) was a big deal too. He starred in his own Wild West show that toured the world.  One sign said he the most well-known American in the 1890’s.  
     Locals insisted that I visit the home of a TV show called “American Pickers”. I assumed it was a banjo players paradise but no, these “pickers” are two guys that roam the country buying old junk.
   All you can buy at he Pickers store, really, are t-shirts, mugs, and their Guide to Picking.
    I’m told the show is quite popular and it’s home base, a converted garage called “Antique Archeology” gets a big crowd. It is well-designed junk store with a Big River view. If you need some vintage clown shoes this may be the place to go.
   True junk stores are crammed with stuff for sale. This joint’s junk is illusional, the coolest stuff is marked, “NSF”.  Interspersed amongst all the old signs, rusting metal and the flaking clown shoes are $25 mugs and t-shirts. They allow you to become an American Pickers billboard 
Antique motorcycle engine that you can't buy

  There are many young, pierced, women running the place. Wearing big smiles and dark tattoos they are happy to take your money.
     I walked out with memories of this mini-museum dedicated a TV show that I’ll probably never watch. 
   Now I was also remembering my cousin Jeff, who live six miles north. I asked him if I could visit but never got a response.  While I haven’t seen him in 54 years, we are "friends" on Facebook. He lets me know that Hillary is the devil, Obama is a Muslim, and that he owns over 200 guns. It would have been an interesting visit.
     But I had to plunge through Cornhusker Country and Nebraska beyond, to reach the real west. In four days Francesca would be waiting for me at the Denver airport with fresh mangos. 

Future tackle, Cornhusker football team

This was my chance to putter along for 500 miles, an opportunity to play hobo.  I chose to camp in strange places, far from laughing children.  This first night I laid my head in a corn field (no surprise there, both states are totally corn). A corn stalk is Iowa’s state tree. 
   I also bedded down in a city park and an I-40 rest stop. Nobody bothered me but if they had, I was carrying  an electronic mosquito zapper (not 200 guns) for protection.

           The adventure continues....                ___________________


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