DAY 39 – FRIDAY, AUGUST 16

CLINTON TO LE CLAIRE

The story of Clinton, Iowa would not be complete without a brief glimpse of our lodging at the Econo Lodge out on Hwy 30.

Our room was in the oldest wing of this hotel-motel establishment that has been put together piecemeal over many years since at least the 50s. The original lobby building still stands, but just as a shell, and it was pointed out to us the day before along with the various wings and phases of the hotel by one of the managers as he guided us through the maze of hallways to our room in the farthest passageway possible it seems. The rooms were thoroughly updated, though, and perhaps this is the spirit of salvaging and restoration that is working its way into some of the lost buildings in the community. I would love to learn more on this front.

We drove back north to Eagle Point Park, Clinton to launch our run. Tom headed out first, then we transferred to bike still in town. I had a bit of a circuitous route to get to a straightaway, but eventually I found the highway and it was clear sailing until the exchange. Tom rode into Le Claire, Iowa and met me, my parents, and Cindy from Visit Le Claire at the Crane and Pelican Cafe, Leclaire for a spot of lunch before we got on with the day’s interactions.

We were joined at the Crane and Pelican by Kate Payne from Iowa Public Radio.

She spent some time at lunch interviewing Tom and I, then followed along with us on our first interaction of the day to meet with Ryan Burchett of the Mississippi River Distilling Company & Cody Road Cocktail House. Kate herself had an interesting story, only recently moving to Iowa in time for the caucuses, hailing from Florida.

Lunch was full of guest appearances, actually, as Mandy who owns the cafe also made a cameo, sharing with us both the history of the building but also the history of starting the business when there were no other places open for lunch in Le Claire.

Later at the Distillery, we learned about the three farmers who provide the grain used to make all the liquor there. Ryan says there really aren’t any “family farms” anymore. You are either very big or not making it. Before going into the distilling business with his brother, Ryan was a weather broadcaster from Western Iowa, previously living and working down in Lafayette, Louisiana during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Even though it’s a small amount, the fact that his farmers know exactly where some of their grain end up, he says that is meaningful to both them and him.

Our interview with Kate of IPR concluded there at the Distillery and also intersected with another interview by WQAD Andrea Flores of Channel 8 TV.

From there we wandered over to long established Pelo’s Coffee, owned by Greg Pelo. Greg doesn’t serve latte’s or mocha frappucinos. It’s drip coffee, root beer, a bag of chips, and if you are lucky, a peak into an 1844 Daily Mirror containing the first printed copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.” That’s right. I was just so lucky, as somehow our conversation revealed my own collection of historic books, prompting Greg to impress me with a few of his.

He even asked my husband permission to sit a while with me to share these things. A true gentleman it seems. And yet, he made sure to clarify, as we were leaving, that I by no means came to know him in our short time at the cafe. I said no. I’ll never say I know him, just that I met him.

From there Tom went to meet with Rodney and Kim Collier at Grasshoppers Gift Shop while I was set to meet with Bob Schiffke and Connie Curlott at the Buffalo Bill Museum LeClaire IA. Each of our Le Claire interactions really highlighted the tourism focus of the town. The three or four block Main Street is bustling with activity and full of shops and restaurants. Even our performance on the paddleboat at the Buffalo Bill Museum later that evening was lively, with great stories told by the audience, helping to connect our river journey.

Tom and I stopped in with my folks for a margarita and a bite at the Blue Iguana on that very same Le Claire Main Street, and then finally made our way to the Holiday Inn Express Le Claire Riverfront-Davenport right on the river to find some sleep.