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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

American Pickers and Kalona, Iowa

I've looked forward to visiting Le Claire, Iowa since we've become fans of American Pickers as seen on the History Channel. We came close to going through there last year on our west coast trip but decided it was too far out of the way, but it worked out good for this trip. Terry, Kathy, Crickett and myself piled in Terry's old beat up Ram truck and drove the 60 odd miles to Le Claire on Monday, and as a side bonus, Kathy got to see the Mississippi River again! That's an inside joke since we drove a long distance on a previous day trip in Minnesota for Kathy  to see the river that winds up  not far from their home in Louisiana. Anyway, the American Pickers facility is exactly as we expected it to be. The only disappointment was that Mike and Frank were on a pick in Wyoming and South Dakota, and Danielle was nowhere to be seen. There were several young ladies working there that said Danielle was rarely there except when they're filming. Their old Antique Archaeology Dodge van was sitting in the driveway. Both the old and new building had quite a lot of their "picks" for sale that we recognized from their TV show, along with the usual T shirts, coffee mugs, etc. I didn't spot any bargains or deals among the stuff for sale. It's pretty much geared to the tourist business, but was still an interesting stop. The town of Le Claire is built on the banks of the Mississippi River which serves as the state line between Illinois and Iowa. On the way back to Amana, we noticed a sign saying West Branch, birthplace of Herbert Hoover, so we decided to stop and explore. His birthplace has been made into a National Historic Site and includes the original two room cottage where he was born and includes a nice visitor's center, Presidential Library, Museum, and grave sites of President and Mrs. Hoover.
        On Tuesday, we traveled about 30 miles south to visit the town of Kalona, Iowa. Kalona is a historical farming community that has the largest Amish community west of the Mississippi. Our drive there was through rolling farmland that had an unusual beauty due to the corn and soybeans turning an almost golden brown color enhanced by the morning sunlight. It's definitely harvesting season and we did see quite a few combines in the fields hard at work. According to the nice lady at the Visitor's Center, all the corn grown there is for livestock feed. We assumed it might be for ethanol, but was not the case. Kalona lays claim to the Quilt Capitol of Iowa Title, and has a large quilt and textile museum located in the Kalona Historical Village Welcome Center. While in Kalona, we visited E & S Discount Store, JK Creative Wood & Gifts, and the Golden Delight Bakery, all of which are either Amish owned or have a strong Amish influence.  All of us got carried away in the bakery and are still enjoying our many treats we bought there. The Amish people are so friendly and a delight to be around.
       Wednesday was moving day again and time for us to say good by to our new Cajun friends and traveling buddies, Terry and Kathy. They are headed into Oklahoma for a family visit and then home to Louisiana.
          Terry and Kathy have a new blog and I'm sure would love to have you follow their travels. The address is:
           Crickett and I headed into Branson, Mo, which is where we are now and will be posting about our activities while here. We are here until Monday, October 12 and not sure where we're going from here yet.
Terry's "old beat up Ram truck" Very nice truck and gave me a new appreciation of Ram.

Original Building at American Pickers

Newer building. They also have a store in Nashville, Tn.
The original Dodge van used in many of their episodes. They're driving a Ford van now.

Some of the merchandise stored outside

If you watch the show, you know the guys are old motorcycle enthusiasts and there are many in their stores.

Laurel and Hardy masks that were purchased on one of their shows.

Pop and MeeMee. Having a great time!

Kathy and Crickett

They dug up this old Indian motorcycle from someone's back yard in one of their episodes.

They were selling lots of T shirts and tourist merchandise which I thought was tastefully displayed.

Von Dutch XAVW Motorcycle from one of their episodes

Front counter in the new store.

Tour boat docked in Le Claire

Veterans Monument in Le Claire

Back side of monument.

Dam & lock on Mississippi used to control water levels and flood control.

This is the lock beside the dam in previous photo.

Visitor's Center at Herbert Hoover Historic Site. 

Two room cottage where Hoover was born.

Grave sites where President and Mrs. Hoover are buried.

Sign coming into Kalona, Iowa
Grain storage facility, of which there were many.
Nice Visitor's Center
Amish children on their way home from school.

Notice the steel wheels on this tractor. Some Amish permit tractors but don't allow rubber tires.
Our Cajun buddy, Terry, with their guard dog, Peaches.

Safe Travels our friends. Hope to see y'all again.


  1. We really enjoyed our time with you and Cricket. We have looked forward to getting out on the road and making new friends and memories. Traveling with y'all and seeing the Mississippi River in Minnesota will be a fond memory. Hope to meet up on the road again soon. Safe travels to you and Cricket. Come see us if you get to Louisiana.

  2. From Betty: good to hear from y'all again. We saw the golden soybean fields in Ohio Amish country several years back. They are indeed beautiful. Then we saw the big, green John Deere combines harvest the field bordering our campground. That was our entertainment for the day. It doesn't take much for us. LOL