Tuesday, May 16, 2023

2 for One: LeClaire and Clinton from the American Queen

After an unexpected day on the river, we had a busy day on and off the American Queen.

I got up early and went to breakfast in the dining room. It looked like another picture-perfect day and I sat by the window for my pancake breakfast. My friend Lynn joined me in a little while and then we headed off the boat to Clinton, Iowa.

The low water levels on the Mississippi had kept us from Dubuque the previous day and had changed the Bettendorf stop to Clinton on this way.  

I had made arrangements to visit Le Claire from our stop in Dubuque. It took some reorganizing, especially since the Clinton stop was shorter than Dubuque, but I was able to keep that appointment.

I still wanted to see some of Clinton, so I took my scooter around the scenic waterfront and a bit of the town. I saw the Veterans Memorial and lighthouse in a town that once had more millionaires than anywhere else in Iowa.

Lynn met me at the curb in front of the ship, where Bob Schiffe, Executive Director of the Buffalo Bill Museum, was waiting to drive us to Le Claire.

The Buffalo Bill Museum was the highlight of the town and it did not disappoint. Although Buffalo Bill, aka William F. Cody, spent most of his life in Colorado, he was born on his family’s homestead in Le Claire in 1846.

The museum offered many details and artifacts of the man who was a Border Scout during the Civil War and earned his nickname from all the buffalo he killed to supply meat to the Kansas Pacific Railroad. He would later go on to start and star in the Wild, Wild West Show.

Although most of the museum is dedicated to Buffalo Bill, it also offers history of Le Claire, the River Pilots that fought the strong rapids on the Mississippi in this area, and other famous natives, including inventor James J. Ryan III (seatbelts), Musician Cecile Fletcher, and American Pickers Mike Wolf.

I wish we had more time to explore the downtown restaurants, bars, and shops in Le Claire. Before leaving, I couldn’t resist stopping at The Shameless Chocoholic to pick up a few goodies, including their signature White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Truffle. We also made a quick stop at Mississippi River Distilling.

Bob took us back to the boat in time for lunch in the dining room. We spoke to some guests who stayed in Clinton and were able to go to the Windmill Cultural Center, Sawmill Museum, and George M Curtis Mansion on the complimentary hop on, hop off bus the cruise line provides at each stop.

Breakfast and lunch in the J.M. White Dining Room is a combination of table service and buffet. There are a few menu items (different each day) you can get delivered to your table and a nice spread (also changing each day) on the buffet. I usually had something from each.

I chose a little of everything for this lunch too. We went upstairs after for the traditional Calliope Sail Away but chose to go back and rest and shower before dinner, foregoing the activities of Match Game, Riverside Chat with Riverloarian Frank, and Jazz in the afternoon.

We made it to the cocktail hour and music before dinner. The food never let us down on the American Queen and my favorite part of this dinner was the short rib & polenta main course.

I liked all of the shows on the cruise, but this was the night of my favorite show, Curtain’s Up, Sounds of Broadway. The performances of top Broadway shows, in full costume, were outstanding.

After the show and our nightly ritual of a little music and a nightcap in the Engine Room Bar, we headed back to our cabin to get a good night’s rest for the next day on our American Queen Voyage.

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I was hosted by American Queen on this voyage, but opinions are my own. 

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