Our friends did come as I had predicted for the Labor Day weekend, and we all had a good time (well, I shouldnʼt speak for anyone else, but I had fun). Kevin had to work all day on Saturday, so they didnʼt even leave Mt. Pleasant until after 5:00 p.m., but they arrived in time for a (for us) not late supper and remained until almost noon on Monday.
Janet had discovered a new recipe for beef burgundy (as the recipe called the pot roast, to be slow cooked in the crockpot) for the initial dinner together. We bought a chuck roast at Fareway on Saturday morning and searched out the pearl onions called for (the portobellos were much easier to find). We both thought one could just get pearl onions frozen in the frozen vegetables case, but such proved a false impression these days in good old Maquoketa. After failed searches at Fareway and Wal-Martʼs freezers, we tried the Walʼs fresh veggies, and there we found bags of pearl onion to be boiled (preparatory to removing the “skin” layers) and placed in the crock pot. (I had also thought I remembered cans of pearl onions, but canned vegetables provided no help, either.)
She had me make my infamous super-duper mashed potatoes (thatʼs a post for later on, I promise) as the side, and we baked a loaf of Panera french bread. Conversation, as always when Kevin and I get together, extended well past midnight over a variety of microbrews he had brought (and some Guinness as well), even though I was feeling unusually exhausted Friday and Saturday.
Sunday, we got going early enough to drive to LeClaire, a lovely river town north of the Quad Cities directly across from one of my childhood hometowns — Port Byron, with whom the LeClairites hold a tug-of-war across the (at that point) relatively narrow Mississippi. Janet and I go there several times a year to dine at The Faithful Pilot (highly recommended, although pricey, but it is truly a fine dining experience), and the town is also where the Antique Archeology business is located, which History Channel fans know from American Pickers. There are plenty of other antique and gift stores there, too, as well as other restaurants.
Our whole intention had been to take Dawn and Kevin to see the Pickers, but the store is closed on Sundays, even over the holiday weekend, so we had resigned ourselves to just ordinary antique-and-gift shopping (which the women more than successfully accomplished, permitting Kevin and me to linger in the bar of the place where we ate lunch, enjoying Fat Tires and Killians from a clearly underage but pretty, young barmaid, while they toured some nearby stores, returning bedecked with bags). Surprisingly, while everyone but me was inside the second store we visited, just up the street from where we parked (and LeClaire has done a wonderful job of making their main street open, attractive and friendly, with lots of parking available), and I was loitering in front, not yet pulling out either a book to read or my little red notebook to write, I looked up and there on the sidewalk, heading toward me was Mike! (Unfans can check the photo to see who I mean.) He walked by with a smile and and a greeting and entered the first place we had all gone into. I excitedly told everyone who I had seen and where he had gone when they came out.
Bold Janet, who has cornered celebrities before (and still wonʼt forgive any of the rest of us for preventing her from annoying Davy Jones of the Monkees when we saw him in a bar in Burlington, where he sat, surrounded by big bodyguards, to eat, years ago), charged right back into the store to speak to him (and buy something she had originally passed up), while we three timid ones lingered on the street. She returned successful on both counts. (Actually, Mike was apparently doing the celebrity thing for LeClaire that day, because we kept encountering him going to various establishments all day.) Another lady, smoking heavily unfortunately, stopped me and Kevin later, up the street, to ask about Antique Archaeology, American Pickers and Mike. She didnʼt seem all that excited when I told her he was in a store just down the way, but later we saw her and a friend chasing him for a conversation — the mixed rewards of fame.
We all counted it a successful day (including me, who got quite a few small pages written on my second Tourist story, this one set in San Francisco and nearing its violent climax), and more good conversation filled out the remainder of the day, though late dinner and after, and the next morning. It was a good visit, even if Kevin did forget his shoes (having switched to sandals on Monday), which Janet discovered within fifteen minutes of their departure but forcing those two visitors to return briefly for the footwear.
Now our next big adventure someday will be vacation, provided Janet and I can eventually get ready and get out of Iowa.