The Duke and the Captain

Growing up in the late ’50’s and early ’60s shows like Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, The Rifleman, Bonanza, and (my favorite) The Lone Ranger – dominated the TV (at least for me). I loved these shows. The movies I tracked were much the same. Good guys wore white hats (mostly), rode the smartest horses, and could shoot a fly off of a watermelon at 200 yards with an old Colt 45. There was no bigger star on the big screen than John Wayne. He dominated the screen with his physical size and presence. I won’t say he was the greatest actor because he always played the same character (at least that’s the way I see it). He was larger than life.

Today we visited the birthplace of The Duke. It took us a little off of I-80 /I-74 path to the ranch but who could pass up the chance to see where John Wayne started in Winterset, Iowa. The museum and home were surprisingly busy for a Thursday morning in June. We weighed the cost of the admission ($15 each) against the goal of making 500 miles toward home. The decision was not to tour the facility but to head for our own ranch.

The museum is nicely done and, of course, has the required gift shop. We managed to take home our favorite (low budget) souvenirs (hat pin, smashed penny, and a sticker for the trailer door). The Duke still lights up the big screen.

It was time to move into the future, way into the future. If you’re a trekkie you know that in March of 2228, James Kirk will be born in Riverside, Iowa. We went looking for a marker designating the site where his birth will take place 200 plus years in the future. Any fan of Star Trek has to stop by and pay homage to the location. Finding it is another matter. The actual marker is located behind a small, unassuming yellow building on the main street of Riverside which only has 3 or 4 open businesses and a lot of abandoned buildings. To see the marker, you have to walk a narrow path between two buildings and enter someone’s back yard (or it seems that way). The marker is well done but, aside from a mural painted on a fence, there is nothing else there. Locals say “we have over 200 years to make it something nice”. The mosquitoes were not from the future but were certainly enjoying the presence of 4 Hoosiers. PS: we missed the Trek Fest in Riverside by one week.

Baby sister to the Enterprise (complete with a donation box on the front of the trailer).

From the birthplace of the Captain to Peoria, IL was another 2 and half hour drive on I-74. We successfully “trekked” to familiar territory and stayed at a Courtyard hotel. The hotel was pretty nice but getting to it was strange. We had to drive through the parking lot of a shopping mall that was suffering the same fate as a lot of other malls. You could see some familiar names on the empty stores: Sears, Penney’s, etc. It just makes me sad to see these retail monsters die off. Times change I guess.

Tomorrow will bring us to our own ranch. A sprawling .5 acre in the heart of Indiana. I’m hoping that it’s not underwater from the record amount of rain. If we only had our own transporter……….

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