Scrub clams & then place in a bowl of salt water for 20 minutes (1/3 cup salt in 1 gallon water).
Remove from water - rinse & repeat 2 more times to allow the clams to release the sand inside.
Once done - fill stockpot with water just to cover the bottom. Place clams inside.
Cover & bring to a boil & let the clams steam 5-7 minutes or until they open.
Remove clams from shells & set aside.
While you are soaking your clams for the last time - peel & dice your potatoes & onion. Set aside.
Place diced bacon in another large stockpot & cook over high heat - until cooked & crisp.
Leaving bacon & grease in bottom of pot & add in your onions & garlic - cook & stir until onions are soft.
Add in butter - allow to melt & blend flavors. Keep stirring.
Stir in water & potatoes.
Add pepper to taste (I purposely do not add salt because of the salt content of the other ingredients- you don't want too much)
Bring potatoes to a boil & cook uncovered about 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Pour in your half & half
Drain your cans of clams - reserving the clam liquid.
Add in your canned clams & your fresh clams.
Add 1/2 of your reserved clam juice.
Stir & cook until hot- do not bring to a boil
*note - this is a thinner, lighter chowder. I will be sharing a thicker, heartier version of this later.