As the kids get older more of our summer vacations are spent apart, having our own adventures, with us eventually coming together again. This summer I counted 18 days that we spent all together as a family between school letting out and starting again, with the majority of those being the week before school started.
In July, the husband and I were able to travel just ourselves, a rare treat that repeats itself only about once every three to five years. We headed to the Quad Cities, an area straddling both Iowa and Illinois, and made up of five ‘major’ cities: Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island in Illinois and Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa. The flights from Los Angeles to Quad City Airport were surprisingly easy, especially compared to the cross country and trans-Pacific flights I’m used to out of LAX. After a short layover in Denver, with just enough time to grab lunch and not get bored, we boarded a Canadair regional jet for the flight into Quad City. The plane was rather short so that the husband had to remember to duck to avoid hitting the overhead bins, but there was much more legroom on the smaller jet than what we’re used to in either the 737 or 757. Moreover, being such a small airport, the baggage claim and car rental pickup went very quickly. With how quiet it was relative to where we live in the Los Angeles Metro area, we found there was actually much to do and see in the Quad Cities. We stayed mostly in Moline, with a couple trips through Davenport and Bettendorf.
Moline, Illinois is the home of John Deere. It was selected as the site of the John Deere plant due to its proximity to the mighty Mississippi River, among other things. The John Deere Pavilion is a great place to visit, especially with kids. In addition to the exhibits on development and worldwide involvement, there is a nice collection of original John Deere equipment, along with modern farming and foresting machines. Kids can even climb up onto the large harvester.
After visiting the John Deere Pavilion, we stopped for lunch in Moline. After getting lost trying to find a restaurant that probably closed, we stumbled upon Bierstube, “where everybody can get a little German in them.” It was a good place for lunch, with a good selection of different bratwursts and brews. The food was great for the price, and there were some vegetarian options. I especially enjoyed the potato pancakes, which were huge and filling.
We drove across the bridge to Rock Island. The main attraction here is the arsenal. It is still an active U.S. Army arsenal, so background checks will be conducted. We were there on a Sunday, so we didn’t get to go in, but I would like to go back with the older kids, who have a keen interest in the military and military history. We did spend some time at the Quad City Botanical Center. It was not the Huntington Library, but it did have a nice collection of tropical plants in the greenhouse, and a nice little walk outside. What I thought was really cool was the model train set up outside.
I found the area to be scenic, and while quiet, it didn’t have the middle-of-nowhere feel. The drive along the river was very pleasant, and the area was very green. We drove around Bettendorf while on a wild goose chase for the Iowa Starbucks mug, and while the hunt was in vain, the area afforded some nice views.
Unfortunately, our trip was only a four-day trip, so we didn’t get to see all that Quad Cities had to offer. Maybe next time we’ll stop and see more of the sights. And maybe get a photo standing in a cornfield.