Sunday, August 21, 2011
August 18: I've been in kind of a foul mood for a couple days in a row, but now I know why. I was saving up all the joy inside me for the most exciting moment of the trek thus far. I can now proudly say I have walked all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River.
No other waterway in our great land has contributed more to the growth of American commerce or inspired more Mark Twain novels. Its acquisition from the real estate-challenged French in the famed Louisiana swindle was perhaps the most important event in our young country's history up to that point. I would add after the Constitutional Convention, but we don't appear to have much use for that document anymore.
I passed over the great river at Rock Island Arsenal, which took over from Harper's Ferry as the nation's one stop shop for all our weaponry needs. The Rock Island Rapids and a narrow channel here were an impediment to shipping until Robert E. Lee, showed off his surveying talents and a dam was built to make this part of the tiny stream navigable.
Rock Island is part of the Quad Cities, a mighty neighborly group of communities gathered close together. Two of them, Moline and Rock Island, are on the Illinois side. Moline is best known as the home of the John Deere corporation. The maker of farm equipment was much in evidence inside the upscale downtown area I passed through.
I was also presented with another opportunity to meet with the press in Moline, thanks to my new friends Curt and Jeanette. I had met the couple yesterday just past Geneseo and had a nice conversation with them. Amazingly, they spotted me again today while I was nearing the river. Jeanette mentioned the Moline Dispatch might be interested in the walk and within an hour I was speaking to one of their intrepid young reporters.
The Iowa portion of the Quad Cities starting four consists of Davenport and Bettendorf. I entered Davenport first and commenced celebrating the crossing. While I sat at Front Street Brewery enjoying a well-earned pint I met Sherry, a fellow traveler who runs a company called Motivational Mastermind. She had spent time in the Q.C. before and offered to show me the town(s).
We probably had a wonderful night which I never would have forgotten if not for the evils of the demon rum. I even got to see Bettendorf, or at least a couple of trivia and karaoke dens located there. Sherry also generously let me crash on her hotel room floor even after I told her my snoring would probably doom any hope she had of sleep. In the morning she will take me to the airport, where I will fly to Charlotte for a weekend fund-raiser. I will return to Davenport and the trail Monday morning. See you then!
14 miles/1328 total miles
Thanks to my friends, new and old, for helping me through Illinois!
Joe and Heather Anton Vitell
Ralph and Gail Anton
Al, Heather, Nick, Emma, and Conor Treest
Brian, Natalie, Quinn, and Ian McCandless
Mike, Sue, and Michael Bates
David and Jo McCandless
Curt and Jeanette
Sherry Prindle (and a good start on Iowa)