The Colorado Excursion–Illinois leg of the journey

….in which, we give the boys the thrill of their young lives, and arrive in a hotel that has lost electricity.

We got underway at a comfortable hour that morning, after seeing my parents off to their workday and getting the children awake and dressed.  The boys knew we were going to what they called “the John Deere Factory” and were ready to be on the road.  I did have Rascal and Dinosaur in John Deere t-shirts, and permit me to add here that this was the first time Dino, the JD fanatic, actually wore his.  Before now he didn’t want to wear it–just to have it around, or to let Rascal wear it.  Of course, two weeks later now, he is in the habit of wanting to wear it daily.  But I digress.

We enjoyed the trip through the farm fields, enjoying the occasional passing of a piece of farm equipment on a flatbed trailer (always an occasion for the boys).  Note, I am sure the girls enjoyed this part of the trip as well, but frankly, I know they’re not getting the same thrill out of it that the boys are.  That’s why I refer to the interested children as “the boys.”  Princess and Sunshine were probably napping at this stage in the trip. 😉  Anyway, soon after entering Illinois, my attention is caught by a series of signs next to a cornfield.   One line at a time, they read like this…

When danger lurks,

Remember sonny,

that rabbit’s foot

won’t help no bunny.

We saw about four sets of these signs (different rhymes) before we left central Illinois.

Arriving in Moline after lunch, the boys were beyond ready to see some big tractors.  The parking for the pavilion wasn’t nearly as defined as I’d imagined it to be, so it was interesting maneuvering the Beast through the narrow metropolitan parking lot.  The children were delighted for the chance to stretch their legs, and even more delighted with the fact that they could climb into the massively real John Deere machines parked within the Pavilion.  Each of the boys wanted turns “driving.”

Dinosaur, usually not a man of many words in company, was in his element here.  He began to tell me about each machine.  “That’s a front-wheel woader, Mom.”

Princess was more inclined to run about so I told her we would go next door to the John Deere store and do some shopping.  I knew the boys (and Haus Meister) were going to be spending a lot more time looking at each tractor than Princess would like.  She is a good little shopper, too.  She personally selected a set of plastic teething keys (John Deere, of course) for Sunshine, and when we accidentally knocked a pair of socks from a rack, she replaced it and then clapped for herself.  So both gentlemen and ladies had their fun at this stop.

When we returned to the van we noticed a few things.  1) It was about to rain.  2) We had seen everything we had come to see.  3) We still had five hours before the kids’ bedtime.  What to do?  Do we go on down the road, perhaps stopping overnight in Des Moines?  We already had reservations fifteen minutes away, thinking we’d be at the Pavilion longer, but we knew we were within our cancellation grace period if necessary.    Haus Meister stepped out of the van to call ahead for the hotels.  It began to rain.  He retreated to shelter, still on the phone.  When he came running back through the rain, it was with the response that there were no rooms big enough for all of us–and no connecting rooms–to be had in that hotel chain for that night.  We didn’t have the numbers–or the wifi–to find other hotels, so stay here it would be.  There was the consolation that we could stop off at a grocery store since it we discovered at lunch that I had left the sandwich bread behind in Indiana.

The storm really let loose as we crossed the Mississippi River into Davenport, IA.  We drove cautiously, trying to see road signs through the sheets of rain.  The hotel was riverfront, so we were driving along a small road not twelve feet from the banks of the river, and I am praying there’s no freak flooding about to happen.  On the other hand, I also remembered that our Idaho trip began with a storm too, so maybe this was a good sign.  We found the hotel and Haus Meister ran inside to check-in.  I looked back at the children and saw that only Trooper was awake. Everyone else must have been tired out by the fun stop and the rhythmic pounding of the rain on the van’s roof.

Haus Meister returned with a wry smile on his face.  “Good news, we still have our room.  Bad news, there’s no power.”

Oh well, we thought, it’s just because of the storm.  There were no downed power lines or anything like that, so no worries, the power will come back on, we’ll just get the kids inside.  And so we did.  I set about unpacking what we’d need for the night while Haus Meister parked the van.  During this time I flipped a light switch to “on” because I figured I’d want the lights as soon as the power was back.  After a while the rain completely stopped and we headed out to the grocery store, noticing that there was power on the other side of the street.

When we returned at dinner time, having taken things at a leisurely pace, the power was still out.  Seeing us all upstairs, Haus Meister went back to the lobby to ascertain progress on the electricity.  He returned with the news that they were doing everything possible, but they could move some guests over to a nearby Staybridge.  Would we want that?

I closed my eyes for a second and thought.  There was no a/c in the room and I knew that we’d be getting pretty tired of the muggy feeling.  However, the only window was  a screen door opening onto a third floor balcony, and we did not want that open if some of the little ones woke in the middle of the night.  I also knew that the Staybridge didn’t have room for all of us because I had researched it when I was making reservations.  Do we get two rooms and split it up guys/girls?  What to do….

I looked up at my husband in time to see the light above his head come on (literally).  A second later, the a/c began to whirr.  Never mind, we’d stay.

Tugboat seen from our balcony.

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