Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Into the furnace

We are at the Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf, Iowa (map). The casino allows RVs to park in a large paved lot at the eastern (upriver) end of the property, right across the levee from their marina.

From this vantage we had a great view of the fireworks on Sunday night. We set up the rooftop deck and put our chairs up, and I counted no fewer than nine and perhaps more like a dozen professional fireworks displays. In addition to the city of Bettendorf's own display, which was due north of us and mostly visible above a ridge in that direction, we also saw displays across the river in Moline, East Moline, Rock Island, and a few others I could not identify. There was something just northeast of us, and a couple upriver, perhaps Le Claire, IA, or Hampton, IL. We sat on the deck for a good hour nursing a glass of wine, enjoying the cooler night air, and taking in all the displays. The roof deck also put our eye level a few feet above the levee top, and we had a nice view of the river.

There is a water shuttle service called the Channel Cat that stops at the casino's marina just yards from here, and if we were staying a bit longer we'd think about visiting the other three or four stops it makes. It runs in a big loop, and $6 lets you ride all day. The casino property is interconnected with an enclosed walkway system, which will take you to the new Quad Cities Convention Center right across the train tracks from us. If it was just a bit cooler we might stay another day or so.

We had a very pleasant drive here down the Great River Road from Marquette. In Dubuque, where we once again encountered US-61, the road joins US-52 and follows it all the way here, so we had reasonably good alignment and road surface. Our guide said there was a Corps of Engineers park right on the river south of Bellevue and above Dam #13, and as we rolled through downtown Bellevue we decided to see if there might be room. The city was clearly having a nice holiday celebration, and signs proclaimed that there would be a free ski show at 6pm; people were already setting up their chairs along the riverfront, just downstream of Dam #12 in the center of town.

Little did we know as we rolled through that the town's July Fourth celebration had turned deadly that morning, with one killed and 23 injured by parade horses that spooked. In hindsight, after we learned of the accident, the town did seem oddly subdued for one with such an extensive celebration. In any case, the CoE park was, unsurprisingly, full, thus ending any notion of stopping there and riding the scooters back to town for the show.

We continued here to the Isle of Capri, making for a fairly long days' drive, and stumbled into the buffet for dinner. We were hoping for the nicer table-service Farraday's Restaurant, but it is closed Sunday and Monday nights. It was relatively cool when we arrived here on Sunday, and we strolled around the marina and down the levee trail to the nice city park just west of the bridge.

Yesterday we had planned to move along. However, by morning, Sunday night's four tropical investigation areas, one of which had been forecast as having a 50% chance of becoming a cyclone, had dropped to just two areas, one with near 0% and one with less than a 30% probability of cyclonic development. This latter area showed a forecast track right to Brownsville, where the Red Cross already has a team left over from Alex, and so our own personal alert level was greatly reduced from Sunday evening.

It was also quite overcast yesterday morning, which kept the temperature in check, and we decided to just sit here for a day and get some things done, including listing another eight items on eBay from the great closet purge. By mid-afternoon, however, that was starting to look like a bad choice, as the overcast lifted and temperatures rapidly climbed into the uncomfortable zone. We ended up running an air conditioner from late afternoon until early this morning, and that necessitated three to four hours of generator run time. At $3+ per hour, that can quickly negate the benefits of a free parking space. With temperatures forecast to climb, on top of the naturally warmer temperatures the further south we travel, we will now officially be in the mode of looking for at least minimal power at most of our stops from here south.

It's already in the 80s here today, and climbing, so in a few minutes we'll fire up the Detroit, turn on some air conditioners, and get under way. Louise spent two years here in Bettendorf while she was growing up, with her dad stationed at Rock Island Arsenal, and we'll take a quick spin around the old neighborhood on our way out of town. Then we'll continue down the Great River Road towards the Missouri state line.

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