After HWH froze our leveling system component, the leveling system performed flawfully as expected (refused to wake up and level, stayed asleep when cold like me). A new circuit board was required and once installed had to endure a second winter test simulation. With another day to play we head back to the Quad City Area (Moline, Davenport, Rock Island and Bettendorf). We hope to spend the day riding the $8 per day Channel Cat Boat Ride for an inexpensive visit to all 4 cities and a taste of boating on the Mississippi. Swollen, sinking dark clouds drop the curtain on that idea.
I thought that Storm might enjoy a visit to the Rock Island Arsenal Museum, but I had no idea how difficult making that happen would be. The security check to enter the military base where the museum is located turns out to be quite a challenge as it is contractor run and extremely chaotic. There is a machine to dispense “serving next” numbers – it is empty, confusing instructions on the wall, minimal personnel and a very long line. After about 45 minutes, we are finally able to prove that we possess the necessary moral fiber to tour a museum and with passes in hand, drive onto base. At no time during this process are we given a map or any instructions regarding how to proceed on base once through the gate so we just do the best we can and hope to stay out of trouble.
The museum contains an enormous collection of weapons that includes many made at the arsenal as well as quite a few collected from enemies in conflicts dating back to the American Revolution. If you have the stamina to get through security, it is worth a visit. Also on the base is the Mississippi Visitor Center Locks and Dam #15 Visitor Center. We are thrilled that as we arrive at the lock so does a huge barge that needs to go through the lock. Disappointment sets in as a severe thunderstorm crashes our lock party and as soon as I start snapping pictures, a huge voice from the sky that can be heard all over the island bellows “A severe thunderstorm is approaching, seek shelter now!!!”
At home, I am used to being allowed to make my own decisions about sheltering in a storm, but that is not allowed here. The Army Corps of Engineers ranger on duty at the lock herded all of the visitors into the lower level, locked the outside door and threatened to put us in a more secure area if the thunderstorm changed to a tornado. While all of this is happening, the barge ties off before entering the lock and decides to wait out the storm. By the time the storm finishes with us, the visitor center closes and we never do get to see the barge lock through. Too bad as this visitor center is cantilevered over the lock with windows below your feet so you can see everything that happens in the lock. I was really looking forward to that show.
After so many setbacks, I am determined to find one more cool thing to see in this area. After a confusing and circuitous drive through the City of Rock Island (thanks crazy GPS) we arrive on the banks of the Rock River to find something that I did not expect in Illinois, the Back Water Gamblers Water Ski Show Team. Their Wednesday night practice is free to the public and very entertaining!