Staycation - late Summer 2009 travel blog

John Deere Pavilion

the monster from outer space

approaching Lock 15

a close fit

the lock is full

waiting for the gates to open

The failure of our four year old house batteries as we boondocked at the Dubuque casino hinted that it was time to replace them. (The RV also has a separate set of batteries to start the engine. These have already been replaced.) So we headed to the Sam's Club in Davenport to make this exciting purchase.

On the way we passed a golf course. Had to stop and make a tee time for tomorrow. We wanted to stop at the visitor information center in downtown Moline, but didn't see a place to park. When we found a spot we were right next to huge edifice, the John Deere Pavilion. Moline has been the world headquarters for the manufacture of those distinctive green farm implements since the early 1900's and is still the driving force in this town. Many of the machines were huge and you could buy a mighty nice home for what they cost. A representative of the company enthusiastically explained how each machine operated. Many of them were quite specialized; it was hard to imagine a family farmer having the wherewithal to purchase them all. Some equipment is purchased by roving servicemen who move from farm to farm to complete a particular task in the farming cycle. The guide was so enthusiastic, when we left Deere it was time for lunch.

The route to Sam's took us through Arsenal Island, part of the city of Rock Island. This island has served the military in one capacity or another since its early days when a young Robert E. Lee surveyed the river and declared that locks would have to be built over the Rock Island rapids to make the upper Mississippi navigable. Today the island employs about 8,000 people, some civilian, in the manufacture of various munitions for military needs. The island also served as a Confederate prison during the Civil War and has two large cemeteries - one for the Confederate dead and one for servicemen in more modern times.

At the end of Arsenal Island we came to the Mississippi River Visitor Center at Lock 15 and finally got a chance to watch the barges we've been expecting to see all along the river. There are 27 locks between Minnesota and southern Illinois where the Missouri River joins the Mississippi and there is finally a reliable depth of water for barges. Each lock can hold up to nine barges, but typically fifteen are moved by an engine boat at a time. The boat shoves all the barges into the lock, workers detach six and back them out, the lock lowers the nine barges, fills back up, and the rest of the barges and the pusher boat go through. This whole operation takes over two hours for each lock. For a person who can barely parallel park a car, it was amazing watching the captain line up the barges and move them into the lock without crashing into the gates on the far side. When a barge is going full steam it take 1-1/2 miles to come to a stop.

So when we finally got to Sam's it was after 3. We purchased four batteries and drove "home" to replace them. A web of cables snaked between each battery and it was essential that they be replaced in an identical manner so that our electrical system could function properly. Ken supplied the muscle (gosh those batteries were heavy - over 50 pounds each) and the knowledge about electrical systems. It was my job to verify that the web of cables was replicated with the new batteries. An hour later, we were back in business.

Tomorrow we have to take the old batteries back to Sam's. Wonder how long that will take us?

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