We were hurrying out the door this morning to get launched, so much so that we later learned a few things got left behind—but that’s for another story…

I grabbed an egg white omelet, sausage patty, and banana from the Holiday Inn’s hot breakfast bar and rushed to the van, as Tom nearly drove off without me to head back to the Cody Road main street area for his departure on foot. We decided to run the full distance to the Quad Cities, so I waited for Tom out on an industrial highway as the rain drops started to fall. Luckily it passed quickly and he showed up only slightly damp, and mostly from sweat. I continued on, eventually hopping onto the riverfront path through Bettendorf, Iowa and into Davenport, Iowa.

I got hung up at a certain point along the riverside where the path came to a halt amidst hundreds or thousands of paddlers on the shoreline. I asked a woman if the path continued somewhere as well as what was going on, she showed me the way and explained that today was Floatzilla, a mass kayaking event there in the Quad Cities. As I caught the path and ran on, I saw out on the river the masses of paddlers floating along, few actually doing much paddling, thus the “float” of Floatzilla being an aptly named title. They seemed as unsure where they were going as I was, but thankfully I had my Garmin to guide me.

I wove around, cushioned between industry and the river, until finally entering Davenport proper and residential riverfront terrain. As I reached the finish line, I saw an orange shirt on a bicycle and wondered if that could be Tom. It was! He had come out ahead to warn me of a detour and guide me in to our final destination at the Figge Art Museum. My legs were tired and this 8 mile run pushing me to my limits after a long week of extra miles. But finally we arrived, and I quickly chugged a gatorade and a water, got changed in the van, and regrouped to head out to our first interaction of the day.

We actually had to drive back to Bettendorf to meet up with Jeff Reiter, Director of Economic Development for the city. He was waiting for us right outside of City Hall, so there we sat and talked for the better part of an hour or so. We learned about his family history in Bettendorf, coming from a working class family that prepared him to be a good liaison to the business community in his new civic role. He also apprised us of the growth of the city, the changes, the new bridge project, and how Bettendorf is not the historic river town like Le Claire, but its story is more rooted in the present and future.

After our talk with Jeff, we grabbed a spot of lunch in town before splitting up to tackle two other interactions on the day. Tom went to the Rock Island Arsenal Museum and I visited Quad City Arts also on Rock Island, Illinois, speaking at length with director Kevin Maynard.

At the Arsenal Museum, Tom had a great visit with Director Patrick Allie. Patrick comes to the Quad Cities by way of St. Louis. He took time out of his usual busy day to talk about history, but also about the path his life has taken to bring him to this area. He’s not originally from here, but he feels at home here on the great river. Will he be here forever? Too early to tell—but for now this place is home. 

Kevin Maynard of Quad City Arts is also not quite from the Quad Cities. He grew up just outside the area, playing football and doing community theatre in his small home town of under 3000 people. He’s put his business and math acumen to work for his passion in the arts, realizing there’s a career in theatre and arts management that not only he can thrive at but is much needed to support the non-profit arts community. 

One of the take aways from our day in the Quad Cities was that we’d really need more like a month here to connect with the diversity of voices, and come to know them in a meaningful way. We took a rain check on our evening event at the Figge due to so many other events happening in the area that night, but we did get a chance to meet Raymond Leader from Moline, Illinois, now living in Coal Valley. Raymond shared his stories of growing up along the river, joining the navy, and eventually coming back home, seeing things change. 

Sometimes THAT we listen is so much more important than tallying up all the things we end up listening to.