Bicycling along the Mississippi River in Moline

On a recent trip to the Quad Cities of Moline and Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, one item I was looking forward to was some time riding bikes along the river. I was excited to learn that the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau has a few points where you can rent bikes and go for a ride, with rental for an hour up to a whole day.

We squeezed in a ride between breakfast and lunch on a beautiful, clear and mild day. It could not have been more perfect cycling weather. My husband and I picked up bikes at the Quad Cities visitors center at 1601 River Drive. With over 100 miles of paved bike trails, we could have ridden for hours, but to fit within our schedule, we went out for about an hour, but it was a perfect break in our day to slow down, enjoy some fresh air and get some exercise. We put on our helmets, grabbed our water bottles, slathered on the sunblock and hopped on the bike trail that was just yards from where we got our bikes. 

We first headed a …

Confederate Cemetery at Rock Island Arsenal

On a visit to the Quad Cities, as my husband and I were planning to visit the Rock Island Arsenal, I came across the Confederate Cemetery among the listing of sites. I tried to wrap my head around why there would be a Confederate Cemetery in a union state and then learned that there had been a prisoner of war camp at the arsenal. The cemetery is the final resting place of all those who died while being held at the camp during the war.

The cemetery is all that remains of the prisoner of war camp that held over 12,000 inmates over the course of the war. Nearly 2,000 are buried in the Rock Island Confederate Cemetery, who succumbed to injuries and disease between 1863 and 1865. The cemetery covers approximately three-quarters of an acre of white stones (installed in 1908 to replace wooden markers.) Four confederate cannons sit at the entrance.

As with a visit to any military cemetery, you're hit with a mix of sadness and respect for those who served. The soldiers laid to rest there may…

Don't Miss Big River at Theatre at the Center

The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, Indiana is just a stone’s throw across the Illinois border and offers a number of classes, exhibits and performances for lovers of the arts. The Theatre at the Center is a 410-seat rounded theatre that is the only professional theater company in Northwest Indiana and the quality of the experience is comparable to that of a professional theater in Chicago.

The current run of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn continues through October 15. Winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score, the musical follows some of Mark Twain’s classic tales along with music by Roger Miller.
I had the opportunity to see this masterpiece twice and couldn’t recommend it more. James Romney as Huck and Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, who plays the role of a slave named Jim, do an extraordinary job of portraying this unlikely friendship and the adventures they encounter along their journey. 
Humorous and heartfelt, you’re completely …

Camp Atterbury Visitors Center and Museum

My youngest son, who is a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol recently attended a weeklong encampment at Camp Atterbury in Indiana (about 30 miles south of Indianapolis.) A friend of ours who served in the Army Reserves during the Iraq War and a nephew serving in the National Guard have spend a bit of time there and my son was excited to be able to be there living and learning on a working military base for a few days.

His older brother has been through encampment twice, but this was my first time heading down there for an encampment graduation since another brother of theirs had been performing at Notre Dame on the same day - so dad went one direction and I went the other.

It's interesting getting see the barracks and the PX. After the graduation, we paid a little visit to the Camp Atterbury outdoor museum, which includes a number of military vehicles, and an indoor museum across the street. It's next to the base, but with a separate entrance, so you can easily pull off the road an…

Old State Capitol in Springfield

No matter how many times I visit Springfield, one thing I always love to do is visit the State Capitol and gaze up at the amazing interior of the dome. It is absolutely breathtaking. Not quite as impressive in size and design, but stunning on its own is the Old State Capitol. In fact, I like to visit one and then the other just to examine the contrast between the two.

Built in the Greek Revival Style between 1837 and 1840, the structure was the fifth capitol building in the state. It served as the statehouse from 1840 to 1876. It was the first state house to be located in Springfield. It is where Abraham Lincoln presented his famous "House Divided" speech in 1858 and it was where he spend much time doing research and work as both a lawyer and a politician.

The Old State Capitol is open daily from 9 - 5 p.m. (with the exception of some holidays) and there is no admission fee, but donations are welcome. For more information, visit

Keep an eye out for specia…

LeClaire, Iowa

On a recent media visit to the Quad Cities, we did a day trip to LeClaire, Iowa. It's a river town just north of the Davenport that was about a 20 minute drive for our hotel. The main street through town runs adjacent to the river, divided by a railroad with several blocks of eateries, shopping and other attractions.

Dotted with specialty shops, you'll find clothing boutiques, salvage/antique stores and gourmet shops galore, most notably Antique Archeology, which is the store that spurred the "American Pickers" show on the History Channel. You'll find a canning company, olive oil company, popcorn shop and chocolate store.

If you like wine, beer and spirits, you can try all three within a three block area. The Mississippi River Distilling Co. has been in business for 7 years and you can find their products in more than 20 states. As the Iowa liquor laws will change starting July 1, they'll finally be able to offer more than just tastings and products sales and w…

Lagomarcino's in Moline, IL

Dating back to 1908, Lagomarcino's is a classic, nostalgic ice cream parlor and soda fountain where you can enjoy a big delicious overdose of sugar. With homemade ice cream, handcrafted chocolates and the best hot fudge you can imagine, "Lago's" as it is also known has been featured in Midwest Living and National Geographic Traveler and earned a James Beard "America's Classic" Award.

Have a seat at one of the mahogany booths or a barstool at the counter in this charming old-school place that is also a deli, serving up sandwiches on their own freshly made soft rye bread. The hot fudge that is served on the ice cream is from a special recipe that Angelo Lagomarcino, an immigrant from Northern Italy, purchased from a peddler in 1918 for $25. The man promised him and exclusive recipe for the perfect hot fudge. He seems to have been a man of his word. The recipe proved to be popular and is still used nearly a century later.

The ice cream selections span three …