February 4, 2010

In and Out of the Quad Cities

Contributed by Gail McPike and Toni Hall

Toni and Gail -xmas tree

I’ll be home for Christmas

Remember good old Bing Crosby? In 1943 he earned is fifth gold record with a song that rang a chord with the American public. Almost immediately, the record shot to number one at USO’s all across the world, as soldiers, sailors and marines pined for loved ones back home. This year, we stayed close to home for the holidays. And that’s a treat for
people like us who have family scattered from coast-to-coast.

We had a quiet old fashioned Christmas Eve, with the hubbies, a few family members and friends. On Christmas Day, we four of were invited to our neighbor’s home for the traditional feast. Old Norman Rockwell couldn’t have painted a more complete figgy pudding of smiling children, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. We won’t run down the list of tasty Holiday treats, but you’ll have to trust us – nothing was missing. And, true to that time honored Iowa tradition, there was a kids table. Remember your time at the kid’s table? This year Gail and her consort took a strategic, or should we say heroic, position at the kids table.

The weather outside was frightful…

We had big plans for New Year’s Eve. Thoughts of visiting the Village of East Davenport or maybe hitting one of the special events happening all over these fair cities we call home. Then it happened. Remember Yahzee? It’s a dice game played with five dice and an intricate scorecard. Well, in amongst the stacks of stuff from Gail’s attic cleaning adventures laid a long forlorn game. We had a roaring fire in the fireplace and decided to do one quick game before we headed out for the evening. It was warm and toasty in front of the fire, but just outside the temperatures tumbled to sub-zero. Around ten, hubby Frank disappeared and returned with a bottle of the finest three dollar a bottle champagne and our fates were sealed. Warm fire won over wondering wintery celebration. In the end, the four of us even had a quiet New Years’ Eve, staying in in front of the fire.

A Quad Cities first – The Investigation of the Mystery of the Mayan Clock

Let’s face it; there’s a thin line between winter wonderland and frostbite falls. We try to break the monotony of the River Bend winters by booking a get away in January. This year, with the hubbies friends Mark and Cathy from Ames, we coursed our way to the warm beaches of Mexico. Cancun is the home of sunny beaches, sparkling resorts and the western shore of the ancient Mayan civilization.
Before we dive into the Mayan Clock, if you haven’t been to Mexico – allow us to share a couple of thoughts. You don’t need to speak Spanish. Between the whole of our group we know about 15 words of Spanish. One member of our group taught us a very useful phrase – “una mas cervesa por favor” which roughly translates into “one more beer please”. But let’s just say, nearly everywhere at least a couple of people knew English and were happy to help us translate. Secondly, the food isn’t all tongue torturing hot pepper-laced tacos. We enjoyed seafood, Italian
pastas, Brazilian skewers of roast meat, dozens of semi-sweet pastries and soups to die for. Finally, it’s easy. Cancun features a number of “all inclusive” resorts. Everything is included – food, drinks, celebrations, nightly floor shows and bands for dancing. This year we visited our favorite the GR Solaris Hotel.

Now back to our original story. The Mayan’s were a civilization that prospered in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Before Columbus and his crew arrived in 1492, the Mayans had a vast network of cities, roads, and trade routes that extended all the way to Cahokia, Illinois (near St. Louis). One of their major cities was Chichen Itza about 140 miles by van from Cancun.

If you haven’t been paying attention, there is a new movie released called “2012.” The movie chronicles the apocalypse as marked in the Mayan Calendar. It portrays the writers view of the troubles associated with this forecast. The movie covers everything – earthquakes, tidal waves, global warming/cooling, human destruction and lack of parking at the donut shop. So with the hubbub surrounding this movie, we decided to investigate. On bright morning, we booked a van and headed out toward Chichen Itza to learn first hand about this Mayan prediction.

In Chichen Itza there are literally thousands of ancient ruins spread over an area of couple of square miles. The biggest of these is a pyramid that rivals those found in Egypt. The pyramid is designed to predict the location of the sun, moon and stars. Each year during the solar solstice, the shadows of the pyramid form the image of the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl (you can just call him Joe). As the sun travels in the spring and fall skies, the serpent slinks down the structure and slithers off into the jungle. All of this was part of the Mayan Calendar.

As our tour guide “Al” explained this phenomenon, we donned our investigative reporter hats and started hurling the hard questions. In unison we asked, “Hey Al, what’s the deal with the end of the world in 2012?” Being a certified tour guide sort of guy, Al pointed to the newly built facilities – restaurants, museums, bathroom facilities and shady refreshment stands. He tried to avoid the question by tossing out a question of his own, “Would the descendants of the Mayans be investing in infrastructure if they thought it would be gone in two years?”
It seems that the whole ruins area is a national park and the Mexican government is dedicated to making it as comfortable and accessible as possible for guests. We couldn’t help but wonder. Actually, in 2012 the Mayan Calendar just restarts – think Y2K.

We missed this one

On Monday January 18th, the world premier of American Pickers ran on the History Channel. So what’s the deal? Well, American Pickers features the adventures of two Quad-City area antique hunters as they rumble (or should we say rummage) down the back roads of the rural Midwest.

The premier of show which airs on Monday night on the History Channel was featured on the big screen at Davenport’s own Capitol Theatre. We’re darn sure you will soon be following Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz in their weekly adventures. We’re not sure if they will be featured at the Capitol, but we’re pretty sure we haven’t heard the end of this dynamic duo.

The Bucket List Revisited

Have you started a list of things to do this year in the Quad Cities? There are so many to choose from. We are looking forward to the warmer weather and the many events, shows, festivals, and things to do right here in the area. We have to start on our list (see the January issue for more) and get those hubbies of ours with us out and about in the QCA.

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