January 30, 2014

In and Out of the Quad-Cities: Out and About

Contributed by Gail McPike and Toni Hall

Travel is a strange and mysterious thing, especially if the journey takes you off to some picturesque port of call. The sound of song bouncing off buildings and echoing through the alleys of some quaint ancient city lightens the soul. Sunshine through the leaves of a palm tree carries a brighter glow. The laughter of friends lingers in the air longer while traveling. Since the ancient days of Homer’s Odyssey, the siren have sung a tune to try the human heart.

If you’re a regular reader, you know we have definitely heard the siren’s song. We follow the call to boldly go where no man has gone before – oops, that’s Star Trek but you get the point. Heck, we two Oklahoma girls have journeyed to see Geneseo natives “Walk like Victorians” and Maquoketa hotrod enthusiasts do their thing at Torque Fest. So let’s just say we like to be on the go; combining travel, great friends, good food, and mucho merriment.

As we hammer out the words to this fine bit of journalistic farcicality, our fingers tingle from the combination of cold and arctic winds. Mother Nature and her QCA climate has provided us with a heaping helping of chills and spills. But forget the nastiness. Join us as we warm your nearly numb toes with a tale of warm tropical breezes, historic intrigue and Mexican mystery.

Relax those frost bitten temples, close your eyes, and envision the calm Pacific night spreading over the waters of Western Mexico’s Banderas Bay. The sun is slowly setting in the west; seemingly sinking into the calm blue-green water. We strain our eyes to catch the magical final moment of the sunset, where the sun dips just below the water’s edge and a magnificent green flash shoots through the atmosphere.

After straining our eyes for those final moments (they seem like hours) to catch the green flash, our eyes sting from the light. The feeling is the same as the unexpected camera flashes we get from all the paparazzi trailing us, but that’s another story. We feel day turn to dusk. Gentle breezes turn into a constant landward windfall. Nightfall approaches. Ocean scents fill our senses with the sweet smell of shoreline. Can you feel it, yet? We’re almost warmed up to room temperature.

Suddenly, our relaxing moments are disturbed. The dark menacing outline of a pirate ship appears off to our right at the far end of the bay. From our comfortable perch on the 24th floor of a seaside condo, we observe as the shadowy outline goes from gray ghost to full black. We see the three great sailing masts. The gun ports take form. Current Trophy Husband (CTH) Phil gives the full alarm signal. We’re called from our Margaritas and Cervesas to stand watch.

From the distant left, we hear the thunder of cannons trained on the historic old Spanish coastal town. Straining our eyes, we can almost make out the silhouettes of pirates hoisting their sabers and dancing a nautical jig on the poop deck. Really, CTH Frank told us that’s the name for the elevated stern deck of old sailing ships. He always giggles when he hears the word, but that is, as they say, a “whole other story.”

But this isn’t the tale of Treasure Island. It’s our annual pilgrimage to warmth. The cannon balls don’t reign terror and destruction. Actually, no one even pays attention.

The pirate ship isn’t a ghost ship mysteriously wandering the seven seas. It’s really a dinner cruise. But to us, the big wooden vessel holds a special place in our hearts. Over the course of two great visits to the Mexican coast, the grand Spanish galleon has sailed through our lives. We’ve seen it from multiple vantage points. We imagine the Buccaneers on board as real. We dream for a moment, then return to our reality.

In spite of numerous opportunities, we have never cruised with the pirates. And while we may chance walking the plank in the future, for now we prefer to hold it in that special part of our psyche, that place occupied by Black Beard, Captain Hook, and well, Mary Martin’s version of Peter Pan. We don’t plan on growing up anytime soon.

We’re home now, and there is no place like home. Our Quad Cities can stand on its own picturesque beauty. The moon’s reflection on the Mississippi always takes our breath away. The fort on Arsenal Island flashes adventure. Our friend, Bob, from Muscatine traces his linage to a Rogue River Pirate.

If only we could trade for a little warmer weather, life would be complete. Until then, let us practice our Spanish on you one last time; CTH Frank learned it from Arnold Schwarzenegger and he taught it to us. “Hasta la vista, baby” and have a great Valentine’s Day.

BTW, Sea Turtles, Sea Turtles – we got to hold a cute little baby as it crawled off to sea.

Filed Under: Community, Humor

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