The best kind of Road Trip day

The best kind of Road Trip day

When we were planning this trip, my hero had envisaged today as one to be spent exploring the river a little more.  However, driving up the Mississippi over the last couple of days led us to think that the river itself isn’t that interesting.  Maybe we should think again?


Whilst picking up leaflets here and there yesterday, I’d spotted that John Deere tractors are built here in the Quad Cities and that it was possible to visit them.  So, starting out early, we crossed the bridge over to Rock Island (humming the tune as we went, of course)


Once in Moline, we entered a new world.


We really had no idea what we were looking at, but we received the warmest of welcomes and the reassurance that we had only to ask and everything would be explained.


Like, how do you move a 35ft wide combine harvester from one place to another?  Yes, the wide “front bit” unclips …oh my, can you tell that we don’t know much about these things?  Even so, this machine is HUGE.  Half a million dollars worth of huge.  I might say that the answer we got when we asked the question was much clearer, used the proper terminology and was really well explained!


Of course, I just had to climb up into the biggest digger there, which, when viewed through the windscreen looked as though it could scoop that house up in one go.  Enormous.


Not everything was huge.  Some things were quite small.

Winking smile

But they were boring


It was the big machinery which caught our imagination.


And the names, of course.  I mean, what mischief could you do with a Feller Buncher? (It’s for use in forests, by the way!)


And returning to the subject of clipping the accessories on and off, well, of course, it’s a five minute task isn’t it?   Perhaps not.


This is just one of sixteen spray units on a wide crop sprayer, computer controlled, of course, with GPS for use in the dark too. 

We loved it all!


In the adjacent shop was everything one might want with a John Deere logo – including what looked suspiciously like the old Osh Kosh dungarees we were dreaming of back in Wisconsin – though these were pink, not red and instead of the OshKosh B’Gosh logo, there was the JD leaping deer, of course.


Eventually, we had to drag ourselves away from these monster machines and head out into the Iowa countryside again.  Our next stop was to be the small town of West Branch.


We chose the metalled roads this morning.  None of the gravel dirt tracks, thank you.


It was a lush, green landscape with farm dotted about here and there.  Now, we were on the lookout for quilt barns and, of course, John Deere machinery!


We’d almost passed this one by when I snapped it – we learned later that it’s the Iowa block, too.


Thankfully the next one was a little easier to spot and to photograph.

So, why West Branch?


US President #31 Herbert Hoover was born in the small town and there’s a museum and Presidential Library here – and of course, you know how we love to visit such places.


So, firstly into the visitors centre to get an overview.  I knew nothing of the man and what he did, but soon recognised him for his tireless humanitarian work and also for his simple beginnings.


He was born in this simple, two room wooden cottage in West Branch though by the time he was nine, he’d lost both parents and was packed off to live with family in Oregon.


This little cottage was simple but homely. His father was the blacksmith in the forge over the road and his mother a devout Quaker who encouraged a strong work ethic in her three children.


I liked the basket of fabric strips and the rag rugs which would have been made from them.


The one room school across the way was where Herbert Hoover began his education.


We were about to move on to the Presidential Library but caught a glimpse of the Main Street and, feeling peckish, decided to go in search of a sandwich.


Ha!  A different type of sandwich in this shop!


Quilt sandwiches…  Well, I couldn’t pass by this cute shop without taking a closer look inside, could I?

Winking smile

Of course, we found the coffee shop a little further on and satisfied our hunger


Returning to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, we watched the introductory film and made our way around the exhibition.


There was a really clever mixed media timeline as an overview – just as well because I had no idea of such things before we arrived!  


Oh, and look who is giving a presentation here in September!  (None other than the Professor of the online course Mary and I just completed and author of the recent biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder)  We’d be in the audience, given the chance!


Rather than go into all the details of Herbert Hoover’s life and work, I’ll simply suggest you take a look here and see why we all left feeling that there is so very much more to the man than his presidency during the Great Depression.


With plenty to think (and talk) about, we hit the road again for one last stop.


Another quilt shop!  This one was so very different from the store in West Branch and yet was just as attractive.  Here were some really interesting bits and pieces, new techniques to find out about and the most beautiful, softly coloured reproduction fabrics.  What a great place to round off the afternoon.

Tractors, combines, quilts and a bit of history thrown into the mix.  The perfect Road Trip day!

Last stop

Last stop

The Great River Road

The Great River Road