Arriving to the Quad Cities
The day finally arrived, folks. After nearly two years since I last traveled by air, I took my first post-pandemic flight. Although I’ve kept plenty busy with road trips since 2020, it has been strange to feel rather threatened? Afraid? Anxious? All of the above? When it came time to think about flying. But, when the opportunity arose to visit the Quad Cities on behalf of an IFWTWA press tour, I knew it was time to get reacquainted with airlines.
The Quad Cities are a unique group of bi-state towns along the Mississippi River in Iowa and Illinois. I’ve been to Illinois, but it would be my first time in Iowa. We know what that means.
Another check for another state and closer to my goal to visit all 50. Day one is in the books and this will serve as my first “entry” in what will be a series of special posts. It’s been another “to-do” of mine to chronicle each day on a media tour as several friends have asked me what it’s like to be a journalist on a press visit.
Arriving to the Quad Cities
The journey to the Quad Cities was a long one. I was happy to discover there’s an airport in Moline but grabbing an appropriate flight proved difficult. I was able to book something out of LAX but alas, it meant being ready to go by two in the morning. My first flight was for 5:30 AM but all I’ve heard is how unpredictable airports are right now. Throw in my shuttle departing at only two and three, I played it safe and arrived at two AM. I think this is the earliest I’ve awoken and left for the airport. And LAX, for that matter.
Arrival was easy peasy. Then, I discovered that the terminal is closed nightly and we could not get through security until four AM. Sitting on the ground waiting to make a beeline for the TSA. Good times! Thankfully, I got to catch the season finale of Only Murders in the Building so the time turned out to be somewhat productive. (Side note, I didn’t guess the killer in season two).
I felt rusty making my way through the checkpoint but it was smooth. Given how early it was and that the lines had just opened made it speedy. The next few hours are a bit fuzzy. I can never sleep on planes so I just dealt with the exhaustion. My anxiety tried to win a few times but I did all I could to stay focused with my “eye on the prize.” It was worth the wait.
John Deere and the Quad Cities
The team at Visit Quad Cities was already treating us like family. I was touched by each of our names on the screen over the airport’s luggage carousel . How’s that for a welcome? Nicki, who picked me up from the airport and works at the Visitor’s Bureau, extended my drive to the hotel with side streets and insider info. I hadn’t been in town for an hour and had already seen where John Deere was born, lived, and passed on.
The Quad Cities has deep pride for John Deere given the brand was founded in Moline. There are multiple historical sites to see in regards to John Deere and of course, their pavilion. We will visit there tomorrow and I am already intrigued.
The Axis Hotel
Nicki soon dropped me off at the Axis Hotel. My digs for the next few days. I envisioned I’d plop right down in bed for a bit but our drive left me inspired. The Axis is a boutique hotel owned by Hilton and in a historic building that has worn many faces including an office building. I noticed several doors on the way to my room seemed to lead to nowhere, or certainly not rooms. Given its historical status, many elements of the hotel’s architecture cannot be redone. This adds such authenticity along with its throwback elegance. It made me love the hotel even more. Its color scheme of gray and dark pink brought to mind the 1960s mod with a dash of the roaring 20s.
The Axis is in the heart of downtown which enabled me to easily explore. I was in awe at the brick buildings with monsoon clouds as their backdrop. It felt very “Mayberry” along the streets. I was most struck at how tranquil it was. At times, I was the only person on the sidewalk.
Soon, it was time to meet the rest of the group and more of our hosts from Visit Quad Cities. I’ll admit, I was pretty hungry by now and excited for a “real” meal. Little did I know how outstanding it would be.
A Beautiful Welcome Dinner
Our inaugural feast was at Verde. A contemporary restaurant serving elevated Mexican dishes. They are a gluten and soy-free facility (hello) and the vibes reminded me very much of LA. Think Trejos Tacos or even Gracias Madre. As soon as I saw their seasonal drink was a watermelon Paloma, I knew I had to try it. It was nothing like I expected. I figured it would resemble a sour candy with a smoky undertone. The freshness of their ingredients shows in their items and especially this drink. It’s light, mellow, and leaves no sugary aftertaste.
Verde is an ideal spot for dinner with friends, the family, or date night. Even solo, especially if you want to sit at the bar. If I were a local, this would be “my” spot.
As day one comes to a close, I’m ready to close my eyes. Stay tuned and let’s see where the Quad Cities take us tomorrow! xo