Staycation wasn’t yet a term when my family was doing exactly that.
My parents were big believers in keeping family close. They knew if their grandchildren were to create close bonds, they would need to spend time together. Time together was hard to find when my siblings and I had young children with lots of activities, but my parents came up with a solution: As our Christmas gifts, we would each get a certificate for a weekend stay at a local hotel. My parents would join us for meals, swimming and activities, but they were quite content to stay in their own beds for the night and leave us to the overnight.
I have great memories of these "trips." One year an elaborate home movie was written, directed and filmed by the children who, as adults, still remember their characters' lines.
Our weekend getaway was always at the beginning of the year, so depending on the Midwest winter weather, it could be pleasant or cold. One clear, freezing night we were lying on the docks of the Mississippi River when we realized we weren’t the only ones enjoying the late night stargazing. A family of river otters was under the dock we were lying on. If we hung our heads over the edge we could look them right in the face. They weren’t timid, and they even put on a little show for us, sliding in the snow on the riverbank and splashing in the water under the docks.
During these weekends we played games, and we laughed a lot. My parents had hoped to develop the bonds between their grandchildren, and that is precisely what happened.
Even though their grandparents are now both gone, I hope the bonds developed during their childhood will continue to strengthen.
It is fun to have new hotels popping up around the Quad Cities. Recently, because of their spirit of community, I won a charity raffle basket that included an overnight stay at a hotel that had donated a room. The room was beautiful, and our stay was a nice respite from everyday life. I swam, read and escaped reality for 24 hours.
My nephew from Texas has transplanted himself to the Chicago area, which means I get to see him more often. I have been looking for interesting places to take him when he comes to the Quad-Cities, and I know we won’t have time to make a dent in what the Quad-Cities has to offer.
I have not been to Nahant Marsh yet, and I also want to see if the Seurat-inspired statues are still at Credit Island. A monument stands on Campbell’s Island commemorating the western-most battle of the War of 1812, and the trails at Black Hawk Historic Site or Wildcat’s Den are always picturesque. If we wanted to vacation in our own backyard, we could; Prospect Park is my backyard. We could fish, sled, catch a show at Quad-City Music Guild, play disc golf (except the last time I did that I spent most of my time laughing on the ground). We could also hike the fitness trails.
Without a doubt I’d like to take him to the Figge and the Putnam museums, but there are many other intriguing museums. I never knew the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Rock Island existed. It is now on my must-see list. We can learn about Bix Beiderbecke or our German American Heritage Center & Museum. The Rock Island County Historical Society has a museum and Augustana College offers the Fryxell Geology Museum.
The internet can help you find many more museums and parks to explore in the Quad Cities. I’m excited to see where our adventures will take us without going further than our own backyard.
Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.
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