A trip to Davenport, Iowa

Posted: March 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve had the opportunity to do a bit of travel the last couple of months – I went up to Minneapolis two months ago, I had the chance to go to Oklahoma last month, and this weekend, I was offered a ride to Davenport, Iowa for a chess tournament.

Davenport is part of the Quad Cities area (which is apparently actually made up of five cities, according to Wikipedia). I knew the area was kind of rough and blue collar, but it was more so than I expected. It may partly be the area that the chess club here is in (it’s downtown, about four blocks from the Mississippi River). There are crumbling buildings, seedy-looking liquor stores (and oddly enough, I’ve seen a couple of seedy looking bowling alleys here in town), and many vagrant people.

The club itself is in a small brick building with cracked windows with halfway visible, faded “Now leasing” lettering on the front. Serving as an unmistakable contrast is the front sign, which says “Gentlemen’s Chess Club”, with a picture of a pawn wearing a bowler. It’s a fairly small but comfortable enough room with a tiny room in the back to go over games, but in a loud area – there’s a fire department one block away, and several ambulances came racing out of it during today’s tournament, and there are also train tracks three or four blocks away, along the Mississippi. The tournament director was kind enough to supply ear plugs, though I didn’t use them.

Davenport very much reminds me of St. Louis – or at least the part of town I’ve been in. Both are along the Mississippi River, have crumbling old factory buildings and other dilapidated looking facilities, etc. Honestly, though, I find this city fascinating – it’s certainly more interesting than the safe confines of suburbia. One of the streets near the chess club has fading pavement in the center, but old bricks on both sides of it, where people can park.

Incidentally, when I was driving through Iowa a couple months ago on my way to Minneapolis, at one point, the only radio station I could find was Iowa Public Radio, and they were talking about a heroin epidemic that had struck Iowa, and was particularly bad in the Quad Cities area. Apparently it’s very unfortunately situated along multiple lines of trafficking. I know a lot of times people in the Midwest like to joke about how it’s the “meth capital of the world” or whatever.. but these kinds of drugs really do have a devastating effect.


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