Posted Online: Feb. 06, 2013, 10:52 am

Chill out or warm up: Whatever your preference, Q-C events have you covered

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Sarah J. Gardner,

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Photo: Gary Krambeck
Kevin Kwak of Bettendorf, right, helps with lacing on ice skates for his three children Ava 7, left, Austin 4 and Ashlee 11 during public ice-skating sessions at The River's Edge in Davenport Friday afternoon, Dec. 30, 2011.
The Rock Island Music Association is hosting its annual Trivia Night Fundraiser on Saturday, February 9, at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall in Rock Island. Doors open at 6 p.m. and play starts at 7 p.m. Snacks and beverages will be available for purchase or you may bring your own. Contact Mary Brodd or (309) 948-6279 to register an eight-person team. From left are Andres Carrillo, Kyle Plohr, Alex Gant and Rachael Cupp
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Photo: Paul Colletti
Thousands of cyclists ride through Scott County, Iowa, on their way to the Mississippi River during the final leg of RAGBRAI on Saturday morning, July 30, 2011. The ride started a week ago in Glenwood, Iowa, near the Nebraska border and ended in Davenport on Saturday.
Photo: iStockphoto
Cross-country skiing: It's more than just walking with skis on -- and it's easier than you might think.
Children's Botanical Beach Bingo Party
There's no way to sugar coat it: The last time I participated in a trivia night fundraiser, my team finished dead last. Although I wasn't solely responsible for this dubious outcome, it's fair to say I played my part in our low score. Some things you know, some things you don't--and sometimes, the things you don't know end up being most of the trivia questions that get asked!

Suffice to say I've been in semi-retirement from the trivia scene ever since, but a friend recently saw fit to give me a chance at redemption. For better or worse, she has invited me to be part of her team at the fundraiser to benefit the Rock Island Music Association to be held this Saturday at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #25 Hall, 4600 Blackhawk Road, Rock Island. Doors open at 6 and cost to participate is $80 for a table of eight.

I'm going to spend most of my time this weekend getting ready for this event--which is to say, making some great snacks to take along. If it turns out I perform no better than before, at least I will have earned my keep with some good eats. And if we do manage to eke out a victory, well, then I plan to spend Sunday pumping my fists in the air and singing "We Are the Champions" at the top of my lungs.

If I weren't so occupied, here are some of the other ways to spend the weekend that caught my eye.

Love on ice

Last Saturday, in case you missed it, Punxsutawney Phil saw no shadow when he was roused from his groundhog burrow and so predicted an early end to winter--that's two more weeks, to the uninitiated. Best make the most of the cold weather while we still have a chance!

The Quad-Cities is teaming with places to go ice skating, from the frozen lagoon at Vander Veer Park in Davenport to the ice rink set up this year at Bass Street Landing in Moline, but as far as I know only one location is offering ice skating and a heart-shaped pizza for two this weekend: The River's Edge, 700 W. River Drive, Davenport,.

The Valentines Day Skate will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. Cost is $15 per couple, which includes skate rental and the aforementioned pizza.

If you need convincing that ice skating is a romantic pastime, there are any number of movies--"A Love Story," "Ice Castles" and "The Cutting Edge," to name a few--that you could pair with your outing to make the case. Or just pull on some skates and get to work on a love scene of your own.

Winter, winter everywhere

Want another way to make the most of winter this weekend? Why not head up to the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center, 31555 52nd Ave., Dixon, for the annual Winter Fun Day. It's a family-friendly opportunity to enjoy some cold weather activities in the great outdoors.

The event kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with a cross-country ski clinic. There is a limited number of skis available or you can bring your own. Either way, you'll get to brush up on skiing basics and a chance to explore the trails on site (conditions permitting).

This is followed by a snowshoe nature hike at 12:30 p.m. Just like with the ski clinic, you can bring your own equipment or make use of a limited number of snowshoes on hand.

Afterwards, return to the center to warm up while learning about feeding birds in winter in a presentation at 2 p.m. and another at 3 p.m. about the fur-bearing animals of Iowa.

The seventh annual chili cook-off, sponsored by the Friends of the Wapsi Center, will kick off at 4:30 p.m. You can enter your own chili for a chance to win, and if you bring your own table setting, you also can sample some of the competition.

Finally, as dark falls at 5:30 p.m., head over to the Menke Observatory for the Frostbite Star Party and get an up-close look at the Orion nebula, one of the great sights visible through a telescope in the winter sky.

You can attend all or just a few of these events, but if you are hoping to use either the skis or snowshoes, be sure to call ahead to reserve a set, (563) 328-3286. And whenever you go, be sure to bring a mug with you so you can have a warm beverage courtesy of the center.

RAGBRAI for rookies

If you prefer simply to skip ahead to thoughts of warmer weather activities, the Quad Cities Bicycle Club has you covered with an event to take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at theFairmount Branch of the Davenport Public Library: RAGBRAI for Rookies.

The name says it all. At the event, those who have never participated in the weeklong bicycle ride across the state of Iowa will have a chance to hear from veteran riders. They will cover such helpful topics as applying to participate, training for the ride, managing logistics and more.

This year's RAGBRAI route from Council Bluffs to Fort Madison will be the shortest course plotted across Iowa in RAGBRAI history, but that doesn't mean you can just wing it. Find out what you can do in the next five months to make the ride more manageable and pleasant at this free event.

Last chance to play in the sand

If mere thoughts of warmer weather aren't warm enough, you can thaw out at the Quad City Botanical Center,2525 4th Ave., Rock Island, which will host a Children's Botanical Beach Bingo Party at 1 p.m. Sunday.

This is the last weekend the sand pile will be in the Tropical Sun Garden until next winter, so the party is a chance to make the most of this popular attraction for children. Families can bring their own sand toys or use the ones on hand at the center--and while the kids get their kicks, you can soak in the positive ions released by the garden's waterfall, a proven mood-booster.

In addition to crafting sand castles and building roads for toy trucks, party goers can play bingo and Twister, make crafts and enjoy music. The event is free with admission to the center,$6 for adults; $5 for ages 60 and older; $4 for ages 5-15; $2 for ages 2-5; free for younger than age 2.

The Itinerary (Feb. 8-10)

Valentine's Day Skate, 6-8 p.m. Friday, The River's Edge, 700 W. River Drive, Davenport. $15. (563) 328-7275

Winter Fun Day, 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday, The Wapsi River Environmental Education Center, 31555 52nd Ave., Dixon, Iowa. (563) 328-3286

RAGBRAI for Rookies, 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Davenport Public Library Fairmount Branch, 3000 N. Fairmount St. Free. (563) 343-9118

Rock Island Music Association Trivia Night, 6 p.m. Saturday, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #25 Hall, 4600 Blackhawk Road, Rock Island. $80/table. (309) 948-6279,

Children's Botanical Beach Party, 1 p.m. Sunday, The Quad City Botanical Center, 2525 4th Ave., Rock Island. $6 for adults; $5 for ages 60 and up; $4 for ages 5-15; $2 for ages 2-5; free for under age 2. (309) 794-0991,