Friday, Sep 5, 2003- Chicago, IL to Lemont, IL
What day this was..! We left early - fully expecting to get to Wilmington today. We hated to leave the beautiful Chicago Shoreline, but it was time to go. It was an easy ride back to Hammond Marina, where we fueled up and picked up our 1st Crew member, Mom (she is going to ride with us for a few more days). Our next stop was Riverside Marina - on the Calumet River - were we had some maintenance done (thanks, Duane!) and picked up our next crew member, Don (friend of Mom & Marty's who will be riding as our "River Expert" today).
After lunch, we began our laborious trip down the Calumet River, the Cal-Sag and the Sanitary Canal. This stretch of waterway was pretty grueling. One lock and fifty (yes, 5-0) bridges later, we came to (what we now call) "Killer Bridge" - it's the only bridge in all the 5,000+ miles of the Great Loop that presented us with a height challenge (it's only 19.1 ft and we are 20.5 ft). With Don at his "perch," we made our first approach to the bridge hoping (for a miracle?) to squeeze under....but there was no way those domes were going under there. We had to turn around (quickly) and head for "Barge Alley" (our new term of endearment for the EMC Barge yard). We were very pleased that the kind folks at EMC (Dan, Bob & Alice) were a great help to us here. They actually moved a barge over so we could pull in and tie up to their "work dock" in order to dismantle the domes and light (they even loaned us their superdrill!). By the time we got the domes removed, it was 5:00 pm, and Cap Tom determined that it would be too dangerous to navigate the canal as far as the next port, so we spent the night in "Barge Alley." Special thanks to EMC for "hosting us."
We were very pleased that Marty was coming by car to rescue us for dinner at "Belly Busters" in Lemont! It was great. Don left us after dinner, and Marty stayed on as crew for another day. Thanks, Don! You were a big help today!
Saturday, Sep 6, 2003 - Lemont, IL to Seneca, IL
We left "Barge Alley" early, since we had a long day ahead of us again. Our first task was to negotiate "Killer Bridge (300.6 mile marker)" - this time we sailed right through - without the dome height, we even had a few inches to spare...whew!
After 3 more hours, we encountered our first lock of the day at Lockport, and handled it without issue. Eight more bridges to maneuver and then it was time for the Brandon Rd Lock. We really were lucky today, we only had to wait about 20 min at each lock. Another lock and 5 bridges brought us to Seneca where we were very pleased to see Spring Brook Marina (and a beautiful Carver dealership!) Within moments of docking, their mechanic went to work on reassembling our "mickey mouse ears" (satellite domes). Thanks, Spring Brook!
We were very tired from the day, so we ordered a pizza and called it quits.
On Sunday, Marty left us (somebody has to work, I guess!). We spent a couple of hours onboard, then went into the little town of Seneca for lunch and some supplies. Later in the evening, we went to the town of Morris for dinner at Rockwell's. It was quite nice. Thanks to Spring Brook again, for the use of their van!
Monday, Sep 8, 2003 - Seneca, IL to Peoria Hts, IL
We had another visit from the kind folks at Carver this morning...to complete the dome and light connection. With all our parts intact, we set out for another lengthy day on the Illinois River. The river was very calm today, and not much traffic, so we felt like it would be an easy day.
Well, we were mistaken! Within a few miles we approached the Marseilles Lock with 4 other PC's (what the lock tenders call pleasure crafts) and a 160 ft Tug Boat "Martha Mac"! Between the Tug's current and the short length of the lock ropes, it became very difficult to hold the boat... Two of the boats behind us broke loose in the lock. The boat directly behind us (appeared to have "Fred & Ethel" - not really - as Cap & 1st Mate), lost control of their boat - hit the Tug and was heading toward us... To avoid a disaster, the Lock Tender opened the doors and Cap Tom reacted quickly by exiting the lock. Of course, I didn't know we were headed out, and got a little rope "sting" on the hand. Yikes.
Our next lock was uneventful, but we were still a bit wary of "Fred & Ethel" at our backside...
We were very relieved to arrive at I.V.Y. Club that evening. The marina was closed, but we received some help from fellow boaters and proceeded to get docked without a problem. Lovely facility, wish we could have been there when it was open. Dinner was a steak on the grill, and early to bed!
Tuesday, Sep 9, 2003 - Peoria Hts, IL to Beardstown, IL
Late a.m. departure from the IVY Club, after refueling. The ride past downtown Peoria was rather pretty. En route, we had to wait an hour for the Peoria Lock - we tied up at Cap Ron's for the holding time. While there, we met a few other boaters heading south. "Lover Boat" (a real boating legend on the web..?), "Terrapin" -a fellow Looper, and of course, there was no escaping it..."Fred & Ethel" pulled up right behind us!
We covered a lot of river today mileage today, and the scenery was beautiful. Lots of wildlife here. We have seen so many pretty birds... we saw two little hummingbirds while we were waiting for the lock, and a flock of seagulls followed us for hours. Picturesque.
No real places to dock in this stretch of the river, so we had to contact Logsdon Tug Service to tie up to their Barge for the night (good thing we already had experience with that...) Docking was a little tense. We encountered some current and also had a starboard engine lockup, so we came in on one engine. We were very glad for Logsdon's help.
Before dinner, Cap Tom had to play diesel mechanic and repair the starboard timing...way to go, Cap!
Later, we strolled the streets of Beardstown (both of them) and met a fellow insurance agent who gave us the town info. Thanks, Mr. DeSollar!
Wednesday, Sep 10, 2003 - Beardstown, IL to Alton, IL
Easy departure from the Barge in the a.m. Nothing to unhook, just untie and go! A pretty ride down the river again today...and the weather has really been incredible this week. Beautiful and sunny.
About midday, as we approached the Mighty Mississippi, the landscape began to change...we started seeing large houses along the riverbanks, and a lot more boats. Approaching Alton, we got our first glimpse of Alton Marina...and it was a sight for sore eyes after such a long stretch of the river (102 miles today!!)
On Thursday, we had the chance to tour St Louis a bit, including a ride up in the "Arch" - what a sight that was! Pretty amazing. Later, Cap pacified us girls with a few hours in the Galleria Mall, so we agreed to a Mexican dinner at Casa Gallardo.
Cap Tom planned our tour day on Friday. Beginning at West Marine, we had another "mall stop" for lunch, followed by a stroll in the antiques section of St Louis called Soulard. All this was capped off by a tour of the old Union Station downtown St Louis. That was really beautiful. Completely restored, the station is now in its original artistic state, and enhanced by several interesting shops and restaurants.
On Saturday, we were thrilled to get to spend some time with some of our favorite friends from Prudential. Rocky and Patti, along with Barry and family, took us to lunch at Josephine's. Wonderful! Thanks again, guys! We loved it!
*******Shortly after, we all headed to the airport. We are ready to park the boat for a while, as we travel home for a week to Georgia. Mom is going home (IL) as well, but she says she will "be back!"******
Monday, September 22 - Alton, IL to Kimmswick, MO
Cap Tom arrived back at the boat late Sunday evening, and son "mate" Craig arrived Monday morning. They geared up and left Alton on Monday afternoon bound for Hoppies Marina. This proved to be one of the most colorful stops on the trip so far.
Fern & Charles - Hoppie's owners - are delightful people. Their location is a compilation of 4-5 barges strung together to make a marina on the banks of the Mississippi river. They are terrific hosts - with plenty of stories to share about the mighty river. Charles also offered very helpful anchorage information about the upcoming portions of the river. They even loaned our guys a car to go into town for dinner. Thanks, again!
Tuesday, September 23 - Kimmswick, MO to Little River Diversion (mm 48.9)
There was an early morning departure this morning to navigate the Mississippi - they encountered numerous tugs and barges during this stretch. Many of them were 10,000-25,000 hp Tugs pushing 20-24 barges. Quite something to see. All the tug captains were very courteous in this stretch...guess Cap Tom has learned to speak their language, we guess.
After traveling 109 miles on the Mississippi, it was time for CrawDads to attempt their first anchoring out for the night. And this crew did it with ease.
Once settled, the guys grilled out (Craig was chef for the evening) and had a great night "under the stars."
Wednesday, September 24 - Little River Diversion to Paducah, KY
Passing Cairo today concluded our stretch on the Mississippi. We then turned east onto the Ohio River for a brief stretch. There was still a large number of commercial traffic on this portion of the trip.
After passing Metropolis (was that the home of Superman?) - CrawDad and Son continued on to Paducah, KY and spent the night at Big E Marina.
Paducah was a great source of entertainment. The flood wall there is really something to see - it is fully illustrated with murals depicting the history of the town. Also in town, was the Delta Queen - a riverboat cruise ship.
Thursday, September 25 - Paducah, KY to Kentucky Dam
Just a short trip today - moving the boat from Big E Marina to the Kentucky Dam area where we got our first glimpse of the Tennessee River.
Later, the guys spent the day in Grand Rivers, KY previewing the next marina - Green Turtle Bay - and washing the boat. They had a great dinner at Patti's.
Friday, September 26 - Kentucky Dam to Grand Rivers, KY
Moved the boat to Green Turtle Bay today (and ran aground doing so).
Later in the day, the guys went back to Paducah - to have a little BBQ (at the big festival there) and see a high school football game. And...very late in the evening, they came to pick me up at the airport.
We are preparing for "changing of the crew" again today. I flew in from Atlanta (via NJ...nevermind), and Mom & Marty (she said they would be back!) drove in from IL. We all arrived around midnight - and Craig went to bed immediately, since he was driving back to GA early the next morning. Thanks, Craig - Dad really enjoyed having you aboard!!!
On Saturday, we took it easy and spent the day in Paducah. The BBQ festival was in full swing by the time we arrived - lots of food to eat and crafts to see. We loved it! We especially enjoyed watching the contestants in the "rope the cleat" contest (we couldn't convince Cap Tom to enter).
We perused the antique shops in town and also a few in Grand Rivers - didn't buy anything much, but enjoyed looking. Dinner was excellent at Mr. Bill's in Grand Rivers.