July 30

Has it really been one whole month since we left Idaho? So much has occurred. Many set backs too. We are currently in Starved Rock Marina 10 miles from Ottawa, IL…we will stay here 2 nights.  Lots of flooding in the area caused many road closures. Taxi into town is $30 one way!!! We will sit tight. We have provisions for several days. There is a nice restaurant, but no courtesy car. I need to be more assertive and ask people to take me into town for ten bucks. No one offers because they just don’t get that we’re stranded at the marina without a car, and occasionally we need groceries or a pleasure trip to a museum or gallery. The marina population use their boats as we use our cabins in the woods. They park their boats in a slip for a monthly or yearly fee and drive near and far to live aboard on weekends until they pull them out for winter storage. So, they all have cars and they just don’t understand our dilemma. We’d like to attend church, but can’t get into town and most churches in these smaller towns don’t have a person monitoring the church phone or email to receive our request for a lift. So, we need to make contact weeks in advance and then we are bound to a tight schedule and that is not always possible. We are dependent upon the Lock Master’s schedule….we’re learning. Maybe the delays have served a purpose we did not anticipate.

I’m really disappointed that I cannot provide more photos. I take dozens. Our PC is attached to Don’s office VPN, and it won’t recognize my cell phone downloads without authorization from his IT. It will take a bit of conversation to get it resolved. Then yesterday, my camera slipped out of my pocket and slid past me into the water! Really? Really?

Here’s a few photos: (I took on my cell, then emailed to Don, then downloaded to the PC)

Driving to the Marseilles Lock

Don with barge going to Marseilles lock.jpg

Another Sunset with clouds…the clouds here are magnificent….

Spring Brook sunset w clouds 7.27.16.jpg

Marine TravelLift that raises and lowers boats into and out of the water for repairs or storage:

Marine Lift 2.jpg

Bob and Jill Ames. Kind souls who befriended us at Spring Brook Marina. Thank God for the kindness of strangers. They were just lovely.  Are they not perfect All Americans???

Bob & Jill Ames

Sumner and Otto miss GJo (that’S Gramma Joan):

Sumner in playhouse.jpg

Be still my heart….Otto, the Granddog…Otto and GJo.jpg





July 28

Spring Brook Marina rests on the south shore of the Illinois River near the small town of Seneca, IL, much like Joan’s home town of Glenns Ferry, ID. We have a slight mechanical issue and this marina has excellent service mechanics. They also have a courtesy car and we have been enjoying a drive in the country and to provision and wash clothes.

Don ordered and installed a portable AC unit. We are in Heaven! The humidity is 90% today with 88 the predicted high. Might get another T-storm. Yay. We spend our time sitting on the lawn under old trees reading and watching the river traffic…we never tire of it.

There is a particular fragrance on the wind in this country. The locals do not recognize it, but we are very aware. It is much like menthol or eucalyptus; not unpleasant, but unusual.

We need PC tech support. It will not download photos from my cell. I must email them to Don, open and save them, then insert them into the blog. LABORIOUS and unnecessary. I’m frustrated that I cannot blog with pics every day!


July 25 Update

On the road again….20160720_122546.jpg

Approaching Harborside:


View from the Marina lawn overlooking the Illinois River. The lime green at water’s edge in the distance is massive lily pads with huge flowers.


Spectacular, terrifying thunderstorms Friday and Saturday nights. Glorious! It was a continuous 360 degree light show. KAAARACK, BOOM. All night. Poor Inky was beside himself. Deluge of rain that flooded the river and floated numerous logs we later had to dodge going down stream.

The heat has been unbearable.Truly oppressive, and to escape it we stayed 3 days in Harborside because there is a pool – we lived in it. Literally. We just stayed in the pool while Inky panted in the shade on the adjoining lawn.

Needing to go into a town we were accommodated by, Wayne Donaldson, a lovely gentleman who drove us into Morris, IL. He and dog, Brazos, took really good care of us and we are forever grateful.Good people who will go out of their way to help us make our travails tolerable.

July 24  

Left Harborside at 10:30 a.m. Called ahead to the Dresden Lock for permission to lock downstream and were told to come and wait. We waited 4 hours at anchor on the apron of the dam!  Apparently this lock waits until a barge comes along and pleasure craft (PC) enter with them. While waiting we visited with other PC and met a terrific guy, Captain Scott, on the “Follow Me”.Scott and his First Mate, Michael, are delivering a 40 foot Silverton to the owner in Fort Meyers. Scott is a licensed river pilot AND marine mechanic. He knows the rivers and the lock keepers. We learned a lot listening to him communicate on VHF radio.

When the downstream barge was in the lock, the lock master radioed all PC to enter the lock, and Scott took leadership to organize us in the lock behind the enormous tow. He told three of the larger boats to raft up. The Lock Master told us to tie to the port wall, so Scott went first, being the largest of us, and Panacea tied to his starboard hip, then we lashed the next larger boat, with Captain Steve and Julie on Rock Star, to our hip. Two smaller craft tied  separately behind us to the port wall. Quite a spectacle! Wish I could have managed a photo. These locks are amazing. You silently drop or rise 20, 30, 40 feet  with no movement of the boats. The lock tenders are very responsive to the PC and help us tie.

Downstream Scott lost a water pump in one of his 2 engines and followed us into Spring Brook Marina, arriving at 5:30 p.m. VERY LONG DAY. A storm was brewing so we tied each other to the dock and ran to the marina office restaurant before it closed. When the storm hit 15 minutes later I scurried back to Panacea to be with Inky. As I rounded the dock I saw him leap out of the forward hatch and jump into the dinghy. By the time I got to the boat he was nowhere in sight. I grabbed his leash and dashed outside to be met by an angry boater who screamed at me for animal abuse. “I’m gonna report you to the Humane Shelter! You left your dog in that dinghy and he went in the water and was nearly hit by a huge boat. I’m gonna report YOU!!!” What the heck???? I tried to reason with him, but he just kept screaming at me.

Inky jumped in the water??? Are you kidding??? Inky rarely swims, he doesn’t like it that much. And, ABUSE?? That dog is so stinking spoiled, he won’t stay in the boat for 15 minutes while we go ashore and shower. I was so upset I just cried and cried. We were exhausted and burned to a crisp and someone gut punches me??? Where was Inky? Well a nice couple saw the incident and put him in their car until they could find me. Geez. We took Inky to the restaurant and we sat in the rain on the deck. Poor old Inky. He was so upset.

When we returned to Panacea Don walked over to the mean man’s boat and “requested”  to speak with him, but he declined to come out. He is docked in a 60 foot Jefferson and his crew had to hustle him out because Don would not leave. So Bill came out and Don told him he was  out of line to speak to me that way when he didn’t know the circumstances and that he should apologize to me. He again became an irate jerk and when Don wouldn’t back down a bulging gorilla of a man came out and asked, “Are you threatening Bill?” Don ignored him and told Bill he was an idiot and walked off.  Today we checked them out and their boat. They are 5 large quiet men who never leave their boat. The local slip owners are guessing they are Chicago thugs passing through.  Yikes.

Tows :


Barges/Tows. I think Tows push the containers and Barges pull the containers. Or maybe it’s just eastern colloquialism. More to learn. They run silently day and night. At night they broadcast brilliant high beam spot lights that illuminate shore to shore. Really fascinating.

tows along the way

Spring Brook Marina Sunset after storm looking downstream…sunset spring harbor.jpg

Sunrise looking upstream…sunrise spring brook.jpg

July 25…8:30 p.m. Cool evening. View from my galley looking downstream…AHHHH

view from galley spring brook.jpg




July 22

Repairs complete. We left Hammond Marina at 6:30 a.m. July 20.

14 miles at cruising speed across a rolling Lake Michigan, and 2.5 hours later we reached Chicago Harbor. amazing. Just amazing.


Entering Chicago. Trump Tower dominates the skyline here.


The scenic route is through downtown Chicago on the south branch of the Chicago River passing through the granite obelisks and passing under more than 40 bridges in 5 miles.

Because of our launch delay we hurried through this gorgeous city. There is so much to see and do, but we will wait until our return when crossing our wake in summer of 2017. The city is clean and very friendly. Everyone waves and asks if we’re on the loop.

Numerous shops, cafe’s, and marinas cling to the river’s edge. A boat can tie to the wall and walk around easily. So cool!


Leaving the city we saw many beautiful riverside parks including this Pagoda in Ping Tom Memorial Park…very serene.


The Illinois Waterway downstream from the city is…well…ugly. It turns into a narrow stone lined canal for 30 plus miles of NOISY industry. Gravel pits, refineries, scrap metal yards, chemical plants, asphalt manufacturers, mammoth factories of every kind. Enormous barges everywhere. Amazing to see what makes America work. Manly men handling massive machines. Danger everywhere. Boaters are warned every 1/4 mile to stay aboard. NO stopping. NO mooring. Poor Inky had to hold his water for hours. We could not find one spot to tie up and get him to shore.


Arrived in Joliet mid afternoon. Exhausted. The heat index with 80% humidity was 109. Dehydration and has been a serious issue for us. We tied to the Joliet wall at their beautiful city park where there is water and power. We were the only boat, but it was safe and people came by to chat. We called  taxi to get to a grocery.  Nighttime was hilarious. The park was lighted like a truck terminal and we were sandwiched between a state highway bridge and a railroad bridge…both were busy all night long. Then there was the never ending barge traffic. These ships are MASSIVE yet silent and they throw a large wake that rocked us against the wall all night. Our tie up ropes were nearly frayed in two. Yikes. We’re learning.


It’s like the Old West…there are no services between stops so we must scurry along to get to safe harbor before dark and it takes pre-planning to determine how far to the next fuel and fresh water marina…not all marinas provide services. Really, it is hard work so when we get to a nice marina we sit tight for a few days to regain energy.

Here in Harborside Marina at Wilmington, IL it is lovely. The river opened up into gorgeous tree lined banks dotted with parks and billion dollar homes and miles of giant lily pads. There is a pool here and we spend many hours in it escaping the punishing heat. The facility is very dog friendly and the owners are nice. Plus, they have an excellent restaurant and boaters come from all over to sit and enjoy great food.





Finally launched but…..

chicago from marina
Chicago Skyline from Hammond Marina

Tuesday  July 12:

Our trip to Lake Michigan has been fraught with numerous difficulties.

Boat bottom painting in St. Louis took 8 days instead of the 2 we were quoted!!! Then the Indiana wide load permit system required us to take back roads that did not connect to the routes described so a 5 hour drive took 8. We launched at 8 pm and discovered a broken water pump. We used our trolling motor to limp to a temporary dock (the marina office was closed).

Beautiful marina but….a railroad line sets 100 yards south and the freight trains ran continuously throughout the night blasting their horns at the numerous crossings near us. It would be hilarious if we weren’t so exhausted.

Called a marine repairman this morning. He is booked until Friday!


July 14:

Repairs will be minimal, but it takes time. We hope to start for Chicago over the weekend.

Epic storm last evening. Hard rain, horrendous thunder, brilliant lightening everywhere. We loved it. Poor Inky, our big fat Lab/Collie mix, was terrified. He is not impressed with our plans. He is homesick for his truck and his vigilant monitoring of our cozy neighborhood in Eagle, Idaho.

The Chicago skyline is visible from the marina. It is an amazing, but intimidating sight. Our marina hosts are wonderful to us, and very accepting of dogs. Off leash rules are NOT rigidly enforced. Happy place.

marina view of casino
View of Marina and Casino from Marina building. See Panacea on far right.




Left Idaho July 1.

Packed the last of the few items we need for our voyage. Don’s brother Doug flew to Boise to accompany Don on the long haul to Doug’s home in St. Louis. Joan flew to Aspen to spend 3 days with Sarah M, then on to St. Louis. Doug will bring our truck and trailer back to his farm for storage until we return in 2017.

Had an issue with brake module controller , but made it to Don’s brother’s house in St. Charles, Missouri for repairs. Now having the boat bottom painted.

Loads of fun and great food with Doug and Karen and kids. Such a fabulous family. Love them all.

Sarah Kathleen joined us on Thursday for dinner. Such a blast to be with her in Old Town St. Charles.

Boat will be ready today. Will leave for Chicago Sunday morning. OMG. We are really doing this. Joan is homesick for her grandbaby.

sk and don180548
Dinner with Sarah K in Boone’s Lick, Old St. Charles on the Mississippi
Last day in Idaho….

Continue reading “Left Idaho July 1.”