Catching Up

P.S.  This reading from the bottom up is confusing…

August 10

Myrah, our youngest, turns 39 today. How can that be? I’M only 29!!!!

After many lengthy conversations we have decided to return home to Idaho for the remainder of August. The heat/humidity is unbearable and Inky is suffering. We  want him with us, but he is just too unhappy. We will leave him with family and drop the dinghy too since he is the main reason for towing it, and this will give us more speed and mobility. We will return to the Loop in early September where we’ll spend a month in Kentucky Lake, then on to Mobile for the trek across the Gulf of Mexico into Florida. Then back to  Idaho for Thanksgiving and reunite with our sweet Inky for the return to “winter” in Florida. We will take some land excursions to visit historical sites, rest and play.

 August 8

Last night was pleasant. All the crazies went home. The marina is brightly lit, but the docks have soft, low lighting. No noise. Cooler too. Nice breeze this morning with overcast skies. Lee, a Looper from Texas just completing his Loop showed up in his sailboat with dog, Boomer.

Grafton Marina. Met up with Loopers, Jan and Kent Severson. Great people. Kent was terrific help with a motor concern of Don’s. Since we decided to return home for a few weeks, Kent assisted Don in transporting our boat to a marina on the Mississippi that had a ramp with deep enough water to pull us out. Whew. What a chore it was too. Then these fine Loopers invited us to sleep aboard their beautiful yacht for the night before we made our escape.  Once again,the kindness of strangers”.

August 6

Took the ferry to Portage des Sioux for a chicken fry and tractor pull at the local Catholic Church. There is a nice marina there with numerous festivities, including the Blessing of the Fleet. Boats line up for miles to pass by the statue of the Blessed Virgin and the local priest sprinkles the vessels with Holy Water. Amazing. The shrine to Our Lady of the Rivers is maybe 80 feet tall.

Stopped to look at a unique dune buggy show. We flipped over an adorable boat on wheels.There was a charming outdoor open air club on the site where an excellent blues band entertained. Parked in the center of the venue was a brightly painted old wooden boat cleverly serving as the bar. Very cool. Great music. Happy people.

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Watched a Tractor Pull in the town.

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lady of rivers bottom up

August 5

Nice cool morning in Beardstown. We set our alarm for 4:30 a.m. and as soon as dawn broke we scurried off with the sun rising at our backs. The LaGrange Lock is a wicket dam. When the water is high the wickets are lowered and boats can drive over them. When the water is low, like now, the wickets are raised in the main channel to hold water upstream, and boats must be locked through the chamber. The wickets were up, but they hustled us through and we made it without any wait. It took us until 7:30 to get to the river closure. The Coast Guard stopped us mid-river and “warned” us that we might get stopped. We did NOT.

A VERY long day. We decided to push through to Grafton Marina and arrived at 3 p.m. exhausted. Grafton is very nice and clean with numerous excellent shower/toilet rooms. Since we arrived on a Friday we had “Party Central” beside us all night. 3 skanky couples who drank themselves into oblivion and cursed continually. Saturday night, another group, another sickening party. Unbelievable how these types behave with no regard for others or their own self respect. They are disgusting. This marina has no 24/7 security. It is safe, but there is no one to control bad behavior.

Doug had our truck waiting for us at Grafton. It was so nice to be in our own vehicle and have mobility. Inky was thrilled . We drove to Springfield to visit the Lincoln Museum. Beautiful, quiet city with wide streets and slow traffic. Pedestrian heaven.Gorgeous silver-domed Capital.  Lincoln shrines everywhere. Really a lovely experience. And the drive there was gorgeous. Miles and miles of grain, corn, soybean fields demarcated by tree lined streams. GREEN.

 

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Lincoln Library

 

 

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I miss Lincoln!!!

 

 

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Don is 6 feet tall. Lincoln was 6.4!

 

August 4

The oppressive  heat continues…Arrived Beardstown river mile 88.4 at 1 p.m. HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sickening heat.

We learned of a river closure at mile 68 downstream below the La Grange Dam, at river mile 80, where no boats are allowed passage between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The Corps of Engineers is repairing overhead power lines? Since our next fuel stop is at mile 20, we are obligated to park here at the Logsdon Tug Service staging area where tied to a derelict barge at the city wall. OMG HOT! Dear Skipper Don walked into town for fuel carrying  2 five-gallon cans. He had to walk  across piles of rusted chain, pipe, and equipment parts and then up numerous steep steel stairs to access the town and fuel, then haul it back for the boat and portable generator (for the AC). Still we are grateful for a safe tie up. Don got up throughout the night to add fuel to the gen to keep us tolerably cool. Not fun.

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Spooky but safe in Beardstown

 

Beardstown is a sad, dirty town with beautiful parks, lovely fountains, and towering shade trees. Numerous neglected Victorian homes.

The courtroom in Beardstown is where Lincoln defended Duff Armstrong in the famous Almanac Trial. It is the only courtroom where Lincoln practiced that is still used as a courtroom to this day.

August 3

Left Peoria at 8:30 a.m. Arrived at Tall Timbers Marina 1 p.m.

Tall Timbers is a Wonder! At river mile 120, this is a must-stop on the Loop. It is a quiet cove attended by kind, happy, accommodating Bob. It was an Oasis for us weary travelers. VERY clean. Dog friendly. QUIET. Fabulous showers. The most amazing Port-a-Pottys on the planet. We loved our night there…sooooo relaxing.

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Women’s Potty
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Aug 1

Starved Rock was not impressive. But they did love dogs and Inky was welcome everywhere. Lots of flying carp in the shallows. We hopped in the dinghy and putted around and around in the marina to get them excited and man did they JUMP. Hilarious. Impossible to get a good picture though.

We spent a night in Henry’s Landing. Nice restaurant. Quiet, dark night. We are well rested.

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We arrived in Peoria at 10 this morning. Easy 30 miles. We are moored at the Ivy Club...very high end.

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There are tiny bunnies hopping around the docks and Inky is in Labrador Heaven. I have made friends with two ducks who loiter about waiting for bread.

We visited with Don’s nephew, Justin and wife, Julia. They are a charming young couple, both physicians, establishing themselves in the Peoria medical community. They kindly offered a car to us and what a thrill. We can accomplish things on land that cannot be done onboard via email or mobile phone.

Miles of lush shoreline with lovely Victorian mansions sitting at river’s edge. A gorgeous paddlewheel boat passed us coming in. The Pride of Peoria.

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It gets very hot on the fly bridge and Inky suffers when the sun hits him, but he prefers to be up there with us.

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The Illinois River opens up into a vast lake coming into Peoria. Reminds us of Lake Michigan, but here we can see shore! We cannot navigate by shoreline. There is a buoy path to follow like a water highway. From a distance it seems impossible that the barges can pass between the cans. Green cans (buoys) on the right descending bank and red cans on the left descending bank. We just follow the path they create in the river and stay between the cans. Most channel depths are 10 to 15 feet. About every half mile a channel marker appears like a miniature lighthouse.

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The countryside is beautiful, but the water quality is horrid. We would NEVER swim in that sludge, but locals do. Aren’t we so very lucky to live in beautiful, dry Idaho?

Triple-wide barge

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The famous Atchison-Topeka-Santa Fe Railroad bridge. Judy Garland sang an Academy Award winning song with same title in the 1946 film The Harvey Girls. You’re singing it now, I know you are.

Atchison Topeka Santa Fe

Many unusual sights along the river….NOT me…the mini lighthouse on shore!

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Now a word about the heat. We just couldn’t take this humidity, so Don ordered a portable AC unit from Sears. We picked it up in Ottawa, got it back to the marina and discovered it was damaged. Really??? But, it works fine and Sears will replace the broken face. We love our little R2D2. Life is good again, even if he takes up half my galley counter.  I am learning to be grateful for the littlest things. I sure miss my comfy home. But that’s the sacrifice for this odyssey.

R2D2 and toes