Days 78-80 (September 14-16), Grafton IL to Kaskaskia Lock Wall IL. Add a 5th state – Missouri. A total of 833 miles traveled.
We have been traveling three days along the Mighty Mississippi and are about half way to the Ohio River. The Mississippi River is awesome, wide with great channel space and depth. In some places there are homes that rival those on Lake Michigan but mostly it is low muddy banks, occasional sandy beaches or flood plains with limited civilization. The fun and challenge on this segment is the water current. We are flying at 11+ mph when our normal cruising speed is about 8. However, the current and turbulence caused by tows (tugs and barges ) pushing hard against the current can make things chaotic from time to time. We are getting used to hanging onto the wheel and going with the flow but Sammy thinks she is back on the great lakes with bumpy water. Along one side of the river is IL and the other is Missouri. We have stayed on both sides and hardly notice the difference. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous.
After leaving Grafton, IL along mammouth stone cliffs, we went to Alton, IL where we stayed at a great marina and explored the town. The vintage and culture reminded us of Houghton, MI. From there we locked through the Melprice Lock, important in that 1/3 of the world’s grain pass here. We flew past St. Louis marveling at the water view of the Arch. We now understand why there aren’t marinas downtown – sweeping current and barge traffic. However, they are working on creating a beautiful riverfront. Next we landed at Hoppie’s, the famous Mississippi River dockage of Bob and Fern. Both are in their mid-eighties! They have three barges floating along the river attached by cable to high cliffs above. Boats tie up here and offer power and fuel (last stop along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers) but no other amenities. Fern (Bob just had back surgery) directed us onto the tricky dock by VHF radio. You had better listen to every word she says and hope that a tow isn’t passing by while you are trying to tie up. She then commences navigation class in the late afternoon to keep us all safe down the Mississippi. This lady has a real mission and everyone attended!
In addition to the novel marina, we visited the town of Kimmswick, the 2nd oldest town in MO. It had interesting shops; the Anheuser (Fred and Mabel Ruth) memorial and museum, consisting of a beautiful river home on a horse farm; and then we treated ourselves to lunch at the Blue Owl. This is an institution of 30 years serving 300 people a day (where they come from I have no idea) with a staff of 75! Their food was fabulous and the drinks and desserts even better. So if you ever get to Kimswick. . .
Fern would only allow us to stay one night as she had to make room for the next flotilla of boats coming along, so move on we did! Then, last night we (all five boats) tied up along the Kaskasik River Lock. Because the lock was off the Mississippi and up the Kaskaskia River a bit, there was no current so it was a peaceful night’s sleep. We could not leave our boats or the lock wall – maybe something to do with homeland security?
We are currently traveling with our boat buddies Vicki and Ron onboard Sea to See and also with the boats Reunion, Gemini and Blue Haven. Later we will have cocktails on the Reunion. Great company all!
Boat Name of the Day: “Nothing to Say” from Nowhere, OK
Bad Boat of the Day: “Dixieland” (flying a confederate flag!)
Quote of the Day: “Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.” -Dj M.O.D. (It is interesting how often this conversation comes up with our looper friends!)