Monday, September 26, 2011

Metropolis, IL to Grand Rivers, KY

Date             September 26, 2011

Day               90
Departure      Metropolis, IL 7:45 am 
Arrival           Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers, KY 4:40 pm  
Miles                51.2      
Cumulative   2165.3

NOTE: For a larger view of each picture, click once on the picture

Thankfully, no fog this morning and although the skies are somewhat gray, they appear to be clearing.
Today our travels took us from the Ohio River onto the Cumberland River and into Kentucky.  On the river banks we have seen many stone/gravel plants.  They quarry the stone, then crush it and put the crushed stone on barges to be transported on the rivers by the tows.
Some of the stone cliffs along the river are stunningly beautiful.  You can see the different rock layers created thousands of years ago.
Great Blue Herons still can be found everywhere.  Fishing along the riverbanks, sitting in trees and can even be found sitting on the navigational aids!
Today, we had two locks to travel through.  The first on the Ohio River, was a lift of 12 feet and we didn't have to wait for any tows.  The second was between the Cumberland River and Barkley Lake.  This one was a lift of 57 feet.  Today was our lucky day, again no waiting!  So we entered, tied to the floating bollard and up we went.
The massive doors swing shut behind us
Bob holding the line on the floating bollard
Last Dance waiting to be lifted up
This gauge reads 52 feet.  When the lock was full, this gauge was completely underwater.
After a hectic week of traveling almost 400 miles and anchoring out three nights, we think we are due for some real rest and relaxation.  We will be staying at the Green Turtle Bay Marina for the next week.  We hope to do some exploring of the town on our bicycles, some boat maintenance and just plain hanging around.  Here is a picture of our home for the next seven days.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Little Diversion Channel, MO to Metropolis, IL

Date             September 25, 2011

Day               88
Departure      Little Diversion Channel, MO 7:30 am 
Arrival           Metropolis, IL 5:00 pm  
Miles                85.7      
Cumulative   2114.1

No fog this morning, instead we have rain!  It rained off and on all day, sometimes very heavy and sometimes with thunder and lightning!  We drove from down below, inside, today and stayed warm and dry.  Not many pictures today due to the rain.
Inside, warm and dry!
A view of Last Dance (on the left) and Last Chance (on the right) as seen through our front windshield in the rain.
Tonight we are anchored in Metropolis, IL.  Here there is a Superman museum, Superman Statue, Superman phone booth, Superman gift shop etc.  But no Superman visible, he must have stayed home, out of the rain!  If it hadn't been raining so hard, we could have gone to the Harrah's Casino Riverboat that we anchored very near!
The weatherman is predicting a better day for tomorrow, let's hope he is right.  We could use a little sunshine after today!!

Kaskaskia Lock, IL to Little Diversion Channel, MO

Date             September 23, 2011

Day               87
Departure      Kaskaskia Lock, IL 8:40 am
Arrival           Little Diversion Channel, MO 3:45 pm    
Miles                68.7      
Cumulative   2028.4

Again, we had to wait for the fog to clear before leaving the lock wall.  Finally, at 8:40 am it was clear and we cast off our lines.  This is the sign that we saw as we left the lock wall.  Fortunately we had permission from the lock attendant and didn't encounter any problems!
This sailboat is one of the boats that had joined us at the lock wall.  Sailboats that do the loop need to have their masts removed due to the low fixed bridges.  They either ship the masts ahead, or carry them on deck as this boat is doing.
A tall limestone formation along the shore called "Tower Rock"
Here is our anchorage for the night, Little Diversion Channel.  All 10 boats were anchored in a line from us on up to the railroad bridge!
Fortunately, for Tucker and Willow, we were able to find a spot to dinghy them to shore.
Heading to shore

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kimmswick, MO to Kaskaskia Lock

Date             September 23, 2011

Day               86
Departure      Hoppies Marina, Kimmswick, MO  10:25 am
Arrival           Kaskaskia Lock, IL   2:30 pm    
Miles                41.0      
Cumulative   1957.7

Again, this morning we awoke to fog.  We had a leisurely breakfast, then Lynda, Jill and Glenn (Last Dance) took a walk into town.  Kimmswick is listed as an historic town, with most of the shops opening at 10 am, even the restaurant!  We got there before 10, so nothing was open.  By the time we got back to the boat, most of the other boats that had stayed the night had already left.  Last Dance and Erika Lin cast off their lines and began the days journey.    
The sights along the river today were more of the same, tows with very long barges.  Lynda took a nap along the way, so there are no pictures to post!  We arrived at the Kaskaskia Lock, our destination for today.  The lockmaster fits in as many boats as he can (today there are 10) and you can stay as long as you like for no charge.  We arranged to have docktails on the lock jetty at 5 pm.  Just as everyone was arriving, it started to rain.  Ken and Sharon on Dockers Inn invited everyone aboard their boat so we could continue with the party and stay dry.  We all climbed aboard (all 20 of us!) and enjoyed some great conversation.  Thanks Ken and Sharon!!
The lock is usually opened once a day, in the morning.  Today, it opened in the late afternoon and since we are tied to the opposite side of where the tow and barges come through, we were up close and personal with the tow as it went by.
Hopefully, no fog tomorrow morning and we can get an early start.

Alton, IL to Kimmswick, MO

Date             September 22, 2011

Day               85
Departure      Alton Marina, Alton, IL 7:15 am
Arrival           Hoppies Marina, Kimmswick, MO 12:00 pm    
Miles                44.4      
Cumulative   1916.7
Six boats, including us, left Alton and headed to the Mel Price Lock and Dam less than a mile down river.  The lock was open and ready for us to enter so there was no waiting this time!  Along the way, this sign directed us to enter the Chain of Rocks Canal.
This canal takes you around the main part of the river, as there are rapids via that route.  Next came another lock, again, no waiting here!
The next big city we went by was St. Louis. Unfortunately, St. Louis does not have any marinas in the city and there is no where to stop that is close by.  Thanks to Jill on Last Dance, we have a picture of us as we passed by the Arch in St. Louis!
Our stop for today is Hoppies Marina.  It's not really a "marina" but a series of barges tied into a high stone cliff with cables.  We are right in the center of the photo below.  This is the only place to get fuel for the next 107 miles and the only marina for the next 228 miles.
Every afternoon, Fern  (in the blue jacket) holds a captain's meeting and gives invaluable information regarding the river and places to anchor and not to anchor.  Usually the meeting is held out on the barge dock, but due to the cool, rainy weather, it was held inside.
Tonight's sunset

Tomorrow we continue down the Mississippi and hope to stop at the Kaskaskia Lock, which is a free dock.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hardin, IL to Alton, IL

Date             September 21, 2011

Day               84
Departure      Illinois Riverdock Restaurant, Hardin, IL 7:35 am
Arrival           Alton Marina, Alton, IL 12:00 pm    
Miles                32.9      
Cumulative   1872.3

NOTE: For a larger view of each picture, click once on the picture

Today the alarm had been set for 6:00 am.  There was no fog and the temperature was comfortable, even at this hour!  We all left the dock by 7:35 and today's journey was underway.  Here we are below, as we were all getting ready to cast our lines.
You'll never know what you may see on the rivers.  This old riverboat is reminiscent of the boats that used to go up and down the river on a regular basis.
Finally, I was able to get a fairly good shot of a bald eagle.  Even at this distance, he appeared majestic with the way the sun was lighting his white head and tail.
The sign on the front of this cottage read "Love Shack".  There was also a for sale sign on the cottage.  I guess the love is gone now!
This is the "State of Illinois Brussels Ferry Crossing"
The confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.  We have made it to the Mississippi River!
Mississippi River on the left, Illinois River on the right
These limestone cliffs have been carved over hundreds of years by the wind
Native Americans painted a giant mythical creature purportedly to frighten away European invaders.  Native American children told stories about the dragon-like creature that could carry away a buck in its talons.  But the terrible Piasa Bird didn't deter explorers Father Marquette and Louis Joliet.  They saw the bird on the river bluff and proceded on.
The Piasa Bird.  Enlarge the picture to see it's head and antlers more clearly.
We have seen a number of floating casinos along the river.  This one is in Alton, Il.
This is the New Clark Highway Bridge.  The Alton Marina will be today's destination.  It is on the left immediately after going under the bridge.
Below is the view of the bridge at night from our boat's flybridge.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beardstown, IL to Hardin, IL

Date             September 20, 2011

Day               83
Departure     Logsdon Tug Service, Beardstown, IL 7:55 am
Arrival          Illinois Riverdock Restaurant, Hardin, IL 3:15 pm    
Miles               61.4      
Cumulative   1839.4

NOTE: For a larger view of each picture, click once on the picture (This is new. No longer need to double click)

The alarm went off at 6 am.  We got up and looked out the window and couldn't see a thing.  We were fogged in!

Of course, the prudent mariner would not head down a river that was unknown to them, virtually blindfolded,  So we had a leisurely breakfast, walked the dogs and sat down to wait for the fog to lift.  Finally, around 7:45 am, it was clear enough to go, so we, along with the four other boats that had spent the night on the barge, cast off lines and away we went.  

Eight miles down the river was the last lock that we would encounter in Illinois.  The lockmaster said they had 600 feet visibility, but come along into the lock slowly and they would hand us the lines for the ride down.

Once we had completed the lock down, the fog had almost completely lifted and we continued onward without incident.  After traveling twenty-seven miles, we came to the western most spot on the Great Loop, The Norfolk Southern Rail Road Lift Bridge.  From this point, it will be easterly travel!

Then next three pictures are sights along the way.
Tow and barge working on the river
More stilt homes
Beautiful limestone cliffs

Today's destination is The Illinois Riverdock Restaurant.  There is a 250' dock with no electric, but a restaurant that serves terrific food.  There was enough room for four boats, so Glory Days (another Mainship 40) and Erika Lin rafted together so all five boats (Great Escape, Glory Days, Erika Lin, Ka-De-Anna and Aloha) would be able to stay.  Later on, all five couples enjoyed great food and good conversation at the Riverdock Restaurant.

Tomorrow will be the last day on the Illinois River.  Mississippi River, here we come!

Monday, September 19, 2011

East Peoria, IL to Beardstown, IL

Date             September 19, 2011

Day               82
Departure    East Port Marina, E. Peoria, IL 7:15 am
Arrival         Logsdon Tug Service, Beardstown, IL 5:00 pm    
Miles               68.1      
Cumulative   1778.00

NOTE: For a larger view of each picture, click once on the picture (This is new. No longer need to double click)

This morning started somewhat overcast, but the forecast was for clearing.  We weren't sure where we would stop for the night, but we wanted to get an early start as it looked like it might be a long day.  As it turned out, the skies cleared by mid-afternoon and it was one of our longer days.  Tonight we are not at a marina, a dock, or a lock wall.  Tonight is a new experience as we are tied to a barge!  Along the riverbank is a double row of four barges.  We are one of five boats (all loopers!) tied to the barges.  There are no services here (restrooms, water or electric) and the nightly fee is $1.00/ft; at least we can get the dogs to shore, we just have to climb on and over the barges!
Today we saw quite a few Golden Eagles and one Bald Eagle.  Unfortunately, they were all too far away to be able to get a good picture.  Below are some of the sights we saw in our travels along the Illinois River today.
This looks like a two story eagle nest!
The old Copperas Creek Lock
Great Blue Herons are everywhere
Did we make a wrong turn somewhere along the way??
In one of our guide books it shows this house with water right up to the stilts.  The water level is much lower now.
I think one of these is off position!
Here we are are our barge dock wall for the night.  We are the 1st boat on the left.

A beautiful sunset from our aft deck.