Post # 28: YOU BOYS LOST? Day 132, September 12, 2014. On board: Tom, Paul, Hank (my Dad), and Jim K
So we stopped at a very local diner in a very small, very rural, very Illinois town. In typical Midwest fashion, the waitress was friendly and to-the-point. When she asked where we were from, we replied “Boston”. Not understanding why anyone from Boston would ever find themselves in this very small, very rural, very Illinois town, her immediate reaction revealed the only explanation she could imagine: “You boys lost?” Well, we weren’t lost, thanks to the linear flow of the river, but it speaks volumes about the remoteness of some of the terrain on the Illinois River through which we have been passing. Scenic, much of it pristine with herons, eagles, and other wildlife, and much of it very rural. We are constantly reminded of civilization, however, with the periodic encounters with barges and tows plying the river, and the occasional presence along the way of small villages on the waterfront or old industrial plants, most of which were shuttered and abandoned long ago. All in all, floating down the river is a treat. Here are some images since my last post:
Our first stop after Peoria was the Tall Timbers Marina in the town of Havana, Ill. Although the town was somewhat run-down and obviously experiencing difficult times, the people were friendly and resilient. A weekend-long Octoberfest was underway, in which the whole town seemed to be taking part. We went to a local tavern for lunch and watched the Patriots play a dismal second half and lose to the Dolphins. However, the small marina was a treat – nestled in a small dug-out basin surrounded by trees, the entire marina was built on floats – the docks, the marina office, the small restaurant (which unfortunately was closed), the screened-in lounge, etc – all floated. The owner told us: “When the river goes up, we all go up. When the river goes down, we all go down”:
The next day, we did a 100 mile run due to forecasts of thunderstorms coming in the next day, and we wanted a secure and pleasant place to wait them out. We crossed a MAJOR milestone:
Our next stop was in in the town of Hardin at a restaurant along the river with a dock where we could tie up for the night – places to tie up are becoming more and more scarce. Not everyplace we dock is beautiful – this was nothing more that a rusty steel dock with a precarious ramp, but it was a secure place to stay for the night along with quite good food in the adjacent restaurant. The town was small and very depressed.
On Tuesday, another MAJOR milestone – we completed our run down the Illinois River, and merged onto our second Inland River on our journey south – the MISSISSIPPI!! We stopped in Grafton, Missouri at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers – Missouri is our eighth state, in addition to two Canadian provinces. The marina in Grafton, which had a novel approach for a work tug:
The current in the Mississippi is noticeably swifter than on the Illinois, and the river is wider. There is also more debris floating down the river, mostly sticks, small logs, and small branches. There was a massive thunderstorm Tuesday night, and we planned to stay in Grafton for another day due to more thunderstorms forecast for Wednesday. After monsoon rains in the morning, the weather cleared a bit. However, a more important issue arose – as you may have read, there have been huge rainstorms throughout the Midwest – Kansas City reportedly received 9″ of rain. Though many of these rainstorms are hundreds of miles away, the water all drains into the Missouri/Mississippi watershed, affecting the water levels and currents all the way to the Gulf. We’re in the process of trying to assess the impact on us. In the meantime, we decided to make a mad dash from Grafton, Missouri to Alton, Illinois (other side of the river, about 20 miles downstream) before the next wave of thunderstorms hit to be closer to St. Louis and be at a marina with better facilities. An hour after we arrived, a massive thunderstorm hit, with high winds, more monsoon rains, and lightning. However, we were safely tied up with our docklines doubled, sitting on the bridge having a beer.
We’re now in the process of determining the affect of the water levels on the next leg of our journey.