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Friday, October 21, 2011

Civilization at last!

Time travelled:     5 hours
 Nautical miles:    30
 Docked at:           Green Turtle Bay, Kentucky

We rounded the corner and went about 3 miles up the Cumberland River - Peter on Rio Grand called back to tell us he had hit a wall of fog and was tucked in behind a barge. Great ! We waited about half an hour until the fog lifted and proceeded up the river. It was much prettier than anything else we had been on in the last few days. A little bit of industry but mostly rural landscape. Had one lock today and it was big - fairly new so the inside was solid, not like Lock 53 on the Ohio with the huge holes.  We saw several deer, herons and arriving at Green Turtle Bay we saw Canada Geese.  Speaking of arriving at Green Turtle Bay, for the first time we hit bottom. Luckily it was soft and we did not do any damage.
When we docked we were greeted by Daria from "Muddy Waters" - we had not seen them since Myrtle Beach. The Samway family are doing the loop and boatschooling the kids as they go. What an amazing experience and what great kids!  We also meet  some fellow Canucks doing the loop on a sailboat and the Loopers from "Sea Ya" who anchored in the Cumberland with us last night.
We rented a car for a week so that we can get Zeke (fingers still crossed) and do a bit of exploring. Perhaps Nashville?
Dr. Van Walleghen  (Zekes new buddy) called this afternoon and we will know more tomorrow after the blood work but he wants to keep Zeke until Monday.

Cumberland Tow Island Anchorage

Rio Grand waiting for the Barkley Lock
When we went to get the car we had to go to Panucah - we stopped at the CVS, Wal Mart and Lowes then went to the Kountry Kitchen BBQ for dinner -  it was like being in a time warp. The prices were incredible - $7.99 for a half rack of ribs with all the fixins and the hair do's on the women were right out of the 60's! Could be that we are just exhausted and our eyes were playing tricks on us - will hold any further comments about Kentucky women until we check this out further.
We are staying here for a week.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Down the Mississippi & Up the Ohio

Time travelled:   9 hours 40 minutes
 Nautical miles:   77 
 Docked at:        Anchored at Cumberland Tow Island

Up and out of our anchorage by 7 am. We met three large barges right off the bat coming around the snake like corners. Garth even called one and commented on how impressed he was with his manoeuvring, these barge captains must have nerves of steel. The bottom of the Upper Mississippi was just as bland as the section we did yesterday. We turned up the Ohio and went by Metropolis - you remember the home of Superman. We did not see him or any facsimiles.  We had two locks today - the first one was a drive through as the water level is high - the second is so old that our big ball fender went right in a hole and I think we may have dented the rub rail - will check that out tomorrow. Arrived in daylight, dropped the anchor and are both exhausted.  There are four of us in this big cove and are expecting a fifth boat - should be here shortly.
New lock under construction

Never thought of having a boat as a lawn ornament! 

A reward after a long day.

Zeke update:

Both the vets are puzzled as to what is going on with him. His breathing is good, all liver and kidney blood work is good but he has a temperature and will not eat. The situation is not good. We will park the boat tomorrow in Kentucky and make arrangements to rent a car and go up to see him.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A very long day on the Mississippi

 Time travelled:   10.5  hours
 Nautical miles:   114 NM
 Docked at:              Anchored at Mile 29.6 Upper Mississippi

Fern came by last night to tell us her last "rule of thumb" - she said if you can't see around that corner when you get up don't leave. She was thinking fog but all was well, the four boats were all ready this morning, we were just waiting for a little light and two huge barges to go by before we left the dock / barge! It was miserable weather, drizzling and overcast. Not much to see anyhow. 

Garth reading the paper and driving!

Yucky day

Rock piles and chevrons

Fern explained to us that the Army Corp of Engineers have been putting these rock piles out all along the river and that "some kids with a computer" designed the chevrons on the banks - to quote "those damn environmentalists are going to ruin our river, why can't they just dredge and toss the sand up on the bank like they have done for years and years"

Looks like a wall of steel coming at you, this one was pushing 33 barges - now you see why they have the right of way! There are no locks from Alton, Illinois all the way down to New Orleans so we are seeing these HUGE barges today. Once we get onto the Ohio River tomorrow they will resume to normal size.

We arrived at the Little Diversion Creek Anchorage and the first boat to leave the dock/barge this morning had arrived and taken the entrance channel where the deep water was ......THANK YOU SOJOURN!!! Boat number two got in, we were watching and thought he was going to hit the other boat ... he slide beside him. We got in and went in front of "Soujourn" but he did not like that. Because he had his 1000 feet of anchor out ...he was taking up the whole space. We decided to move on and watched for anything that looked suitable. It was getting dark and I was scared. We snugged in behind a little island and the anchor held, so here we sit .... a little deer came down to the bank and glared at us. Too dark to get a picture. 

One more long day, then a normal day to get to a marina!

Zeke update:

"Stable" was the word the vet used this morning. His temperature has dropped and he is banging his bowl around the cage wanting food! He doesn't want to eat though - he just wants to see what you'll give him. The vet asked what he likes to eat. Chicken - he loves chicken !   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On the move without Zeke

 Time travelled:   5.5 hours  - the current helped!
 Nautical miles:    51
 Docked at:           Hoppies Marine Services

Pirates on the Illinois
Cowboys and Indians in Grafton

Zeke is driving us to drink!
We left Grafton Harbor Marina- a great place and wonderful people-heading south one mile on the Illinois River and then onto the Mighty Mississippi!

Illinois River on the right and the Mississippi on the left.

Bald eagles winter all along the Grafton shore 
 I called ahead to the lock about 45 minutes before we arrived and asked the status - come on down and we will get you right through!! GREAT - no waiting. We arrived and Garth called him on the VHF, he said it would be an hour and a half wait ..... so, I called him on the phone and asked what was going on, had we known he was going to make us wait we would have put down the throttle and caught up to the other pleasure craft that went through 20 minutes prior.  He said he was sorry that he did not know that they were going to close the auxiliary lock and that he was bringing up one barge and another one was waiting!  We chatted a little and then he told us we could tie up on the wall. As we were moving toward the wall he called the barge below the wall and asked if he would mind if we came down - barges have the right of way and priority but really he was taking down an empty lock and it just meant that the barge would have to wait back a little to let us out. Luckily , the barge said yes and off we went.  We did not even tie to the wall, we just floated in the middle - cool!

Going through the Chain of Rocks Canal we passed an Army Corp of Engineer barge "Pathfinder" only to get to the lock at the end of it and let him pass us cause --he had priority. He spoke to the lock-keeper and said we could come in with him and tie up to him instead of the wall. So, he got in, and we crept in, threw our lines to a guy on his deck and down we went. Two locks and two new experiences!

Pathfinder on the left and a red flag (dangerous cargo) on the right.

We went through St, Louis. We were both surprised at how small is was. The waterfront is a busy port with lots of barges and therefore lots of industry.

The St. Louis Arch

Statue of Lewis & Clark

We arrived at Hoppies - a must stop - three 100ft. barges tied together. Every evening at 4 pm Fern Hoppie holds court for the boaters. Garth quickly hooked up the electric and we walked into town - Kimmswick- the second oldest town in Missouri. We meet the guys on the boat in front of us who said the only place worth going was the bakery so we took their advice and off we went.
Grama could make this pie eh Meg!!

Algonquin in the background

The infamous FERN - chain smoking and giving us all the lowdown on the rivers,anchorages & turbulence from here to Mobile.
Not sure about internet signals for the next few days but the SPOT will be on and if you are interested in seeing where we are then click on it.  There are four boats all leaving together tomorrow and all headed for the same place to anchor out for the next two nights, so at least we will not be alone.

We took Zeke to the vet on Monday morning for xrays and blood work. The hepatic blood work was good but the xray of his lungs was cloudy and looked worse than his initial xray. OMG!  We explained that he was not eating, was drinking well and that his breathing had improved significantly. Puzzled, he called the university hospital and spoke to the doctors who had treated him. They suggested a complete physical and more blood work. Twenty minutes later the blood work showed that he has some sort of  "massive" infection.  Another conference call with Guelph. The readers digest version is that Zeke is staying in Illinois receiving antibiotics and a different anti-fungal. We called this morning and again this afternoon and he is trending in the right direction.

We made the decision to leave as this next section has a long stretch on it where there are no marinas, no services and therefore no access to a vet. When we leave here tomorrow we will not get to a marina until Friday. We felt it best to get the boat to a marina and then rent a car and go back for Zeke.  Hopefully we will get him back on Saturday.  Once again, keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Staying put for a few days!

Time travelled: Nautical miles: Docked at:

We found a local vet with a digital x-ray machine so we have decided to get Zekes xrays here on Monday morning. He is about the same as when we left, seems to be very tired and has no appetite. He was eating hot dogs for a few days so I went to get those. Now, he has decided hot dogs are tasteless and he discovered deli-turkey. He sniffs everything to see if there is a pill in it, so, it is back to the spit it down the throat Dr. Bob method of giving pills. We keep telling ourselves that it has only been a month and we know that it is a long slow recovery. Still keeping our fingers crossed. 

Busy day cleaning today - Garth is doing the outside which means it will take hours cause people stop to talk, I am doing the inside vacuuming and baking banana bread.  It feels good to have a somewhat relaxing day!

You can see by the "SPOT" when we start to move again.  If all goes well with Zeke on Monday we will pull out Tuesday.

Friday, October 14, 2011

We finished the Illinois!!

 Time travelled:  9 hours, one lock 
 Nautical miles:  77
 Docked at:        Grafton Marina

These people are ready for the next flood. 

The book said the last twenty miles of the Illinois were the prettiest - I think the person who wrote the book must have been drinking the whole way down the river.  We did see this on the last twenty miles : you tell me what the guy is doing !

We saw stand up boards in Georgian Bay, but never saw anyone sitting down jumping wakes and doing spins --  looks like fun eh!

Off he goes.

Well, five long days on the river has left the three of us all very tired.  We may stay here for a rest day tomorrow. We are about a mile from the Mississippi and once we start it there is a place to tie up about 66 miles down the river and then we have two nights where we will have to drop the anchor and dingy Zeke to shore! Chances of having internet are slim to nil. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Peoria to the Beardstown Yacht Club - One is the loneliest number

 Time travelled:  7:25
 Nautical miles:   64.8
 Docked at:   Beardstown Yacht Club, Illinois
                    -on a barge for the night at Logsdson Tug Service

Correction from yesterday - it was not an alternator that Garth replaced but a regulator - a regulator requires much more time, skill and luck.
Someone else does not do Oh Dark Thirty well!

For 99 % of the day we were all by ourselves on the river.   I called the one and only lock and he said if you get down here we'll put you through - so off we went - right into the lock and right down all by ourselves.  The last few locks have had lines to grab instead of the floating bollards. Today, the lock-keeper didn't even help you get the lines - no consistency ! Slowly getting back into the groove of being on the water but it is like a steep learning curve every day. Today, I really messed up tying to the barge - no harm done, it is just frustrating. At one point today I mentioned to Garth that the Illinois would be a perfect place to dump a body - he told me I would not be able to dock the boat by myself -- in reality I was thinking the other way around . Him sending me walking the plank - who would know, cause honestly we went for hours today and did not see anyone. Just birds - turkeys, eagles and gulls - even the Canada Geese don't hang out on this section of the river. The Asian carp were non-existent as well.  So, if I do not make it to the next stop please inform the FBI of my whereabouts - the Illinois River between Beardstown Yacht Club aka Logsdon Tug Services and Grafton.

These chunks of cement would keep a body down nes pas? Seriously, why are the buoys on the bank?

We passed two barges today - the Pat Pickett and the Theresa L Wood - why do barges have two names? The exciting event on today's journey was the Buxton 11 dredging Devils Elbow. They must have been thinking they were all alone too because all the people on the dredge waved as we went by.

Moving the silt out of the channel for us.

Just as we were approaching a RR bridge about a half  kilometer from the Beardstown Yacht Club aka Logsdon Tug Barge  I looked behind us and saw Barbara and Stan - we last saw them at a lock on Tuesday morning. We waited together for the lift to go up and then both pulled up to our makeshift marina/yacht club for the night.  The bridge tender would not respond to Garth but when Barbara asked him to lift the bridge he replied to her - humm, as Barbara says reverse discrimination.
Garth and I took Zeke for a walk around town and checked out the dining options. Not much choice - either the Cafe or the Mile 88 Club!  

We came back to the boat and found out that there was a grocery store at the other end of town, so back I went - his majesty has decided that he will no longer eat dog food. Two days ago it was ground beef - yesterday he wouldn't touch the beef and decided that hot dogs and cheese were on the menu. Hot dogs are good cause it is easy to hide pills in a hot dog. Did I mention that he no longer eats "pill pocket" either.  OH BOY! Maybe Zeke will be the first one to walk -be pushed off the plank. Whatever it takes to get him to eat for now but the day is coming where it will be dog food or nothing.

Sunset from the yacht club

Seriously, a life jacket on to get to the bathroom!!
Algonquin at the Beardstown Yacht Club

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ottawa to Peoria - Anyone need a good mechanic!!

 Time travelled: 12.5 hours
 Nautical miles: 69.4 NM
 Docked at:  Peoria Day Docks- all by ourselves

Wow, this river is quiet - in a way it is kind of eerie because there is so little traffic on it. We passed a coast guard barge first thing this morning. They were out replacing markers from the looks of it.  

Arrived at the Starved Rock Lock & Dam (try saying that fast three times) at 8 am but had to wait for a barge to come up - it was huge and took a few trips to get it all up and then they had to connect everything again.

This is just the front of the load.

 - we finally got in and were out at 9:30.  While we were hanging around above the lock Garth spotted a white pelican, according to the lock-keeper they just started showing up a few years ago. 

Look Closer
We were zipping along at our usual 9 knots an hour when the voltage alarm went off - I took the wheel and Garth ran down to the engine room to see what he could do. After about twenty minutes at idle speed he said we needed to find a marina --great -- here we are in the middle of nowhere and not a marina in the next 40 miles that could take us. Finally we spotted a barge along the banks, Garth called the tow boat that was just above it and asked if we could tie up to it as we had engine problems. He said OK and after securing the boat Garth displayed his hidden mechanical talents - forty five minutes later the new alternator was on and we were leaving the barge - so far so good!  If anyone needs a good mechanic I highly recommend Garth. I was impressed and he was doing the happy dance as we got back into the groove of zipping along the Illinois.
Looks like a White Pelican meeting -all in a row!
The Spirit of Peoria passed us later when we were tied up.

Rush hour on the Illinois
We got our first glimpse of  Asian Carp this afternoon - when the boat goes a particular speed the noise makes them jump - we passed the Spirit of Peoria paddle-wheeler and wow you should have seen them -- jumping all over the place. I will try and get a picture of them next time. 

Tomorrow we have another long day - 88 miles and the only place available for us to tie up to is a barge on the side of the river! Humm - had practice at that today!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Joliet to Ottawa

 Time travelled: 7.5 hours, 3 locks
 Nautical miles: 39 NM
 Docked at: Heritage Harbor Marina, Ottawa, IL

I had forgotten how dark it is at 6 am , or is it a conscience blocking of something I do not like. Up at six and walking the dog around the park while Garth did the engine checks. I hate early mornings! 
I called the first lock, they are open 24/7, and he said if we could beat the barge down he would lock us through. Garth ran up to tell Barbara and Stan, threw in the lines and off we went.  We made it through in record time and Barbara and Stan sped off as they need to get down to Alton.

Duck blinds lined the shore, this one was right across from a refinery - would hate to be around if a bullet went astray.

                                                   An abandoned blind.
Zeke comes out looking for treats . Great locks - love these floating bollards!

One of two barges we meet today.
We had a beautiful peaceful day on the river.  We only saw two other pleasure boats and two barges all day. It was kind of nice - like having our own private river. The lock keepers were all friendly and helpful. Maybe these guys go to Lock keepers school with the folks from the Trent Severn. 
At our last lock for the day the guide book warns you to make sure you do not mistake the dam for the lock. I read it to Garth as we were approaching and we both looked at all the big warning signs and thought who could think that this was a lock?  Well when we got into the lock we had to wait about ten minutes and the lock keeper showed us a video of two girls going through and over the dam last Saturday.....they are both OK but the driver  has been charged with a DUI. CRRAAAZY!

We are  fixing the time on the "click here for our current location" - it is neat to look at and you can tell where we stopped to wait for a barge and a lock. OK maybe only neat if you are on a boat.

Off to Peoria at OH DARK THIRTY tomorrow!

Pictures - Chicago to Joliet Oct 10th

The first barge we had to stop for cause he was taking a direct aim, turned out he was just pulling in!

OH NO, I can't believe I am back on this boat!! 

See, there are some pretty spots!

Another one!

Looks like a great place to chill.

The dreaded 19.1 bridge and there was a train going over as we went under.

To keep the Asian Carp from entering Lake Michigan