Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Unloading a barge on the Illinois River
Leaving some of the Illinois River behind.
Approaching a tow boat.
Ottawa last night, Havana tonight - did I change course? Actually these are towns on the Illinois River and tomorrow I plan to arrive in Grafton, Ill where the Illinois joins the mighty Mississippi.
Thursday to Hoppie's Marina - 50 miles south of St. Louis where the longest stretch of my trip begins and gasoline is not available, nor any other services. That is the 240 miles from Hoppie’s, located in Kimmswick, MO to Kentucky Lake, TN where I began this trip and will “cross my own wake.”
Hoppie’s is famous as Fern Hopkins and her husband hold court every afternoon for those venturing south on the Mississippi. Their "marina" is actually several barge platforms tied together sitting along the banks of the River. Here is a picture: http://www.marinas.com/view/marina/5146_Hoppies_Marina_Imperial_MO
But first things first. Most of my trip has taken place when heat advisories were taking place. Tomorrow there are heat index warnings again for this and the Mississippi area extending into the end of the week. I need to drink more water during the day on the boat, but usually what happens is I get to my destination and realize I'm a bit dehydrated and then spend the evening tanking up, not a balanced approached. Tomorrow I plan to stay at the Reubel Hotel in Grafton - if I begin by 7:30 AM I could get there early afternoon and "chill" out. It is 120 miles and at 25 mph about a 5-6 hr. trip.
The Illinois River is somewhat narrow in places and if you consider that navigation aids in places narrow it further then the space between me and a tow pushing barges ahead of it is not comfortable. Actually I slow down and determine which direction the end of the tow will hang out and cruise by the other side. When turning into a curve, the tow (actually it's pushing the barges) will swing to the outside of the curve. You don't want to be there as you will end up in his wake and maybe outside the channel markers.
While I can visualize the end of this journey it is important to take each of the final days one at a time. Don't make any mistakes, keep track of my location on chart and GPS and enjoy the scenery. I'm in corn and bean country and while I can't see that from the river I did see it last night from the 3rd floor of my motel - a corn field and water tower, just like the one in Goodland near where my folks lived their final years. Many memories all of a sudden came to mind when I opened the curtains of the motel and saw that scene - with a thunderstorm in the background thrown in for good measure. Wow, you just never know where the great river of life will lead. And so it flows . . . . .