Thursday, September 11, 2008

Farewell Chicago!

We left Chicago on this bright sunny morning around 8 am with “C-Life”, “Sunshine”, and “Southern Comfort”. We quickly locked through the first lock, which was built to keep the nasty waters of the Chicago River (which runs through downtown Chicago) from getting into the pristine waters of Lake Michigan. Good thing too—it was an ugly mess! We have been in such beautiful waters ever since leaving New York and it was a stark reminder of how truly nasty some waters can become—what a shame too. But quietly riding along under the bridges and overpasses of busy and rushing early morning Chicago commuters was special—they were hurrying, most were on cell phones and we were just cruising along! And riding along through those canyons of tall buildings where we were at water level was even more imposing—the buildings were much, much taller than when we had been on them at street level!

We passed through South Chicago—not a pretty view at all from our angle—many industrial plants and such—plus O’Hare’s runway must have been very close—lots of airplanes were thundering at take-off right over us. Along the way, we encountered several long barges going upstream to us—sometimes we even went between two at a time! Yipes—and with me at the helm! But we had a relative easy 40 miles traveling south (downstream) on the Illinois River to Joliet, only occasionally dodging logs and trash. We passed under a bridge called “The Atchison, Topeka, and The Santa Fe”—I remembered a song with that name in it and I thought it was especially funny—considering where we were—I thought we’d have to be out west to hear that! We also went under a huge green arch which was constantly electrically charged (from the arch overhead to a screen on the bottom floor of the water) to keep the Asian carp from swimming upstream. These carp were brought in years ago in hopes they would help with the algae problem in the river. The river had so much algae/food in it that the fish reproduced/exploded in record numbers—now they have a problem with way too many carp---just like our lingering problem with kudzu! Hard to mess with Mother Nature!

After about 5 hours of traveling, all four boats tied up against the wall in Ottawa, Illinois—in the cold, wet rain. Our bows were facing upstream so if any debris/logs were coming our way it would hopefully bounce off the bows and not the sterns—where the props are. There’s lots of trash/logs/debris in these waters. Good decision/idea! We got together for drinks on “C-Life” after getting hot showers (we were meeting their "new" company on board), and regrettably, it was not a great afternoon nor evening to go exploring Joliet! Maybe next trip.

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