Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling On Our Heads!

September 11 & 12
We’ve spent the last two days traveling in the rain—and believe me, locking through is no fun in the rain—I get soaked every time! The weather forecast is for two more days of rain, with the remnants of hurricane Ike coming through our way either Sunday or Monday. By then, we hope to be in Alton (near St. Louis) where we’ll stop and rest for a few days, rent a car and ride out the effects of Ike. But it sounds like we’ll not see the sun for several more days. Ugh.

Since leaving Chicago Monday morning, we have been through the towns of Marseilles, Ottawa, Peru, Rome, Havana and Liverpool—wow—around the world in 5 days! But we both have chuckled over those names as we continue to move on down the Illinois River. There’s not much to see on this stretch except barges and levees, which protect these small towns from flooding. We have seen some interesting photographs on walls in local restaurants that have men standing waist deep in water in the middle of town from flooding. Scary! There is a lot of debris now—logs, boards, tree branches and such floating quickly downstream, so we both are really focused on what’s ahead of us as we motor along. With the rapid water now and the fact that we’re going downstream with it, we’re also getting a great “push”—great on fuel consumption. Color Louis happy! We’ve also seen several more eagles in the past two days—all perched on dead trees looking for a tasty fish to swim by. These Asian carp are sometimes jumping in our wakes too—the river is full of them—and I was told this morning that some of them get to be five feet long and weigh close to 120 pounds. Amazing! They do not bite on a hook, you have to net them.

After spending Thursday night in the quiet, but nice Tall Timbers Marina, we’re now (Friday afternoon) tied up alongside a huge barge in Beardstown, Illinois—the smaller “spud” barge (which is actually the town dock!) is currently too full of river debris for us to get anywhere near it. In order for us to get alongside this barge, the tugboat company’s manager cranked up his engines and blew off all the debris which had collected alongside over the past several days. Thank you, Captain Jeff! We’ve been following the Stagg’s blog on “Second Wind” (they completed the Loop last year) and when they got to this very place last year it was 103 degrees—wow—what a difference we’re having this time around! (Don’t know which is worse—the heat or the rain?!) We’re still traveling with the same five boats of the past several days and hope to make a long run tomorrow to Hardin, where we have reservations to tie up at a restaurant dock—just like Tony’s dock in Morehead City! (I’ll bet they don’t have hushpuppies of any kind there though.)

As I sit here this afternoon blogging, our bow is facing upstream and I’m also watching all the debris coming down the river—so much more so than when we tied up four hours ago. Bud on “Sunshine” just stopped by our boat to tell us that the locks have lowered their “wickets” because of all the rain yesterday, today, and what’s forecasted in the next few days. That’s exciting—the locks tomorrow ought to be fun!! The river is racing by us now as we’re tied securely to the old rusty barge, and every now and then we hear a bump or a scrape—just more stuff floating downstream. We’re the “lead boat” tied up today—everyone takes a turn. Hopefully something really big won’t crash into our bow before we leave early tomorrow!

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