Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The rivers are going down!

I haven't posted anything in a week because we're still in the same place we've been now for eleven days! Our "special home" of these past days has been the Grafton Marina, and we've been here with 10 Looper boats--everyone "stranded" because of the high waters on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. All the marinas/lock walls/barge tie-ups both up and down the rivers have been ordered to stand still. The Coast Guard shut down the rivers--giving $1,000.00 fines for anyone crazy enough to get out on the waters. Whole trees, hunting blinds, wooden docks, big sections of marshes, huge buoys, and every kind of trash imaginable have been floating down the flooded river beside us. The current is very swift too--making boating treacherous--especially for the boats that have only one engine or go slowly on normal currents . There are over 60 Looper boats now--all trying to get moving again--some way behind us (Chicago--360 miles) to others just a few miles downstream. But we've all been sitting still for well over a week.

Our days have been spent basically working on and cleaning our boats--boy, do they all shine now! Every one's laundry is caught up and pantries well stocked. We've had a rental car, so we consider ourselves luckier than most--we've had access to shopping, restaurants, and touring. We spent one day in St. Louis--going to the famous arch and it's wonderful museum. The arch was built in honor of Thomas Jefferson and his wish to "venture westward" in the expansion of the United States. The museum that is also at the arch is well worth the 3 hours we spent there--they have 2 movies and a self guided, but fabulous rendition of what Lewis & Clark experienced in trying to explore what was then called The Louisiana Territory (purchased from Napoleon!). Although it was unveiled at the St. Louis World's Fair, it was not designed for that exposition, as we both had thought (like the Eiffel Tower in Paris). But what fun it was to ride the little cable car up the short 4 minute passage way to the top! And what a view! On one side we saw the flooded Mississippi, with its' paddle wheel boat stranded and all gang planks leading down into the muddy, nasty waters--what a mess--the 3 flag poles and the road in front of the tour boat were all 10-12 feet (?) under water--not a welcoming sight at all. But on the other side of the arch we saw the baseball field and a beautiful view of downtown.

Being here for so long has also given us the great opportunity to see Louis's old high school buddy, Steve Godwin. We've had dinner with Steve and his precious wife, Janet, now three times--and we all have had just the best time catching up with each other after these many years apart. We've loved reliving old times/stories and sharing new ones about our now grown children and grandchildren, careers and travels. I wish we lived closer!

A stay of any length of time here would not be complete without mentioning the ever famous restaurant/bar/local gathering place called "Fast Eddies"! What an experience--no one under 21 is allowed on the premises, there's a band nightly, they have only 7 items on the food menu, they have a huge inside and an equally large outside "dining" area (order your food & then find your own table), they're open from 11am to 1am---and it's hard to find a table to sit at even during lunchtime! We've been there now twice, and at lunch both times; we can't imagine what it would be like at night--wild and even-more loud, probably! It's totally unique! Their food prices are dirt cheap (delicious 1/2 pound hamburger is 99 cents!)--obviously their money is made on the bar and tee shirts/coozies/hats/beads/various junk! Even with all that, what a great place! Color Louis happy.

We've also eaten at some great places too--one being here in Grafton, The Mississippi Half-Step. Anyone reading this who is coming behind us downstream should not miss this place--we've eaten there twice--Louis having the scallops one night, the steak the other night, and me having chicken livers both nights--they're that good. Actually, I shared mine with Janet one night--gotta love a woman who loves chicken livers!! Yum.

I hate to end this blog this way, but on a serious note, the hardest thing we've had to face while on this trip is when we hear sad news from home--we feel so helpless being so far away and at a loss of just what to do. We've heard recently of the loss of Troy's son, Betty Clyde's mother and Vance's father--and just this morning, of the sadness Brantley's facing right now with his mother. Our hearts and prayers go out to all these special folks--our friends. If we were home, all of you know we would be right there beside you. God bless us all.

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