Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Safe and Sound, but Stuck in Grafton!

Sunday, September 14, 2008
As I sit here Sunday morning writing this, I’m watching the effects of Hurricane Ike float by the boat. We are safely tied up in a marina in Grafton—“the confluence town”—where the Illinois River and the Mississippi River meet—at mile marker 0.0! We’re expected today to have between 2-4 inches more of “Ike” rain, high winds, and the river is expected to rise 3 feet—but Ike is moving quickly through the area and by mid afternoon it should be gone.

With the storm coming, we pushed harder yesterday, traveling another 20 miles further than our usual, of late, 40 miles per day. We skipped tying up at the restaurant dock, deciding to come 20 miles more and get safely in a marina before the wind and rain descend upon us. We have traveled this week 326 miles—amazing—considering we left Chicago Monday morning—the beginning of the Illinois River—and we arrived at the end of the Illinois late yesterday—Saturday. As we got closer and closer to this marina, it was like a space shuttle countdown on our flybridge….10, 9, 8, 7, 6, …..miles to go! Whew—we’re here!

But yesterday was exciting in its’ own particular way. We had one lock to go through, but because Chicago had experienced 5 inches of rain two days prior, the river had already risen considerably. So when we got to the lock—instead of going through the lock, we went over the dam! It sounds scary, but it wasn’t at all. The dam has “wickets” which can be hydraulically lowered in times of high water. So we gracefully slid by the lock, taking pictures from the “outside” and marveling at modern technology. We have two locks to go through on our part of the Mississippi ( @200 miles), and we might have the same experience there too—who know how much more rain we’ll encounter on our way down! People around here don’t seem to get bothered by all this rising and falling of the waters, so I guess we should just chill too.

It’s now Tuesday morning, and we’re still here in the Grafton Marina—owners Joe and Jan have been so hospitable, supportive, and understanding of our dilemma. The rivers are flooded and everyone has been advised to stay put for several days more and wait for the waters to subside—upstream and downstream. We may be here for even as long as a week—everyone will be. “Bella Luna” is tied up at the end of a dock, tied “side-to” so that our salon window is parallel with the river. All day long we watch the river rapidly flowing and the debris that is coming with it. The debris could pile up in front of our boat, like it did the other night when we were tied up to a barge, but it doesn’t now—we’re behind a breakwater wall and all the mess is on the outside of the wall. We’re in a lot better spot than some others along the river: we’ve got power, Louis is going to get a rental car today, we have walking access to the cute town/restaurants here, and we hope to drive to St. Louis and give it a tour either today or tomorrow. Louis’s high school buddy, Steve Godwin, lives in St. Louis and we will be seeing Steve and Janet again. Both of them drove here (an hour away!) our first night here and what a reunion the guys had!! The evening was just great—and men think women talk a lot!

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