Heart of Gold
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- October 9, 2010 - Saturday - 4:10 p.m. - We got plenty of work done today and made lots of lists. Now if we don't lose the lists and remember to bring everything with us we will be in good shape. I am trying to clean up the web site the rest of the weekend so that should be interesting. I just pray I don't lose everything. We shall see.
- October 14, 2010 - Thursday - 10:30 p.m. - P.D. brought us to Saugatuck this evening and helped us unload the car and get things loaded onto the boat. Then he was off to Lafayette to visit friends. Greg and I put everything away and then Greg was puttering around with some wiring he wanted to do. Greg got a new "do" for the trip. It feels furry and I suppose it will grow on me. I packed an extra stocking cap for him to keep his dome warm. Tomorrow Sue is going to take me shopping for our last minute groceries. Well, check out the picture of Greg's new haircut. It is worth a look.
- October 15, 2010 - Friday - 11:30 p.m. - Today was spent shopping for me and working on the boat for Greg. Sue Ross, my dear friend and saint, drove me all over Holland. Sue set a personal record on how many stores visited in a day. Before the day was done she had been to 13 stores all told. I sure did appreciate her dragging me to all those places. It was well worth it because we got every single thing we needed. Could not have done it without her help. Sue has been learning how to crochet. Her ultimate goal is to make a ripple afghan for her grandson. Tonight we decided that she was going to learn how to do it right handed. I know it can be done. Sue is a smart woman and she will do it. I will make sure of it. Even if it kills one of us. Tommy will have his ripple afghan before his next birthday. Later this evening Larry, Sue, Greg and I all went out for steaks. We did the same thing last year before we left. This is becoming a tradition. Steaks with Larry and Sue before we head south. This is where the last three stores of the day came in. Greg did not bring the power cord to his computer and we had to get yet another one. Of course we had to go to three stores before we finally found one. We have at least 6 of them at home. I guess it wouldn't be a vacation without searching for a power cord. We had a great time at supper and then came back to the boat. Larry and Sue picked out socks for the winter and we had a few more laughs. I will miss them both over the long winter. Next year my goal is to spend a lot more time on the boat. I will have to, just to make sure Sue finishes the ripple afghan. It was a good day and a lot of things got done. I think we will leave earlier tomorrow than usual. The lake generally lays down after dark but tomorrow it is going to get rougher later in the evening. I think the window of opportunity tomorrow will be sometime after 10:00 am or maybe noon. We will see. It was a great day today.
- October 16, 2010 - Saturday - 11:34 p.m. - Well, today we got our bell rung several hundred times. We set out around 9:30 this morning saying good-bye to all our friends. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of them. So all I have is a picture of us leaving the marina. I am going to really miss Sue. It has been fun teaching her to crochet. Anyway, we left Saugatuck and well see everyone again in the spring. Our first hour on the lake was great and it was flat and pleasant. It started to pick up and from all the reports we heard it was only going to be 1 to 3 footers so we really weren't concerned. Well, it wasn't long before the lake started to build. I don't know how high the waves were but I know they were bigger than 1 to 3's. We would get the occasional rouge wave followed by several of its cousins. We got water all the way to the top of our boat. It was like someone was throwing buckets of water at the isinglass. We were taking it on the nose and getting a beating most of the trip. Finally spotted Chicago around 3 and it took 3 hours to see the pier heads. As we got closer to shore it layed down and it was an easy ride in. Luckily we made it to Hammond Marina before dark. We saw the Arther M. Anderson as they were leaving Chicago and heading out to the lake. We got settled into our slip and went out to supper to the casino with friends. Greg and I stayed and I lost $80.00. It didn't take very long. We walked back to the boat and Greg worked on a small wiring problem he was having and I picked up all the stuff that was tossed around the boat all day. Not a bad day. Really glad to be here tonight.
- October 17, 2010 - Sunday - 11:30 p.m. - We left Hammond just after sunrise and were in the river in no time. Chicago in the morning looks so peaceful. We came to the first bridge without a hitch. We saw the Manistee getting loaded and ready to head out, a huge recycling facility, and a ship yard with boats in for repair. Also went by a plant processing coke to make into steel. I am always fascinated by the industry that we still have here. I also will never get tired of seeing the cute bridge towers. The train bridges that go up and down are so interesting to watch. Of course even with all the industry there still is the wildlife like this beautiful hawk and this group of swans. We got through the low bridge of terror again without any trouble or anything breaking off. It is always such a good feeling to get that behind us. Also got through the electrified fish barrier with no problem at all. There were no coast guard guys there or anything. They still had a sign that said to call them but no one came. With all the fuss they made over it last year it was surprising they didn't worry about it much this year. Just glad to be past that too. I am just amazed at all the industry that is still here. It makes me feel good that there is still something left her in the USA. Did get into a little traffic jam today and had to wait for a couple of barges to get tied up and then some others to pass by. We noticed that they were building a new retaining wall and it is different from the old wall. We got to Lockport Lock and were held up there also. Greg thought it was neat when he looked at the laptop GPS and saw that our boat was right on the cell we were hanging on. Its the little things that make him so happy. He is easily entertained. I was very happy with our new flag. The last one was lost last fall in the Tennessee River.We finally got through and started through the bridges of Joliet, IL and Greg got reprimanded for approaching the bridge too soon. Greg apologized but the bridge tender was not going to have any of that. He just kept yelling at Greg. It was kind of funny. He must have thought Greg was trying to hit the bridge on purpose. He has no idea what we go through to actually not hit any bridges. So far so good, even in Joliet. After that we did make it through all the other bridges without incident. Then we got to the train bridge and it was down. In all the years we have been going up and down the river we have never seen that train bridge down. It was only going to be a half hour wait but we decided to go ahead and stay in Joliet. It is a beautiful place to tie up and they even have electricity for us but it is sort of a hang out type of area. Not our first choice but it was getting dark and we were getting tired. Besides it is Sunday night and it is cold outside. I am sure it will be an uneventful night. It was a slow traveling day but the weather was great and we did get to see lots of great stuff.
- October 18, 2010 - Monday - 11:45 p.m. - We left Joliet this morning around 8 a.m. and got through the first lock of the day with no trouble. We went past a power plant that had a conveyor that ran over the river. The industry is changing as we go farther down the river. Some look like they are abandoned but they are still working. Hunting season for geese must be going on now. I spotted some fake geese but the hunter looks real, not sure about the dog. When we got to Marseilles Lock we saw cows in the river which is something you don't see everyday. While I was looking at the cows Greg spotted our first eagle. While I was watching the cows the eagle was also watching the cows. Not sure if the eagle was thinking he could take down one of the cows. There was the eagle sitting in the tree right over the cows. While we were waiting to through the lock Greg was able to get closer to the tree and I got several angles of the eagle. I took a ton of eagle pictures. It is just so exciting to see one. I thought I got some good shots with my camera but one day I want a better camera. It is just so neat to see a real live eagle. Greg was so good about trying to get the boat in position so I could take a picture of the eagle and our flag. Not really a good picture but how often can you even get close to making a picture like that. I don't think National Geographic will be calling me any time soon. For some reason Greg has been leaving his mark in the locks. I think he was inspired when he saw someone else leave their mark and Greg just happened to have a Sharpie in his pocket and could not resist leaving his mark. We are easily entertained. One other thing that I noticed is that people really know how to live it up on the river. Each year we make this trip there is always a new and colorful monument to fun. We are a creative people. And our great eagle watches over all of us. Tonight we got into Starved Rock Marina early. Had a nice supper, watched the sun set, then settled in for a movie. A great day.
- October 19, 2010 - Tuesday - 8:30 p.m. - This morning we were on the river before the sun was. It was cold and misty. The sun finally started coming up but it still took a while for the mist to burn off. Did I mention it was cold? It was a beautiful sunrise. We weren't too far from Dresden Island Lock so it was really cold when we locked through. We did get lucky in locking through so it wasn't too bad. My hands were numb so after a while it didn't matter. Did spot my first lone pelican today. That is always exciting. Also watched a barge being unloaded. It will always be amazing to me how much industry uses the rivers. Saw another pelican in the river right in front of us and it took off to get out of the way. Not that we could ever hit one. Finally we saw more pelicans. I was afraid maybe we might have been to late in the season to see them. I think today we passed the tow "City of Natchez" for the third time. They run non stop so when we quit for the evening they pass us in the night pushing their barges down the river. We made it to Peoria around 2:30 and decided to press on. Greg called the Peoria lock and they said they weren't busy so we headed their way. I had to take a picture of the Hooters on the river for our daughter Mary. She crewed on their boat "Hooter Patrol" for a while. The huge factory of some kind is just a wonder to me. Greg thinks they process some sort of starch or something agricultural. Whatever it is it is huge. Greg heard on the radio that a huge barge was coming north and we would have to wait at the lock so we decided to turn back and stay in Peoria for the night. We got in early and relaxed for a while and then went out to supper. There is a Joe's Crab shack right on the river so that is where we went. Did not feel too adventurous tonight. Had a good supper and came back to the boat. Checked our e-mails and settling down to watch some television. Another good day on the river.
- October 20-21, 2010 - Wednesday-Thursday a.m. - 1:30 a.m. - Needless to say it turned into a long day. We left Peoria before the sunrise. Went to the lock and of course waited. We are very unlucky in locks this trip. Finally got through and headed down the river. Not much to see today but I thought this barge being loaded with grain of some sort was interesting. I just love seeing all the work that is done on the river. We move so much stuff this way. People on the river know how to live. Once in a while you see a nice spot on the river where people have made a summer heaven there. I know they must have a blast just watching things go by, fishing and swimming. Spotted one or two more pelicans but did hit the jackpot on eagles again. I think this eagle was the third one we saw and I actually got to snap its photo. I just love seeing the eagles. I can't believe how many we have seen so far this trip. Lucky us. We were going to make it an early day but when we got to Beardstown they were working on their barges and there really wasn't a good place to dock so we decided to move on. LaGrange lock was not that far and it would be nice to get past it. We thought we would get right through for some reason but that did not work out. It turned into another two hour wait. By the time we got through the lock it was getting dark and finding a place to anchor was not going to be easy since the river is so low. Islands that you can anchor behind were no longer there because of the low river. We decided to press on to Mel's. We thought what the heck, the moon is bright and it will light the way. Of course tonight there was tons of barge traffic and we even passed the "City of Natchez" for the fourth time on this trip. He said he would shine his light on us as he passed us again and would see us in the morning when we would pass him again. I love the barge captains. They would light our way, along with the moon, and would also tell us of other barges that were coming our way. It was nice. It felt like they were watching over us. Probably just watching out for us. Does it sound like I am slaphappy? Not a bad day, just a long one. Goodnight.
- October 21, 2010 - Thursday - 11:55 p.m. - We slept in this morning, which felt wonderful, then we went up to Mel's for a great breakfast. Those long nights are hard to do and I am glad we don't have to do them too often. It was a beautiful night but it still made for a long day. It was a beautiful day and spotted another eagle but I was not fast enough to get a photo. There were lots of summer homes along the shore. Some were shorter and others were tall. I think they would be great places to spend time in year round. We also passed lots of places and Greg said they were blinds. Some of them even had their own little drive in boat garages. One day I would like to stop and take the dinghy over to one just to see what they are like on the inside. Wouldn't surprise me if they had a refrigerator and a Lazy Boy in there. The ferry was running and I thought it was funny to see a tractor being ferried across. We got into Grafton around noon and got checked in and went upstairs to the bar and had a Bloody Mary. Afterwards we walked to town and bought a few things. They have a nice produce stand, Uncle Andy's Produce, and I was looking for some cider. They were out but Uncle Andy said he would have some in the morning. We told him we were leaving early in the morning and would not be able to get any. He then said he was going to deliver it to the store later that evening and we asked if we could meet him there and he agreed. So we waited until the cover of darkness and had a clandestine meeting with Uncle Andy to pick up some fresh pressed cider. It was good. There really wasn't much cover of darkness with a total full moon but it was fun to go over there and get our fresh cider. The police also did a drive by to make sure everything was ok. You just never know. We did have a wonderful supper at the Mississippi Half Step Restaurant. I had a great steak and Greg had the scallops. If you ever get to Grafton make sure to have supper there. A beautiful day.
- October 22, 2010 - Friday - 11:30 p.m. - This blue heron was giving us the eye as we started up the engines this morning to leave Grafton. It was a beautiful sunrise over the confluence of the Illinois River and the Mississippi River. Greg and I have always enjoyed Grafton Marina. I still am thinking of our supper last night. It was good. Grafton even has their own lighthouse. Each year it seems like we don't notice much color change until we get to the Mississippi. I always like to see the "eye over the Mississippi" and it was especially nice this year. I don't know if that is what it is really called but that is what it reminds me of. The color is really nice this year. I really love our new flag. I was so glad when we finally got a new one after the loss last fall. I said a little prayer as we passed "Our Lady Of The Rivers" for a safe trip on the Mississippi. It is a beautiful statue. Spotted pelicans again and this time it was a huge flock. Also spotted the happy captain. Got to Alton and had to take a photo of their colorful casino. Came across another riverboat casino and not quit sure if the Casino Queen is even in operation. We did have our first good luck with locks at Mel Price where we went right through. Of course we paid for it when we got to the Chain of Rocks Lock and waited 3 hours to go down. When we left Mel Price they told us it would be a wait at Chain of Rocks. We got into the canal and it was filled with tows and barges. They were doing dredging and work on the Lock so traffic had backed up quite a bit. They closed the lock at 6 p.m. and did not open up again until 6 a.m. So there was quite the traffic jam. We got to see the American dredge that has a scary looking drill on it. We ran into 4 canoe's and ended up locking through with them. Greg talked to one of them and they had been on the Mississippi for 50 days at that point and were planning on going all the way down. Some people are just nuts. Finally got through the locks and headed for St. Louis. When you spot the Casino hotel and the casino you know you are there. I love the electric plant and the old bridge, and the statue that is just below it, such nice architecture. Then in all its glory is the arch with riverboats abounding. Last spring when Greg and Harry came up the saw a wrecked barge wrapped around a bridge support and it was still there. Finally got to Hoppies and it was wonderful. It was really good to see Fern, Hoppie and Debbie. Also got to meet Fern's son Mark and his family. We visited for the rest of the day and then went out for supper with everyone. We were honored to be included with their family especially since it is Fern and Hoppies 50th wedding anniversary. There are no two people more suited for each other and what a wonderful family they have raised. It is so good to be here and I am so excited for Saturday night and the surprise that is waiting for everyone. It was wonderful to see the moon rise over Hoppies. We love it here and are glad we will be staying for a while. We could not ask for better friends than the ones we have met here.
- October 23, 2010 - Saturday - 11:55 p.m. - Today started with a happy Bloody Mary reunion of Harry and Greg. They are so cute together. I can't count the number of times I had to hear "that's not how Harry did it" or "Harry always had Bloody Mary's ready at 10" from Greg as we were going down the river. They had a happy reunion. Most of the day was spent in preparation for Fern and Hoppies surprise 50th anniversary party. All day long people were arriving and working on getting ready. I was so happy to see Ginny again. She and Sharon were the main organizers of the festivities and they do an excellent job. Of course Debbi did a lot of the planning also and she did a good job watching over the cooking of the steaks. I think Fern and Hoppie figured out the surprise. The food as always was spectacular and Fern and Hoppie were at the front of the line for a change. They had a beautiful anniversary cake and I think they liked it. They are such a sweet couple and they will always watch over each other. They had the first dance and by the look of it they have done this before on more than a few occasions and they really seem to enjoy themselves. Ginny presented them with a gift from everyone and they really appreciated it and they thanked Ginny and everyone there. Ginny, Fern, and Hoppie have been friends for a long time, they have lots of good, good friends. The Hopkins family all went outside and we took family photos with everyone and then Debbi and Mark, Debbi and her family, Mark and his family, Debbi's son did not make it till later in the evening because of work but we were able to meet him when he got there. This was a happy day for Fern and Hoppie. While I was busy washing out the big roaster Greg and Judy were having fun dancing. As a matter of fact I have lots of pictures of Judy, Judy, Judy, but they mostly look like this. She is a lot more photogenic from the front. Speaking of photogenic, Harry is one photogenic guy. We had a great day and a wonderful time was had by all. Fern and Hoppie are an inspiration to marriage and a great example of how to stay married. Just like the Mississippi River it has its ups and downs but you just keep on flowing!
- October 24, 2010 - Sunday - 10:45 p.m. - Things got going a little slower than usual for most everyone around here. The morning was beautiful but as the day wore on it started to more windy and cloudy but the rain held off. Greg and I were invited to go with Harry, Dave, Rhonda, Bill and Sharon on an Sunday drive. We went to Alton, IL and had lunch at Fast Eddies Bon-Air. It is the #1 volume bar in the world. They added a food bar that serves burgers, shish-kabobs, bratwurst and boiled shrimp. All the food is the same price, $.99. Drinks are all the same price too and not $.99, there are a lot more. It was started in 1921 by Anheuser Busch and called Bon-Air. Ten years later they had to sell it because of a that said brewery's could not own drinking establishments. A man named Eddie Sholar bought it and the rest is history. They have quadrupled the business since then. The place was packed on a Sunday afternoon. It was a lot of fun. You had to stand in line and then place your order as soon as you got up the the grill. If you don't tell them right away they place an order for you and give you the price and you get whatever they ordered. No dilly-dallying around...at all. But they move people through there faster than anything I have ever seen. It was a great afternoon. Then we drove to Grafton, IL and had a drink at the marina then we took the car ferry to the other side of the river and went to see a boat that Dave is interested in. After that we headed back to Hoppies and stopped at a place called Tucker's for supper. Great pizza. We made it back to the marina safe and sound It was a beautiful and warm evening and the perfect end to a great day. Our field trip group was fun.
- October 25, 2010 - Monday - 9:00 p.m. - Got up early this morning, had breakfast and got to work on some housekeeping chores. Greg started to work on the canvas. It was a beautiful morning but didn't last very long. Most of the day was windy and cloudy and then in the late afternoon the temperature started to drop. They are predicting a storm for late tonight. After my boat cleaning I set up my sock knitting machine and knit two pair of children's socks. It felt good to crank again. I felt good about getting the socks done. Tomorrow my goal is 4 pair of socks. Maybe if it is raining it will be a good day to stay in and do some cranking. Greg was busy tearing apart the top of the boat. It makes me nervous when saws are going and things are banging around. I have faith in his abilities but I just don't like being around while he is working on the boat. It was a quiet and peaceful day. Didn't see Fern all day because she lost her voice. Hoppie told me she can't talk and he seemed cheerful about it. He said she didn't yell at him all day today. Hoppie has a great sense of humor. Debbi stopped by this evening as she does every evening and I got to visit with her for a bit. It was a good day and we got a lot done. We are battening down the hatches in preparation or the storm. Maybe it will pass us by. We will see.
- October 26, 2010 - Tuesday - 11:55 p.m. - Fern got her voice back and I didn't accomplish my goal of 4 pair of socks today. Fern came over this morning and said how about we go to Cape Girardeau today and I said lets go! I had told Fern about a machine shop over there that are starting to reproduce the old Gearhart sock machine. I had been in touch with these people and they said stop in when we were in the area. On the way there Fern had to stop at several places to find parts and then we had lunch at a nice little place. We got to the Cape and found the shop and when we walked in we were very warmly greeted my Gracen and Peewee Erlbacher. They gave us a tour of the factory and showed us where they were cutting the parts for the new Erlbacher Gearhart circular sock machines. It was amazing. They showed us also where they were working on a box to make shipping and moving the machine a much simpler and safer task. Then they took us up to where one of the prototypes was. I sat down in front of the machine and started to knit. It knit like a breeze. Gracen is Peewee's youngest daughter and works buy his side in the upstairs office. She is a very knowledgeable young lady and asked me many questions and was a pure joy to talk with. I think one of Gracen's jobs is to gather information and she is good at it. The machine is sitting in the middle of their office and Peewee was no slouch at the machine himself. He got right on it and was knitting away. This has been a real challenge for Peewee and his daughter but they are thoroughly enjoying it. The Erlbacher Gearhart machine prototype that I got to see was a beauty and I love the color combination. Fern and I had a wonderful visit with Peewee and his daughter and we wish them every success. I can't wait to visit again.
- October 27, 2010 - Wednesday - 11:45 p.m - This morning I had to run some errands and pick up some things for Greg. It was a beautiful day. Greg was making great progress on the boat canvas. I was able to work on knitting socks again and made some good progress there. It was nice working on the back of the boat today. Fern came down and we visited for a little while before 3 boats came in today. Debbi also came down later and we had a nice visit. It started to cool down and the wind also started to pick up again. It was a really nice day and we both got some work done today. Greg really enjoyed working on the canvas today. Other than that not much else was going on. We are having a wonderful time here at Hoppies.
- October 28, 2010 - Thursday - 11:59 p.m. - Went out to breakfast this morning and then ran errands. Greg had to get some cables and parts. Then back to the boat to work on the canvas again. He is making great progress but he doesn't think he is as far as he should be. I say what's the rush? When we make ourselves at home, we really make ourselves at home. Our stuff is starting to spread like a virus on the dock. Next we will put out the Lazy Boy. Greg loves to sew and he is doing a good job on the canvas. I think we finally found some stuff for our top that is going to be perfect. It is looking good. I knit socks all afternoon. Ran into some technical difficulties which slowed me down a little but finally got back on track. Fern and Hoppie were also working on the dock not too far away from us. Hoppie had to get into the hole and that is a nasty job. Fern was right there to help. What a team. Debbi came down so that Fern and Hoppie could go out for the evening. It is always good to see Debbi. It would have been nice if she and Ray could have gone with us. Tonight the four of us went out to supper and then went to the gambling boat. It was so much fun and we didn't lose too much money. We had a great time. Did I say I love it here?
- October 29, 2010 - Friday - 11:55 p.m. - It was a beautiful misty morning and much colder than it looks. I ran a few errands this morning and then Greg and I spent the rest of the day working on our projects. While Greg was on the dock sewing a passerby stopped to ask him some questions about the river. It is funny the people you meet floating down the river. He was a kayaker heading for the gulf. Everyone who floats down the river is heading for the gulf. It is the only place they can go. Chuck who has a boat at the end of the dock was fishing and caught a shovelnose sturgeon. He explained that their scales were more like plates and are an endangered species. They have a an underside that feels like fine sandpaper. It was an interesting fish and he released it. Fern came down the dock and could not help but give Greg a hand. She is a great sewer herself and was very interested in what Greg was doing. This evening there was a fish fry planned by Judy and Gary. It was another wonderful evening with great friends and great food.
- October 30, 2010 - Saturday - 11:30 p.m. - The Apple Butter Festival started today. Debbi and I got going early this morning to get a head start on seeing everything. I could not believe how many vendors they had there. We browsed the vendors and bought a few things. We had lunch at the Dough Depot and it was good to sit down and have someone wait on us. It was a good time. It was packed even early but by the time we left there you couldn't stir them with a stick. I wanted to get some apple butter from the historical society but they were lined up down the street. Maybe tomorrow I will go early again and get a jar. Tonight there was another get together in the executive dock. Greg was in a festive mood. As a matter of fact Harry, Rick, and Greg were all in festive moods. We even had a couple of trick or treaters join us. They were having great fun all dressed up. We all had a good evening of fun and fellowship. Judy, Sharon, and Fern were enjoying the conversation and of course the trick or treating twins. Bill was ending his evening by being snappy with some salad tongs. He is really funny and has great taste in movies. It was another great evening of food and fun at Hoppies on the river.
- October 31, 2010 - Sunday - 9:30 p.m. - Happy Halloween! Not too spooky around here today. It was a beautiful but cool day. Greg worked on the canvas a little more today and I cranked out another pair of socks. We were able to watch the first haul out of the season at Hoppies. Don's boat was broken so we also got to see the Hoppies version of TowBoatUS. I like to call it PushBoatHoppies. It was something to watch him maneuver Don's boat. He had to be the first haul out because of trouble he was having with his boat. The Hopkins' family work well together, everyone has a job and knows what to do. They are a well oiled machine when it comes to haul outs on the river. After all that Sharon and Bill invited us for lunch on their boat. It was great and we had a nice visit. P.S., Sharon is a great cook and they are both great company. Bill loaned us the movie, "Forbidden Planet", which stars a very young Leslie Nielsen. Unfortunately we have not been able to watch the whole thing due to the fact that we start it too late and end up falling asleep. We hope to watch it one night when we can get in early. The parts I saw were great. I think this week we will have a movie night. We were pleasantly surprised when our friend Neil from the "Baron" came in. We ran into him here at Hoppies in the Spring when we were bringing our boats up. You may not recognize him from the front so he gave us his more familiar pose. He hasn't changed much, but still not bad for a 75 year old guy. Just kidding, he is the same age as Greg and one of Hoppies barges. We turned in early tonight and had supper on the boat. It was cold and we were tired but we had a great weekend.
- I did forget to mention something the other day when Greg was working on the canvas. He was using the big metal yard stick, which is actually longer than a yard, when he noticed something written on it as the sun was shining on it. It was a message scratched into it ever so lightly from our daughter Mary. It said, "I love mom and dad, from Mary." By the look of the printing she must have done it when when she was in grade school some time. We both were so touched and could not believe we never noticed that before. It is a yard stick that we use all the time when we are working on large projects. The sun hit it just right when Greg noticed it. It is such a wonderful feeling when you find something so rare. It had been there all this time and we just discovered it. What a gem. It warmed up the whole afternoon. I think we will take special care of that yard stick from now on. It is a gem.
- November 1, 2010 - Monday - 10:00 p.m. - This morning Greg helped me pack up my sock knitting machine and Fern and I headed back to Cape Girardeau to visit Peewee and his family. We got there after lunch and we got my machine all set up. We got to meet his other daughter, Jamie and his wife. Both very lovely. I showed them how my machine worked and they were very interested in how it knit. I also showed them how to Kitchener a toe and they were quick learners. We spent nearly all afternoon there and had a wonderful time. I wish them all the best and much success. I so look forward to thier machine coming out and can't wait to see how far they will go. Peewee and his daughters and wife are a pleasure to spend time with. It was an exciting day.
- November 2, 2010 - Tuesday - 11:55 p.m. - Election Day! Election time was always exciting when I was a young girl. I remember my dad being glued to the television when he got home from work. He would be there until they finally declared a winner and it didn't matter how late it was. It was fun to see him so excited about it. Made all of us feel like it was really important. I guess that is why I feel that way today. I miss my dad. He would have been fun to banter with during this election. We were always on the same side of the issues and would wonder how everyone else could not see the light. He was funny and of course always right. I think this was the most excited I have ever been for a mid term election. Greg and I stayed up and watched what we could of the returns. We were sorry to hear Harry Ried from Nevada survived. I guess Nevada likes the way things are. Greg worked on the canvas all day again today and I did what I could to help. I cut parts for him and held stuff in place, not much else I could do. He did make progress today. Toward evening we had visitors. Dave came down and helped Greg with some engine stuff and then Claudia came down and we gave her a tour of the boat. Later Debbi came down, then Hoppie, then Ray (Debbi's Ray), then Fern. It was great! We had the whole Hoppie family on our boat. Greg, Hoppie, and Ray had some beers and we had a good time visiting, we then decided to go to our favorite place, Bambino's, for supper. Dave joined us there. We had a great time. I love it here and I sure am going to hate leaving on Thursday. We had a really great day.
- November 3, 2010 - Wednesday - 10:00 p.m. - It was a beautiful morning. I did some housekeeping on the boat and then ran some errands to find some parts for Greg and then pick up a few groceries for out trip south. Greg put the finishing touches on the canvas and is ready to start heading for Pebble Isle. I think our new top looks good and Greg did a great job. We cleaned up and put things away. Debbi came down to the boat and we visited for a bit then went down to the executive barge to have supper. It was just the six of us and we had leftovers from the weekend. It was so good. I really hate leaving. We have had so much fun and have gotten to know more people. Hoppie and his family are some of the most generous and kind people you ever will know and we feel fortunate to be able to call them friends. Fern and I have had the best time and my visits with Debbi were great, she is so funny. I loved the field trips Fern and I were able to go on and wish that Debbi could have gone with us. I can't wait till the spring when we make our return trip. Debbi already has a project for Greg when we get back. It should be interesting. I just can't wait till the the three of us girls can get back together again. I sure will miss everyone here at Hoppies.
- November 4, 2010 - Thursday - 8:45 p.m. - It was another beautiful Mississippi sunrise. The difference today is that we are leaving and it is a little sad. Dave was there to say good-bye as Greg manuevered the boat so that he could blow his horn at Pete's house as a wake up call. Greg would always give Pete a hard time and vise versa. They have fun. It is always hard saying good-bye to Hoppies. It was a beautiful morning and the sunlit banks were spectacular. Ran past a huge flock of pelicans with even more coming in. I think it was the biggest flock I have ever seen. It was windy today and with the river being so low it leaves a lot of windblown beaches. It has been a long time since we have seen the river this low and seeing the beaches was great. As we made our way down the river we ran across Dave in the canoe. We met him at Hoppies and he left a few days before we did. We slowed down so as not to wake him and we said hello and asked if he needed anything. He said he was fine and we moved on. Seems like this year we have seen more guys going down in canoes. Maybe its because of the high unemployment. Who knows. Went past the Potter Dredge while it was working and it was very interesting to watch. The wind seemed to shift the the temperature started to drop. The clouds were really beautiful and reminded me of snow clouds. When we got to Cape Girardeau we blew the horn to say hello to my new friends at Erlbacher Gearhart. I wish them nothing but success with thier new sock knitting machine. Still seems strange to see the river so low but the beaches are really great. One day I would love to stop and walk on the beaches here. The sky was particularly beautiful today with all the clouds coming in and out. We got around Dog tooth bend and the sun was peeking out and it was lovely. We tried to find an anchorage before the sunset but everywhere we tried was too shallow so we decided to go ahead and shoot for Boston Bar, its one of our favorites anyway. I am glad we did because it was just a great light show with the clouds tonight and made for a great sunset. We got into Boston Bar right before it got totally dark and guess what...it was shallow too. But deep enough for us and we didn't go up too far. Got anchored and had the beef barley soup that was cooking all afternoon. It was really good. The wind picked up and it started to rain but Greg couldn't tell if it was rain or snow and as cold as it is it could be snow. I hope we don't wake up in the morning with snow on the decks. That would be something. It was a great day again but I sure do miss Fern and Debbi.
- Novmber 5, 2010 - Friday - 10:00 p.m. - It was a chilly morning in Boston Bar. In the daylight I could see how shallow even Boston Bar was. Usually you can never see the dam. When we left Hoppies they said the river was on the rise again but probably no more than 3 feet. It wasn't long before we made it to the Ohio River. It is always so busy here with barge traffic. Got to the never ending Olmstead Lock project and had to slow down because they were actually working on it. Luckily when we got to Lock 53 we were able to go right over it without having to lock through. Not so lucky at Lock 52. With the water being so low on on the Ohio we had to lock through at 52. We were fortunate to only have to wait and hour and a half to get through. Barges were lined up waiting to go through but the lock master was kind enough to let us and another boat sneak through. There is a lot of industry on this river and it has its casino's also. It seems like we see more barges that are being put together here than anywhere else. Did spy an eagle but could not get a good shot of him. I just can't resist putting even bad eagle photo's on here. We got to Paducah fairly early due to our luck in the locks so we decided to take our chances and go on to Kentucky Dam. When we got there we were able to go right into the chamber and lock through. We were able to get into a slip at Kentucky Dam Marina before dark. We got plugged in, turned on some heat, made some supper and relaxed the rest of the night. It was a good day even though it was cold. It was only in the low 50's but when the sun shined into our new flybridge top it warmed up to a comfortable level. Greg did a good job on the canvas. Another good day on the river.
- November 6, 2010 - Saturday - 9:45 p.m. - Another cold morning but this one was a little frosty. We did a few boat choirs, had breakfast and waited till the sun burned off the frost. We left Kentucky Dam Marina and headed into Kentucky Lake. I was disappointed that the fall colors were still green. Did come across one red tree among all the green or bare trees. It was an uneventful trip. When we got to the old Louisville and Nashville train bridge I noticed a new building there. I always find this bridge so interesting because they didn't tear down the whole bridge and left part of it intact. The old depot is also still here and I am always glad to see it. I wonder all the time how long the depot will continue to stand. I imagine it must be a great place for young people to go and place thier mark in the summer. There was not much traffic and we only came across two tows about the same size. Saw plenty of bass boats but other than that not much traffic. Finally made it to the Pebble Isle entrance and noticed how low the water was here also. It was great to see the marina again. We sure were surprised to see the welcome sign put out for us and the whole welcoming committee of Evan, Amanda, and Tammy. Of course Randy was there too and helped us get settled in. It was so good to see everyone again. Greg and I squared away the boat and then got ready to go for supper at the marina. Randy fixed some salmon that he caught on a fishing trip in Canada. All the food was delicious. We were joined by old friends Deanne and Lee and met some new friends. Two of which were from Austrailia, Rod and Pauline. It was wonderful listening to Rod talk about the United States. He expounded most of the evening on how great it is here. He had several suggestions on how we could solve our health care problem. Too bad he couldn't run for president. He loves the United States and it is so inspiring to hear when people from other countries feel the same as we do about our country. At one point in the evening I was near tears when he told us the story of his brother coming here and getting treatment for Parkinsons and being able to return to Australia under his own power instead of the wheel chair he came here with. I pray we don't loose the ability to have the best health care in the world. We said our goodnights after having a great night of conversation and food and are glad we are able to spend the winter here. I hope we can visit during the winter more often than we did last year. It is good to be here and feel so welcome.
- November 7, 2010 - Sunday - 11:55 p.m. - Greg and I went to the marina and had breakfast. Afterward we went with Randy to look at some property. It was a nice ride. Greg and I did some work on the boat and I set up my sock machine and knitted two pair of socks this afternoon, Greg took a nap. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon. Later we went back to the marina and watched the Colts get beat by the Eagles. That wasn't so much fun. We were heckled by some Eagles fans and by Evan, the cook, who just didn't like the Colts because Payton Manning didn't go with the Titan's. Sour grapes. The good part was we did have fun and Tammy and Randy got a new popcorn machine, so we were knee deep in popcorn during the game. It was good. Later that evening we met Tammy and Randy in Camden for supper at Thatcher's for supper. It was a good day and a good evening.
- November 9, 2010 - Tuesday - 11:15 p.m. - Monday was a beautiful day. It started warming up and we got some work done on the boat. Greg even took a nap. We went out to breakfast with Deanne and Lee and when we got back Deanne and I just sat in the sun and visited for a while. It was just a pleasant day. We have a great view from our slip here at Pebble Isle. We went to supper with Tammy and Randy and had a good time. Today was even warmer than yesterday. I did some beach combing along the river's edge. Different than the ocean but did find some gems none the less. Our slip provides for some unusal views of life on the river. People know how to live. After that I helped Greg a little with some winterizing he wanted to do on the engines, generator and AC pump. He just wanted to do it just in case there could be a big freeze. I finally sat down and started to crank out more socks. I looked up at our beautiful view and noticed some little fish jumping all over the water. Then I noticed all the seagulls that were flying around. Then I saw seagulls diving into the water one after another. It was amazing to watch so many seagulls diving in the same area. I would say they were there for over an hour just catching fish. Of course I didn't get much cranking done but it was great trying to photograph the seagulls. This evening I was invited to a baby shower for Tammy's new daughter-in-law, Amanda. The food was great and so was the company. It was very nice. I am not ready to go home yet. I wish we could stay another week. It has been a relaxing few days.