April 23, 2006, Sunday, 9:45 pm - It is good to be back on the boat. We arrived here on Friday, or should I say, very early Saturday morning, 4:30 am, to be exact. We got a late start on Friday and then had to make a detour in Georgetown, KY to drop off some things at Ashley's new house. Wow, what a nice place. It was really good to get here. We spent Saturday doing a little work on the boat and shopping to get ready for the trip north. Today we really cleaned the boat. My shoulders are killing me and Greg is sore too. The boat looks great though. We met Val and Dave who will be using our slip until we get back to Florence in the fall. We also said good-bye to John and Margaret and look forward to seeing them again in the fall. The boat is ready to go and so are we. Tomorrow all we have to do is pump out and top off the tanks. I love it here in Florence and am so glad that we can come here in the fall instead of hauling out. Tomorrow we start our journey back to Michigan.
April 24, 2006, Monday, 9:15 pm - We left Florence around noon today. As always it is difficult to say good-bye. We left our slip in the able hands of Valorie and Dave Yuronis on board their boat the "Bibliotheque." We will see them again in the fall when they head back to Demopolis and we move back into our slip. Val originally lived in Benton Harbor, MI. What a small world. Of course it is always hard to say good-bye to Terry. He always makes us laugh. He is a single, good looking, and not gay. Why some woman doesn't grab him up is beyond me. We headed down the river and were making good time. The boat ran great and we had a nice wind to keep us cool. It is really hot this time around. We came to the J.P. Coleman state park and marina and decided we would check it out just to do something different. We pulled in and there wasn't a soul around. We were greated by the welcoming committee, which were very friendly and attentive. One of them looked like he was fitted with outriggers. We tied up to something that seemed to be a gas dock and walked up to the office. It was abandoned, and we decided that maybe we should head on down to Pickwick. The committee seemed concerned that we were leaving, but we explained that it was for the best. We ogled the huge homes that were along the shore the rest of the way to Pickwick. Wow, they are huge. It was about 5 or 6 when we got into Pickwick. We tied up the boat, got cleaned up and headed to the lodge for some catfish. Its the kind that still has the bones and tail attached. It is really good if you can get past that tail. After supper we walked back to the boat with some other boaters that were up there. We ran into them last year. When we got to the marina we ended up talking to two other guys that we had seen last year also. It is fun to share stories and laugh. We all wondered about the couple we all ran into last fall that were with their teenage daughter on a sail boat and were planning to sail around the world. No one has seen or heard from them since. Tonight we are going to watch a movie and try and stay cool in the air conditioning. Maybe go golfing tomorrow if it doesn't rain. All in all a great first day.
Heart of Gold
May 1, 2006, Monday, 9:00 pm - We left our nice anchorage early and headed up the river. It rained off and on and then finally cleared up and warmed up. The Mississippi river can really be an industrial place. Sometimes I forget how much of a working river it really is. We passed several interesting places. One looked like a factory where they made rocks. We even got to hear and see them dynamiting the side of a hill, I think to make more rocks. Barges were hauling off the rocks. There was also another building that looked interesting but we couldn't figure out what it was and there was no mention of it on the charts. It is amazing how much industry is on the river. The river is flowing fairly fast and we have been dodging debris all day. One was easy to spot because the roots were still attached to it, but mostly the trees were underwater or hiding behind a little wave. Seems to be more debris than last years trip up.We finally made it to Hoppies and it sure was good to see that place again. Hoppie and Fern were out there to greet us and tie us up. That is when we learned about Hoppies accident that caused him some severe spinal cord injury. Fern told us that he was on a ladder, that was against a pole, adjusting a security camera when the pole broke and he fell twelve feet down. This happened in late November just about two weeks after we were there in the fall. They rushed him to the hospital were he spent two weeks in intensive care and then six weeks more in recovery and therapy. Fern was by his side the whole time and kept a watchful eye and nursed him herself. With Hoppies great attitude and Fern's shear will and never ending encouragement I know that he will make a successful recovery. We are adding them to our prayer list and hope that everyone else does too. If you would like to drop them a line and wish them well their address is Hoppies Marine Service, P.O. Box #44, Kimmswick, MO 63053. I am sure they would love to hear from their boating friends, and from anyone who has an encouraging word. We will be leaving in the morning and hopefully make it to the Illinois River.
May 2, 2006, Tuesday, 7:30 pm - We left Hoppies early this morning. We will be keeping Hoppie and Fern in our prayers. It didn't take too long to get to the industrial part of St. Louis. As we got closer to the arch we saw lines of school buses dropping kids off for a day at the arch. I don't care how many times I see it, I still think the arch is amazing. St. Louis is a busy place with all kinds of transportation. After we got past the arch we headed up the canal to lock #27. It looked like it was going to be a long wait but we got lucky and got straight through. While we waited to go up I spotted a beautiful egret. It posed for me for a long time before it finally took off. It wasn't very long after we exited the lock that we spotted another bald eagle. It flew around us and another boat for a long time before it landed on the shore. I can't believe how many eagles we have seen on this trip. We went past what looked like a repair station for tow boats. They had many of them dry docked. It was interesting to watch them work on the tows. We got through the Mel Price lock in good time and then past Alton and up the Illinois River. We also saw the most colorful casino I have ever seen. I still can't get over all the birds we have seen. Heron, egrets, funny ducks and the eagles. I love it. The heron just seem to like their pictures taken. We got to Mel's Riverdock and walked up and had a great supper. There were only two boats here for the night. We met Galena and Howard. She is from Russia and she knits. I showed her my socks that I am knitting and we talked about Russian and Ukrainian food. They seemed like a sweet couple and I hope they keep in touch. She has her masters in applied mathematics. She can do all kinds of computer stuff. She was very interesting. Greg and Howard were looking at Greg's massive screw collection. That kept them busy for quite a while. It was a beautiful day with no rain and not many clouds. Tomorrow on to Beardstown.
May 3, 2006, Wednesday, 10:30 pm - We got off to a fairly early start this gloomy morning. We were watching another storm heading our way on the weather radar. It finally got to us about midmorning. Some thunder, some lightning and rain. Then it rained off and on till late afternoon. The sun came out and it warmed up. Mostly an uneventful and long ride. Howard called and asked Greg about Hoppies and how far was it from Mel's. Evidently they decided to go south instead of north. I was glad they called because I was worried about them in the storm. We got to Beardstown which was originally where Greg wanted to stop, but we got there so early we decided we could make it all the way to Havana to the Tall Timbers Marina which was going to be our next stop. Greg called the marina to make sure there was plenty of water for us and Bob said there was. We were met on the dock by Bob, the owner. He tied us up and recommended the "Town House Restaurant" for a good meal. Greg and I walked up town and took his advise. It was a great place for supper. We walked back to the marina and Bob was still there working to get ready for their official opening night. Which is going to be Friday. I wish were could be here for that. The marina looks great and he has done lots of improving since the last time we were here. It was good then and even better now. We really like stopping in here. If you draw any kind of water just call ahead and check to see if you can get in. It is worth the effort. They keep a clean marina, especially the bathrooms, and have a nice store/bar. It was a real bright spot on our trip.
May 4, 2006, Thursday, 10:00 pm - We left early again. At least there is some sun today. Got to Peoria around lunch time. I was hoping we would be staying here in civilization for a night but we are going to try and make it to Starved Rock Marina. So I will be missing Survivor and CSI again. I really don't like it when we have to rush. Next spring we are at least going to take 3 weeks to do this. Peoria is really an interesting place, I would love to stay here one time. I am still amazed at the amount of birds on the river. Especially the heron. I love taking their pictures. On our way out of Peoria Greg spotted the biggest crane he has ever seen. He was really impressed with it. I was impressed with the guy tying barges together. We got into Starved Rock Mariana around 8:00 pm. Went to the bar and had a snack. Came back to the boat, I am doing this and Greg is reading. Will probably watch a movie later. Who knows where we will end up tomorrow.
May 5, 2006, Friday, 9:30 pm - It has been a long day. The weather was much cooler today. We took off from Starved Rock Marina very early so that we could make some progress today. We went 13 miles before we got stopped at the first lock of the day. We were held up there for 2 hours. After that we got through the other locks relatively quickly. The last lock was Lockport and then we go into the Cal Sag. There are 13 miles of really scary river here. It is narrow and there are tons of barges most of the time. They are being loaded or unloaded and other barges are trying to get past and then there is us. We are just a nuisance to them. I am always glad just to get out alive. There of course it the low bridge that we have trouble getting past. I am always hoping that there won't be traffic there and we can take our time, but of course there is always something there. The water was too high this time and we had to stop and back up and Greg had to lower the masthead light. Then we could make it just fine. The rest of the bridges are usually no problem. This time in that area we saw salt and tons of mulch. Usually it is lots of sand and gravel. We finally stopped for the night at a place called Sun Marina. We are tied up to a barge in front of what looks like a haunted old boat. I think we are not in a very good neighborhood but we are just too tired to cross the lake tonight. Tomorrow we will be back in St. Joe and P.D. wil be picking us up and taking us back to Marion. I was hoping maybe we could have breakfast with Mary before we left Chicago but that may be harder to do than I thought. Hope the lake will be flat tomorrow.
We did not take the boat down in the fall. It was a bummer but Greg wanted to expand his factory and ended up tripling the size. He was really busy with that. We hauled out the boat and it stayed on land at Pier 1000 in St. Joseph, MI for the winter.