Days on cruise: 169
Distance traveled: 88.2 miles
Travel Time: 8 hrs, 55 mins (9:07 with one lock)
Total Trip Odometer: 3,585 statute miles
After yesterday’s very long day, and a quiet night tied to the barge, we left at 7:15 this morning hoping to make another long day. The Lock Gods were smiling upon us. We had only one lock; when we called ahead they told us to “Come on down!”; and on arrival, the gates were open and light was green, so we entered and had the lock behind us before we were even one hour into our day. Woo hoo!
This stretch of the Illinois River continues much the same for mile after mile after mile. Pretty, but not stunning, and with not much to do but look for the occasional navigational marks, count down the river miles, observe the endless herons and gulls, and watch out for and communicate with Tows pushing barges.
There are lots of abandoned river boats along the shore.
While most of the shoreline is completely undeveloped, there is occasionally a cluster of modest homes, always very high up on stilts in anticipation of flooding.
And, of course, lots of bridges, though none lower than 21 feet today, so we didn’t have to call for any openings.
We passed about a dozen tows pushing barges today, and after directing us to “See ya’ on the One”, the tow Johnny Boy called Cathryn back and asked her to switch and answer on Channel 10.
Johnny: So why is your boat named Next To Me? Is it named for your horse?
Cathryn: No, it’s the name of a song.
Johnny: Bummer. I just lost a bet with my crew.
Cathryn: Bummer. I could change my answer if your crew isn’t listening to this transmission.
Cathryn: So the boat is named for my horse. You win!
Johnny: Cool. I’ll split my winnings with you.
Cathryn: So how much does that get me?
Johnny: Three bucks.
Cathryn: Oh, I can’t buy two beers with that.
Johnny: You got that right!
These tow operators must get bored plying the river back and forth day after day after day. Fun to break things up a bit apparently.
Finally at 4:30 we pulled into the wildly crazy harbor at Grafton, at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and tied up for the night. This marina has 180 slips, and more than a dozen of them contain Loopers at the moment. Tonight is the '”Rock ‘n Roll Pig Roast” featuring multiple bands, a roasted pig feast, and who knows what else? We’ll report tomorrow.
Meanwhile, we’re off for a Reunion cocktail hour with Time and Tide, Teasa and Flying Free, all of whom we’ve met before, and two of whom are Canadian (one motor vessel, one sailing vessel) and one Brazilian sailing vessel. Nice!