Nine Looper boats docked on the Joliet wall, and all of us stayed close to the boats just in case. That’s too bad because one of us would’ve liked to stop by the Old Joliet Prison, where Jake Blues served a 3-year stretch before he and Elwood put the band back together. Oh well. Fortunately we all survived the night.
Yesterday morning at 7 we peeled off one at a time like stickers from a roll. Gotta make the first lift bridge before rush hour or you’ll be screwed for the day.
The first lock of the day was the Brandon Road Lock. The Brandon Road Lock sucked. It’s a huge lock and only us Loopers were in it, but they stuck Misty Pearl in the back corner. Usually not a big deal, but these lock doors leaked to the point of absurdity. We actually named the leak Bridal Veil Falls 2. (Those familier with prior posts will realize just how clever this is. And by that we mean not at all clever.)
Mostly the day was industrial. Lots of smoke and factories and barges and such. Not much pretty to see, but at least it was interesting. And we did make a cool line of Loopers.
As we approached the second lock of the day, reality hit. The second lock was Dresden. The Dresden Lock sucked. Barge traffic was heavy and nobody but us seemed interested in our plans. So we all rafted up for a couple of hours. Dana took the boys to shore one at a time while Doug cleaned the strainers and made lunch.
Finally they called us through, with more rafting in order. No harm done and we were out the door. Well, we were out the door once the very slow tug with 12 barges let us pass.
That tug with the barges is the Ralph E. Plagge. Very nice captain on board, but still clogging up our path through the locks.
“A wonderful bird is the pelican. His beak holds more than his bellican.” Good stuff from Ogden Nash, and a passel of them were clumped in the Illinois River. Crazy what you see on the Loop.
The plan yesterday was to make Heritage Harbor. Commercial traffic and mechanical issues at a lock downstream made that impossible. Fortunately the kind folks at Spring Brook found room for all of us. Sea Jamm. Second Wave. Island Girl. Corkscrew. Compass Rose. Sabbatical. Someday. Forever Young. Free Spirit Too. And us. It’s actually pretty comforting to travel with a crowd of good people.
The restaurant pulled together and opened for us. Good times.
This morning the next lock told us we might be able to get through around 9:30. But we’re the lowest possible priority. Asian Carp are higher than pleasure boaters on the spectrum of importance. We arrived at the Marseilles Lock at the appointed time. And waited for 2 hours. The Marseilles Lock is horrible. They don’t even know how to pronounce it correctly. Pretty sure nobody from the House of Bourbon pronounced it “Mar-sales.” Dana photographed birds to kill time.
The dudes at the lock were playing around with a submarine, claiming they needed to do some underwater surveys or something. The cynical one of us figured it was a ruse for literally just playing around. The kinder and gentler one of us figured they were professionals just doing their jobs. Either way, we all stopped for a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine. We all stopped for a yellow submarine.
We didn’t find it at all funny at the time.
Anyway, we got out and headed for Heritage Harbor. The tows ahead of us made it impossible to go any further. 8.4 stinking nautical miles—but nearly 6 hours—later we pulled in to Heritage Harbor. Cleaned Misty Pearl, sort of. Did laundry. Got the very thorough and moderately terrifying river briefing from Jeremy. Filled the fresh water tank. Another enjoyable dinner with the Looper gang. Good times indeed. We may split up tomorrow, but it’s been a fun run.
Not every day on the Loop is beautiful and not every day is easy. But without a doubt every day is interesting and exciting.