Along the Illinois River the tug captains with the barges tend to be moderately dismissive of “PCs,” meaning pleasure craft. Even Loopers. They call us “plastic boats.” When we left the Dresden Lock a couple of days ago, the lockmaster warned the downriver tows to expect a “herd of turtles.” We know, because we heard him on the radio. The description somewhat is misplaced since we typically travel a couple of knots faster than the barges, of course, but we get the drift. We’re slow and in the way of commerce.
Anyway, the captain of a tow waiting below the Marseilles (“Mar-sales,” remember?) Lock apparently shares Dana’s affinity for photographing wildlife because he videotaped us all as we passed by.
Kudos to him for taking it. And even more for posting it on the AGLCA Facebook page. Way cool of him.
Yesterday we took off with yet another lock ahead. This one was at Starved Rock. The scenery has improved dramatically, which generally puts us in better spirits. There still are rusted barges along the shore in places, mind you, and the random power plant or other industrial stuff pops up, but the water seems clearer and the river banks seem greener.
At the Starved Rock Lock we picked up 3 more Loopers, bring the herd up to 13. Again we sat for a couple of hours, but at least this time we felt the lock guys did all they could. Only after he warned us to get ready to go did Doug remember the drone. Shamefully too late to get the money video.
The funniest part of the day was just after locking through. We started spacing out with a few hundred yards between us, such that the lead boat—Sea Jamm—was around several bends ahead of us and out of sight. Suddenly they turned around to flee from a huge set of barges coming upstream and using the entire channel. Loopers scattered backwards like bowling pins. Look closely and you can see the approaching bowling ball.
At Henry, Illinois, we split up again. Sabbatical, Second Wave, and Misty Pearl all pulled in behind Antonia at the Old Henry Lock. The Old Henry Lock reminds us of the time Doug wanted to see Jackson Taylor & The Sinners so we drove up to Flagstaff but it was NAU graduation so the town was packed and we couldn’t get a cab from the hotel and the band played Old Henry Rifle and got progressively more drunk and Jackson Taylor got increasingly more politically-belligerent and Dana hated the concert so we left. Actually Old Henry Lock just reminds Doug of that, because Dana scrubbed it from her memory. (The next time Doug saw Jackson Taylor & The Sinners, Dana stayed home.)
The dude at the wall swore that the power on the rickety pole was good and that it was our 30 amp reverse Y that was the problem. We were dubious but did without AC anyway.
Dana, Karen, Lezlie, and Jane all left their bras at the local bar. Not really, of course, although that would have made a much better story for the blog. The flock of geese camped out by our boat all night took full advantage of our open windows to honk us awake every few minutes. But the sunrise was beautiful from the rock wall and all was good.
We shoved off at 9 for the fairly short trip down to Peoria. More tugs with barges blocking our path, but we’re getting used to dodging them so no big deal.
Unexpectedly the scenery continues to improve overall. The Illinois River turns out to be quite pretty in places. Not exactly related to that but interesting nonetheless is the supposed fact that Illinois is second only to Washington in terms of apple production. Who knew?
We have mentioned the Asian carp problem before. These are big suckers that leap out of the water, often onto boats. We tried to get some video of them jumping around us but of course they stopped whenever they saw the camera. The Peoria Carp Hunters (peoriacarphunters.com!) passed by on one of their safaries. The goofiness of using a compound bow to try to shoot a fish in the air is surpassed only by the integrity these guys have. Note the nets along the gunwales, which literally are intended to keep the targets from just plopping onto the deck where they would be easy pickins’. Apparantly for Peoria Carp Hunters it’s all about the journey not the destination.
When we docked at the Illinois Valley Yacht and Canoe Club, we confirmed that our power cords are fine. Henry was to blame all along, just as we thought. Grrrr. But at least we have AC, which is good because it’s back up to 90 and the pool closed for the season on Labor Day.
Quite possibly—and maybe even probably—we won’t post anything more until Monday or so. We have 2 very long travel days ahead and time for other stuff will be sparse.