When Huckleberry Finn took off on his raft to escape Miss Watson’s misplaced efforts to teach him etiquette, he basically was traveling the same part of the Mississippi River on which we now find Misty Pearl. We figure his draft was about 4 inches. No worries about water depth for Huck and Old Jim. Plus that was fiction anyway. Lots of worries for us here in Alton, despite the patriotic welcome sign.
From the point we plowed through the silt in the marina on Wednesday, the water at this end of the pool is down another 8 inches. We’re as low as the people in charge can allow and still pass barge traffic on the river. Wow, are we lucky or what?
The worse news? The water isn’t coming up any time soon. So we’re taking off in the morning. The sailor in front of us with the dinghy tug has Tranquilo’s keel and rudder completely buried, so he isn’t moving out of our way. The plan is to walk Misty Pearl straight back 20 feet or so, use a jet ski to pull her bow out 10 degrees to allow us to sneak past his boat, and then gun the engine in a straight line through the muck and out into the current. Not a great plan, mind you. Maybe not even a good plan. Actually, it may cross the fine line between a bold plan and a stupid plan. But the alternative is to stay here until spring, and we ain’t doing that even though the reflection of the bridge lights is cool at night.
In the meantime, we of course stopped by the life-size statue of The Tallest Man in History, who was born and raised here. Dude was tall. 8’11” when he died. This is legit, unlike that cherry pie thing we found in Charlevoix. Know who else was born here? Miles Davis. He was nowhere near 9 feet tall, but then Robert Wadlow probably couldn’t play the horn. So they each had their own strengths and weaknesses.
On Thursday we took a rental minivan over to the Gateway Arch, which seemed fitting since our Manifest Destiny is to pass by St. Louis tomorrow. They jam you into tiny 4-foot-high pods for the trip to the top. Know who wouldn’t go to the top? Robert Wadlow. He would’ve had to spool like a giant fruit roll-up.
The top two restaurants in Alton are Bluff City Grill and Fast Eddie’s. We hit both of them. The former was fine, the latter was a hoot. We could’ve stayed all night but for needy boys back on the boat.
Today before returning the rental we popped over to St. Charles, Missouri. Daniel Boone was born around here, maybe even in the first Missouri state capital building. Probably not, but maybe.
St. Charles is pretty cool. They call it The Williamsburg of the Midwest, which puts it firmly behind Grafton in terms of enticing nicknames. We wouldn’t mind coming back sometime though.
Alton supposedly is the most dangerous city in Illinois, which probably makes it pretty dang dangerous since it shares the state flag with Chicago and Joliet. We found Alton rather charming in its own way, however, albeit a tad short on water. We figure you’ve got to give credit to hard-luck places that are making an effort. Alton is making an effort.
From here, in theory we have a straight shot out. In reality we have to dodge Tranquilo, plow through the silt, avoid the rocks and bridge support, and straighten into the harsh current. That’s just the first 75 feet from where we’re docked. It’s a long day to Kaskaskia, and a wall with no service awaits us assuming we can avoid the huge tows and the huge logs that also are traveling the river. From Kaskaskia we have another long day reaching one of the only anchorages between Alton and Paducah, Kentucky. Assuming the anchor holds and we aren’t struck by a barge, we face insanely strong current as we push up the Ohio River on what will be our longest day of the Loop by far. Potentially in thunderstorms. Potentially in the dark. Hopefully the next day we’ll be reunited with power, internet, and modern refrigeration in Green Turtle Bay.
If only we hadn’t wasted that sign about profanity in our last post.