We are still at it! We finished the Illinois River section of the trip and cruised into The Mississippi a few days ago when we landed in Alton, Illinois. The marina we’re in has a buy three nights, get three nights special, so we decided it’s a good time to rest, do some boat projects and get ready for the long days ahead before the next comfortable stop. We are not alone! We use an app called Nebo that logs our trips and shows where other boats are as well – Loopers are identified by a yellow flag; this screenshot shows how many of us are here.
Peoria was a good stop for a couple of days, Danny and Tex helped Kevin with their transmission issues and we recovered from the stress of the locks, we were all pretty relieved to get them behind us. We toured the Caterpillar museum and relaxed on the boat.
There aren’t as many marinas to stop at on this leg of the trip, so we’ve had some long days and there are more to come. We left Peoria on Tuesday and traveled 100 miles and almost 11 hours to an anchorage. This anchorage was nothing like the beautiful secluded coves where we dropped the hook in Canada, we were literally 200 feet outside the channel near the side of the river. We knew there would be barge traffic, and there was – but we were also fairly confident we’d hold in the spot – and we did. Phew. This was another “first” for us, and I’m told not the last time we will anchor so close to the channel on this trip. I wasn’t looking forward to that night, but by the time we got there I was exhausted from the travel and the hot sun, so I slept way better than I thought I would.
From there we traveled to Grafton, Illinois, which we were told is the “Key West of the Midwest”. Hmmmmmm…….I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because it was a Wednesday after Labor Day, but we sure didn’t get a Key West vibe! It’s a cute town and we had a fun dinner at the marina with other Loopers, but it was quiet!
The scenery has really changed from the heavily industrial area of The Illinois when we first left Chicago to green trees and high bluffs along the shore. The water has is really brown, it looks like chocolate! Our boat will need a really good bath when we finish the rivers. This is familiar territory for Danny, he lived in Godfrey many years ago, and is really enjoying seeing this area from his own boat! I should mention that he thinks this part of the trip is great, and has been looking forward to all of it.
So we cruised into Alton Marina on Thursday, we’re here until Tuesday. It’s a nice big marina with a pool and a barbecue area where we’ve grilled out with Loopers and locals. We’ve spent a couple of lazy afternoons drinking cocktails at the pool too…..it’s HOT here, some afternoons have been in the high 80’s!!
Danny fixed the pump on our generator and had the lovely job of fixing the holding tank on one of the toilets. What does that mean? Just what you think! That “stuff has to go somewhere doesn’t it? We pump out our tanks frequently, but one of them was leaking into the bilge. Yuk. It took him a long time to get the tank out of the small area behind the wall where it belongs, thankfully he had some help from our friend Kevin. It turns out the leak was caused by screws from a label screwed into the tank by the company that sold us the boat, so once they got it out they were able to patch it. Then there was LOTS of clean up before putting it all back together again. Did I say yuk? I am beyond grateful that Danny is so good natured about these kinds of jobs – he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty (that’s an understatement) and really doesn’t give up until the problem is found and he figures out a solution. Don’t worry, there are no photos to accompany this memory!
Speaking of memories – Danny has shared quite a few of when he lived and worked here over 35 years ago with his first wife and Kyle and Melissa. We’ve rented a car for the weekend and he gave me a tour of the area as best as he could. It’s been a long, long time and lots has changed. We tried to find where he used to live the other day, but we couldn’t – we plan on trying again today now that he’s remembered a couple of landmarks. He says there are highways here that were two lane roads back then! One of the reasons we rented a car was to be able to visit St. Louis (which is where Kyle and Melissa were born) and is only about 30 minutes from here, so we went there yesterday with Laurie, Kevin and Tex. We started out with a tour of The Anheuser Busch Brewery, then took a tram to the top of The St. Louis Arch and finished up with a great dinner in a little Italian place recommended by a local here at the marina. It was a long, fun day. Laurie and I love field trips and she planned it well – as expected!
The next time we see the Arch, it will be from the water as we cruise by on Tuesday, hopefully we’ll get the obligatory Looper shot of us in front of it and I’ll include it in my next blog entry. Today I’ll try to firm up reservations for down the river, go to the grocery store to “provision”, ride around the area with Danny, and clean the boat a little. Oh and there’s a Happy Hour – have I mentioned that Loopers like docktails? Danny remembers that there was restaurant named Tony’s here in Alton that had the “best toasted raviolis in the world”. They’re still here and have Happy Hour at 4:00 today, so we’ll be there.
So, tomorrow will be our one year anniversary from when we left home. On September 23rd of last year we pulled off from our mooring in front of the house at about 7am and set off for this journey. Since then we have traveled nearly 5000 nautical miles! Wow! There are about 1200 more to go until we finish The Loop 🙏 and many, many more until we get home, but it’s quite a milestone. We have basically lived and traveled together on this boat for a year and we still like each other – most of the time! 💕
If you’ve made it to the end of this, thank you for following along with us on our journey. Until next time……
Captain Dan and Cruise Director Jodi