Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sept 17-26, 2007 . . . The Illinois River

Two nights at the Harborside Marina just outside Morris, Illinois, then we continued down river . . . meeting barges coming out of the locks. They are as big as they appear!

Our turn to ride down, the gates open, and the barge and tug that went before us was still outside the gate.

As we traveled down the river we saw many houseboats, these were a bit unusual...

Weeks before we started down the river there was too much water, 10' or so above flood stage causing trees to be uprooted and swept to the side of the river. During our travel we found the river to be low. Army Corp of Engineers controls the river levels where they can.

Charlie is as happy as can be! Driving our boat and talking on the radio. He has found many new friends in the tug captains. On each passing a proposal is made to pass on "one whistle" or "two". This passage is on two whistles, passing on our starboard side.

In the Marseilles Lock we were looking at a 40' drop down the Illinois.

Into Hennepin, Illinois; alongside the "towndock" which was a sunken barge. Arrangements had been made to receive fuel from a farm fuel supplier. Soon after arrival the Toedter Oil Truck arrived and almost 300 gallons of fuel were taken aboard. Diesel along the river was running at about $4.00 per gallon at the marinas . . . farm diesel, the same diesel, was delivered for $2.73 a gallon. How sweet it is!!! Dinner was at Ray's Place. Ray is no longer with us. His wife, Pauline, and her twin sister, run the place. They must be in their 80's. We enjoyed the buffet . . . delicious fried chicken, mashed potatoes and thinly sliced beef with gravy, string beans, meatballs and spaghetti, and fried fish.............. there was no room for desert.

Addition and correction: This is a comment, note, a duplication of an entry made February 13, 2008. The February comment is based upon an email received and all is appropriately repeated here.

February 13, 2008: Back in September (Blog entry September 17-26) this photo was posted and there was a report of "farm fuel" and dinner at "Ray's Place." A large part of the joy in this journey has been the people you meet, talk with, and enjoy along the way. While we were at Ray's Place and having a great meal we spoke with . . . well, just let me say that it has been, continues to be, great to hear from so many people along the way; the lives we have touched, that have surely touched us.

This email which was received from Andrea Minyard speaks for itself. Great to hear from her!!

Hello there! My name is Andrea Minyard. I am 29 years old, and I am the Grandaughter of Pauline Marchiori, who owns Ray's Place On the Riverfront in Hennepin, IL. I am the manager of the restaurant and remember your visit to our small town. I was reading your journal and I am pleased to see you included us in your story, along with a fantastic picture of our "dock". There is however a small correction that needs to be made to your story. Pauline (owner) and her sister Shirley are not twins; they are simply sisters. Pauline is the eldest child of 8; (5 girls and 3 boys). Also, neither of them are in their 80's. Pauline just celebrated her 75th (or as she would like you to think, her "57th) birthday, and Shirley is only 72. Shirley is definitely a major contributer to our little restaurant, making our homemade noodles, soups, and pies, but Pauline and I are the ones who actually run the restaurant. Pauline was at the helm for the last 15 years since my grandfather Ray died in '93, and I joined the team as manager in Oct of '06.
Thank you so much for visiting us and I hope you make it back to our little world again.
Andrea Minyard

On to the town dock at Chillocaohe, Illinois. The restaurant at the dock served only beer, mixed drinks . . . and frozen pizza. We walked to town to a newly opened hot dog place . . . then for our evening event we rode our bikes through the town and stopped at DQ for a little ice cream treat.

We stopped in Peroia, Illinois, at the town dock, for lunch and a walk about town. The dock had NO cleats so we tied up to rails. The docks were built for small boats . . . and there was to be a charge of a dollar or two dollars depending on the length. There was no one there to collect. The downtown area was celebrating Octoberfest. There we met a local boater, a local doctor, Dr. Robert Lizar, who ran a family practice in Peoria, and, he encouraged us to use his slip at the Illinois Valley Yacht Club (IVY). . . which we did.

As we arrived at the IVY marina a sailing regatta was in full swing from the marina.

Our spot in the IVY marina was in front of the club house. There were a number of other loopers in the marina, GENESIS, STEELE'N TIME, KITTIWAKE, RESTLESS WIND.

The marina manager offered us his truck and went to the Galena Road Baptist Church. After the morning service we joined the small church membership for a delicious meal. The pastor's daughter, Sarah Jeffcoat, asked if she could bring her family down to see us in the afternoon; yes, of course. One of the greatest blessings on this trip, all along the way, has been the small churches we have been able to visit and the warm welcome they have extended to us. Their hospitality has endeared us to them.

We spent a rewarding afternoon with the Jeffcoats. Sarah had to leave early for a friends wedding shower, Jim and his sons, Collin, Taylor, and Drew, visited with us for the afternoon and it was delightful to make new friends and enjoy the interest of three (four) young men. (Photo credit: Jim Jeffcoat)

On down the river from IVY, Peoria, to Havana; Bonnie keeping the sun from her eyes so she can remain in the center of the river. "It's a beautiful thing."

At anchor, Charlie relaxing at the end of another wonderful day. This "wonderful day" shortly after the picture, came to an end. A passing vessel pushed a wake that caused us to ground. We were then able to accept the intentional wake of a passing tug that re-floated SONATA . . . we pulled the anchor and continued down the river to a new location . . . all night travel. Another story in this one is a run-in with the Coast Guard Auxillary . . . a helpful bunch, on this occasion, they were not.

Nearing Hardin, Illinois, the sides of the river are filled with the summery greenery . . . and the beginnings of fall are just coming into view. The calm waters added to the peaceful scene.

Passing again, on two whistles, this picture shows the depth sounder that the barges/tugs, place on the lead barge. This is so that tug . . . at the rear, can see the depth of the water at the front of the usually 9 plus barge group. We continued down the Illinois toward the Mississippi.

Down the Illinois . . . our first view of the white pelican. Almost to the Mississippi.

SONATA logbook, page 150, September 26, 2004, 1200 (noon) SONATA entered the waters of the Mighty Mississippi River; N38-57.870, W090-25.137; having traveled almost 2,500 miles. This was a most exciting moment for us.

Bonnie flies out of St. Louis for work. The trip down the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Tombigbee Waterway . . . will continue on about October 4th when Bonnie returns.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sept 13-17, 2007 . . . Chicago

Bonnie was unable to return at the time we planned so it was a solo trip for Charlie from Naval Training Center to Chicago, some 34 miles. The weather was rough, NW winds 20-25, swells 2-4 . . . took a few pictures as the approach to Chicago was being completed.

As Chicago drew close the sky cleared, the view was better; the tallest buildings on the left and right with the two white radio towers on top are the SEARS building and the JOHN HANCOCK building.

Just inside the harbor breakwater is the Navy Pier.

Entry into the harbor is past this light to starboard . . . the SEARS tower in the background. Finally . . . calm water at last!

Our nephew, Cam Land, and his wife Katie came up from Indianapolis to visit. Our first outing was a walk to the SEARS Tower and a view of all of Chicago.

From the 103rd floor of the SEARS Tower . . . the South side of Chicago and a view of the Sanitary Canal going South, the canal we will travel through when we leave Chicago and proceed South. The little marina is called the River Marina . . . and a condo alongside.

Looking to the Southeast is the Burnham Park marina and just before that is the Soldier Field . . . football.

Another look at the Navy Pier and the entrance channel from Lake Michigan into the Sanitary Canal, our route into Chicago and then South on the Illinois River.

A North view from the SEARS Tower with the JOHN HANCOCK Building being the tallest in the view. The bit of green in the lower right of the picture (double click the picture and it goes to full screen) is the Sanitary Canal we will traverse after passing the Navy pier and going under the Michigan Avenue and other bridges before going South.

Behind the UBS building and in front of the Chicago Sun-Times building is the intersection of the Sanitary Canal and the Chicago River. We will turn South here . . . in the middle of downtown Chicago.

The West side of Chicago the view begins to become lower, no more tall buildings. The Eisenhower Expressway, Frank Lloyd Wright Studio.

The Chicago Lock, the first of the locks going down the Sanitary Canal, Chicago River, Des Plaines River, and the Illinois River.

We have entered the Sanitary Canal, first under the Lake Shore Drive Bridge, 25.5' clearance, then under the water arch . . . water is shot across the canal for the first ten minutes of each hour.

The Michigan Avenue bridge (17.9' clearance), the Magnificient Mile (shopping, shopping, shopping), then more bridges to sneek under.

Bridges, bridges, bridges. First the Wabash Avenue bridge (22.1'), the State Street bridge (21.4'), then Dearborn (22.4'), Clark (19.7), LaSalle (18.6), Wells (18.6), North Orleans (18.9). Our mast is down and our "air-draft" is 16'.

Now out of downtown we come to the Conrail Amtrak Railroad Bridge . . . 10.5' and then wait for the bridge to lift. We now have two loopers traveling with us, behind us is TWOCAN, and 5th QUARTER.

TWOCAN and 5th QUARTER following us down the river.

Our first encounter with the barge traffic on the rivers . . . up close and personal in this narrow river channel. This barge is only one wide . . . more later that are two and three wide. Squeeze by very carefully!

The junction with the Calumet Sag Channel is now just behind us and we join up with our friends again, GREAT ESCAPE. They entered the waterway via the Cal-Sag (South of Chicago) while we entered through the Sanitary Canal (mid-Chicago).

The Electric Zone . . . a section of charged water where "they" hope to keep the carp from traveling up the Illinois River up through Chicago and into Lake Michigan.

The Lockport Lock then the Brandon Road lock. Both are 600'x 110' and move us some 30-40' depending on the river level. SONATA is tied to a traveling bollard and we are in the lock with many other loopers.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Sept 6,7,8, 2007 . . . To Chicago, the Naval Training Center (NTC)

The difficulty of the trip from North Point Marina to NTC (seas were 5-7' with winds up to 25 knots . . . short, thank goodness, 14 mile day) was eased with a shopping adventure on the "Magnificent Mile".

Flowers along the sidewalk containing entertaining decorations and displays; this one titled "Rhapsody in Blue."

We had street entertainers and . . .

Tall buildings . . . The John Hancock Center.

Shopping was great . . . Charlie made the only purchase. There was no Stein Mart!! Still, lots to look at, a great day!

The week end is topped off with dinner at the Wool Street Sports Bar which is owned and operated by Mindi and Mark Green. A wonderful evening of good food, laughter, and stories. Mindy is the daughter of close friends of Bonnie's, Bill and Susan Russell. Again, it is the people you meet and see along this trip that make it so very terrific.

When Bonnie returns from Virginia Beach on Thursday we will move from NTC to the waterfront in Chicago, just steps away from the Museum of Natural History and all the shopping. Then, on about the 17th, Monday, we will proceed down the Chicago River, the Sanitary Canal, right down the middle of the Magnificant Mile, the business and banking districts. Starting down the Illinois and then the Mississippi.

Sept 4-5, 2007 . . . Milwaukee

The trip of 26 miles was rough for Bonnie . . . Someone must use the couch on the bridge . . . just to see if it is OK!?

The Milwaukee skyline as we approach the harbor. The art museum is the sail, bird, airline looking building on the left.

This is a land, across the street view, of this same building after Bonnie did her 9 year old "jump the curb" trick.

We got about town on our bicycles and stopped here to look at "stuff". There was also a nice place to eat inside so we stayed for lunch. The owner saw us reading a card, note, left on the table about supporting local eateries rather than the chains . . . and stopped to chat. We gave him a boat card and told him about our trip. When he and the waitress served our lunch he said . . . lunch was on him and that he wished us well on our journey.

What makes this trip so special is the many SPECIAL interested persons we meet along the way.

Having biked uptown, downtown, all-around-the-town, we crossed the bike-path bridge back to the marina and our boat home.

During our second day in Milwaukee Theresa and Don, GREAT ESCAPE, joined us for some of our biking adventures. Their well-behaved dog, Taylor, remained onboard to protect the boats and marina.

Also on our second night in Milwaukee, Mary Ruth, Charlie's sister that sells real estate in Madison, Wisconsin, and is a skilled multi-horse driver (stage coach style but more polished), and judge of those events, joined us for dinner and remained overnight.

Next stop was North Point Marina just outside Waukegan, Illinois . . . it was in the middle of nowhere, but we needed to get near to our next stop which was to be the Great Lakes Naval Training Center (NTC) in North Chicago.