Sept. 5, 2012

Keithsburg, Illinois UM 427 to UM 389 Across from Dallas

Early this morning around 4AM I woke up to the boat rocking pretty good. The wind had begun to blow and I had an eerie feeling that we were in for a treat. As I lay there the wind kept building and I could see lightening in the distance. Gator noticed the change as well and we both got up to batten down the hatches. Sure enough, within minutes “storm world” hit. For the next hour, we maintained the boat, keeping the wind and rain out, it was pretty intense for a while. After a while, the wind mellowed and we were able to lay back down until daybreak. As the day broke, we noticed our chair had disappeared from the dock, blown away and claimed by the Mississippi. 

It’s a beautiful morning and we shove off about 9AM. Enjoying coffee on board we sail on calm waters with a slight breeze blowing into the wheel-house. Early morning and early evening are the best times. Usually, the river is calm, the temperature is bearable and Gator is not as cranky……..I’m kidding of course.

Soon we breeze right on in to lock # 18. We caught this one just right, the gates opened as we approached and drove right in. Talking with the lockmaster we find that a tow is right outside the gate waiting to lock up north. It was nice of them to let us go first as it saved us about a 2 hour wait….it was a long barge.

As we spill out of the lock we are surprised by the incredible chop we now have. We went from smooth as glass on one side of the lock to 3 foot chop on the other side, such is the river. We endure this chop for the rest of the day. We are bounced up and down as the bow dives into the wave and bounces fiercly back up sending water splashing into the wheelhouse. I close the door and prop the cooler against it to hold the door in place. It’s deffinately a wild ride.

Lock # 18

Later in the day we arrive at Bluff Harbor Marina, a welcomed stop-over to get out of the chop, catch up on my blogging and just chill for a while. I want to mention here a fascinating enigma called sea-legs. You see, every time we make land, Gator and I continue to rock back and forth even though we a standing on dry ground. Anybody who has been aboard a watrecraft for a long time has experienced this. We like the time we get off the boat for a while but we always seem to continue the ride anyway. It’s actually kind of neat. Anyway, We spend a couple of hours here catching up. The marina has a nice shady veranda overlooking the river with wifi, the perfect spot.

Now, all caught up on the blog and restocked with fuel and ice, we continue the journey one block down to “Big Muddy’s,” a really cool restaurant situated right on the river. Pulling up to their dock, we tie off and wobble inside for a good lunch break. Looking out the picture window at the river, we enjoy our meal in comfort and style. The photos covering the walls tell a story of a busy river town back in the day, moving goods up and down the river, the hard-working river folk carving out a life in this small river town.



“Big Muddy’s”
















Back on the “Joanie Belle” we enjoy smooth sailing as the river has calmed considerably. As the day winds down and the sun sinks below the tree-line we begin our search for a camp site. It is now that Gator and I have our differences of opinion. “We should cut across here and camp over there,” “no we should continue down-river for another mile,” no It’ll get dark soon,” no let’s pull up to that little beach over there,” “no, let’s not.” Anyway, you get the idea, and we always come to a fairly good consensus. Tonight, I spot a small dock next to a grain elevator and we pull in. Meeting us at rivers edge is Roy, a security guard for the grain elevator. He jumps out of his ranger with his dog and gives us a wave and invites us to stay for the night. It doesn’t take a second before he’s checking out the boat. We accept the invitation, tie off “the Belle” and chat for a while. Roy’s dog is chomping at something in the water, “he does that” Roy says. “He’ll chomp water for a while and the puke it back up when he’s done chompin’.” OK, that’s pretty weird.








“The latest in mosquito fashion”









Roy says “adios” for the night and invites us to walk around the property. As the nights falls, we change into our “mosquito clothes,” long pants, long-sleeved shirt, socks and shoes and some bug repellant. We mix a beverage and walk up the road checking out the pump station and looking for a breezy spot to sit. We find one and sit, talking about the day. This is the time we really enjoy. Soon, it’s back to “the Belle” and into our cacoons for some good sleep.


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