September 27-October 1 Cruising Chicago to St. Louis


After a great time in Chicago we set about the task of lowering our overall height for the 2nd time to get under what will be the lowest bridge (19’8″) on the entire “Loop”.  We were able to get our bimini & mast down to 19’6″.  It will be close but we decided to keep our fingers crossed & go for it.  We left Chicago & went down the Calumet Sag Channel to the Illinois River.  Captain Steve carefully waited until another boat’s wake settled down & slowly glided under the bridge with 2″ to spare.  Whew!  After that it was back to several locks which dropped us several hundred feet from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River.  All the other bridges were some form of draw bridges & went up magically as we approached.  As beautiful as the Illinois River is, it has very different facilities to tie up at night than we enountered in the first half of our trip.  One night we tied up in the oldest abandoned lock on the river, built in 1872, in Henry, IL.  Seemed more like Mexico than the US.  Another night was simply tied to an old barge, loaded with lumber, outside of Beardstown, IL, a town that time forgot.  Tally-Ho screamed “where am I”?  We saw amazing sights including huge flocks of American White Pelicans & schools of Asian Carp, leaping out of the water in our wake as we approached Peoria, IL.  The weather was idyllic & we entertained all the barge & tug captains by sunning & reading in the chaise lounges on the bow.  Our Captain & 1st Mate, Steve & Summer, decided the Illinois River captains had never seen this before.  It was interesting to see beautiful farm land & houses built on stilts to accommodate the periodic flooding.  In Grafton, IL we docked by the confluence of the Illinois & Mississippi Rivers with the Missouri flowing in just down stream.  Amazing granite cliffs on 1 side with lowlands on the other.  We docked for a long weekend in Alton, IL, just outside of St. Louis.  The entire marina (buildings, docks,pool, etc.) are floating to be able to raise up as much as 30 feet during flooding.  Alton is a great little town with dozens of antique shops & fine restaurants.  A pleasant surprise.

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