The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

River Rats

We returned to the boat in Ottawa, IL late Sunday night after a twelve day trip home.  While in California, we first attended a wedding in LA (my beautiful niece, Emily).  We then drove to San Diego and got a “back stage” tour of the Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan in San Diego (from my daughter’s newly returned to shore boyfriend, Evan).  Then we flew back to Sacramento for a week of dealing with home duties, a few business meetings and several lunches and dinners with friends (some of whom still think we’re a bit crazy).  We also attended my, aahhem, 40th high school reunion.  I couldn’t believe all those old grey and bald men were my old friends.  But, it didn’t take long to reacquaint and have a blast.
The "morning after" Emily's wedding, breakfast with our kids
approaching the USS Ronald Reagan
on the flight deck
my first mate says she's glad she doesn't have to handle this anchor chain
This is the USS Abraham Lincoln (from the deck of the Reagan)
"Evan's" helicopter
daughter Carla and Evan from Georgia
We enjoyed seeing everyone, especially our children and grandchildren.  The trip home was also much needed for our granddaughter Lia (age 4 almost 5).  Evidently she is about fed up with the whole thing and had the following conversation with the Admiral:
“Why do you have to go back Grandma?”
“Because, I want to go back.”
“But, you’ve been gone long enough and I don’t want you to go.”
“I’ll keep sending you postcards.”
“Could you send me a Princess one?”
Whew, close call.  Our trip almost was cut short by a half-pint with big blue eyes.
Anyway, we had dinner with Moonstruck on Sunday, provisioned Monday and left Heritage Harbor after fueling early Tuesday.  Both crews were so anxious to get going we ignored the rain.  Well, we ignored it for about two minutes, and then we just got cold and wet.  But, what the heck, we’re boating, right?  And, boating is fun!  However, we were all glad when after travelling over seventy miles of Illinois River, we pulled into the Illinois Yacht Club in Peoria.  We got there just in time to find out that the bar and restaurant was closed.  There was a local watering hole just across the highway, so after a hot shower, off we went.
We decided to try and make Grafton, IL where the Illinois River runs into the Mississippi River, a distance of another 168 miles, in the next two days.  That will depend upon whether we get through the locks without delay (always a crap shoot). 
Today, contrary to the weatherman’s prediction (ever heard that before?), we woke to sunny skies and little wind.  We enjoyed a glorious day cruising down the river and reached our goal of Bar Island, about halfway to Grafton.  No, there is not a bar on Bar Island.  In fact, there is nothing but trees and shrubs.  It is a little island in the river that provides us a good anchorage and a place to hide from the barges that cruise this river day and night. 
A short wait for the lock to open...looks like a Chinese fire drill, huh?
one of the many barges with towboats we passed today
one of the many bald eagles we passed as well
Moonstruck in the distance on the river
Buddy, this one's for Jim...I see an opportunity here...
Moonstruck at anchor, with Bar Island in the background
It was during the eight hour cruise today that Carrie and I decided we must really be River Rats.  I grew up water skiing on the Sacramento River.  Later, the river, along with the entire Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, was our boating grounds for many years.  If it hadn’t been for the rivers:
1.     We wouldn’t have fallen in love aboard Wop Sided.
2.     We wouldn’t have learned to love big boats.
3.     We wouldn’t have learned to dock, anchor, read a chart, etc.
4.     And, today we wouldn’t be on the Loop…you get the point.
So, despite (or maybe because of?) the fact that nearly every Looper we’ve ever talked to has told us this was their least favorite part of the trip, we are enjoying it.  The main difference, and this would be BIG if you lived around here, is that it is mostly one long river.  In our stomping grounds there are a great number of additional rivers, sloughs, canals and whatever, all charted, interconnected and navigable.  So, cruising there over a long time offers much more variety.  Also, Sacramento and Stockton are deep water ports, so there we pass only an occasional large ship, not the dozens of barges we see daily here. 
Still, this river reminds us of ours.  And, these two River Rats feel right at home.

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