Monday, November 4, 2013

Return of the blog

Well, howdie - here we are again rollin' on the river!!

We both have had a nice break from the boat to attend Nathan's wedding and to see our respective parents. I stayed nearly three weeks with my parents in the UK and the weather was 'orrible to say the least. Out of 20 days in the UK, it rained for 17. However, it was mild for the time of year so I cannot complain about that. It was really nice to see my parents, my brother and his family and catch up with "old friends". Whilst I was there Dad gave my Mum a bunch of flowers which contained ornamental cabbage. They looked just like roses and lasted for a long time. I am curious how the grower managed to grow such long stems - at least 12 - 14".

We have left Peoria after having lunch with Gary's cousins, Skip and Doug and dinner with Perry and Bert. It was really nice catching up on all their news and meeting Michael, Perry and Bert's son. Michael is a pilot who crop sprays and takes biologists on rides to count the waterfowl in the area. Some of his flying takes him as low as 5 feet above the ground which would scare the heck out of me. I thought it might be interesting to accompany the biologist on his bird count until Mike told us the biologist is sick more than once on the flight.
We left Peoria, IL on Friday in cloudy, cool weather after we had pumped out the holding tank. By now you know my weird sense of humour as I noticed the pump out machine was called a "Jonny Trap". Does that mean the Jonny's are full of ....!!!
The Illinois River is a working river with many tugs called tows (no kidding) either pushing or pulling many barges. Large ships cannot get up the Illinois due to the depth of the river.

This barge was being unloaded of salt onto a lorry/truck. Can you tell which end has been unloaded first??? Only joking!!!
The Illinois River is home to many bald eagles and I guess we have seen at least 2 dozen or more. We have also seen wild turkeys and herons.
These turkeys are not fat enough to eat at Thanksgiving so they are safe from the hunters for the moment.

Fall has arrived (I was afraid I would miss it with being in the UK) and it is absolutely splendid when the sun is shining.
The river has been known to flood and I believe the last time it broke its bank was June of this year after a very wet spring. Many of the houses are built on stilts at least 10 feet above ground. When you take into account that the stilts are built on the land above the level of the river it makes you realise how dangerous the river can be.
The river is so powerful it creates sand banks on the shore after the silt is washed away. I should have brought my bucket and spade with me!!
We stayed last night in a side creek off the river as we like the peace and quiet. When we woke up this am it was 34 degrees in the upstairs cabin and 52 degrees where we sleep. Our generator was not working so we had to use two blankets and a bedspread to keep warm. We even had frost on the outside of the boat and fog along the river.

When I went outside the boat this morning I shrieked with delight as there were geese "swimming" not too far from the back of our boat. I ran for my camera, took a photo and was surprised to see the geese did not fly away. Why, you ask, did they not fly away. 'Cos they were decoys, that's why. I love geese as they mate for life, I believe and, if one is injured another goose will stay with it until the injured one gets better or dies. I just LOVE to hear them honking in their V at night. I think, what are they  talking about? We did not hear the owner of the decoys pull up behind us and plant the decoys. We did see him however, hiding in the bushes - boooo hissss!!!
Further along the river we came across more decoys. The owner of them even had an electronic whirligig thingy to attract the geese - booo hissss!!
I mentioned earlier that the morning was very cold. Well, it took it until 4pm this afternoon to reach 70 degrees in the upstairs cabin area. We wore multiple layers, gloves and a hat (me). We passed a restaurant and people were eating outside. These Illinois folks are a hardy breed as we guess the temperature to be no more than 55 degrees - brrrrr.
We passed the 50 foot Our Lady of the Rivers Shrine near Portage des Sioux. It was built after the disastrous flood of 1951 as gratitude for the water stopping just short of the village. Mid July of each year the blessing of the fleet is held at the shrine.
We also passed an old paddle wheeler being restored. It looked to me like they had a lot of work to do.
We ended today's journey at Alton on the Mighty Mississippi River. Not too far north of Alton were high cliffs with beautiful fall foliage.
The river was rough but not anywhere near as rough as Lake Michigan. There was also a strong wind blowing causing sailboats to enjoy a final day's sail before winter sets in.
Leaning over the edge of my boat does not appeal to me at all. However, Gary, I think would enjoy it.
When I was home in the UK in May I bought a pretty vase from a junk shop - I mean an antique shop. It was decorated with a peacock. I could not bring it back to the States with me because of being over packed so I intended collecting it on my next visit. Now, my Dad believes that peacocks can bring bad luck to their owners -the feather contains the eye of the devil!!! So, I brought the peacock vase back with me in my hand luggage. The planes arrived safely - phew and the vase is now on the boat wrapped up safely so it does not break. Well, since the vase has been on the boat the following has happened-
The port engine would not start so we had to bring a mechanic in to look at it. The problem was very simple - Gary had left the engine in gear causing it not to start.
At a lock, I was given a rope by the lock keepers and tied it off on a cleat forgetting that the boat would drop 10 feet as the water was pumped out of the lock. The boat dropped 5 feet and then started to pull on the cleat. The only way to stop the cleat being pulled out of the deck was to cut the rope and release the boat. We dropped about 2 feet to greet the water below us.
The generator stopped working on Thursday morning just prior to the cold spell hitting the mid west. We now have no heat, cannot use the microwave and anything else requiring use of the generator.
Do you suppose my Dad is right? Should I get rid of the peacock vase????? 

Kingston Rover Loop Map

1 comment:

  1. Ditch the P-Cock. You've had enough bad luck this trip, why tempt it. And I really don't need more "junk" to sell after you're gone ?;~D