Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 391       Andalusia Slough Anchorage
Andalusia, IL
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

 Fuel dock at Fairport Landing

 Looking upstream from our anchorage

Looking downstream from our anchorage

It was another good day for Dream Catcher to travel.   The water in the channel sometimes dropped to as low as 6 feet which prevented barges from traveling, so there was no wait at any of the 3 locks.    
We topped off our fuel at Fairport Landing Marina, and then headed to our favorite anchorage in Andalusia Slough.  It was very windy, and Dream Catcher was blown around a lot, but we were glad to be so close to home.   
Total miles: 59       Total bridges:  2       Total locks:  3
Day 390  Big Muddy’s Restaurant
Burlington, IA
Monday, September 19, 2011

 Sections of the new Burlington Railroad Bridge under construction

 The free dock at Big Muddy's

Burlington Bridge from Big Muddy's Restaurant

We fueled up at the Keokuk Yacht Club, traveled for 5 hours, and enjoyed a day with no locks. 
Like the very first night of our Great Loop journey, we tied to the free dock at Big Muddy’s Restaurant in Burlington.  Again we had a great meal with great service. 
So much has happened since that first night!  What an adventure! 
Total miles: 37       Total bridges:  3       Total locks:  0
Days 388 – 389     Keokuk Yacht Club
Keokuk, IA
Saturday, September 17 – Sunday, September 18, 2011

Keokuk Yacht Club

Dream Catcher docked in front of the clubhouse

 It was another 9 hour day, and again we were lucky to boat right in to all 4 of the locks.  There was no waiting for other traffic.  One reason for our “luck” was the low water that had stopped a lot of the barges.   We passed 3 barges that were grounded in the channel, waiting for a dredge.  Of course, the dredges were in high demand, and it would take several days for them to arrive and dig out the channel. 
We were glad to arrive at the Keokuk Yacht Club where we tied to the outer wall where the water was deep. 
Sunday arrived with a lot of rain, but we had no plans to move.  We were waiting for a fuel truck that we had scheduled for Monday morning.  We had a quiet day aboard Dream Catcher.     
Total miles:  85      Total bridges:  5       Total locks:  4
Day 387  Two Rivers Marina
Rockport, IL
Friday, September 16, 2011

 Looking toward the Mississippi River from Two Rivers Marina

 Landscaping near Two Rivers Marina swimming pool

Lighthouse at entrance to Two Rivers Marina

It was hard for us to leave our good friends who have become like family as we traveled the Great Loop, but it was time for us to head back up the Mississippi River to our home in Iowa.    Jeremiah will head down the Mississippi with Seamoore (now at Port Charles for repairs) to continue the loop to their own home ports of Florida and Alabama, respectively.   We’ll greatly miss all of our good friends on “The Looper Train”, but we’ll keep in touch and hope to see them again soon. 
 We traveled for 9 hours and fortunately did not have to wait for either of the 2 locks.  Dinner was at the Lighthouse Inn Restaurant which was located next to the marina.  
Total miles: 64       Total bridges:  2       Total locks:  2

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Days  384 – 386     Grafton Harbor
Grafton, IL
Tuesday, September 13 – Thursday, September 15, 2011

Loopers following Dream Catcher to Grafton
 Dream Catcher crosses her wake at Grafton, Illinois

            Our gold flag signifies completion of America's Great Loop

 A toast to our completion

Flying the gold flag
 Grafton Harbor Marina

Entrance to Grafton Harbor Marina
Lunch with Joe, Linda, Larry, Carrie at the Big Kahuna
 Bill drives away after dropping us off at Aerie's

 Enjoying the view at Aerie's

Beautiful view from the top

Mississippi Half Step Restaurant

Lunch at Mississippi Half Step

Saying goodbye to Carlton and Becky

 On Tuesday, September 13, 2011, at 12:12 p.m. in Grafton, Illinois, we “crossed our wake” on Dream Catcher.   We had started “America’s Great Loop” in Grafton on August 29, 2010.  The circle was complete.  We had been traveling for a total of 1 year and 19 days. 
Grafton was a good place to celebrate our completion since it is famous for its shops, restaurants, and wineries!   We went exploring with Jeff and Linda and stopped for lunch at The Big Kahuna.  We were joined by Joe, Linda, Larry, and Carrie whom we met in Hardin.  They live nearby and travel the rivers in their runabout boats. 
After lunch we decided to walk to the Aerie’s Riverview Winery which is located at the top of the bluff.  Oops.  No way.  The road was extremely steep and far too long for a walk.  So Jim flagged down a friendly motorist who actually turned his car around and gave us a ride up to the restaurant.  Thanks, Bill!   What a guy! 
As we were enjoying the amazing view from Aerie’s, we were joined by Carlton.  He and Becky had arrived in Grafton on the previous Friday, rented a car and driven home to Decatur, Alabama for a few days.  They had just returned to Grafton.  While Becky remained on the boat, Carlton went with us, Jeff, and Linda to the Ruebel Hotel for dinner.   The hotel was built in 1879 and features a solid oak bar shipped from Bavaria in 1904. 
On Wednesday we said goodbye to Becky and Carlton who moved Seamoore to Port Charles Marina for some minor repairs.   It was hard to say goodbye since we met them in Rogersville, Alabama and had traveled with them since Marathon, Florida.  We’ll stay in touch and hope to see them in our future travels. 
We worked around the boat during most of the day.  We had appetizers for dinner onboard Dream Catcher with Linda and Jeff.
On Thursday we enjoyed lunch with Jeff and Linda at Mississippi Half Step, a home that was built by Charles Brainerd in 1885 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  But the real treat for the day was dinner on Jeremiah.  Jeff fixed an Italian specialty dish which is a blend of tuna, anchovies, garlic, butter, and olive oil.   It was served as a dip with vegetables and French bread.  It was absolutely “the best we’ve ever had”!                
Total miles:  21      Total bridges:  0       Total locks:  0
Day 383     Illinois Riverdock Restaurant
Hardin, IL
Monday, September 12, 2011

 Jeremiah passes under the I-72 Bridge, the most Western point of the Loop

Illinois Riverdock Restaurant
 Home of the famous brisket

Loopers docked at Hardin
Augie Busch regularly flies in for brisket 

 Owner Mel (standing) greets Sigrid, Linda, Jeff, Brenda, Jim, and Fred

Looper dinner at Mel's Riverdock Restaurant

Dream Catcher, Jeremiah, Jumbo, and Godspeed left Beardstown in the early morning.   We were lucky to get right through the La Grange Lock which is the final lock on the Illinois River.   All 4 boats stopped at the Illinois Riverdock Restaurant due to Jim’s claim that it serves the world’s best brisket. 
The 4 boats filled all of the space on the small straight dock.   When other Looper boats arrived later, they rafted off of Godspeed and Jeremiah.   The Loopers gathered at the restaurant for that delicious brisket dinner.  Besides dinner leftovers, Dream Catcher stocked up with extra brisket and 2-inch-thick pork chops.    Yum!!            
Total miles: 62       Total bridges:  7       Total locks:  1
Day  382     Logsdon Tug Service
Beardstown, IL
Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Jumbo", shipped from Germany to Florida

 Jerimiah, Dream Catcher, and Godspeed tied to the barge at Beardstown

Jumbo tied to tow at Beardstown

“Dream Catcher” and “Jeremiah” left the IVY Club at first light along with “Jumbo” and “Godspeed”.  We had good luck at the Peoria Lock and all 4 boats arrived at Logsdon Tug Service about 4:00.   The Tug Service allows pleasure craft to tie to one of their barges docked on the river.  It’s not the prettiest dockage, but it’s secure.     
Along with Jeff and Linda we walked downtown, stopped at a Mexican Restaurant for dinner, and shopped for a few groceries.   The tough economy has definitely taken its toll on Beardstown.        
Total miles: 80       Total bridges:  12       Total locks:  1
Days  378 - 381       Illinois Valley Yacht Club
(IVY Club)
Peoria Heights, IL
Wednesday, September 7 – Saturday, September 10, 2011

 Migrating birds along the Illinois River

 "Grianan" docked at the IVY Club

Front entrance of the Illinois Valley Yacht and Canoe Club
 Kate, Linda (aka "Stunning"), Greg, and Brenda

 At the IVY Club

 Rainbow on the Illinois River

 With Betsy and Dave at the IVY Club

 With Patty at "Famous City Bistro"

Overlooking Peoria Lake on the Illinois River

 The Looper Train arrived at the IVY Club, and we were glad to see Greg and Kate from “Grianan” who had arrived the previous day.   It was great to get together again, and we all enjoyed dinner at the club.
Early Thursday morning “Seamoore” and “Grianan” left for an 80 mile ride to Beardstown.  “Dream Catcher” and “Jeremiah” opted for a shorter day to Havana.  But when we called the marina we found that the water was down, and the marina was too shallow for our boats.  Due to thunderstorms predicted for Friday and Saturday, we decided to wait until Sunday for traveling.  We were very happy to stay at the IVY Club which is a friendly, yet classic yacht club.
On Thursday evening we went with Jeff and Linda to the IVY Club for taco bar dinner.  We shared a lot of laughs with club members Patty Cirilli and Dave and Betsy Jones.   
On Friday evening Patty picked us up at the IVY Club and took us on a tour of the Grandview area of Peoria.  The homes and the views from the bluffs overlooking the river were spectacular.  She then took us to her new restaurant called “Famous Cities Bistro”.  The d├ęcor includes murals of New York City, Paris, and other well-known “famous cities”.  It was a fun restaurant for all ages with great food at reasonable prices.
On Saturday as we were working around the boat, we got a visit from loopers Fred and Sigrid who are traveling on “Jumbo”.  “Jumbo” is a 24-foot boat that was built in Sweden and shipped to Florida from Fred and Sigrid’s home of Germany.  Fred and Sigrid heard that Jim was familiar with this part of the loop and stopped by for some information.    They are an interesting couple who speak amazingly fluent English.  We enjoyed meeting them, and visited with them again at the IVY Club. 
Since the IVY Club restaurant was closed on Saturday, we walked with Jeff and Linda to the Firehouse Restaurant.  The 4 of us enjoyed dinner with loopers Ginny and Greg from “Brown Eyed Girl”.    
Total miles:  25      Total bridges:  2       Total locks:  0

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 377          Lower Henry Island Anchorage
Henry, IL
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

 Sunrise at our anchorage

 Jeremiah and Crossroads at anchor off our bow

 Shoreline from our anchorage

Seamoore anchored at our stern
It was a long day for the Looper Train.   We checked out several options for dockage or anchor, but had a difficult time finding a suitable place.  At dusk we finally anchored separately behind Lower Henry Island and called it a day.    
Total miles: 59       Total bridges:  12       Total locks:  2