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We decided to head on a side trip to Knoxville, TN to see a UT Football game and be part of the Vol Navy. We had only about a week and a half to get there, so we started off and averaged about 80 miles a day getting to Knoxville. Most of the days, we were pulling in just at dark, and in one case we had to shorten our trip due to a four hour delay in the lock.
0ur first stop was Green Turtle Bay in Grand Rivers, Kentucky where the marina had a great park like feel.
We walked all around and found the Thirsty Turtle Tavern for a late lunch. We went through the Barkley Lock at the Kentucky lake without much delay. We had docktails with several other loopers at Green Turtle Bay that evening.
The next day was 83 miles to Cuba Landing on the Tennessee River — starting to see more green trees and hills…
We got there at dusk, had dinner and hit the sack for the next early morning and 99.5 mile day to Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, TN.
On our way, we saw planes crop-dusting.
We arrived at dark and met some friends, Peter and Yvonne, on the boat “Quite Nice” for dinner. We hadn’t seen them since Chicago; they will be completing their loop in Mobile, Alabama. We hope to see them again before they sell their boat and go back to Texas.
The next day we headed out early expecting a 90 mile day, however, we got held up at the Wilson Lock for 4 hours. We got through the second lock (Wheeler) at dark and so decided to cut our trip short and stay at Joe Wheeler Park, just a few miles past the lock.
The next day we would travel 101 miles to Goose Pond, again leaving at daybreak and arriving just at dusk. We went through Guntersville Lock this day, without any delay.
One more long day and a quick pass through Nickajack Lock would get us to Chattanooga.
On the way we passed the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant.
Chattanooga was a very nice stop. We were right downtown on the city dock.
There was a lot to see walking around Chattanooga – – the “Trail of Tears” memorial was just off the dock as we walked into town.
After Chattanooga, we went by 2 more nuclear Power Plants
The second one was Watts Bar nuclear plant. After that we went through the Watts Bar Lock and then onto our marina at Blue Springs, TN.
We picked up crew (Larry’s Mom – Shirley; sister – Sandra and her grandson Parker) at Fort Loudon Marina, Lenoir City the next day who went with us to Volunteer Landing in Knoxville.
Don Campbell, our good friend from Kingsport came to stay the night on the boat. We walked to downtown Knoxville and had dinner with Don.
On the way back we saw this interesting bike arch
The next morning, Logan, Breven and Michael came for a morning boat ride and brunch on the boat. Don fixed Bloody Mary’s for the occasion.
After getting back to the dock, we saw several witches paddleboarding and canoeing down the river!!
We watched the UT vs Ole Miss game on TV back at the boat while Michael and the McAdams went to the game. It was a disappointing loss for the Vols. The next day we headed to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Knoxville for church where we met the McAdams and Patty Evans who joined us for brunch on the boat and a boat ride back to Ft. Loudon Marina.
It was another long 98 mile day to Paducah, KY where we stayed at the city dock.
That night we walked to town very close to the boat and had some seafood at Broussard’s Cajun restaurant. On the walk back, we saw part of the large mural wall that was the city wall to protect them from high water on the river.
The next day we took a look around town, and learned about some history of this place — like it was purchased for $5, less than the cost of Merriwether Lewis’ (of Lewis and Clark) dog…
We visited the National Quilt Museum with our very nice bartender, CJ, from the night before who had only been in Paducah 6 months with her mother, from Chicago. She had never been to the Quilt Museum, so we paid for a ticket for her to go with us.
There was a 911 Exhibit on display at the museum and several quilts had this theme.
The National Tribute Quilt was enormous, it listed all the victims who perished in the World Trade Center, and on all four hijacked flights and in the Pentagon.
There was a quilt with pictures from the newspapers of missing persons and some children’s letters about that day. It was a good exhibition and reminder of what happened.
Another part of the museum was quilts of wildlife. The fabric pieces in some of these were so small!! There is a puzzle in the Tiger quilt — see if you can find all 16 tigers in that one!
The most interesting quilt was the wooden quilt pictured here. Made completely from wood and hand-painted, you would never know this was not fabric.
All in all, the quilt museum was well worth the visit — even if you aren’t into sewing!! For lunch we went to the Paducah Axe — We didn’t throw any axes, but it was an option
Finally we took a walk, and a closer look at the city wall with murals depicting the history of Paducah on it. This was very interesting. The city wall had saved the city during different years, as was noted on the foot markers with dates on the wall.
There is at least a quarter mile of murals on the wall, below is just a sampling of what we saw. Noteworthy is that Paducah is also known as the Atomic City and is the nations only uranium enrichment facility.
Leaving Alton we travelled down the Mississippi River and saw where the Missouri River joined into the Mississippi. We would soon be crossing in front of the St. Louis Archway — so we notified all our family to watch the EarthCam. Just before the Arch is the Eds Bridge built in the 1860’s, it is the oldest bridge on the Mississippi River.
Niece, Kristin Weinzetl, was able to take this screen shot from the Live EarthCam as we went by. We are the lead boat in the left side of the picture — Thanks Kristin!!
Our night stay was at Hoppies Marina — it was really just a barge that did have power to tie your boat to overnight. It looks much worse than it was — and it beat anchoring out which we have not done yet on the Loop. We arrived just before sunset, ate on the boat, went to bed early and got up early the next day to start our longest day on the boat.
Back on the Mississippi, we saw this floating hotel go by — the American Duchess — which would show up again a couple days down river at Padukah, Kentucky. This looks like a great vacation idea for the future.
We started to finally see some trees and mountains as we moved further down river.
At Hoppies, we learned that our next planned overnight stop at Cascaskia Lock wall was foiled as they had just started dredging operations in that area — so we went back to the drawing board to figure out a place to stay. There are very few marinas on the Mississippi River, and not many anchorages either. Since Cascaskia was now out, we decided to try our first single-handed anchoring at the Little Diversion Canal in Cape Girardeau. We understood the Little Diversion Canal is not the place to anchor if there is a storm. There was no storm, so we took the anchorage. The day’s trip came in at 107 miles.
It took a couple of tries to get the anchor set, but we did it! After setting the anchor alarm and turning in, this was the most peaceful night yet. The next day we headed out early for another long day to take us 98 miles to Kentucky. Did I mention there are not many marinas on the Mississippi….
Today we saw the largest number of Tug boats on the Mississippi – lost count after 15.
Also transitioned from the Mississippi muddy river to the Ohio river, that was more greenish. Going up the Ohio river meant going against the current — first time since getting on the rivers in Chicago. We would now be going upstream all the way to Knoxville, Tennessee. Just north on the Ohio is where we saw the majority of tub boats and barges as it was a work tow area on the Ohio.
The Olmstead Lock is the only one on the Ohio River that we will go through.
Next stop was Alton, Illinois. We found lots of other loopers (~ 20 looper boats) at this marina. One of them, Inked Mermaid, crossed their wake at this marina and were already showing their gold looper flag! We parked the boat in a covered slip next to “Its a Wonderful Life” — how appropriate…
Our first evening, we took a walk to Fast Eddies — a highly acclaimed local restaurant that had great grill food, beer and live music nightly. They also had slot machines, nice, since we were heading to Las Vegas the next day.
An interesting thing about Alton is that it is the home of the worlds tallest man, Robert Wadlow – also known as the Gentle Giant. At age 5 he was 5’6″ – taller than Mary is now. There is a memorial in Alton with a life-sized statue of him, his custom sized chair and his replica home. He was 22 years old when he died, and the Taxi driver that took us by told us that he had to enter his home on all fours to get through the small but standard sized doorway.???
The Old Bakery Beer Company was a micro-brewery that we visited. It was walking distance from the boat and used to be the Colonial bread making factory. The beer was good and so was the bar food.
We left the boat in Alton while flying to Las Vegas from St. Louis, MO for a 9-day visit . We tried out a new car rental – very good value — and got a convertible for the week. Spent some fun time with relatives at Octoberfest with Mary’s Mom, Uncle John, Aunt Janet, brother Mike and cousins Tammy, Angela and Henry.
There was a Vegas Knights Hockey Game in town which was also a lot of fun even though we had to wear masks for that indoor event.
Back at Alton, the farmers market was in town, so we loaded up with some fresh food before taking off that morning.
We left Heritage Harbor after a fun week in Chicago with the Macias family. We had an easy 46 mile day, went through Starved Rock Lock and started to see a lot more barges on this part of the Illinois River.
After arriving at our destination in Henry, Illinois, we tied up to an abandoned old lock with power for the night and proceeded into town. Henry was a very small town with just a few restaurants, fast food places, and several small bars. We ate dinner out and then went bar hopping — one of Larry’s favorite pastimes.
After one night at Henry, we went on to Peoria, IL and stayed at the Ivy Illinois Valley Yacht Club. This was a very nice stay! We got to borrow a car to go to church, and Greek dinner. Back at the boat, the Yacht Club was holding the Commodores Ball — there were many tux’s and long formal dresses with dinner and dancing until late at night. We talked with one of the neighbor boats who was just starting the “Loop” helping answer several questions they had about navigation apps, etc. Also got to talk to some of the Commodores Ball attendees — they were very interested in Loopers.
We left early the next morning and went our longest distance since starting the loop — 107 miles. At the end of the day we rafted up with our buddy boat for the day – Scott and Angela from New York on their boat “Nothing to Plunder”. We anchored just outside the channel at Valley City anchorage on the Illinois River. After getting set, we saw a tug go by, enjoyed some dock tails together and then hit the sack to be ready for the next morning start at 7 am.
The anchorage was very peaceful, the boats didn’t move much all night and there were no tugs overnight. The next morning we saw several eagles as we continued down the Illinois River and the terrain began to look more mountainous in some places.
We made it to Chicago and were so excited to see the kids and Grandbaby, Estella Ana! Erin, Noe and Stella spent the night on the boat with us the first night.
We walked around Navy Point and had a Giordano’s the REAL Chicago Pizza Pie – YUM!
The next morning, Julio (Noe’s brother) and Noe’s parents (Papa Rey and Mama Atta) came for a boat ride through downtown Chicago to the Chicago Yacht Works.
There were 27 bridges that we went under — some were only 17′-6″ , and our air draft is 17 feet! There was one railroad bridge that was 15 feet that we had to call to ask them to raise the bridge. After his co-worker yelled on the phone to him “Larry, open the bridge!”, we had to wait for a train to cross, then “Larry” opened the bridge.
We dropped off the Macias’ clan at Chicago Yacht Works for their drive back to Batavia.
We saw our first barge after that and we headed to Joliet, but when we got there we decided to push on further to Harborside Marina just 13 miles further. Unfortunately, we had to wait on the Joliet lock about an hour, so ended up getting to the marina in the dark by flashlight. Luckily there were 3 locals on the dock to help us tie up.
The next morning we left Harborside Marina to meet Erin, Noe, Juve (Noe’s sister), her friend Dan and her 2 boys. We picked them up at Spring Brook, a riverside restaurant/marina. After a quick lunch, it was a great day for a 2-hour boat ride to Heritage Harbor Marina in Ottawa.
Erin and Noe got to try their skills on Locking thru by manning the line and hooking the bollard.
After getting back to Ottawa, we took a few days break from the boating and went to Erin and Noe’s house. We spent time helping unpack boxes in their new home, and doing a few projects — install RING doorbell, install TV, new WIFI Mesh, new sprinkler controller, yada, yada… But there was still time for the park with Stella and one night we got to do date night with Stella in downtown Aurora.
The Waukegan Harbor and Marina were very nice. There was another Silverton (like ours except 2003) that had an $18K Davit system that was so nice.
They had courtesy bikes which we borrowed to go downtown.
We stopped for an early dinner at La Casa de Samuel mexican restaurant, where we had margaritas and queso with choriso and fresh made tortillas which were fabulous!
We walked by the Genesee Theater which is a restored historic theater used for concerts, plays, etc. The theater reminded us of the Historic Abington Theater in Virginia.
There was a comedy show the night we were there — Michael Winslow – man of 10,000 sound effects, Marc Price (known for his role as Irwin “Skippy” Handelman on the television series Family Ties), and Mindy Rickles (Don Rickles daughter). So we purchased some tickets for only $30/pp, and went. They required masks when you weren’t eating or drinking.
The comedy was very good and this was the first live production we have seen since February before COVID shutdown all the theaters.
Kenosha was a nice stop at Southport Marina. They had a Hot-Tub! We enjoyed some time soaking in the Hot tub before showering and heading downtown for some drinks and dinner.
On the way we walked by a “Castle Park” — this will bring a new meaning to our kids who as children loved to go to the local “Castle park” in Kingsport. We got to try Angel’s Envy Bourbon — which was very good.
Walking around Milwaukee, we saw some interesting sites. We stayed at the McKinley Marina and walked downtown. We saw a statue of Father Marquette who was one of the first white men to visit Milwaukee in 1674.
The first day was sunny and we saw some swan paddleboats along with Art downtown.
Next day was rainy, but we still walked around and went to Usingers to get some fresh made sausages. We found a Wisconsin Cheese Mart too! Just as the rain started, we ducked into the Local Brats and Beer establishment and tried a sampler of the Usingers sausage and a BIG pretzel with our beer.
After a full day of exploring, we had dock-tails on the boat with John and Paula Hare then went back downtown for a very nice Italian dinner.