We just spent two weeks sludging our way down the rivers. We’d heard tell of many boat nightmares in these parts: propellers and anchor chains snagged on submerged branches, hulls torn up by wingdams (man made rock walls in the river to push the current to the middle), Asian Carp jumping into your boat then flopping and bleeding till you capture them (ewww!), endless hours waiting to get through locks, mean-spirited lockmasters, terrifying tow boats, and more…
Even though aspects of the rivers are more to be endured than enjoyed, we’re happy to say we didn’t experience any of the reported horrors (thank you, God!) Just HOT days drenched with sweat, long runs spent dodging large logs and other flotsam, all with little reward at the end of the day. Not much to see. I think Charles Dickens described it best after taking a river boat cruise…
“What words shall describe the Mississippi, great father of rivers! An enormous ditch, sometimes two or three miles wide, running liquid mud, 6 miles an hour: it’s strong and frothy current choked and obstructed everywhere by huge logs and whole forest trees.”
In retrospect, we should have waited till October to come down but there are two locks under construction on the Illinois and we didn’t want to take the chance that they may not reopen. No Fall colors yet, just brutal heat and humidity. Did have a very nice night at Heritage Harbor Marina in Ottowa, IL and captured our one drone video worth sharing:
Marinas are few and far between so we had to anchor actually ON the Mississippi one night. Didn’t sleep much but did see some rather eerie tow boat traffic, with their blazing spotlights shining right into Joy Girl like a UFO looking for someone to abduct.
PBS did a brief, eye catching video on these nighttime tow operators. Sorry I can’t embed it but it’s worth a look: https://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/3029441129
Craig very much enjoyed chatting with these tow captains and arranging whether to “see you on the one whistle or the two”. Before radio, they communicated with whistles and still use the terminology today. In “tow boat paradise” one whistle means our boats will pass each other port to port (like driving a car in the US) and two whistles means starboard to starboard (like driving in England). Mind you, there wasn’t always a lot of room and it was up to us to get OUT of the way of these massive ships but still not run aground. All the tows were polite and quick to answer our radio calls but many sounded like they were raised in the waaaay deep South, somewhere near N’Orleans, and spoke some inexplicable language. Our radio talk often went something like this…
The classic song “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers kept running through my mind. “Ol Black Water, keep on rolling, Mississippi Moon, won’t you keep on shining on me?” So, in Kozak tradition, I made up some new lyrics to make me laugh. That and The Adventures of Huck Finn have kept me smilin’.
We ended up in St Charles, Missouri because we blew yet another alternator (more boat units down the drain!) But to our surprise, we discovered that Lewis & Clark stopped there in 1804 and the town has the longest historical street in the nation. Very cute with a taste of Charleston, SC about it. Our one tourist attraction!
We did have the opportunity to visit our nephew Paul in Peoria, IL where he’s attending Bradley University. Great to see he’s doing very well! And had a fun visit with friends we met last year in Door County, WI, Nola & Dave (no photo of these great folks) 😥
We survived these Midwest rivers: Chicago, DesPlaines, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Cumberland. Okay, that’s enough for now. I’m tired.
We are now docked at Green Turtle Bay Marina in The Land Between the Lakes in northwestern Kentucky. We’re taking a break to watch the Fall colors and enjoy visits from family and friends. Never thought I’d be so happy to be back in Kentucky, lol. We can’t travel down to the Gulf of Mexico before Hurricane season ends (November), so we’ll be here for a few weeks. Then, more rivers…the Tennessee, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, the Tombigbee, then the Mobile river to Mobile, AL. Then, we’ll cross the Gulf of Mexico to Florida.
For now, where’s the pool?!?
7 thoughts on “Ol’ Brown Water”
Your blog is well-written and illustrated and a joy to read. I’m cruising the loop in sections and spent a week on Green Bay in my Ranger Tug during August. Because I read about it in your blog, my daughter and I got to enjoy a Northern Sky Theatre production at Peninsula State Park next to Fish Creek. What a gem!
I used to live in Paducah and have to make small correction— Green Turtle Bay and Land Between the Lakes are in far western Kentucky.
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Thank you so much, Bill, for your kind words! They made my day 🙂 I wasn’t sure how the post for this tough section was going to turn out.
Wow, we’re so glad you got to experience Northern Sky! It truly is a sweet little spot.
Thank you for the correction to our location in KY. I have fixed that! We plan to visit Paducah when our guests come. If you have a favorite restaurant, we’d love to hear what it is.
Thanks again for your very nice comment 🙂 If we pass by your current location, please let us know so we can meet.
Sounds like you have looked for the silver lining and enjoyed the gems along the way. God is faithful….keep your eyes on Him! Get some rest…
All is well at the Shetland home. Even your plant recovered!! Marina
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Haha, true, we do search for the silver. He has been SO faithful and got us through a lot in this section. Yay, thanks for bringing the plant back to life! Shame on me, I forget to send a note on your birthday 😕 Happy belated and hope you had fun!
Just finished watching the blog and it’s great as usual! Love, Mom and Dad
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Love you two so much!! xxoo!
I finally got to read this! You crack me up. Sounds like quite the adventure. It’s neat that you got to see a lot of eagles!