As you may have noticed (we certainly did), our stay in Grafton, IL lasted a bit longer than we anticipated. Without going too much further into the details than Caye already has, let’s just say that we were happy get underway this morning. We left the Grafton Marina just as the sun was peaking above the horizon and were then made audience to one of the top-5 sunrises I have seen anytime, anywhere. The color was your run-of-the-mill mix of breathtaking oranges, purples, pinks, blues and yellows – but what really made this one a doozy was the moisture and possibly pollution in the lower atmosphere towards St. Louis. The mix of colors from the farther away atmospheric debris and the nearby particulate cloud, meant a colorful but dim show, in which we could look directly at this big glowing disc for at least 10 minutes. Incredible. The weather degenerated a bit after that and managed to get windier and windier every hour until we were finally battling 20+ mph headwinds and the inevitable 1-3 foot waves/whitecaps that follow. By the time we pulled in to Hoppy’s Marina, or just Hoppy’s to the dozens of people that have recommended this stop to us, we were well-drenched from spray and dog tired…
A few other things of note happened along the way today. Most profound probably, was joining up with both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Our new mega-tri-river-monster is bigger, better, and badder than the diminutive Illinois River of yesteryear. In fact, this section of the Mississippi is adding 5+ mph to our overall speed. A pretty fantastic boost, considering that this just about doubles our potential range for a day of motoring. It also dwarfs the 1-2mph currents of all previous rivers of the trip. Of secondary note, we sailed right through St. Louis around noon and admired the city’s nearly non-existent waterfront. Seriously though, St. Louis we need to talk… why don’t you take a quick sail on up the Illinois River and visit our good pal Chicago – she could give you a bit of schooling in what a nice skyline looks like and how a city outta treat a cruiser… St. Louis has nothing for cruisers. Rather than marinas or a beautified waterfront, they’ve chosen to create a post-apocalyptic, hyper-industrial, concrete mega-barge water-slide. It’s pretty damn dismal. Iconic of the whole experience was a little installation art piece – a life-size bronze sculpture of a little girl plopped in the middle of huge, half-submerged, off-kilter slab of concrete – maybe 500 feet long by 200 feet wide – that I imagine was placed there to prevent erosion or flooding. No photo of the statue. We’re lacking the telephoto lens needed for long shots like that. If anyone has a spare or wants to earmark a donation – we’re all smiles and thanks:)
So, now we’re huddled down on the second of 4 derelict, tied-together, barges that act as the floating dock for Hoppy’s. This place absolutely deserves a post to itself and will get one in short order. Until then, suffice it to say that these folks have been a fixture for everyone passing up or down the river since the early 1930s and they have seen a lot in that time. Caye’s working on an Andean potato soup called Locro and I’m chugging away at resolving this miserable hacking situation at work and finally getting glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Hope everyone is well and enjoying your early winter in some cases:)