Entering the Chicago River. 40 bridges in 5 miles~~~
The US inland waterways represent an entirely different type of environment for us. Unlike the Hudson River in NYC, the Chicago River is tight and densely populated. Turning the corner south west into the Illinois River, the landscape is BIG industrial complexes and barges on both sides, loading and transporting things like mulch, coal, cement, and other elements we couldn’t identify. There are also a few miles of water where the Army Corp of Engineers run an electrically charged field to stop giant carp from reaching the great lakes. They say to watch out for the big fish jumping into your boat, they’re dangerous, but we didn’t see any. Here are a few examples of what we did see:
Our first day was long and we didn’t see any other cruisers until evening, on the free wall in Joliette, IL. The wall has a bad reputation due to crime however; after 47 miles and three locks, we decided it was preferable to doing 15 more miles and two more locks. The locks are enormous and all commercial vessels have priority which means waiting can be hours long then to refill the chamber for us to enter and be lowered can also take “forever”. In the end, it was a pretty uneventful night with the exception of sirens and trains. 🙏🏽
Day two on the rivers we traveled in a flotilla with the six other boats who had also stayed on the wall. It made things interesting and we had to raft up to go through the locks. Something new for us. It was also an even longer day- Almost ten hours to Ottowa, IL. We waited several hours for the lock in Marceilles due to a huge barge taking hours to load and exit the lock chamber. We dropped anchor and tried to relax LOL.
It was just getting dark when we pulled into our slip at the Heritage Harbor Marina. It felt really nice to float Irene into a beautiful cement tiled dock. It was windy and I was thrilled we were all safe and sound. Also, nice to see a kid waiting to grab a line from David. Im not sure if I have mentioned the fact that I am doing all the steering into/out of locks and all the docking. If there’s a learning curve, I am rounding the bend. Sometimes, like last night, my heart rate noticeably increases and I need to calm myself down but mostly, I’m doing great. Last night I got 💯
We have some bad weather moving in and we are staying a day or two. Tonight we are attending a lecture the Harbormaster is giving about traveling from here down to the Mississippi. Kind of excited to learn more about what we can expect ahead. No doubt though, the unknowns far outnumber the known.
Keep the faith ya’ll ❤️🔥 The days are getting shorter so we all need to turn up our light and shine on. Shine bright, friends.