Monday, 7 September 2015

Heritage Marina to Alton

We left our friends at Heritage Marina and continued south.  We planned on staying at anchor where rumour had it that the locals came in and stirred up the Asian Carp.  We had just finished dinner when a local boat showed up.  They were armed with bow and arrows with fishing line to reel in the carp.  I wanted to drop the dingy in the water but Steve said that we could likely get a black eye or lose a tooth.  He commented "don't you see the nets on the front of the boat?"
We left our anchorage the next day to our next destination....Tall Timbers Marina.  This Marina is a very small Marina but a must stop if you are looping.  We met up again with our friends from Knot Home, Reflections and our Canadian friends from Midland, Loukethia.  The Marina is a hobby for the owner Bob as he has a full time job.  He was not there when we arrived but showed up later and came down to the docks to introduce himself and make sure we had everything we needed.  There was a pool and a bar on site bit since the American school year starts a week before labour day all his staff were back to school so the pool was closed and the bar was only opened on the weekend. The washrooms were a porta potty on the dock but very clean and didn't seem like a porta potty at all.   We only stayed one night here because he had a carp tournament the following day and he was full.  He had many boats coming in....the deal with the carp tournament is you have to stir the carp up with your boat and you can only use a net to catch them.  The person that catches the most pounds in Asian Carp wins a truck....mmmmm....should we stay and enter our dingy...NO we might get a black eye or chip a tooth.  Loved this Marina!
The next stop is Alton, Illinois which is very close to St Louis.  Alton is about 137 miles from Tall Timbers.  Our plan was to do about 2 - 65 mile days but the anchorage we were planning on staying the first night, Big Blue, we had heard that another boater had run aground there because water levels were too low.  You can see from the shore line that the water is very low. 

We decided we would put in a long day, about 90 miles to a good anchorage with lots of water and then the next day to Alton would be a short day.  Even though the water levels are very low right July they were so high that the Illinois River was closed to recreational traffic.  Some homes were not built quite high enough from the river.

The locals are starting to assemble their duck blinds for duck hunting season.  They take their duck hunting very seriously here and the duck blinds are more like cottages.  The first picture is a duck blind in the making.  All assembled, just not camouflaged yet.  The ramp going to the water would be where they send their dogs to fetch their kill.

We passed many barges on our way and radioed the captains asking for our 1 or 2 whistle pass.  All of the barge Captains were very friendly and some asked if we were doing the great circle or we could hear them radio other barges saying that they had "one of them Looper boats approaching."  Always gave a wave and even sometimes took a picture of Captain Jack.
Dexter is becoming quite at home on the boat.  He has many names.  We call him our rear view mirror.  We never have to look behind us because when we have approaching traffic.  Dexter always hears and sees before we do and his expression lets us know.
Our Looper friends call him Captain Jack because he always has top spot on the boat.  The people that we met in Alton call him Eddie. 
                                                We are now on the Mississippi River. 
When we arrived at Alton Harbour they told us if we needed groceries the local grocery store would pick us up in their car and drive us back to the boat when we were done.  Steve and I thought we would walk to the grocery store and then accept the ride back as we are always up for exercise.....NOT!  We stuck our heads outside and decided it was way too hot to walk the 10 blocks to the grocery store.  What a great service.  Adam, a grade 12 student came and picked us up and drove us back.  From here we are about 200 miles from provisions and it has been a week or more since we have been to a grocery store so we needed lots
 The people here are so friendly.  We have had so many boaters come to our boat and ask if we need a ride any where and if so they would be happy to drive us.  The boat across from us went out on the lake today but before they left they told us to help ourselves to anything we needed in his dock supplies etc.  Steve was cleaning the dinghy so before they left they hooked up their huge fan in his direction as it was very thoughtful.
 The Marina has a pool but it is very shallow.  2ft in the shallow end and 4ft in the deep end.  Great for families here to keep the kids occupied and cool.  Given the water level changes in the Mississippi, the whole Marina floats, even the pool.  The docks and the pool will float up the pillars as the water level rises. 

Our last night in Alton and then we head down the river.  200 more miles on the Mississippi then on to the Ohio River for a short time.  There are no services for the next 200 miles.  We met up with our Looper friends Knot Home, Reflection and Loukethia for cocktails and then met two other Looper couples for dinner.  When we arrived at the vessel Reflection, we had our drinks and I made a tray of appetizers.  We had never been on their boat before and I didn't notice the step just inside the entrance.  I fell down two stairs...then there is a small landing and two more stairs...well I couldn't stop at two stairs...rolled over the landing and then down two more stairs. The appetizers looked something like this......
Love the Canadian napkins eh!!!  Oh I bumped my head, cut my hand, bruised my butt and spilled my drink but I'm OK.  Pat and George, the owners of the boat were more concerned than I was in fact Pat screamed louder than I did.  George quickly refilled my drink and all was good. 

We went out for dinner to a place called Fast Eddies.  Apparently Fast Eddies put Alton Ill. on the map.  It was packed!!  We spent less than $25, Steve had 2 beers, I had a marguerita, I ordered 20 large shrimp for our table to share, Steve had a burger and fries and I had a pork kabob and fries.

When the State made smoking illegal in restaurants and only legal to smoke on the streets, Fast Eddie bought the street and put walls up so people could smoke in that part of his restaurant.  You can still see the double line on the street in the restaurant.

Back to the boat and took Dexter for his night time walk.  This Marina is very active at night.  It's a large Marina and they love to party here.  The docks are all decorated with lights and you can hear music every where.
Great place to stop.  So friendly and accommodating for just $24 a night as there is currently a 2 for 1 special but even at $48 a night, this is a deal.  Fridge full, check....liquor cabinet full, check.....laundry done, check......boat cleaned, check......bellies full, check.....well rested, check.....on to our next stop which is a barge on the Mississippi River called Hoppies.  I thought we were in Missouri today but we are still in Illinois.  Tomorrow we will be in Missouri living life "One Bay at a Time!"  Night y'all.

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