Saturday, September 27 - Yesterday morning we woke up thinking we were staying in Ottawa until Monday. We understood from contact with the Coast Guard that they were thinking of opening up a large portion of the river soon, but we were still concerned about having a good place to ride out a couple of days should the openings be delayed.
All that said, when boats started pulling out yesterday morning we decided we couldn't stand to stay still any longer! We talked with the folks there with us and several of us decided to just go on down to Peoria, knowing we'd have at least one more day of travel beyond that before we reached the "forbidden" zone of the flooded river. (Yesterday the Illinois was closed to recreational vehicles from around mile 80 to mile 101. We were at mile 242 at Heritage Harbor and decided to travel down to mile 168 at Peoria...then we could go down another day's travel to mile 120 and the Tall Timbers Marina.)
We went from a ho-hum morning to a zippity-do-dah morning!! As Segue and Our Turn pulled out of Heritage Harbor Ellen and I were literally dancing around on the deck! Thirteen days of forced immobility had us ready to go the 70+ miles to Peoria even if we were leaving at 9:45 AM and looking at an arrival time of after 6 PM.
We had talked a number of times to the Illinois Valley Yacht Club (IVY Club, it's called) about staying with them when we were able to travel to Peoria. Trouble was, we knew they were having their annual Lobster Fest (???) this weekend and were booked up Sat. and Sun. nights. As we were traveling down the river that morning, though, they called to say that they could take us, Our Turn and Marbles for one night. That was great news since our alternatives were either still flooded (read: dinghy to land) or a place described by those in the know as "very rustic."
We had only one lock to go through, Starved Rock Lock, just below Ottawa. After a short wait for a tow coming upstream through the lock we locked through with about 6 other pleasure craft and started the trip down to Peoria.
The river has just opened a few days ago to commercial traffic and we saw a LOT of tows during the first 2/3 of the trip. We were the lead boat and spent a lot of time arranging passes and spotting debris. And there was a good bit of debris around. Some of those duck blinds we'd been seeing are in deep water now...
The areas below Ottawa on the river are still flooded so there were a lot of areas where we had to travel at no-wake speed in order not to slosh water into someones home!
One of the day's highlights was seeing two eagles fly around and light it a dead tree...
I thought I was going to get a shot of the illusive (to us at least) flying Asian carp. What you see below is the flying carp entering the water with a splash! They apparently get all worked up over the propellers vibrating the water and jump out (and sometimes jump into boats!). Their skin is paper thin and we've been told if they land in your boat they will immediately begin bleeding up a storm and cause a real mess. Yuk!
We got into IVY Club, along with Marbles and Our Turn, at around 6:30PM. Already there were Kismet, Stargazer, and Blue Max. The people at the club were so helpful and friendly! We joined our friends for a short time in the club house then headed back to the boat for a light dinner.
And we have TV channels again!! We saw part of the Obama/McCain debate! The only channels we were able to get at Ottawa were cartoon or religious. :-)
Today we're heading out for Tall Timbers Marina. We'll see what the waterway openings look like for today before we plan out tomorrow's run. We may just keep on keepin' on 'til we're back on the Tennessee before taking a break!
It's so good to be on the move again. I'm not sure how we're going to do this winter in Knoxville.....Oh, well, we'll think of something.