Day 5, Lock 14 to Muscatine, Iowa

Previous Day

Miles Covered:  um 491- to um 455 (37 miles)

Closest towns or landmark (chart): Island outside of Lock 14 to Muscatine, Ia.

Original Post date: June 3

Last night we settled just outside of Lock 14 on the ‘inside’ of a small island – that’s where we left one warped and worn-out bar stool before heading down river to Muscatine.  Again, not a high pace day, just an easy clip with the breeze once again at our back and a setting alive with an abundance of white pelicans.


It all started once again with a simple vessel organization (like the FD clean-up routine we are so use to) and then out to and down the river.  We may have been spoiled with the breakfast’s so far on the ‘upper’ Mississippi, but on this date and even though we were near Davenport, Ia – we couldn’t locate breakfast (‘land-food’) riverside.  Thinking that one restaurant was open (because a fire truck was in the lot) we stopped and ambled on up to the door – it was the Davenport Fire Department doing a pre-incident plan.  Aw well, the guys walked back out to the river wall where we spoke a few minutes before shoving off – still, we remained hungry.

Wasn’t long before we were into the co-co puffs and soft Oreo’s that had been staring back at us from our improvised ‘bar’ area – I was good with soft cookies/milk and Carl was ok with co-co puffs from a cup, with milk .  Yes Mom, I brushed my teeth (she kept an eye on us during the trip).


From Lock 14 we began to pick up a few mayflies (Hexagenia mayflies) small flying nuisances (but not biting) of insects that just like to hang around – seems to bother Carl more than myself, I figure they will move on with the right wind.


Example of the hexagenia mayfly invasion in 2017, the @72 hour lifespan of these critters can be a nuisance to all that is covered – on the positive side it is said that the perpetual summer life-cycle is a sign of a healthy river…

On the freebird I am finding that computer concentration time is limited too, so I make some quick crummy notes to ‘jog’ my memory and plan to return later to ‘color it in’ with memory/association.  ”Absorbing all that I see seems to be the top priority of each day.

Without the sunshine the past few days the battery dedicated to our electrical inverter is running low too – camera battery is down also, please send the sun… today it was 66 cloudy with occasional rain – even so it all remains very awesome, fun, and simply entertaining as the river continues to carry us gently southward.”

There are marina’s along the ‘upper’ Mississippi, occasional opportunities to change the rhythm of the day by simply stopping to ‘top-off’ our fuel tanks.  At this lonesome marina the sign on the unattended shack stated to “push the buzzer,'” well I did and the result was a BLAST from the FOG HORN! just above my head – after all that peace, I jumped a mile! – a good laugh for Carl.


Our Huckster buddy’s from college are just now getting to the Mississippi near Prescott, Wi, they have a neat and very arduous adventure ahead of them; we wish them perseverance with it.


As we “locked through” lock 16 there was another boat making a similar trek, the ‘French-Quarter.’ These guys were having a blast and working their way to the Gulf, via the Tenn-Tom –


Moving much slower and with the town in sight, a ‘one-with-the-river’ was in order, didn’t take but a minute – and I was glad of it later.  We proceeded to the Muscatine, and the comfort of their harbor.

At Muscatine, Iowa we entered the protected harbor and tied-down, then spent the rest of day and evening roaming the streets stores and bars of this historical little town..


We visited the local pubs, The Pearl, the Hubble, and the Button Factory – seems years ago they made buttons from clam shells collected from the Mississippi – a lost business, now a restaurant.  The folks were interesting and the beverage made us feel a little more at home…


Thank goodness it was just Tuesday or I think we would still be out roaming the streets – even came close to getting a tattoo.

The other boaters Tom, Holly, and Pat aboard the French Quarters were great conversation during the evening and later on their boat –  it felt nice to be a part of the ‘dockside’ community, a great ‘feel’ to it.


Somehow the day and ‘river-life’ felt a little more complete, even though it was my first visit to Muscatine – it felt like I had closed one of those ‘little-circles‘ in life.


Once in bed and asleep – our vessel felt as fine as any other.


Noted ‘Towboats’ for the Day;

The Deana Ann

The Tom Behringer

The John M Rivers

The Reggie G

The Show Me State

The Samantha

Next post, Day 6 to near Dallas Island


Day 6, Muscatine, Ia. to near Dallas Island

Previous Day

Miles Covered:  um 455- to um 389 (66 miles)

Closest towns or landmark (chart): Muscatine, Ia. to just past Dallas Island

Original Post date: June 4


Muscatine, Io

Dockside sleep once again, this time within the Muscatine harbor.  Last night we had a “good-time” running around town – because we were in the city so short of time with so much to see we would revert to the ‘bacshortly‘ bar-hopping thing; have a beverage (maybe two) before proceeding to the next establishment, if one was most appealing, we planned to return – “bacshortly”…


while into last evening we visited our ‘French Quarter’ friends dockside in/on their boat, really a ‘vessel’ as compared to the ‘birds-nest’ we were in – but it held periods of those hearty stomach aching laughs, with tears –  for some reason I really ‘needed it.

The next day we returned to the river, and while idling towards the next lock the French Quarter eased passed us – so we pushed the little bird hard to ‘lock-through’ #17 with them


afterward we wished them well and they moved over the horizon (or around the bend), we returned to our conversation pace….. current speed.

Over the past miles we have also noticed numerous duck blinds along the Upper Miss, I can only imagine that they need to be replaced after each large flood – more simple thoughts as we returned to idle speed on the increasing current, just fast enough.

Also few pleasure craft around in the early part of the week which is nice and adds to the peace of it all. Occasionally when we are bothered by waves or the obnoxious changes of ‘civilization’ which breaks our cycle of river tranquility, we have developed a simple saying that seems to fit pretty well, especially after a couple of afternoon beverages – it goes something like (but not exactly) “doggone people!” breaks us in to a simple laugh and lightens up the place – and of course it varies as to trains, tows, and to the occasional pleasure craft that do shove us around with their wakes.


-but the day is mostly about taking in the sights and sounds of the River – simple observations, evaluations, speculations, and summary’s – old foundations of idle chat slightly illuminated, enumerated, and vividly embellished by our river-beverage.



We later stopped at the riverside town Oquawka, Il and walked to the nearby diner (which is pretty much at waters edge) – catfish sandwich here while Carl has been on a hamburger binge – it was ‘land-food’ and well worth the stop.

The little town was simple and while there noticed several folks drive to the end of mainstreet (which was waters-edge) stop and peer at our boat.  Once back at the boat we savored the conversation with several, and it was always good to hear it mentioned how they would love to make the same journey (#3 talking about “going down the river”) – each comment made our trip a little richer.

– there were lots of miles in between those moments – to walk the deck, pilot, or sit/lay on the roof…...


to relax as the Mississippi river passed beneath.


until ‘locking-through’ once again confronted us.

Lock 18 (holding the rope routine)-

As lock 18 fell behind us there were ‘stilted’ homes along the shoreline, yes, “doggone people!” once again.


These homes were built among the cottonwood trees and high atop pilings (concrete, wood, etc) as to offer some protection from the river’s ornery moods, even trailers were perched high.  I suppose to some this could be an odd sight – but it is another adaptation of experience from the rivers inevitable impulsiveness.


Burlington, Iowa – a stop at Bluff Harbor Marina for fuel – after changing the prop and putting new spark plugs in the motor, there was time for a ‘birdbath’ under their garden hose using the sun-warmed water within.  An hour passed as I put my ‘feet-up’ and listened to the dock chat of the kids.  They were along the dock laying in the sun, frolicking and playing on sea-doos – some, of our attention was in noticing that ‘they’ do actually swim in the Mississippi – this was a good sign.


The Marina owners were great and invited us to remain and dock for the night at no cost, but we moved on down river to the nearby Big Muddy Restaurant – they also had a dock so we tied up and went in.

Big Muddy Rest -

Big Muddy Rest –

The Big Muddy Restaurant and bar, riverside at Burlington is an old train depot that you would swear was brand-new.  The crowd was a little light this night but the Cajun grouper really hit the spot.  Christian was the bartender and he introduced us to Karla one of the owners who was working as hard as anyone there.  In between her tasks we talked a little of the town – and of “going down the river” – no doubt that if nothing else on this trip, we haven’t been met with an uninterested ear or friendly smile, makes it all worth it.


After the Big Muddy and instead of bunking down, we decided to continue down the river into the evening darkness once again – we did – it was worth it too, because with the sun at our back the orangeish shoreline was again as vivid in clarity as it was through the Savanna reservation a few nights earlier – something else that seems to make this all worthwhile – the natural moments of this river, the clarity.


We continued into the darkness where anchorage become a more difficult task – but finally we located a place in the mud, oh yeah – the thick dark mud that you have to ‘work’ to get off…..but that’s another story….

Once solidly anchored it was another great nights rest as our ‘weathered’ clothes ‘aired.’

Noted ‘Tows’ for the Day;

The New Dawn

The Andrew Cannava

The Bill Berry

The Cooperative Mariner

The Bruce T

The Ed Renshaw

The Sir Randy

The Queen City

The Charlie Melanchion

The Charlie G

The Prairie Dawn

The James L

Next post, Day 7 to Polly Island

Day 7 – near Dallas Island to Polly Island

Miles Covered:  um 389- to um 345 (44 miles)

Closest towns or landmark (chart): just past Dallas island to Polly island

Original Post date: June 5


Day seven; after cruising late into the late evening from Burlington, it took two efforts for to find solid anchorage – where the cruise was nice, the darkness complicated the ‘tie-down’ process – another reminder to look for a place earlier and to be tied down by 6 – you will enjoy the river moments more.

We found ourselves in an area where you could be fifty yards away from an island, and then you’re stuck in the mud…. real mud – the kind that just hangs on to you (almost black and ‘oily-like’).  Finally ended up along another island near the mud and had a decent nights sleep – 

We keep learning the smaller things – like get away from the city, tie-down early, and come in parallel to ‘ wing-dams.’


and we continue to be reminded that the railroad still runs along the river, the nearer to a city you are – the more they blow their horns at crossings.  So all through the wee hours of the night – wooooo wooooooo, wooooo wooooooooo, – “doggone trains!”

It was real early and as I prepared the coffee maker when I noticed a cruiser approaching in the distance, it was not quite plained-out and at that mediocre speed ‘bow-up’ creating a large running wake which was rolling down the shoreline.  It appeared as though this wake would throw our vessel onto the mud-bar – so I hollered and Carl sprang from bed like a rookie on the firetruck – he jumped out of bed and flew into action crossing the deck and into the mud.  Of course as he was in the air over our bow I said “WAIT! – it’s going to be ok”……. wakeup call…

Carl went ahead and set us adrift since he was already knee-deep in mud.  This didn’t change our mornings, which are special – coffee and drifting.  The black mud is hard to get it off and that simply enhanced the conversation (and laughs) of the morning – ask Carl.

Next stop was Fort Madison, Ia. allowing me some computer time, Carl was pressing for a breakfast and constitution – so as Carl ambled off to a diner.


I remained to download some pictures and spoke with a few folks which were hanging around the bar and dock.  These folks had recently lost their jobs with a company that made steel plates for heavy equipment – now they were having a beverage at 11 am instead (hey, its five o’clock somewhere).


Once on the river we passed the recreated Fort that was once part of the local history, the city has done a real nice job on the park.  The other buzz around town was of the network ESPN’s anticipated visit this week to televise a fishing tournament..


Pointing the ‘bird’ down river and at idle speed we took to the current – south at 5 miles an hour……believe it or not, it’s plenty fast enough.  It was  possible to put Patric in the Captains chair and tie the steering wheel so that we could ‘throw’ several hands of cards – Carl’s ahead at the moment, five games to 500 – loser has to jump in (if you saw the water you would understand).

Passed the 350 mile marker for the Upper River, Carl’s ½ way point – we’ve been really fortunate to have the cool and gentle breeze at our back and made superb time –


Moniker stop here, and then another stop later at the Keokuk Marina to wait for lock 19 ( a drop of 36 feet) to open.



It was an informative visit just before the lock, they suggested that we go to The Purple Cow after the lock for refreshment – of course Carl and I looked forward to it with the visions of place as nice as this Marina


We think that it was a little purple building along the river where some locals were pitching horseshoes in the sand, but there was only a small beer sign and dockage looked uninviting – wasn’t sure, and with that moved along with the current – river only flows one way.


So we cooked rice and bullion, a poor second choice but it was still pretty good.

.… still hunting some grits.




So off to Day 8 – all is fine on board, no mud fights yet – putting southward – and continuing to work on new and exciting mixed beverage combination’s.

Noted ‘Towboats’ for the Day;

The Virginia Ingram

The Norma Christina

The Bernard G

The Issaquena

The Jennie K

Next post, Days 8,9 to Hannibal

Day 8, 9 – Polly Island to Hannibal, Mo. to Lock 24

Previous Day

Miles Covered:  um 345- to um 275 (70 miles)

Closest towns or landmark (chart): Polly island to Hannibal, day later just before Lock 24 (lost anchor)

Original Post date: June 7

Learning as we go, if you can – tie to the ‘off-side’ of an island or within a known slough – out of any wake.

Not long after daylight we were again riding the river and watching the tows –unloaded, loaded, or loading.


along with other thoughts fresh from the day before –

No major hang ups at any of the locks so far – and soon we arrived at lock 20.

All of the folks that we have encountered whether in the locks, tows, or on land have been very cordial and interested, good folks; simply other people in the same world.

Years experience and living as a long-haul truck driver provided me with an insight with the nature of transporting commerce.  I respected the Mississippi as an ‘interstate’ – and the towboats were the power.  In no way did I want our vessel ‘freebird’ to be a nuisance (as a mo-ped on the interstate) – with that being said.  I didn’t find anything insurmountable to deal with along the way, common-sense.

‘Rafting’ is inbred into the Mississippi river lore and motif, now more than ever I suspect that it is a novelty of ‘river-life’ with the towboat pilots too, we were just another amusement – like a bear, a fox, or deserted structure along the way.


As to what we are use to; a tractor trailer can carry @35-tons, where a single barge (tows can push 42) hold @1500-tons, its a massive thought. The towboat pilots patiently maneuver those brainless containers with literally a foot of distance from each wall within the locks – its pretty impressive.  Understanding, utilizing, and then balancing the factors of current and control, perception and machine – plus other factors.

We clearly recognize their skill, – no hurry here.


LaGrange, Mo. another little riverside town and time for a morning walk.  It did not appear as though there were any restaurants around so we walked into a small store for supplies…..


and a fine lady cooked us breakfast.  It was a cross between a store and a restaurant.


There were a few gentlemen with a card game going; they continued playing within their normal chatting – its always nice to climb into a new dimension in the world.  Lots of the same folks, whom are simply in a different place in this world.  Carl and I have maintained good conversation with no major hurtles – all in fun, and with an objective; take what this river has to offer while talking about – well, whatever…..

We found too that it wasn’t long before our dirty clothes were cleaner than what we were wearing, its nice that it doesn’t really matter – and its a plus that we each smell the same (if we smell at all).

Later we stopped in Quincy, Ill at the small marina to charge some batteries, shower, and clean some laundry – a little less river funk, if that were to matter either (I never heard the comment, “you smell clean”).


and those forgotten Cabeeses....

and those forgotten Cabeeses….

Hannibal, Mo. of Tom Sawyer fame, even walked the town.  Lots going on, they were having a cook off and a live band played through the night, lots of fun – so of course we enjoyed the event (hootin and hollerin) until it was over and then somehow found the marina and the boat without falling in.

Mark Twain Museum, Hannibal, Mo

The next morning a local businessman  (Mike Cates of Brickyard Motor Co.) offered the use of his car to drive to Wal-mart, I would have walked but he insisted, really nice – he and his son were at work next to the diner, just an example of how nice folks are along the river.

Oh yeah, the worst part was walking out of Wal-mart and wondering what kind of car it was that I had driven there – it took a few minutes.


We kinda felt ready to move on and cover some miles, but its been a slow day – extremely strong headwind to hold us back.  Not many pictures taken, again battery charging issues – we left wondering if we would make our 30 mile minimum, but it really didn’t matter – just to be on the river.

At lock 22 there were 10 tows waiting to pass, the lockmaster said it was the most he had seen in 10 years at one time – maybe the economy is picking up..

The strongest day of headwinds and crashing waves yet and it continued throughout – as we ‘hugged’ the shoreline to reduce the effect of the wind (near the 279 mile post) we began experiencing the ‘jumping fish’ (Asian carp), a few even made it in the boat – BIG fish, it was both amusing and funny as it all happened.


We located a lagoon at Two Rivers Marina across from Louisiana, Mo and waited until evening for the winds to die down further – it was nice to be all showered and have a mixed beverage while waiting.

Mini Yard tow at Two Rivers Marina

“Its really nice out here…and the weather is starting to be more like summer, hot – but I guess that’s where all this headwind is coming from…. the South.”


Noted ‘Tows’ for the Day;

The Ann Naye

The Moline

The Tom Talbert

The Reggie G

The Thomas K

The Gene Herde

The Bernard G

The Clayton McWhorter

The Bill Berry

The Cooperative Ambassador

The Laurie S Johnston

The James F Hurey

The Cooperative Venture

The Erickston

The Pebble Beach

Next day, Day 10 – to Squaw Island

Day 10 UM Lock 24 to Squaw Island

Previous Day (s)

Miles Covered:  um 275- to um 221 (54 miles)

Closest towns or landmark (chart): just before Lock 24  to Squaw island (a nice beach, chair exchange)

Original Post date: June 7

Day 10,  we were settling in just prior to lock 24 (we could see the lock), – in the effort to anchor Carl tossed the anchor out (it was disconnected from the line) – needless to say – it didn’t ‘hold.’  “Lost to the sea” we began to call those things, sunglasses, a hand truck (later before Memphis), and probably a few other unintentional items along the way.  The anchor bit was more funny than anything else – we kinda watched it happen, then anchored to a tree along the shore.  “Just part of it.”

We preceded early to the Lock and awaited the movement of a Corps of Engineers crane (on a barge) to lock-through.  They were performing some of the locks maintenance – once within the lock and as the water lowered we were again enjoying simple conversation with someone (likely low in seniority) on the other end of the rope.

After the lock came the riverfront town of Clarksville, so we stopped in search of breakfast.  No luck, too early – or the town was simply deserted after a large festival a day or two earlier – missed it.


Further down the river we went absorbing the mornings scenery, Hamburg, Il. is where we noticed these steel boats settled on the shore – no restaurant in sight.


Carl couldn’t wait any longer and cranked up the stove creating egg and bacon sandwiches; river-good.

The day was another special one on a calm river flow, pleasant has to be the word of the day. Pretty much we just walk around the boat filling the void of the other as they stir (if its important such as steering) – this morning Carl spent most of the time on the lawn chair reading as I found places and ways to move and hang things in the cabin – everything has a place.

The passing riverfront is simply interesting to look at, for conversation even the simplest things are open to debate; where Carl has only simple responsibility (no authority) on the boat – he sometimes quips that “as we return to our workplace he’s going to ‘eliminate my position,” all in fun – good company.


At lock 25 the lockmaster wouldn’t return our call, we were beginning to think our radio was bad and without any further information we once again tied up to a ‘can’ (buoy) before entering. It was the nicest pool of water that we could remember entering (others had been windy and turbulent) – until we mentioned the fact to each other – and then the wind turned on us and our only saving grace was the buoy we had to tied to.

calm before the whitecaps

This is where the tow Gene Herde worked his magic around us (like parallel parking) so close that they easily sucked the water from under the ‘bird’ as maneuvered into the lock ahead of us – the buoy held.



Another tow (The Bill Berry) began working his way around us too and about that time we were able to establish contact through the telephone – they allowed us to ‘lock-through’ between the two tows.


That’s the short story, all of this took more than two hours of beating wind and current, after a cam entrance….. I was never concerned for what the tow pilots were up to, because they are absolutely aware of their surroundings – which includes us little guys.


For some reason on the low side of the dam/lock the wind diminished and the evening became much calmer – just outside the lock at the 240.2 we found the Cedar Hill Resort.


Very nice place overlooking the river with a Tiki bar and a 1957 Trojan boat for a stage, nice setup.



Kelley served us drinks and some fried green beans, really good – just like fries. Through conversation a few of the folks there had done a similar thing in 1991, and they were still friends.

Also with the several of them present was a model of their boat “Middle-age Crazy” that they floated to New Orleans on before selling it there (a common practice) for 700 bucks.  It was a completely home made raft (boat), built by Al Morgans Dad (who is in his 90’s now).


After some beverages, we boated on down to the Riverbend Marina at 232.5 and met up with Jeff and Al again, where they provided us an extra stool.  Riverbend showed us some warm hospitality and the marina was well kept and modern.


The river and the folks along her are friendly, helpful, open, and just awesome – we haven’t had a negative encounter.

Al then piloted the ‘bird’ a short distance down the river to his home (next to Riverbills) where we checked out his welding inventions, workshop, and where he gave us an anchor to replace what we had lost the night before.


Next day, Day 11 – Sucked through St Louis

A few more miles and we found a nice beach (Squaw Island) to tie up to, its now morning and a storm has blown up around us, storm world 3 – on to Grafton, Il.

Noted ‘Towboats’ for the Day;

The Cindi L Erickson

The Stephen L Colby

The Gene Herde

The Bill Berry

The Bootsie B

The Virginia Ingram

100_2126washing windows

Day 11 Patrick’s Back

Patrick (crew)  is making his final pass through St Louis,


welcome home, and thanks Patrick – Godspeed.

Day 11, Squaw Island to St Louis, to Hoppie’s Marina

Previous Day

Miles Covered:  81.5 river miles, um 221- to um 158.5  Upper Mississippi River

Closest towns or landmark (chart): Squaw island (near Grafton, Il) to St Louis, to Hoppie’s Marina

Original Post date: June 9

We tied off last evening to a log along this inviting beach with nice sand (Squaw Island) – it appeared to be well used because there were chairs and a cook stove strewn about – so it seemed to be a local hangout. 

With the morning light we took our walks and then traded our old rickety chair for a raggedy one that was lying on the beach (which we later traded for another in Memphis).  As we were preparing to depart it began to rain.


The weather radio reported storm clouds and hail on the way – so expecting the worse we ‘battened down the hatches’ (dropped the tarps and ran a rope around ‘the bird’) and settled in.  I took my ‘one-with-the-river’ morning bath as it all passed over (rinsing in the rain) –  the ‘weather’ passed and calmed to normal in about 45 minutes.

So far the weather has not been a major factor, it has been overcast but for the most part the breeze has been at our back – which works great on the water.  We have experienced three pretty good lightning storms without any real ‘hair-raising’ experiences (even though we have clearly seen bolts illuminating the ground at a distance).  With such weather you cross a point where you have done all that you can – so we find as much protection as possible – and leave the rest to ‘the odds,’ “just a part of it.”


After shoving out in the current and having our morning Coffee, we hit our idle speed pace around five miles an hour, a perfect ride on the river.  The morning air holds simple conversation with amicable debates on any subject throughout the day.  Happy hour, well you pick the time.


It wasn’t long when we came to the junction of the Illinois River, hardly noticeable.  That is where we stopped at the Grafton Marina for some supplies and a battery recharge.


Our Lady Of The Rivers” (212 mm) watched over us on this night

It was a wide expanse of the Upper Mississippi with wide gentle curves and a highway that ran along one side with some steep banks.

Our thirty-mile average a day has been exceeded by a long-shot as we now float well ahead of schedule – still unsure of the date to make New Orleans.  Still plenty of hurtles before then – plenty that I’m starting to see.

Alton Marina, Carl's turn for the 'buzzer'...

Alton Marina, Carl’s turn for the ‘buzzer’…

Alton, Ill was ahead so we stopped at the Alton Marina and ‘topped-off’ our fuel.  I had also hoped to go to ‘Fast Eddies’ for a burger but found it was a mile or so away – instead we headed to the Mel Price lock where we were ‘locked through.’  This lock was full of floating debris, the ‘bird’ struggled to get through it  – the most trash in one spot that I had seen on the river so far.




Just above the confluence of the Missouri was another area full of Tow/barge work, adjustments, and rerouting – a busy place that I suppose was out of the greater current of the combined rivers.  Soon we came upon the confluence of the Missouri River – it is said that the Mississippi’s volume is increased 40% here, and where we couldn’t immediately tell – it became more apparent to us closer to St Louis, especially after exiting the ‘Chain of Rocks Canal’…


The Chain of rocks

The Canal near St Louis was built for boat traffic to avoid an area of rocks in the river.  For me, this short video by a paddler (link here) best explains the chain of rocks (other information for paddlers).  Originally I wasn’t sure why another dam wasn’t built there – but the canal allows boats to avoid the potential shallows.  Some smaller boats and kayaks can make the rapids, but that is directly related to how much volume is flowing – a boat such as ours could not make it.


The entrance to the ‘chain-of-rocks’ canal is well marked.  Traveling through the canal we crossed the path of several Northbound tows that we had worked with several times since our journey began southward, the Gene Herde and the Bill Berry – evidently their route is the one from St Louis North.  When we exited the Chain-of-rocks canal the volume, water-speed and other river traffic became more apparent to us – maneuvering our little craft took greater forethought and careful anticipation – we were to learn more about this later in the darkness of the night.




It was a good feeling to see the Arch in St Louis where we spent the rest of the day into late evening, its a powerful place where folks must come for miles, states, and nations to experience the awe of this structure – you can just feel something about it in the air.

Our plans were to sleep in the boat there at the brick shore and then go up into the arch the following day – but as we settled for the evening the hull of the boat rubbed the shoreline (no dockage) and a simple reset of the anchor lines in the swift water turned into a twenty mile ‘flush’ through the highly commercial and busy tow-boat area of south St Louis.  Whew, an unexpected night ride……

My half-hearted intentions were to make a small circle in the darkness and return to the spot ( I say half-hearted because inside I was ready to move on from SL – Carl wanted to stay) but the current and darkness pulled me southward………

Soon in the busy darkness my trek became similar to riding a moped down a busy interstate. I was ‘out of place.’ Small tows were crossing back and forth in front of me; barges were being set and reset for routing – it was busy!  The beacons of spotlights would flash us, and being a tiny dot in the darkness I wondered if we were seen. Carl had got up to look once or twice and I told him with all the fireman’s calm that I could muster “all is fine, just go back to sleep,” which he did.  We did make it safely through.  Later, I wondered how many wing-dams we might have crossed…..

Our introduction addition of the Missouri River’s current channeling through St Louis was that of a noticeably stronger flow, the water seemed swifter and there were fewer obvious places to tie-off.  

Keep the motor running, think ahead and power on……

‘Hoppies Marina’ is made of old barges that has been in place (lm 158.8) since the days of hand-lit river markers.  It was a pre-planned stop, just hadn’t planned the midnight arrival – not sure how we found it, but it was a mighty welcome tie-down.  We slept late the next morning.

Grafton, Ill to St Louis, Mo. and the midnight ride to Hoppie’s.


After walking a couple of miles through a small shopping village to Kimmswick, Mo and picked up some basic supplies in preparation of the next long stretch of river.  Fewer civilized stops ahead while riding that great big chute of water towards the Gulf.

I love it.

Noted ‘Tows’ for the Day;

The Cooperative Mariner

The New Dawn

The Prosperity

The Gene Herde

The Baxter Southern

The John R Operle

We did not notice the Towboat Ken Tubbs (current location)

Mississippi Men – The History Channel

Next day, Day 12 – ‘Feet-up’ at Hoppie’s

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