09-11-09 Grafton, IL

[Rick] We departed the tug boat around 0800, determined to make good time to Grafton, IL at mile 0 on the Illinois River, a distance of 88 miles. About 10 miles into the trip, we arrived at the last lock on the Illinois, and there was a barge in the lock. There was a barge tied to the bank, and we passed a barge just a mile back. This meant, since these barges must be broken into smaller units to go into the lock, a long wait. Three more pleasure boats, all loopers, arrived. The lockmaster made the decision, a good one in our opinion, to get us pleasure craft out of the way and so he put us through next. Still not fast, as we spent a total of 2 hours at the lock. However, it could have been 6 hours easily.

The trip on to Grafton was uneventful. We passed several tows on the way, and we saw a few more of the Asian Carp. The weather was perfect, with the temperature in the mid 70’s and the water smooth. Grafton is the last town on the Illinois, and joins the Mighty Mississippi here. Along the way, we did pass the westernmost point on the Great Loop. It occurs just before two highway bridges at N 39 41.480 W 90 38.766 at mile 60.8 on the Illinois River.

We arrived at the Grafton Marina around 1430. This is a new marina with excellent floating docks and a floating concrete breakwater. They have fuel and pump out. They have 8 private shower suites, a good thing in any looper’s opinion. After paying for two nights, they told us of a celebration at 1800 for remembrance of 9-11.

At 1800, there was a flag raising ceremony, the singing of the National Anthem, all followed by a boat parade. Boats in the parade were all decorated in red, white and blue with American flags and streamers aplenty. Someone said that Tim, our new friend, has plenty of room on his boat, so we boarded his nice 60 foot houseboat for the parade. We sat up top with Tim and chatted with him for the whole trip of about 10 miles, very slowly going out of the Illinois River and into the Mississippi River and back. He lives in this area and gave us a lot of good information. We had the most gorgeous sunset as we came back to the dock. There were 15 boats and one amphibious airplane.
We learned that Grafton is just one main street, about 10 blocks long. Apparently they drink a lot of wine here as there are several wine shops and wine tasting establishments. We will explore Grafton more tomorrow.
Betsy adds: Tied up to the tug last night I slept like a log, and am more thankful every day for being able to experience this part of our beautiful country. How lucky we were tonight to just hop on Tim’s houseboat and go for a beautiful ride to the confluence of the rivers, and enjoy the breathtaking sunset as we returned. Thank you Tim…sorry we didn’t get a picture of Tim, but just when I was going to take one of him the battery went dead! (He said that wasn’t the first time that had happened)!

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