Heading up the Mississippi River

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We left Grafton Harbor September 8 at 6:30 having 76 miles to navigate with two locks, before we anchor for the evening.  I so wanted to turn left and start all over again but instead we turned right and are now heading up the Mississippi River.  We have 365 miles and 13 locks to navigate to our home port at Frentress Marina in East Dubuque, Il.  I know eventually all good things have to come to an end.

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I do love watching the sun rise over the water.  No matter how many times I see it on our  journey each sun rise is beautiful.  It’s a start to another wonderful day on the water.

We are now flying our gold flag (burgee) and traveling in the opposite direction we did last year on the Mississippi River.  Here are just some picture I took as the river takes on a different look when you are traveling a different direction.

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We finally reached our anchorage on what is called the Salt River off the Mississippi River behind Gilberts Island around 6:00.  The anchorage was calm and beautiful.  Kent and I enjoy our dinner, listened to music, and relaxing on a secured anchor.  I love to anchor out.

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This is our beautiful sunrise as we left our anchorage at 6:45.  We have 71 miles to navigate and four locks to go through to get to Keokuk Yacht Club.  Look how beautiful the island lights up with the sun rising and the refection in the water.

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As we were waiting to go into the lock when the doors open out came the American Duchess River Cruise Vessel.  She is the first all-suite 100 ft. paddlewheel on U.S. rivers, a floating, intimate masterpiece, that can carry up to 166 guest through Americans heartland.  The paddlewheel was reconstructed and created on a 1995 hull from the Isle of Capri, to become one of the most luxurious river cruising vessels in the country.  The American Duchess combines the best of the old and new, she epitomizes the grace and grandeur that has made river cruising a cherished American tradition for more than two centuries.  The American Duchess is owned by the American Queen Steamboat company and sails on the Mississippi between Red Bank, Minnesota and New Orleans.

Keokuk Lock 19 is the last lock we will go through with a floating bollard.  I remember how scared I was that I wouldn’t be able to get the rope around the bollard.  I managed to succeed the first time I tried but it also took a good captain getting me right next to the bollard.  Now this time was not pretty as they say.   Captain Kent could not get close to the wall, I didn’t have the right rope ready, and the wind gods were blowing us off the wall.  Finally after we got tied up we both laughed about not being able to get this bollard after all the lock we had been through.

We arrived at the Keokuk Yacht club the same place we stayed at on August 5, 2016 when we started this amazing journey.  The Yacht Club was having their Saturday night steak dinner.  So Kent and I got our steaks, (you have to cook your own) the trimmings, and a beer.  What an end to a great day with a steak dinner.  The best part was I didn’t have to cook, Kent did.

Sunday morning we left Keokuk, we only have about 38 miles and no locks today.  We had to wait for the Fort Madison/Niota Toll Bridge as a train was crossing on it.  This bridge is one of the last operating swing bridges remaining over the Mississippi River for automobile traffic.  The bridge is a double-deck design with rail on the lower level and auto traffic on the upper level.  The bridge is also known as the Santa Fe Swing Bridge because it was built by the Santa Fe Railroad.   The bridge owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe reports that it’s one of the busiest bridge hosting over 70 trains per day.  This is also one of the last remaining toll bridge over the Mississippi River.  An interesting feature of the bridge is when the swing span is open, both sides of the pivot point may be used for navigation traffic.

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Joe Quick was a coworker with Kent at GE.  He and his grandson in their flat bottom boat came out to met us, as we passed by his cottage near Fort Madison on the Mississippi River.  Joe also came to visit us at Keokuk Yacht Club last year when we started the trip.

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A picture of the Mississippi River and the Burlington Northern Railroad Drawbridge crossing the Mississippi river into Illinois.  This bridge is used every day by the railroad.  If you are interested in drawbridges this is one that you will want to sit on the banks of the river and watch.  You can enjoy the day, watching the river flow by, boaters enjoying the wide river, and the trains blowing their whistle while crossing the bridge.

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We are staying at Bluff Harbor Marina the water is very low so we stirred up a lot of mud on our way into the marina.   This marina is not much to look at but the people were very friendly and we appreciate Marks help with the lines at the gas dock.  We filled with fuel and decided this was a good spot to stay.

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This was our beautiful view as we left the marina.  Today we’ll navigate 58 miles and three locks.  Our plans are to stay at Fairport Landing in Muscatine, Ia.  We stayed at this same marina on August 4th last yr.

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I like this picture of the old abandoned railroad draw bridge at Keithsburg along the Mississippi River that at one time was a way of transportation for trains.

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We went past a resting place for many pelicans.  They lined both sides of the river in this area.  When they took off flying it looked like snow in front of the boat there, were so many of them.

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We passed a looper just starting from Prescott Wisconsin (Johnson & Johnson).  This is the first one we had seen since we started up the Mississippi River.  When we arrived at Fairport Landing the marina was closed.  Mark a boat owner came over to help us get into the slip and hook up to power.  The owner had surgery and was out of commission for a while.  We really appreciated Mark’s help.  Ron McKinney a retired co-worker of Kent’s at GE came down to the boat for a nice visit.

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Tuesday morning the sun is shinning and the weather is warm as we left Fairport Landing marina we are getting closer to home each day.  We only have two locks and 23 miles till we stop at Le Claire courtesy dock.  We watched as one fishing boat after another launched their boats for a fishing tournament.  They had just started the tournament when two very rude boaters went by us on plain.  I yelled at Kent help me hold the boat off the dock and keep the fenders in place.  I was sure glad the fishing boats were all gone.  This would not have been a pretty sight with all those fishing boats bouncing around.  Later in the day Mike Frost another co-worker with Kent came by to see us.  I think it was GE reunion all the way back home.  It was nice to see him again.

E62817FA-7298-4EF4-9513-D69F5708655E Sept. 13 is a sunny and beautiful day as we navigated the 63 miles with three locks on the   Mississippi River.  When we go through lock 12 at Bellevue it will be our last lock of the trip.  We will be in what is called our own pool.

This is Savanna and the Savanna bridge.  Take note if you look at the top of the bridge there is a christmas tree.

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Look how beautiful the buffs are as we passed Savanna on our starboard (right side) of the river.  The leaves are starting to change with the different shades yellow and green.

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This is a picture of the very rude boaters that went past us on plain at Le Claire courtesy dock.  Kent said “someday he would run into them again.”  Guess what he was right they were about two miles in front of us heading for Fulton lock 13.  Kent said “watch this” he waited until they were almost into the lock and then he called the lock master and asked if he would hold the doors for us, as his buddy were already in the lock.  The lock master held the door and the rude boaters were inconvenienced and had to wait at least 15 minutes for us to reach the lock.

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We passed the Twilight at Hanover going down the river.  The twilight was designed and built by Captain Dennis Trone it’s a replica of the lavish Victorian steamboats of over a century ago.  Her unique rounded stern and ornate architectural detailing are reminders of those classic riverboats Mark Twain called “Floating Palaces”.  The twilight offers several different cruises from a 1.5 hr sightseeing to a 2-day overnight cruise, that starts in Le Claire, Ia and ends overnight at the Grand Harbor in Dubuque, Ia.  The next day you return to Le Claire.  We have seen and passed this beautiful boat many times as we navigated this pool.

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This is lock 12 at Bellevue, Ia. and will be our last lock on our journey.  After we locked through both Kent and I had tears in our eyes.  What an amazing journey we have been on.

We are going to anchor out at Chestnut beach for the night. We enjoyed our Cherry wine we bought in Michigan and listened to music.  Thursday morning we lowered the dingy and went to the beach for a few hrs.  After we secured the dingy we headed for Dubuque, Ia. Ice Harbor, as we can’t come into the marina until 1:00 on Saturday.  It was strange going pass the turn into our marina but I was happy that we were still enjoying our trip, even if it was only for a few more days.

Our friends Paul and Linda came to visit us on Friday, helped us get our car to the marina, and we had lunch together at Cat Fish Charles.  It was nice to see them again.  We really appreciated all they did for us when we were on our journey.  Then Friday night Chad our son-law brought their boat to the harbor where Amy our daughter and granddaughter Camber joined us.  We went to Tony Roma for dinner and had a nice visit with them on the dock.  Camber our oldest granddaughter made my night when she asked if she could sleep on our boat.  Camber was born the day we took possession of this boat 15 years ago.  Saturday morning I made sure the boat was washed and shiny for her return to the marina.  We left with a clean boat and we were coming home with a clean boat.

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