Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
We had two more folks come aboard as virtual crew members and join the adventure by following the blog. Welcome Aboard Patrick J. and Tom K.!!
The crew visited Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, Iowa
Composite photo from the Dave Thomson collection
Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live.
From “Taming the Bicycle”
Mark did not climb aboard a bicycle until 1884, which would have made him 49 at the time. This might explain the quote above. Those bones are a little more brittle at 49 than they are before 9 when most folks learn to ride a bike.
And when learning to ride a bike, you are going to fall. As the skipper likes to say, “Gravity works 100% of the time, and never takes any time off.”
The crew continued their trek up bound on the Mississippi River with the following stops:
Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:
This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she meets a tow, floats thru a lock, and passes thru a swing bridge on her way to Quad Cities. Enjoy!
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America Great Loop.
The river continues to run fast and furious as the flood waters recede. The head current was anywhere from 3-4 mph depending on the width of the river and location. The straight-a-ways have less current and the outside of the bends have the highest current.
The Mark Twain doing an afternoon tour
The crew had planned to bypass Hannibal, because in a strange twist of fate, the boyhood home of Mark Twain does not have a marina to accept larger boats. The entrance to the marina has shoaled up and is reported to be less than 3 feet. Even with the high water levels, the crew only saw 5 feet of water below the props when they entered the marina. Once inside, the depth dropped to 3-4 feet below the props.
Boyhood home of Mark Twain, notice the paint bucket by the white fence
The stop at Hannibal was necessitated because the Hannibal Lift Bridge was in the down position at 1330 when the crew arrived. The bridge tender told the skipper the work would complete at 1600 and he would open the bridge then. The skipper was also informed the bridge would be out of service all week from 0800-1600 for the rest of the week.
The skipper called the Hannibal Municipal Marina to determine if he might get in without churning up the mud. The guy on the other end of the phone ‘thought’ the crew would be ok but would guarantee nothing. With that bit of confidence the crew drifted down to the opening to the marina and took their good sweet time maneuvering into the fuel dock where they spent the night.
Huck Finn home
The Mark Twain Museum closed at 1700, so the crew made the boat safe and headed down Main Street to go explore.
The Museum complex is made up of an initial building where you get a timeline of Mark Twain’s history. Then you are directed to Huck Finn’s home. You are then directed to tour the home of Mark Twain, then the home of Becky Thatcher. Then down the street was another museum that features Mark’s written word. This museum was well curated with excerpts from his books. Tom Sawyer had a cave you walked thru, Huck Finn had a raft that actually floated in water and was about as unstable as an actual raft. You could sit and watch a film of Huck Finn.
In Roughing It, you sat in an old stage coach and watched excerpts from a movie about the book. In Europe and Elsewhere, you were on a ship looking out over the ocean. You looked thru different spyglasses to see the different towns and scenes described in the book.
Upstairs they had the original collection of Norman Rockwell sketches and finished works of his illustrations done for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. A few favorites:
The master’s arm performed until it was tired and the stock of switches notably diminished
“Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”
The actual famous fence
Overall a great museum tour and overview of the life of Mark Twain.
Did you ever wonder where Samuel Clemens got the pen name Mark Twain? He actually took it from another Captain, Isaiah Sellers. Sellers was a riverboat pilot and would write status reports on the river and have them published in the New Orleans Picayune. Sellers articles contained the pen name Mark Twain.
Samuel Clemens wrote some satire articles on the original Mark Twain reports that caused Sellers some embarrassment. Sellers soon stopped publishing his river reports. Samuel Clemens then confiscated the name and began using it on his own works.
And finally, have you ever wondered where the term ‘Mark Twain’ comes from and what it might mean? Well, the term denotes safe passage based on the depth of water under the steamboat. A fathom is six feet, so two fathoms would be 12 feet. Twain is an archaic term for two.
A man would sound the depth of water at the bow of the steamboat and call out the ‘marks’ on the lead line in the water. Mark One would be 6 feet deep, Mark Twain would be 12 feet deep, and denote safe passage.
When the crew returned to the boat, they met a couple of guys who are attempting to paddle down the Mississippi River to the Gulf. One has a canoe with the supplies, and the other is in a kayak.
Because the crew needed to get under the Hannibal Lift Bridge before work started at 0800, the crew shoved off the dock and made way to the bridge early. They could see that the bridge was open after they shoved off the dock. They passed under the bridge a few minutes after 0700.
Over on the Left Descending Bank (LDB) above the bridge, there was a large Riverboat Cruise Ship. The crew saw them yesterday when the crew turned around. Because of the flooding, the Cruise Ship does not have enough clearance to get under the bridge and continue downstream. They spent the night above the bridge tied up at a barge company dock. The skipper heard the Captain talking with the bridge operator about the water level. The bridge tender and Captain agreed that they should wait a few more hours before attempting to go under the bridge to allow the water level to drop some more.
Cruise Ship waiting for water level to drop
The crew decided to bypass Quincy and continue up river since they got an early start. They eventually made it to Iowa and finally stopped at the Keokuk Yacht Club for the night.
While waiting to go in a Lock, they saw this kayak paddle downstream. The crew last saw him back on the Erie Canal near Tonawanda. He must have come down the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan and portaged over to the Mississippi River, similar to the route that Joliet and Marquette took.
Oh, and that big Cruise Ship, the skipper did hear on the radio that she finally made it under the bridge back in Hannibal.
At mile 375 on the river , the crew passed an area known as Nauvoo. As they approached the area, a huge church like or university building dominated the landscape. Curious to know what the building was, the skipper determined that it was the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple of the Later-day Saints. From the temple, one can follow Parley Street down to the Mississippi River where a statue of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith are looking westward.
The statue marks the spot of the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo in the 1830’s following Joseph Smith’s death. This is where they crossed the Mississippi River during February 1835 on their way to Iowa and eventually establish their new home in present day Salt Lake City.
The crew continued northbound and stopped at a dock in front of Big Muddy’s Restaurant. The place had come highly recommended by some friends who said the fried catfish was the best on the river. Hard to let a recommendation like that go untested.
After getting settled, the crew headed across the tracks to Big Muddy’s and were not disappointed. The Admiral went with the Prime Rib and the skipper had a plate of catfish. Then he took one for the team and tried the apple pie a la mode. The food was all great, but the best thing about Big Muddy’s was a woman named Fergi who served the crew.
The Admiral and Fergi
She was a delight to visit with. Her youngest child is about to graduate from Texas A&M University and also is on the schools Rodeo Team. Dakotah is a barrel racer. Who knew you could get a college scholarship for barrel racing. You might recall that the crew’s daughter and family lives in Bryan/College Station where Texas A&M is located. It amaze the crew how they continue to run into great people all around the Loop that they can meet and find connections with. The crew has already marked Big Muddy’s as a must stop on the way south and are looking forward to seeing Fergi again.
Another day and more changed plans. The Bible teaches that man makes his plans, but GOD directs his steps. This week, those words have been very evident. More so today than the rest of the week though.
Bald Eagle and White Pelicans on an exposed piece of mud
The crew shoved off the dock at Big Muddy’s and continued up bound on the river. After lunch, the skipper called the marina to ensure that they had a spot to spend the night. To his surprise he learned that the marina closed on Labor Day. The skipper scrambled around and found a second marina that could accommodate Still Waters II.
Unfortunately, the dock master reported that the flooding had damaged their docks and that he would not have the repairs complete for at least another week. Bottom line, the crew would not be stopping here either.
Unique Swing Bridge, tain road runs on bottom level, the highway runs above the train track
To make matters worse, the winds decided to pick up and blow around 20 mph. The winds were out of the south and actually caused wind blown waves that were moving upstream. That was strange to observe. The skipper checked the weather and discovered that these winds would hang around all night, but shift out of the north by the morning. Then blow all day Friday 20-30mph. That took anchoring out of the equation and also travelling on Friday.
The skipper scrambled around some more and finally found another marina that could take them for the night. The good news was that they got a reservation accepted. The bad news was that the marina was another 20 miles up river. A quick math calculation and a look at the time for sunset confirmed what the skipper suspected, they would be docking in the dark in high winds. And for just a little humor, the name of the marina you ask, Sunset Marina.
Met another River Cruise Ship
The sun did set at 1900, and it was dark by 1930. The moon was out though and provided some light as the crew docked at 1945. A 13 hour day on the water and the crew was tired. The good news with all this is that the marina is up in a well protected cove and mostly out of the wind.
Though the winds have been present all day Friday, and the boat was moving around a bit, the crew was much better off here at Sunset Marina than they would have been at either of the other two marinas that the skipper had planned to stop at for the night. FOG! (Favor of God for those just getting on board)
The crew had planned for a short day on the water but the 18 miles turned into 4.5 hours due to the current and an hour delay at one lock. Such is life on the Mighty Mississippi.
The crew docked at the courtesy dock in Le Claire, IA. Those familiar with the History Channel might recall that Antique Archaeology hails from here. The crew walked the main drag thru town and up one block to find the Antique Archaeology store front. As expected there were old bicycles and Indian Motorcycles on display in the shop. There were more items tagged NFS (Not For Sale) than items with a price attached. After Pick’n the Pickers, the crew took their new treasures back to the boat.
Interesting 2 Wheeler
On the way back, they stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum. The skipper thought this was an odd place to site the museum. A sign outside the front door explained that Buffalo Bill was born just outside of town. They also ‘Bill’ Buffalo Bill as America’s first superstar. Might have to come check that out tomorrow.
The Freedom Rock
The town was also a buzz with many young people coming down to the dock and taking pictures. Still Waters II was the backdrop for many of these photos. Turns out it is homecoming weekend for the local High School and the big dance is scheduled for tonight.
The skipper took a pic of the proud parents taking pics of their prodigy
My how things have changed though since the Admiral and skipper were in High School. The girls back then wore long gowns for Homecoming. These girls tonight, let’s just say that the high heels were longer than the skirts.
Happily Ever After, also aspiring Loopers
The crew is at mile 497 in Le Claire, IA and hope to put in another 200 mile week which would get them to La Crosse, WI by the weekend.