The next morning we fire up the Honda to continue our journey. At the 88.5 mile marker we pass Beardstown and I am now on familiar water. A couple weeks before my wife and I had spent the night here on Therapy. There is a public dock that offers access to the small town area where there are a couple of restaurants with in easy walking distance. It is still too early for lunch so we motor on past.
At the 80 mile marker we come to La Grange Lock & Dam. We call the lockmaster on the radio and get the bad news. He tells that they are working on the lock and have a diver in the water doing some routine maintenance. There will be a delay of about an hour and a half while they complete the job. He advise that we can just tie up to the long wall of the lock and wait.
We sit there for a while and decide to get out and stretch our legs. Normally the lockmasters frown on civilians climbing out of a lock but here it was only about three feet above Therapy’s deck and we could just step out on to the wall that in this case was actually the shoreline. We walked up to the lock and took a look at the work going on and then wandered back to the boat.
The repair crew finished the work ahead of schedule and we were sitting on the other side of the lock in less than an hour and fifteen minutes. From there we had another 60 mile run to our next stop – the Illinois Riverdock / Restaurant at mile marker 20. In my opinion, this section of river between La Grange Lock and Riverdock are the Illinois River’s most scenic and Aldi takes the helm as I relax aft in one of the lawn chairs to soak up a little of what nature offers.
I have to admit that my wife and I dine out a lot at many different restaurants. The Illinois Riverdock is in the top five of my favorites. This isn’t a fancy restaurant but if you like smoked meats this is the place to visit. Their Smoked Pork Chop is the best you will find anywhere and their varied menu is sure to please everyone. And the portions are large while the prices are very reasonable – cheap I will even say for a meal of this caliber. Also, don’t miss the desserts. The coconut cream pie is worth the trip by itself.
I will offer one warning - if visiting on the weekend be very careful securing your boat to the floating dock, especially if you are in a small craft - under 30ft. Right beside the dock is a public boat ramp. For some reason that is beyond me the Corps has not designated this as a "no wake" area. Now many boaters are considerate folks but there are always those that seem to have absolutely no concern for anyone else. They will drop in, ease away from the ramp and drop the throttle creating a huge wake that hammers any boats tied up at the dock.
The last time we were there I watched as this was repeated several times. One guy in a 35' open bow boat did exactly that and a huge wave rolled towards the dock. Vickie turn away and said that she just couldn’t watch and I honestly thought Therapy was going to end up on top of the dock. There were three other boats tied along the dock and all of us had damage. Mine was light with the rubrail being torn loose and a small scratch on the hull. Two of the others were much worse as it ripped cleats and handrails completely off and kicked their fenders out so the hull could beat against the steel dock! Idiots. What else can you say. Just idiots!
From Illinois Riverdock there is only a 20 mile jog to the mouth of the Illinois River at Grafton. Here at Illinois mile marker 0 it meets the Mississippi and they become one river with the Gulf of Mexico as their destination. The Melvin Price Lock & Dam (Mississippi Lock #26) is about 15 miles away at the Mississippi mile marker 203. The body of water created by the dam is called the Alton Pool and is home to many marinas. Because of its close proximity to St. Louis it is an extremely popular for recreational boating and can be quite congested on the weekends.
I have traveled this stretch of river from Grafton to Alton numerous times and am always in awe of its beauty. I have visited most of the scenic locations in Illinois and to me this is the most magnificent. Although it can be observed by car traveling the Great River Road (RT 100) by far the best view is from the water. In the Autumn when the leaves are changing the colors the vista is outstanding as the photo shows.
We reach Alton and at the foot of the Clark Bridge (impressive in itself) and I pull into the Alton Marina for some fuel. This is a first class facility and highlights the river front area that as seen a revival since the Alton Belle Casino was added several years ago.
My calculations show that we can almost make it home with the fuel
we have onboard so we add just five gallon (at $1.75 per). I really
don't want any more gas than necessary as I am going to have to drain the
tanks for repair next week (if interested why, click
here). While refueling I radio ahead to the lock and request
passage. The lockmaster first reports that we are going to have quite
a wait but then calls back and says the can work us in about 20 minutes
from now If we can get there by then. I let him know that we will
be there in lass than five minutes.