As we approached the Kaskaskia River I called ahead to the lockmaster so he would have the gates open. As the Kaskaskia came into view we found the biggest towboat I have ever seen sitting right at the mouth. Coming closer we realized that it was a Corps of Engineers tow and that there was also two normal sized tows sitting beside it almost hidden by its enormity. I had to stop to snap a couple of photos as this thing was impressive.
We passed by its bow and headed into the lock. As we were being raised about 13 feet we chatted with the lockmaster whom we have gotten to know very well over the past couple of years. When we kind of boastfully told him of our trip his immediate response was, "Well, I got you beat." Naturally, I ask him to explain.
He told us that the previous night they had two women in a canoe camp out on the locks long wall. "So," I said. He continued that they were on a trip. They had left Minneapolis six weeks ago and were traveling down the Mississippi. At that point they had traveled 736 miles and passed through 27 locks hand paddling the canoe. And their quest was only half over as their final destination was the Gulf of Mexico.
Now that's a boat trip! Here I am thinking I have done something in my 18' powerboat and I find my little three day adventure would be child's play for these two women. They certainly have put things in perspective and me in my place.
To that the lockmaster adds that they are both single and very "easy on the eyes." He advises that we could probably catch them in the morning if we were interested!
Yea, these are obviously my kind of girls but what are the chances that they can back a trailer down a narrow ramp? No thanks. I think I'll keep what I have if she is willing. After 30 years a change would be pretty tough anyway.
We head out of the lock to make the final 10 miles to the ramp. It has just gotten dark as we pull in. My smiling wife is sitting in wait and backs down the ramp when she sees that it is us. In a few moments Therapy is sitting high on the trailer and we are on our way home to a hot shower and the comfort of our own beds. Vickie made the mistake of asking me how the trip went and I don’t think I shut-up all the way home.
Taking a look at the numbers the trip totaled 477 miles on the GPS. The odometer on the electronic speed indicator measured the distance at 444 miles with the difference accounted for by the current. We had burnt 55 gallons of gas which places the fuel usage right at 8 mpg. I now have 4500 miles and 287 hours on Therapy since its maiden voyage on July 22, 2000. Of this 2800 miles have been logged since the first of April this year – not a bad boating season in a 50 hp boat.
Although it is not over yet I don’t think I will make any more long
trips until next year. I still plan to log quite a few more miles and actually
my season never ends as I will try to get out at least a few times each
month throughout the winter. But for now I’m pleased. I have had
a great time this year and there are still many more miles of new river
water to explore.