We don’t have too far to go today and only 2 locks to go through, so we slept late and didn’t leave Alton Marina until 9:45. While we were at the marina, Joe met 2 couples there who have completed the Great Loop—Stan & Barbara Grogg, who own this boat “Grogger”, and Robert & Patty Mitchell who own “Orinoco”.
This lock has a drop of 24 feet and we’ve been lowered almost the whole way in this photo. Phil is plugging his ears because there was painfully loud screeching from the floating bollards or something; I had to turn off my hearing aids too.
We had about 10 miles to go to the next lock and the cruising was uneventful—sunshine and relatively calm winds made it so much more pleasant the previous days had been. This part of the river is somewhat industrial with lots of small barges and smallish companies.
We passed the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. I was surprised that it was such a non-event; I expected that there would at least be a small town or something but there wasn’t even a sign. One of our guidebooks said to beware of extremely turbulent water there, but with the currently low water levels, it wasn’t a problem. Maybe last spring it might have been a different story.
Finally, we saw St. Louis. We all went up on the flybridge to get a better view and to take photos.
We met and chatted with Larry and Brenda Golkin, the owners of Abreojos, as well as Hoppie’s owner Fern. The main topic of conversation was the destruction of the Erie Canal by Hurricane Irene and whether or not the canal will be open by next summer. Fern had photos that showed incredible damage; many boats and boat owners are stranded there and this is causing catastrophic economic damage to the small towns along the Canal. Canal authorities have said that the canal will re-open by May 2012, but there’s a lot of scepticism about whether that will actually happen. Hopefully they'll be able to call upon the kind of resources that rebuilt the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis so quickly. If it is not open, we cannot complete the Great Loop in 2012 as we have planned. We could go up the Hudson River and we'd have to turn around, which would still be a worthwhile trip!
After dinner, Phil walked back into town and when he got back he informed us that the town was having “Witches Night” and that the bars, restaurants and shops were all filled with women dressed as witches. He said the proportion of women to men was about 12 to 1 and he felt pretty awkward being male and out of costume. However, he stopped at a bakery/café and bought a slice of apple pie which he graciously shared with Joe and me. It was delicious!