Grafton, IL is located where the Illinois River joints the Mississippi, just above St. Louis, MO. We took the ferry across from Grafton, IL to eat at a old established farm restaurant called Wittmond Hotel & Restaurant. Better go hungry and take a wheelbarrow to haul you out. http://www.wittmondhotel.com/
I was surprised by the high limestone cliffs above the river around Grafton, IL and on the Mississippi River.
Above these cliffs in Grafton the Aeries Winery came down and gave a few of us Loopers a ride in small four wheel vehicles up to enjoy their wonderful wine and view of the Rivers. http://www.aeriesview.com/winery/#aeries-winery. Sylvie, a fellow Looper from Canada, took this picture of us.
Another shot of cliffs along the Mississippi between Alton and Grafton, Illinois.
Sailing by Our Lady of the Rivers at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. http://ourladyoftheriversshrine.org/
Hoppies Marina just below St. Louis on the MO side of the Mississippi River. Just a bunch of low barges tied together. A river full of logs came by here each day. It was also the start of a dying engine. You had better attend Fern's daily briefing on the river ahead of you. She knows every mile from the marina to Green Turtle Bay, where to anchor and - more important - where not to anchor. There are no marinas between Hoppie's and GTB.
The Blue Owl restaurant in Kimmswick is famous for its desserts, including the Levee High Apple pie. We indulged there twice during our two-week stay at Hoppie's.
Another highlight of our stay at Hoppie's was an acapella barbershop concert at the hippotherapy farm next
door. These gentlemen could sing!
Cloud formations warn of an approaching thunderstorm, and we headed for Livingston Creek on the Cumberland River to anchor and wait it out.
The small historic town of Kimmswick, MO is just on the other side of the railroad track from Hoppies, and their the smells of the Blue Owl restaurant will pull you to into a wonderful dinning experience. A you wonder why I've gained 10lbs on this trip. If you are near St. Louis, you had better take time to visit the Blue Owl. http://www.theblueowl.com/
Midas: "Are you kidding me! How long till I get ashore?" Midas waits patiently on the aft deck for us to launch the dinghy.
Heading back to Midas Touch after taking Midas ashore.
We visited the St. Louis Arch, Gateway to the West, with our Fruitcakes friends Andy and Julie. Several days later, we cruised past it on our way to Hoppie's. We were surprised to learn that there is no place to dock in St. Louis to visit the town. We rented a car and drove there from Grafton, IL and later drove up from Hoppie's to get a replacement starter for Midas Touch.
One of the unexpected and totally unplanned high points of our Loop was being able to go aboard a tug, the powerful boats that push as many as 15 - 18 barges along the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers. We met this tow on a foggy morning on the Tennessee River and tied up to it to wait for the fog to lift. Their galley has more cabinet space than our kitchen at home, and we didn't get a picture of the two huge upright freezers holding steaks, roasts, ham, pizzas and more.
Marian with the two skippers. Randy, on the right, gave us his phone number and has kept in touch. We met their tow again as we cruised south on the Tenn-Tom. Below, the two crewmen who helped us tie Midas Touch to the tug, then helped us climb aboard for a memorable visit.
For now, Merry Christmas from Mike, Marian and Midas on the Midas Touch, currently lying at Ft. Walton Beach City Dock.