Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's 106 Miles to Chicago, We Have a Full Tank of Gas, It's Dark and We're Wearing Sunglasses. Hit It!

OK, it was less than 106 miles from Waukegan to Chicago.  It was broad daylight.  And our boat runs on diesel fuel . . .  or electricity.   But we couldn't help chanting that classic line from the Blues Brothers movie as we set out yesterday.

And then, there it was on the horizon, like a mirage, the shape of the skyline instantly recognizable: City of the Big Shoulders, Chicago.

Just off Chicago Harbor we saw this colorful fleet.  Throughout this trip we've marveled at the large number of sailboats that seem to spend the summer docked in marinas--and the very small number of sailboats we've seen traveling under sail.  Not true here.

Approaching the city was kind of a "pinch me" moment.  Here's a scene you have seen so many times in movies--and suddenly, you're inside the frame.

Then reality struck: There's TRAFFIC out here!  It was boat rush hour out in the harbor, and here come the Beverly Hillbillies down the LA 10 in their rattletrap old truck with the furniture piled up in back, doing 30 mph while Porsches and Ferraris swerve around them at 85.

My personal favorite:  The honkin' big cruisers who roar up on what looks like a collision course, so they can pass alongside a few yards away, the better to shoot a good picture of this crazy-looking boat with their digital cameras, and then cruise onpast without throttling down, waving gaily as you flounder in the wake.

We made it safely to Belmont Harbor.

This past month, it's been easy to describe where we are: "Traveling down the west coast of Lake Michigan."

The next phase of the cruise is a little more complicated.  I'm going to list the main waterways and the biggest towns we'll be passing through.  As always, eyeball our route, and let us know if you would like to visit!  Send an email to slowboat@emailias.com

We'll travel on the Chicago River (yes, through the heart of downtown and the Loop!) to the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal.

In about 25 miles we enter the  Des Plaines River, go through Joliet, and on into the Illinois River.

Illinois towns along this river include Marseilles, Ottawa, La Salle, Peru, Hennepin, Chillicothe, and so on, more than 70 miles, to Peoria.

Below Peoria we go around the world,  through towns named Pekin, Havana, Naples, and Florence. Also Kampsville, Hardin, and Grafton, and so to the confluence of the Mississippi.

In a future post I'll list the landmark communities along the rest of our southward route, from the Mississippi to (briefly) the Ohio River, then the Tennessee and Tombigbee waterways.

P.S.  More posts below--today is a "catch-up" day.

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