There’s little more to report scenery wise as we float down the Illinois. Lots of industry—which makes sense—and the occasional lock and bridge opening with which to contend.
We picked up our new passengers, Bruce and Deb, in Ottowa, IL with the intent to deliver them back to Peoria in two days time.
Our first stop, Henry, Il was more of the same river scenery with the addition of lots of eagle spottings. They tend to hang out in the treetops and sometimes along the shore and one Looper boat reported that they counted 56 eagles along their route.
My iPhone 12 is not great at zooming in to take a clear picture, so I won’t even post one. Just imagine seeing them swooping from one side of the river to the other. Ok, maybe I’ll post one or two, but they won’t be fabulous. Side note: If anyone knows of a way to zoom in AND get a clearer picture, please pass that info along.
We tied up along an old lock wall (built in the 1800s) now crumbling but studded with several rebar hoops in which to secure a line. We had plenty of help as four other boats were tied there as well.
So Henry, Il is one of those small towns that you can just tell was a booming river town back in the day and is said to be the first site of a lock and dam along the Illinois River (no longer in use and exactly where we tied up). There are some lovely decorative cornices that display the building dates. One reminds me of the cover of the Styx album Paradise Theater.
We walked the deserted downtown and found Grandma’s Bar and Grill and had a lovely dinner.
Our cruise into Peoria was more of the same. We locked up the boat and headed to Bruce and Deb’s home which is an experience in itself.
Backstory: Bruce bought a custom log cabin and orchard with a store several years ago. Unfortunately, it was struck by lightning and burned to the foundation. He and Deb have been re-building ever since. In the meantime, they fixed up the old apple orchard store into a beautiful rustic two bedroom cabin and have been living there in the meantime.
The orchard is filled with apple trees, pear trees, grapevines and blackberry bushes along with some screened in porches and a playground for kids.
At one time this was a working orchard filled with kiddos on field trips and families coming to pick apples on the weekends. Some still do and leave their money in a drop box by the front door.
It was fun spending the night in the old apple store in a nice comfy bed with fantastic hosts.
The next morning we boarded Therapy leaving Brude and Deb in Peoria and headed south towards Mel’s Riverdock Restaurant to tie up for evening. This 140 mile journey turned out to be one of our longest along the whole loop, but we were happy to make up ground and time. Mel’s provided us a nice place for dinner. Plus, we were able to chat with some brand new loopers an impart some salty wisdom from our, now two-year experience.
We slept in and left the very next morning towards Alton, IL to meet up with some dear friends from Springfield.
Fun fact: Alton, IL was the setting for the final Lincoln/Douglas debate. There’s also a casino…..