Sunday, June 29, 2008

COMMENTS

Please feel free to write comments. Just click on comments to the right of the little pencil located on the lower right. Type your comments, slide down and put a bullet in front of Anonymous (that way you do not need to set up an account), then click on Publish Your Coment. It would be great if you would mention your name in the comments so we will know who is sending. The 4mcgees sure hope you enjoy the blog. Thanks!!

GLENDALE RIDERS

6/28/09---Saterday night "Block Party" on third street in Alton. The band "Glendale Riders" played some mighty fine country western music. Keith and Maryann look happy as we left Tony's Restaruant after a fine meal. The resident ducks at the marina are sure growing, and look quite content as they explore new territory in the flooded driveway. Notice the temporary rock path is not much above the water. Play the video to see Carol and Allen enjoying the street dance.



video

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rain Rain Rain

6/27/08---It has been a little like being in slow motion as the Mississippi River continues to rise. The rain comes down and the levees give way. Low lands in Winfield, Missouri are being evacuated this morning. Flooding gets a little more extensive each day. Occasionally the TV goes blank as the sky gets dark and the direct TV signal is interrupted. The rip rap that protects the marina is gradually being swallowed up by the river. Debris floating rapidly down the river is a familiar site. Notice the tire on the old dead tree. For those of you who may be old enough to remember music in the 60's, the "Fifth Dimension" may come to mind. We went to the Argosy Casino and enjoyed a great show from the fine old group.Yesterday (Thurs) was nice after the morning showers passed. It provided an opportunity for Jeff, with Alton Electronics, to spend the afternoon working on the insallation of the GPS equipment. Maybe some day all the elecronics will be installed!

What is today? That is a frequently asked question as the days have passed with various activities since I last wrote. So if the sequence of events seem a little confusing it is okay. Tues (according to the Carol notes) was the day we drove to the town of Florrisant, Missouri to buy groceries. Yes we are still eating!

Sunshine on Wed provided an opportunity to visit the Wood River Refinery museum. It was very interesting. The refinery construction was started in 1917 and put into operation in 1918. Crude oil through put was 5000 barrels per day. During early years the town of Wood River was the fastest growing in the US. Shell owned the refinery for about 80 years. Conoco-Phillips is the present owner. Todays capacity is 310,000 BPD. A 4 billion dollar expansion is under way to handle sandy crude from Canada and boost the capacity to 400,000 BPD.




A drive back to the Polestar Marina was not a pretty site. Flooding is getting more wide spread. Notice the sign for Woodland Marina. The road is completely covered. That is the road we used when our boat was located in that marina. The picture of the boats at Polestar are notable when you realize the frame work pointing downward to the right is the walkway from the boats to the shore. Normally the walkway is fully exposed and would point upward to the bank. When we were first in that marina it was an up hill walk from the boat to shore.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

BRIDGE SHOTS

6/23/08---Pictures as seen from the Highway 67 Clarks Bridge over the Mississippi.
You can see the rock wall is nearly covered. It is the barrier that breaks the wake created by passing tugs pushing their large tows. It keeps the waves from entering the marina. The water level has only risen a few more inches the past 4 days. It is begining to stabilize. However, another levee broke this morning about 23 miles upstream from here. Flooding continues to be a serious problem in many areas.
Notice the slide show to the right has additional pictures.

Monday, June 23, 2008

CREVE COUER DRAG BOAT CLASSIC

6/22/08---Spent a great afternoon at the 2008 Creve Couer Drag Boat Classic. The event was held on the Creve Couer Lake in Saint Louis, MO. It is interesting to see how fast the boats are in a ¼ mile run. Each class has a specific number of seconds to make the run. For example the class we are most interested in is the “Modified Class” because we know the driver. She is a 17 year old girl by the name of Ashley Ruf sponsored by Little John’s Motor Sports. (John is the person who made and installed the stainless steel rails on our boat). The racing class Ashley is in has to make the run in no less than 10 seconds. If faster than that there is no score. The idea is to be as close to the correct time as possible. Two boats run at the same time. The one crossing the finish line first without going under the allotted time is the winner of that heat. The 14’ boat she runs has a 1200 HP engine. The name of the boat is “KWITCHABITCHIN” It will reach 100 MPH in 3 ½ seconds. Her Dad says that as long as she maintains her straight “A” average in school, she can continue to race. Anyway she had a terrific day beating her competition each heat with scores such as 10.11 seconds, 10.08 seconds and 10.02 seconds. It was fun to get our picture taken with the champion! Be sure to click on the diamond shaped arrow at the lower left of the water picture to start the video of the final race for the Championship.
video

DREAM MANOR

6/21/08---Went to the “Hispanic Festival” in the town of Florissant, one of the many towns in the greater St. Louis area. Latino music being performed was quite entertaining and it was fun to watch the dance contest. The various booths displayed some of their hand crafts and of course we tried the various foods prepared in their native ways. Upon returning to Alton we decided the day would not be complete without a driving tour to view some of the great old historic homes dating back from 1830 to 1900. There are a few pictures displayed.





















6/20/08---Rather peaceful day. Drove around looking at high water and did a little shopping.

6/19/08---The temporary wooden walkways were built to elevate foot traffic above the water. Dump trucks were busy hauling crushed limestone to build an extended path to the high side of the parking lot. It works great to get from the boats to the vehicles without getting wet. Before the construction we had done some wading. The happiest citizens are the ducks! The little ones are sure growing as they enjoy exploring the new territory, swiming around in the parking lot. We had an enjoyable lunch at Josephine's Tea House just North of Alton in Godfrey, Illinois. The picture of Keith and Maryann suggest that may not have been the first meal. It may only be the first one I have mentioned. The Argosy Casino lured us out again. It is like taking money from one pocket and putting it in the other. Fortunately it has worked that way as Carol & I have taken turns in the win and loss column. Brother may be a little behind. Maryann broke even as she has not gambled at all!































6/18/09---A short road trip toward Wood River to see the locks was very interesting. We learned they are not the Alton locks. The correct name is Melvin Price Locks and Dam. This is number 26 of 29 locks on the Mississippi.





6/17/08---What a change in viewing! We are positioned on one of the outside slips because of boat length. The river is closed to recreational boaters, but there is still some limited commercial traffic. Now and then a tow of barges moves slowly beyond the rock wall that protects the marina from excessive wake. This spot also provides a clear view of the highway 67 bridge over the river. Looking easterly over the bow, the Alton Locks can be seen. Looking from the stern westerly is the Argosy Casino. Truly a great place to share your money! HaHa. The town is like a step back in time. The buildings are very old and rustic with a lot of character. Clear blue skys and a great view of the river makes this an enjoyable location. Maryann returned from her brisk morning walk. She said it is neat to have a new area to explore. The resident baby ducks are being gaurded closelyby the mother. Be sure to click a time or two on the picture of the bridge, you will see Carol & Allen on the Dream Manor.




We drove to Grafton along the senic bluffs. Upon arrival very few places were open. Hiway 101 is closed due to the high water. Businesses near the river are flooded.
Enroute back to Alton it was necessary to stop for a picture of the Piasa Bird (pronounced “Pie-a-saw”). Legend has it the beast lived in a cave and preyed on the Illini Indians. After years of trying to kill the giant bird, the chief had a vision and a great plan was formed. They used one Indian as bait, while the others hid. When the bird swooped down to get the lone Indian, the others shot the bird with many poisoned arrows all at the same time. It was enough! The bird was finally dead and the lone Indian saved. A likeness was then engraved on the side of the cliff for all to remember.

6/16/08---Figured I had best provide a little update. The mighty Mississippi has risen another 1 1/2’ since I last wrote 3 days ago. It is expected to rise another 5 1/2’ before the crest occurs. The water is now on the concrete where we have been parking our vehicles. Wading thru about a foot of water at the base of the ramp leading from our boat to the parking area does not impress our wives. We decided to move downriver 20 miles to Alton, Illinois. The marina here has higher ground around it and a large parking lot that is not expected to go under water. There are laundry facilities, hot tub, pool and fine showers. The office and other facilities in the marina all float. The higher the water gets the better the view. We are told there are great places to eat just a short way from the marina. Included here are a few pictures of the water in Woodland before moving downstream. Notice the one with the “Dad” t-shirt which was taken on "Fathers Day". I told them not everybody could walk on water. By the way, if you had not already figured it out—--you can click on the pictures to enlarge them. At least some of them work!

6/13/08---Friday the 13th. There is a sense of urgency around the marina as the “River” continues to rise slow and steady. The level rises about ½ foot each day and flooding begins to spread. (It appears to be rising more rapidly today). Weather reports are showing more rain. The dock crew is busy moving boats that are up on jack stands farther away from the water. These boats are in various states of repair. Some owners of smaller boats are getting them out of the water to have them available for other locations. The concern is that when the access road goes under water, the marina will be shut down. The dock crew picked up the water well house and moved it to a higher location. Another crew is checking all the electric boxes and lines to make sure there is plenty of slack to keep the boats in the slips connected to shore power as the water rises. The oiffice is now very active as files and furniture are being picked up. We just look out the window and watch is the water rises toward our vehicles.
When shall we move? Where to go?
Maryann is working on her “Juice Plus” presentation. Carol is still working on her Mother’s taxes, having filed for a late return. Keith is on the phone like a salesman in communication with oilfield people in California. Guess who is working on this blog.

6/11/08---A better day. Excitement held in check as Carol & Allen celebrate their 45th wedding anniversay. The couple enjoyed the evening out.






6/10/08---What a day! At 6:30 a.m. we washed the windows and prepared to travel downstream about a mile to St. Charles Marina. The purpose of the venture was to change props. It was a little windy on arrival and it took a couple of tries to get tied up in front of the lift. One of the employees helped with the dock lines. It was just 7:30, so there was a 30 minute wait before the port crew positioned the lift. They carefully moved our 35000# boat over the straps. It is a strange feeling to watch the boat being lifted out of the water. Wandering what might go wrong. There were no problems and the three man crew quickly removed the 20”/26 pitch props and replaced them with 20”/22 pitch. After lowering the boat into the water the air conditioning pumps were checked for water flow. Only one of the three had to be primed to get the air out of the lines. At 9:00 a.m. we started downstream for the next appointment. Changing to less pitch on the props was sure the right thing to do. The engines sound better and the RPM’s are in the proper operating range. The engines can reach the 3800 RPM’s that is max for the 315Hp Yanmar diesels. There was a lot of debris on the river. A constant watch is necessary to keep from running over dead trees. Upon arrival in Alton we tied up at the public parking in the marina about 10:15 a.m. The next several hours were spent with a man from Alton Electronics. Locations were selected for the GPS chart plotters, VHF radio, XM radio, depth sounder and radar. A study was done as to where the various antenna wires could be run thru hidden places in the boat. After removing a ceiling panel, wall covering and opening several compartments, decisions were made. It was time to measure for lengths and a list was made. The materials should be in next week. We walked to the Argosy Casino. It was farther than it looked as the tired feet suggested there should have been a better way. Brother and I ate at the buffet while Carol played the slots. She would rather play than eat. It may be she new luck was with her, as she won $45 on a penny machine. Another bit of good luck--there is shuttle service to the marina. It was my turn to drive the boat, so Keith and Carol untied lines and loaded the fenders. However it was not my lucky day. Attempting to avoid a log floating in the marina I backed into the dock and skinned an area of the stern on the starboard side. My co-captain (Keith) was not very proud of me! The only thing he said was “I am sure glad I didn’t do that. After dodging floating material for the next 2 ½ hrs we arrived at our base in the Woodland Marina and tied up without further incident. It is now 9:00 p.m. and time to ponder the days events. I am sure my sister-in-law is not going to be proud of me either when she returns from Memphis.

6/9/08---Maryann drove to Memphis, TN. She will be gone for a few days. Her mission is to provide support to a good friend who is just starting treatments for breast cancer. Maryann is a very caring person and constantly stays in contact with a large number of people who have various health problems. Her background as a registered nurse makes her words of support very meaningful.

6/8/08—The Mississippi River continues to rise. The gage level at Grafton is 5 ½’ higher than it was a week ago. It is interesting to watch the changing view in the Woodland Marina as these floating docks rise to new levels. Lots of heavy rain has occurred in various parts of the Midwest which contributes to the flow. There has been lots of wind the past few days so we have stayed tied securely in our rented slip. It is laundry day, so we will go to town and perform a weekly duty.

6/6/08---Keith & Maryann slipped away to enjoy some privicay on their 42nd Wedding Anniversary

April 10-June 4, 2008---What an experience! The 4mcgees began moving on to our new 16' x 59' Gibson houseboat April 10th 2008. Two days later we began living on the boat full time. It took a lot of grit to scale down and identify the most important necessities. There has to be a place for everthing in order to maintain clean living quarters. There have been many challenges, but now we are settled in and really starting to enjoy living on the water. Docked in a slip at the Woodland Marina, located on the Mississippi River near Saint Charles, Missouri provides many sources of entertainment. We happen to be located adjacent to the boat launch. It sure is fun to watch the activities! After 15 hours of drivers training Keith and Allen have learned to handle the boat in the marina. We now take the boat on the river and have traveled another 15 hours without an instructor. The twin 315 HP Yanmar diesel engines move the boat smoothly over the water. Our longest trip to date was a six hour cruise up and back to Hardin, Illinois. Mels Restaurant has a nice dock (located at the 20.9 mile marker) which is only out done by the terrific food. Keith's mate Maryann and Allen's mate Carol really enjoyed the pleasant trip. The Peoria River Boat was fun to see. Everbody waved and took pictures of each other. As we continue to develop navigational skills the distance traveled will certainly increase. We have experienced high winds, lots of thunder & lightning & plenty of rain. About 14" above normal for the area. The river has been at the moderate flood stage since we arrived in April. The Grafton gage shows the level has gone down 7 feet in the past two weeks. Grafton is located down river from here about 5 miles. It is easy to confirm the level has dropped. Looking out the main cabin window at the parking lot is a wall. There was about ½ foot visible and now there is well over 7 feet showing. There have been far too many other details to play catch up on this blog. This is makes us current thru June 4, 2008.









March 14-16, 2008---What a great time the 4mcgees had at the Louisville, KY “National Houseboat Expo. Our new Gibson House boat was truly awesome to see in the show. It attracted many visitors and each of us very proudly discussed the finer points of the boat. Much of the interior was our design. The twin queen size beds in the master suite, separated by 2 closets turned out great. The beds each have an electric lift which tips the beds up to expose large storage areas. The open shelf with the large mirror in the hall area was a fine addition. The computer room located aft makes a great work area. The modified cuddy with a queen size bed and a special storage area with a shelf and drawers will work well for Carol’s sewing room. A hard top was installed over the stern area above the engine compartment. What a neat area this created with a sound system and lighting. This is the only 2008 model equipped with a hard top. It will be a swell area to sit in the evenings or early mornings. There will be four of us on the boat most of the time, so we had 4 TV's installed. That should be enough on in a 16' x 59' home! There are so many wonderful things it is difficult to describe. Scott Bachman with Wahoo Marine and Billy Brummet with Gibson Boats were great people to work with in creating our dream. The next step will be to return to Louisiana and start preparations to pack for moving onto the boat once it is delivered to Wahoo Marine in Saint Charles, Missouri and launched in the Mississippi River. The adventure begins!