Monday, June 23, 2008


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!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blogs so we can have a naration of the wonderful activites that are going on so far. Makes us feel almost as if we wish we were there! NOT! HAHA. That water rising higher and higher scares me just a little bit I have to say! But we do miss you guys! The news this morning said the mississipi is predicted to start rising here by the end of next weekend. They arent sure what the affects of that will be here in Louisiana. Well have fun and we will talk to you soon! Love you guys!


Anonymous said...

Hey Guys

It sounds like you guys are having to much fun and relaxation on the houseboat. I thought that when you retired from one job you got another one did i get this wrong? If so tell me. I hope you guys continue to have fun and can't wait to see you guys again.