Chicago was great in spite of all the news about what was going on in the south part of the city. We were in downtown and enjoyed it. Candy really liked walking Navy Pier and the weather for the most part cooperated.
We went to dinner downtown and then walked a block to a grocery store. It was interesting that there are several grocery stores in downtown Chicago unlike Detroit. This was not a small neighborhood store although it was not a large Kroger store either. It was convenient.
We struggled in the morning about whether to leave or not because there was a 40% chance of thunderstorms. Most of the forecasts did indicate the chance of rain would be gone by early afternoon and the radar looked pretty clear so we decided to leave. You can see in the photos that it was cloudy.
Even with the cloudy skies, going thru downtown on the Chicago River is spectacular. Winding thru the hi-rises and looking at the City from a different perspective is quite an experience. It is just unfortunate that it does not last longer than it does. As we were leaving downtown we had to wait at a railroad bridge for 3 commuter trains to pass. The clearance in the down position is only 10′ but the wait was only about 20 minutes so it was not bad.
The barge traffic on the river was not to active. We did have to pass several tows and there were a lot of tows moving barges from one dock to another along the way. Lot of areas where the barges were being loaded and unloaded. I guess it was a pretty normal workday on the Chicago River. About 20 miles down river the Calumet Sag Canal joins the Chicago River. The Calumet Sag is the alternate entrance to the Illinois River and it is about 10 miles south of downtown Chicago on Lake Michigan. It is also industrial in nature but not quite as active the Chicago River.
We passed thru the Asian Fish fence. This is an electric underwater fence to prevent the carp from migrating north to the great lakes from the river system. They are considered an invasive species. This system is in place thanks to the Army Corp of Engineers.
We traveled thru our first 2 locks downstream of Chicago for the trip. The Illinois River locks are very user friendly compared to a lot of the locks we will see. They have a floating bollard located in the sidewall of the lock. All you need to do is loop your line around the bollard and tie it back to the boat. You do this at the mid-ship cleat and that is all there is to it. The bollard goes down at the water goes down so the line length does not need to change. We were pretty lucky at the locks we only waited at the first lock as they completed bring a boat up and then we went down. The second lock had the doors opening for us as we approached.
We stayed at a marina called Harborside in Wilmington Illinois. The entrance to the marina was described pretty good by the manager when we called ahead. We arrived after the marina office had closed but there were enough locals around to assist with the docking. Really nice people there for their weekend on the boat. There was a restaurant on site and one of the locals lent us his golf cart so we could drive up to the restaurant. When we arrived back the locals were all busy getting things ready for their Saturday night party which I thought was their end of season party. Candy had a great time going around an seeing if she could help.
One of the local ladies works for Keebler Industries and left a shopping bag full of different crackers and cookies on the boat. What a surprise and a nice gesture. We will enjoy them.