Hello again everyone, and thanks for tuning back for the latest installment of the Barrel Raft Boys journey! Its been a busy few days out here on the river as we get closer and closer to St. Louis (getting really excited!) Passing Hannibal, MO earlier this week, we found out was the starting point for Huckleberry Finn on HIS journey down the Mississippi. We floated by and gave our salutes to Mark Twain for providing us with much of the inspiration needed for this trip. The next town was Louisiana, MO where we pulled ashore for the night. Before getting off the boat, we were greeted by the nicest couple, Joe and Lynn, who were passing through town and saw us coming down the river. Both from Alabama, their southern hospitality shown bright with their friendly faces, conversation, even some frozen pulled pork WITH BBQ sauce from Bishops. We were looking forward to BBQ in Memphis, but this stuff from Alabama tasted better than anything we’ve had all trip. Thanks so much guys for the warm welcome that evening, we went to bed with happy stomachs that night 🙂 The next day we continued on, making good time until we stopped at a sandbar to let Skully do his thing. There were a lot of other boaters out on the sand enjoying the nice weather and before we knew it, there was beer in our hands, food in our mouths and we had a mass of people around our raft wanting to know our story. Skully even found a playmate and they were off in a heartbeat, splashing through the water! There are too many names to list and too many people to thank for making that sandbar stop our best yet, but thank you to everyone for showing us an awesome time. You guys rock! We were having too much fun to even think about pushing forward, so we tied the raft up and hunkered down for the night. Another orange and yellow sunset put us to bed in the open-air raft cabin. We took off early that morning with a cooler full of goodies from our terrific hosts the night before. The next pool, or body of water in-between locks, is the last before industrial St. Louis waters. A long Sunday of avoiding boat wakes and passing our adventurous story to curious boaters who pull up to take pictures and chat briefly; this day was the most people interaction all trip. Everyone from dawn til dusk was raving about Riverbills.com, “a website you absolutely had to check out”. Turns out we had already made the front page! The sun had found its way through the clouds after several cloudy days as we bend around the river, revealing gorgeous strips of bluffs on the Illinois bank. From the entrance of the Illinois River in Grafton, these bluffs led the way to the next town of Alton, IL. Drying off from last week’s rain, Monday’s river trek was wide with fast moving current and a helpful wind; except for a single barge, we kicked back, floated and happily enjoyed the view. We found refuge at the picture-perfect Alton Marina. It lies right under one of the coolest suspension bridges we’ve seen yet, right past a colorful riverboat/casino, and is set beneath a beautiful brown-stone town that oozes rich river history that we’ve been trying so hard to take in with every glance. Sure enough, met a pair of really cool Chris’s and a Julia up at Grand Piasa (along with all you great folks at the Marina!) who explained the interesting story of the Piasa Bird. You can read a short story on it at altonweb.com/history/piasabird/ or go up to Grand Piasa body art and talk with Chris yourself, but its pretty cool..not to mention we were able to see it on our way into Alton! Even at night this blissful resting place is peaceful. While stocking up on reading material at a local bookstore, Broadway’s Second Reading Book Shop, the owner called the local newspaper, The Telegraph, to do a feature about our journey. After speaking with journalist and walking out with some good reads, we longboarded and biked through the downtown and the river park, then back to the marina. A dip in some clean water at the pool and hot tub, a load of laundry and a fantastic hot shower preps us for tomorrows undertaking, St. Louis. Since launching in Minnesota, many boaters warn us about the commercial traffic in the city and the 150 mile stretch of no gas afterwards. A good nights rest and waking up before the sun should provide a good start on passing St. Louis! This is going to feel like a HUGE milestone for us and we are pumped to see the famous arch. Now…for what everyone has been waiting for: SKULLYTIME!!!!!!
MUCH LOVE EVERYONE THANKS FOR YOUR PRAYERS!!