Monday, September 30, 2019

Little Diversion to, well, a sand bar in Kentucky

Literally, we're on some sand bar on the Ohio in Kentucky. There were anchorages still available to us on the Mississippi, but we were all in enthusiastic agreement to, and I quote, "get the hell off this river." And there aren't many options between here and Paducah. So, around 1 pm, we threw out the anchors, fired up the genny, turned on the AC, then hid inside away from the near 100 degree heat while clinging to some sand bar separating us from the Ohio channel. I will so turn on our anchor light tonight.

When looking at our travel map you'll notice that while on the Mississippi our track is red, meaning we were going over 10 knots. At times we went as fast as 14. There's a tiny place where the track goes green. That was the most exciting part of the day. 

Ahead of us, about to make that crazy U-turn, was a tow. He was moving in the same direction as us, and traveled over 10 knots himself. We hailed him (having caught up to him) and asked how he wanted us to pass. He said to hold off until we get by these tows. The tows he spoke of were a bunch coming up the river that pulled over to get out of his way. There had to be 8 or so of them. He had the right of way, heading with the current, which meant he didn't have near the control over his rig as those heading against the current. We skittered along behind him as asked.

Then he hailed us and said to close up the gap so we could pass him on the one (the right). Both As You Wish and us jammed on the speed, trying to catch up with him (that's when we went 14 knots). Just as we got close enough to start the pass he hailed us again -- another boat was up bound and it would be best for our leading tow guy to pass him on the two. For him to do that, he'd have to swing way over to the left, which set him up for the turn anyway. So he asked we pass him on the two instead, and he'd swing out behind us.

At that time, one of the tows that parked out of his way fired up their engines and started out behind him. We kept the engines throttles while we weaved between the tows. Keep in mind these things are over 1000 feet long. It took a long time to pass this guy at 14 knots. I couldn't help by look behind me as As You Wish blasted by the tow, just as the huge vessel made the swing out. Looked like John and Martha were gonna get swiped by the big, pushing tug boat. But it all worked out. We promptly slowed down ... to 12 knots.
Brilliant pic by Martha of As You Wish.
You can clearly see the line between the muddy
Mississippi and the blue Ohio rivers.

I noticed that without adding rpms to our engine's efforts we were moving much quicker. The further south we went on the Mississippi, the faster it went. All that made the eddies and swirls and whirlpools even stronger. Most of the day was traversing a maelstrom of current.

When we finally made the turn up the Ohio, the waters calmed immediately. Like magic. Without any explanation why one river was so contorted and the other placid.

On the minus side, we're only moving around 7 knots now.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Kaskaskia to Little Diversion

Seems like the kind of day one should spend watching the greenery go by, along with dramatic bluffs that line the Mississippi, all the while marveling how a young Samuel Clemens navigated these very waters as a paddleboat pilot in the mid-1800s.

And yet, we spent more time watching for debris in our way and dodging large tows that shoved themselves up the river with such force that the waters resemble Lake Michigan for a good mile or so once you've passed them.

Fact is the river is still high, higher than it usually is by this time of year. Only 2 - 3 feet below it's flood stage. This means we're getting a crazy strong current heading with us that's adding 4 - 5 knots to our speed. We just heard that another 7 feet are on its way and will be here by next week. We'll be off the thing by then. But it's astounding. In addition to strong current, when the water is this deep it churns instead of flows. Both As You Wish and us had our auto-pilots steer (which have better reflexes that we do) and we still would swing left and right, almost out of control, as we shot across this eddy and that whirlpool.

We planned on anchoring on a canal called Little Diversion near the town of Cape Girardeau, MO. (Darling looking town, too. I was bummed they didn't have a town wall or docks to tie up to, every for a visit. We think these towns just have different views of what the river could bring, and loopers aren't part of that equation. Their loss... but I digress). 

Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain)
piloted a paddlewheel ferry between
St. Louis and New Orleans.
Little Diversion is off the right as we head down river. Making that turn, however, was ridiculously difficult. I did the same maneuver yesterday without much effort at all, but today Cat-n-Dogs couldn't get out of the Mississippi. I gave up, taking her down river, then turned her around on the Mississippi and headed back up against the current to make the left turn. It was kind of another Poughkeepsie maneuver, just tilting the bow a little towards the canal as the river pushed us inside the opening, but the engines were running hard just to maintain a 2 knot speed up the river.

I have no idea how anyone will do that next week, when the river is over its flood plane.
Mostly a lovely view on the Mississippi
Thought I'd share this -- this is Hoppies.
I'm told they'd seen better days.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Kimmswick to Kaskaskia

Not a long day but we're stalling a bit. More on that in a moment.

Over the night the winds died down. With the exception of the current, the waters were flat and pleasant. Given the shorter day ahead we didn't rush out but rather tossed lines around 9 am. The whole trip took less than 4 hours. The calm waters made it easier to spot the flotsam and logs that litter the river, but we couldn't be lax about it, either.

Compared to yesterday it was a boring day. Even docking. We left the Mississippi for the tiny river of Kaskasia to tie off on the wall of their lock. We won't go through it, just looking for a place to spend the night. Since we're off the Mississippi, there was hardly any current, and the air was still. Easy peasy. The only real thrill today was passing a couple of tows, one right after the other. Given they were headed up river their engines were working hard, churning up the water. Between the two of them the river rode with some 2 - 3 foot wake for a good while.
Big locks on the Mississippi. We had this one to ourselves.

We're having to slow boat it for a couple of days since loopers below us are still clogging some of the key stops, like Paducah and Green Turtle Bay. The soonest we could get into Paducah was Tuesday. Today is Saturday. With no other marinas available between here and there, we'll have to anchor out tomorrow and Monday night. The only real issue with that is -- and you'll love this -- it's hot out. Highs in the 90s for the next three days. While boating, no bigs, since we open the windows on the fly and get a breeze. While stopped, on the other hand, with no power to run the boat's AC, well that can be another matter. Of course the weather prediction is that things will cool down. The day we get to Paducah.

As I type this I'm hanging out on the fly deck with a fan blowing on me (because it's dead still today!). Such is boater life.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Alton to Kimmswick (Hoppies)

The subtitle to today's leg was going to be "Adventures in Docking." Russ pointed out that if we only had to deal with struggling against a 5 knots current, that would have been a fine title. Add onto that a 20 mph wind, and you've got EXTREME DOCKING!!!

Today's trip was planned with three other boats that left Grafton around 6:30 this morning. We had it easy. We only had to join them around 8 am. The locking gods were with us, and we got into the first lock with only a short delay. Then we headed down the mighty Mississippi to the canal that diverts you from some falls. Once we made that turn our 10.5 knot travel with the current turned into 6.5 knot. No one could understand why -- we were still on the river heading the same way. But the wind had come up, so we all passed that off as "river weirdness."

Again we had great luck with Lock 27 (yep, officially it's name) and were underway to our next destination, St. Louis. Of course we weren't going to stop there, largely because it has absolutely no marina or wall or anything for rec boats to stop onto. But we all wanted that picture: Your boat, Mississippi River, big shiny arch in the background.

This is a screen grab from the live arch feed.
Russ watched us float by, while on the phone with
Citi -- one of our cards had been hacked and they
called JUST as we got here. Timing is everything.
After we managed that the next stop was Hoppies, the last place we'd be able to get power before we get to Paducah. Stops get thin now. Only lock walls and anchorages for the next few nights. Oh, and there's a heat wave (of course there is -- we just installed the canvases to keep us warm!).

Hoppies has been kind of a looper tradition. In the past it was 3 barges long. Tie up, walk across the bridge provided, and it was only a 10 minute walk to town and lunch at The Blue Owl. You'll have to google that, since I devoured my pie before I took any pictures. 

The last two year haven't been kind to Hoppies. It lost one barge in one flood, and a second just last spring. We're with a boat who'd stopped here two years ago. They hardly recognized the place.

From One Eye Dog
Docking here was a challenge (hence the EXTREME DOCKING subtitle). They don't use radios here so on a phone call with Russ they asked the boats just come in largest to smallest. That meant One Eye Dog docked first. We'd dock second. Also the strategy was go beyond it, then turn back so you're moving up river. That would give you the most control, typically. The EXTREME part was the wind, which was blowing in the opposite direction.

I was relieved to go second. One Eye Dog are gold loopers (this is their second time around) so I could watch their handling and have a better idea of what to expect. Of course, it looked tough. It took them a while to line up right, then get their stern in. As we slowly approached I was having a hard time just keeping Cat-n-Dogs on a straight line, having to really goose the engines now and again.

Then came our turn. And I realize the wanted to dock us beyond the first boat. So I had to pass them then swing her towards the barge. Larry from One Eye Dog was on the radio talking me through it, about watch out for that eddy up front 'cause it will spin your stern away, so best to back into the space. I did, pulling up almost to the end of the barge, then forcing the back end toward the dock. Nudge forward, spin back, nudge forward, spin back -- all of which is typical, except this time I was gunning engines to fight both the current and wind. Bang! I screamed in panic, "What did I hit?" Russ hollered back, "You're doing great! Just keep going!" It didn't feel great. I bumped the pier on just a little but once connected I could bring the nose around. No harm was done to either the barge or our boat.

The Blue Owl's pie selection. The tall one is called
Levy High Apple Pie.
Things weren't easier for the other two boats, who were waiting patiently for their turn. But one by one we got everyone docked without any damage.

To celebrate another day on the loop, we all went out for pie.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Leaving Alton tomorrow...

 A bit of fun with the Daniel Boone statue in St. Charles, MO.
But until then, here's some random photos. Check out the movie at the bottom. It's a time lapse of our trip through Chicago. The first 2 seconds are jittery from setting it up, but otherwise it came out great. Make me sad my folks couldn't join us afterall.

Spot the weasel!

When you're at port you do chores. Russ is working on the
dinghy sling 2.0. We'll see how it works once we get to the gulf.

Quite a current

Dinghy ride back to Cat-n-Dogs at sunrise

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Grafton to Alton

Talk about your swings. For months now we'd been dealing with crazy high water lines; closed marinas and challenges for loopers. Get on the rivers and wham! Low waters.

Recall we put in a couple of really long days to get to Grafton, largely because there weren't many places to stop unless you wanted to anchor, and even then good anchorages were hard to find. Grafton (and Alton, just 15 miles down river) are key stops since they have fuel. The next fueling stop for recreational boaters won't be until Paducah, which is a stretch for a number of boats. So Grafton and Alton are key. 

The roofs are 20 over the water line,
the pilings are another 10 feet about that.
THAT's how much water is missing.
Water wasn't always low this year. In fact, the winter melt and spring rains were so bad they had near record flood levels on the Illinois River. If you look at the picture of the marina you can see how tall the pilings are. They had to raise them an extra 5 feet to keep the docks from floating away -- it was that bad. And for Grafton, devastating. Their fuel doc was trashed and is still under reconstruction. Should be open in a couple of weeks, they say.

Leaving all boaters looking at Alton for fuel. Problem there is that flood left a bunch of silt in the entry channel. And now that the water levels are low, only low draft boats (like us) can even get into the place. So no fuel there for most. 

A tow hauling both windmill blades and coal.
That made us laugh.
That's one of the reasons we left -- we gave up our space in Grafton to a boat with a deeper draft who can't stop in Alton. The folks here plan on dredging the entry a bit, so come Monday folks can get fuel at least.

The only other option sis to head back up the Illinois River to Port Charles. We're told, however, that it, too, has issues. Rumor has it that one boat grounded so badly he had to contact a tow to drag him off.

Stay tuned folks -- things are gonna get interesting on the Mississippi.
Our last night in Grafton we had docktails by our boat.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Beardstown to Grafton

Frustrating start, and frustrating finish... and a little dicey in the middle. Otherwise a great ride.

While we thought we were done with "trouble locks" turns out that's just a false sense of security. They are all trouble. The lock we had to go through today was LaGrange. It's under construction, well, renovation. As a result (we found out last night) they will be closed from 9 am to 1 pm. No problem, since we're only a few miles away, that's a short ride from the tug service center. However, due to the construction, they only have one wall available for locking boats through. They want only 9. There were 18 of us who wanted to go. So the plan was 2 lock-throughs for us, one at 7:30, one at 8:30. Dandy.

First thing in the morning we had a radio chat with the 18 boats wanting to go. 5 were on anchor below us, so they requested 4 join them for the 7:30 lock. Two boats volunteered right away, then As You Wish wanted to go (they had an 88 mile day ahead of them and were a pretty slow goin' vessel). Leaving one slot, which we happily took. Done.

Loopers, loopers, everywhere!
6:30 am we casted off our lines and peeled off the barge, leading the other 4 boats. Wait, how many? Yep -- someone decided they, too, wanted to go and so they just did. Loopers! We know how to raft but we can't count!

We slowly made our way to LaGrange, rolling our eyes at our inability to follow simple instructions, when we chatted with the lockmaster. A tug showed up before us and, since we have no clout or priority, it locked through first. The lockmaster told us he would lock us all through at 8:30. By that time, of course the other 8 boats caught up with us. We looked like an armada hanging out below the lock.

Russ piloting. Is it live or is it Memorex?
Thankfully, by 8:45 he opened the lock doors and let us ALL come in. We tightened up and rafted, 3 to 4 vessels per row. All 18 of us got in and through.

It does seem like we're always the first to get to a lock then punished with some crazy long wait. River life, I guess.

The toodle down the Illinois River went fine for most of the day, as faster boats made their way forward and slower boats shuffled behind. Right up until our Navionics made an interested "short cut" suggestion. We almost took it until we saw all the flotsam and debris in the water way. Russ, piloting at the time, stopped the boat and backed out hard. I say follow the channel!

My biggest frustration of the day came when we docked in Grafton. The marina has a floating wall to separate it from the river, but it still gets some current. And the wind had kicked up in the afternoon. AND we have this new canvas cover that acts like a giant wind sail.

The left side was where our navigation wanted to go.
The right side is the actual channel.
Needless to say, it was like starting over. I hadn't had so much trouble docking in a long time. It took me 5 tries to get Cat-n-Dogs backed into a slip, and I banged one of the sides doing so. Totally wrecked my confidence. 

I didn't give up. It did get done. It wasn't, however, a pretty sight.

Btw, if you look at the map, right around where the 11:00 mark is a bridge. It marks the WESTERN most point on the loop. We are truly on our way home.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Henry to Beardstown

Nebo stopped working... :(
Somehow we went from "we aren't traveling today" to "we're going over 100 miles." Given the river ran with us, we could go 10 knots easily. But that made for a 10 hour day.

The reason we ran so long is there's is just not much between Peoria and St. Louis. Yes, there are a number of little towns along the way, but either they are working towns (so all the walls or dolphin heads or cells are meant for commercial vessels only) or they just never thought a city wall would be anything anyone would want to use. 

Not that there are a lot of towns. Most of the day was spent surrounded by trees. It was a wonderful run. We saw at least 3 bald eagles, storks, white geese (not those Canadian interlopers), and jumping carp. Quite a day.

Passed a couple of tows without incident. The river is wider here, so much more space for us to skitter by.

A bit of learnin': On the river we are not loopers. We are not even boats or vessels. We are PCs. Pleasure Crafts. We have no clout or seniority of any kind. When we see a boat on our AIS, we hail them by name and identify ourselves as the "downbound PC". We ask, "Where do you want us?" They typically respond, saying they want us on the ones or the twos. Sometimes they only give us a number, one or two. This is river speak -- one means pass me on the right, and two means pass me on the left. If you think of your direction on a clockface, and straight ahead is 12, then the 1 is on the right. The 11 (or two ones) is on the left. This is gospel down here.

Hazard of the rivers -- dead heads
As I pointed out, places to stay are a premium. As we traveled with hooked up with a group of loopers heading for an anchorage, stopping around 2:30 pm. But that meant at least one more night before St. Louis, and thunderstorms are in the forecast for Saturday. We'd like not to have to travel during one. So we pushed to Beardstown. 

No marina here, just a tug boat service shop. We're tied onto a barge. Definitely one of the weirdest places we've stayed. Getting to shore requires walking over steel beams, 3-inch lines, then up a crazy steep staircase.

How we get to land.

That's Cat-n-Dogs on the end of the barge.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ottowa to Henry

Another early day. We'd made plans with As You Wish (who we caught up to last night) to start early. Like dawn's-early-light early. Lines off at 6:15 am. Sunrise is around 6:45.

When we woke at 5 am Russ contacted the Starved Rock Lock, the last one scheduled for closure. Get through that it's smooth sailing down the rivers. The lockmaster said no problems, just come on down.

The lock was 10 miles downriver. When we got there he was waiting for a coast guard tug. He would lock them up, then us down. He invited us to tie up on one of the cells. We liked him instantly.

Storks! I've never seen so many. They were everywhere.
We tied up and As You Wish rafted to us. The wait was about 45 minutes in total. By then we were joined by a larger group of loopers who left our marina later. Then we all loaded into the lock, with instructions on who would be where and who would raft to who. We had 3 boats tied to us (so four in a raft), then another 4 behind us, then two. All ten of us locked down.

The river locks are the longest waits, but the easiest to use. Unlike previous locks, where you had to hold onto slimy lines and mind them as you go up or down, these locks have floating ballards. We tie to those only, and they go up and down. You still need to watch, but less work and mess. As a result, there is much more chat time with the other boats you're with. Kinda fun.

During that chatter, however, it became clear to us that we were NOT out of the woods. From this point on marinas and anchorages are few and far between. Top that off with LOTS OF BOATS trying to get down the river before the closure and we were a bit behind. Our buddy boaters had the foresight to make reservations. We were just fixated on getting through locks.

Much of the cruise on the Illinois is like this. Wide
water, blue sky, lots of trees. Lovely.
Thankfully, the little marina in a town called Henry (and I cannot stress how little) had one space for us. We took it.

We're discussing staying here for a couple of days, letting the clog of boaters get down river a bit and out of our way. The locks close this weekend, so no one else will be coming down after that. We should have the pick of our placed to stay.

Joliet to Ottowa

Three down, one to go.

During the night 4 other boats joined us (making 6) on the Joliet wall, around 9 pm. We tried to organize an early departure, but no one really wanted to talk about that given their long day. I don't blame anyone a bit -- we, too, were tired. When we got up around 5 am we wondered if it were rude to just knock on doors and let everyone know we were leaving. We decided our engines would do the trick. 

We peeled off the wall around 6 am, just as twilight lit up the river. A tow was going our way so we waited for him to pass, then got behind him. After calling the lock ahead he told us we was ready to take us down. We passed the tow and headed right into the lock, green lights waiting for us. At that moment we were hailed on the radio that 4 of the boats on the wall hustled up and were following us in (apparently, engines are an effective alarm clock). The lockmaster held the lock, and we all locked down together.
We moved right to left, around the cell.
That gap is 60 feet. Or so they told me.

The second lock of the day was Dresden. A bunch of barges (9) were in the lock coming up. These locks are too small to hold the barges AND the tow boat, to the barges had to be hauled out of the lock by wench while it's tow boat waiting to lock though. After the chamber was emptied, we were to go in.

The lockmaster gave us the go ahead. But the space between the barge and the cell looked pretty narrow. As I approached it the lockmaster hailed us, saying "THE OTHER SIDE!" We turned and went between the cell and the lock wall, which wasn't much wider, but made for an interesting obstacle course run. The other boats followed, all of us with raised eyebrows ("they want us to do what?!") Everyone made it in without any bumping or damage, and down we went.

In the center are the barges, and the white tower behind them their tow boat.
On the left is the tug that went down without us, just because.
We were told not to tie off on those handy cells on the
right during our 4 hour wait. Why? We all wondered...

We came to the last lock of the day. Technically, we wanted to get the next one done too, since it's the last of the locks closing in a couple of days. And since we arrived around 1 pm we thought that was doable. The lockmaster had other ideas, though. He locked up some barges then locked down a tug ALL BE ITSELF, then locked up the tow pushing the barges, then locked us down.

We were there for 4 hours.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Chicago to Joliet

Yesterday, thunderstorms. Today, fog. It's like pulling teeth getting these next couple of hundred of miles down. Moreover, we're doing it on a clock, trying to get through the Starved Rock lock before Sept 20. And Mother Nature is not making it easy.

We wanted to get an early start. We wanted get beyond Joliet. Besides, many told us how "magical" it is to go through downtown Chicago at dawn. That sounded so cool.

We woke at 5 am surrounded by every mariners nightmare, fog. Thick fog. Pea soup kind of fog. We needed to pump out before getting underway, so we did. And the fog got thicker. Chats with other boats led to a decision to wait in hopes it cleared. By 8:30 am we could (at least) see the land at the end of the pier. In the back of everyones' minds was that the locks are still unkind -- very slow, no place to wait, no priority, and getting into marinas long after dark. Something loopers are not found of. Well, this one, in particular.

Can't see land at the end of the pier
So we braved the fog, making our way across Lake Michigan one last time to the entrance of the Chicago Harbor lock. It's unnerving being on the water and not being able to see anything. I drove by instruments, following the blue line our Navionics laid out while keeping another eye out for any vessel our radar or AIS were missing. The lockmaster even told us he couldn't see a thing, so when we got close we had to hail him.

As the lock doors opened on the other side the fog lifted somewhat, enough to see other vessels on the river. The fog slowly lifted, and we got some views of Chicago's skyscrapers. At least the bottoms of them.

Starting to clear. At least I can see boats,
The longer we journeyed, the more the fog lifted. While a good chunk of the trip (once out of the city) was industrial, we did see quite a bit of wildlife. 

One of the restrictions on this particular route is a bridge that does not raise, a railroad bridge at mile 320. If you can't fit under it you can't go through downtown, but rather have to take a longer route from Calumet. We measured our height a number of times, making sure we'd squeak under the 17 foot. Otherwise, we'd have to pull over and take off our radar mount. 

Almost clear!
Not only did we make it, we did so with a foot of clearance. In fact, there was a water depth board on that bridge, something we haven't seen since the Intercoastal Waterway. NO ONE MENTIONED THAT. In all the blogs and postings, for heaven's sake, people, tell us there was an easy way to know.

We traveled beyond Joliet to get held up a the very next lock. It looked like it would be a long wait. Felt longer, since I was tired from our early rise. We doubled back, and parked on the Joliet wall for the night.
Just when I thought, "I wonder if there are any deer here,"
I look up and there he was!

Lots of Blue Herons. Haven't seen any since Canada.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

We'd had enough

Today we were supposed to start our river system segment of the Great Loop. Our buddy boat left yesterday. We hoped to meet up with them in Joliet this afternoon.

However, Mother Nature had other plans. We woke to a decent thunderstorm. Most if it, however, was south of us -- in Joliet. We decided to wait until the weather passed, and during that time, Martha of As You Wish texted us, saying things were a mess down there. First, the storm had stirred up a bunch of debris on the river. All the boats were facing downriver, to sticks and grass and logs were catching on them. (Note to self: always part facing upriver.) 

Second, due to the lightning and wind, the Marseilles lock (the one right below them) had to close and got behind. They warned the pleasure boaters (us) that they should try coming through today.

Beluga Whale at Shedd Aquarium
As a result, nobody moved. And the Joliet wall was already stuffed. So. We stayed put.

On the other hand, we'd had enough of Burnham Harbor. Decent facility, good location, but we were sooooooo tired of being bounce around with any wind from the south. And, for the five days we were there, four of them had strong south winds.

So. We moved. To DuSable Harbor, just one mile up the lake.

It's so still here... yaaaaasssssss...
Cat-n-Dogs in DuSable Harbor, bedecked in her new canvas

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Sights of Chicago

Our view looking north at the city.
I need to preface this with a comment about Lake Michigan. Turns out we're not done with it yet. Or rather, it's not done with us. Technically we are parked on it, since the marina is on the lake. Why this matters, of course, is that weather on the lake can still affect us. And it has. If the winds come up from the south it creates bouncy waves in the marina. Furthermore, since we're transients, we got the worst spot -- hanging out on a t-head. Our first night here was very unsettled. I swear I felt like I was near being airborne, tossed form bed.

A lone tree on the waterfront.
Chicago is one of my favorite cities. Our first day here we rented bikes and headed to Navy Pier. From there we caught an architectural tour on the river. We'd done it a couple of years ago, but this time we paid close attention to the bridges. We're' planning on cruising out that way when we leave here.

Last night we had a light show from Mother Nature. A large storm, well north of us, slipped by with a bunch of lightning-illuminated clouds. I watched it for over an hour. The weather has been hot and sticky, which was a welcomed change from the nippy temps we've had the past month.

Apparently, you can't grill on your boat. So folks bring their own.
This collection just made me laugh.
Tonight we're planning on doing "Adult Night" at the Shedd Aquarium. No kids allowed.

Right up my alley.

Not ours anymore

There's a saying in the boating world, that the happiest days of a boater life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. This...