First of All –
- First time out of the Eastern Time Zone in nearly a year
- Des Plaines River
- Des Moines
- Miles Driven today: 600
- Total Miles Driven to date: 3,722
- Hours Underway: 8
- Fuel: 29 gallons
- Morning House Battery Reading: 12.16
- Wind Speed: 15; Wind Direction: W
- Daily High Temperature: 95
- Water Temperature: NA
On my way to the restroom I flag down a park staffer and let them know about our arrival late last night. She asks me if we have a reservation and I say no. Turns out, the site we parked in was reserved (no sign posting as such), but all is ok and we just need to pay on the way out. The big hurdle of the day is getting past Chicago. A major section of freeway immediately east of Chicago is under construction (I suspect it is permanently under construction – Seems like the same stretch was being worked on a year ago and I don’t think they’ve made much progress). Once we clear the construction zone we reach the toll booth, and I pay my tribute to the State of Illinois. Not long after that, we get caught in a big slowdown, whose cause is never clear. After a half hour of very slow driving, things clear up.
Early on, we’re passing places we visited while on the cruise. Saugatuk shows up on the road signs, where we passed a pleasant couple of days waiting for the wind to quit blowing. We next see signs for Michigan City, where we stopped in a marina before crossing to Chicago. In quick succession we pass Joliet and Ottawa, both places where we stopped on our cruise down the rivers. When we drive over the Des Plaines River, we’re actually closing our loop in a sense, having passed beneath the very same bridge by boat. We stop for fuel at Marseilles, where we also stopped on the drive east, for our first look at the Illinois River and a working lock. After that, we’re simply retracing our highway route on our way west.
It’s a very hot, humid day, and as we cross the Mississippi into Iowa I conclude that we need to find a motel for the night. It would be prohibitively hot trying to sleep in the boat. We end up stopping at a Fairbridge Motel just outside Des Moines. I check in and then go back to the boat to gather up our overnight stuff. I’m happy to find a working electrical outlet at the base of a parking lot light pole, so we can plug the boat in and keep our batteries charged. We’re still running the refrigerator, and the hot weather has caused the frig to pull the batteries down. We head up to our room, and I can’t wait to kick back and relax. I slide the key card into the door slot and swing the door open. I’m completely surprised to see two young guys already in the room. They’re equally surprised to see me open their door. I briefly consider tossing them both out, but on second thought, realize that they’re both way bigger and younger than me, so I simply ask what they’re doing in our room (in a joking way). Somehow, the hotel has managed to double book room 213. I go back downstairs and explain the situation to the lady on the desk. She’s very apologetic and locates a room for us on the 3rd floor. While she’s setting up our keys, the two guys from 213 come up to see if everything is ok. I tell them “Sure. The motel just rebooked you into a place in Davenport.” That gets a laugh. Up in our room, showers and air conditioning never felt so good. On the negative side, all this driving and climbing in and out of the boat has managed to fire up my troublesome sciatic nerve. It’s not bothered me in more than 3 weeks, but seems determined to cause trouble once again. I take 2 tylenol and hit the rack.