I'm writing today's post after just returning from spending the night on Swing Set. We attended a birthday party for a friend and the party was held closer to the boat than to our home, so it made sense to stay on the boat. We went up in the afternoon and did a few minor chores after storing a few more things from our home onto the boat, in preparation for our move in a couple of months.
A lot of our "river" friends were at the party, and everyone was getting excited about the upcoming boating season. The predictions for flooding this year have been issued and the forecast is for very little flooding, if any, due to a low amount of snowfall up north so far.
If you follow my blog via the RiverBills website, you know that the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show is coming up this week and nearly everyone was talking about attending the show on RiverBill's Night at the Boat Show on the 9th of February.
Another thing worth mentioning is that today is Superbowl Sunday! But we are happily back at home after going to a birthday party on Friday night, driving up to the boat and going to the party last night, then driving home this morning. Typically, another party would be on our agenda for today, but we are taking a pass. I actually was looking forward to writing this post as I drove home from the boat; so here we go...
On August 24th, we were up early after a peaceful night. The previous day was a long one, we traveled about 90 miles and transited two locks and one railroad swing bridge. We wanted a jump on this day as we had two locks to go through before we would arrive nearly 40 miles upriver at Fairport Landing, where we had planned on getting fuel.
There was nothing remarkable about our lock through at Lock and Dam 17, or the next one at the town of Muscatine, Iowa, Lock and Dam 16. That's my recollection anyway.
We had made very good time, still chugging along at 8 miles per hour, and it was still before noon as we exited Lock and Dam 16 and made way to Fairport Landing. I started regretting our plan to fuel up at Fairport, because no one would be there to sell us fuel until after noon, so we had to wait. I called the next marina that had diesel. That marina was in Rock Island, Illinois, and it would take us the rest of the afternoon to get there, as it was several miles upstream, plus there were two more locks to transit.
A young girl answered the phone and I inquired as to the availability of diesel. She said that they had some, and I asked the price and it was acceptable, but then I asked how fresh the diesel was. Now, some of my readers here might wonder why I asked that question, but my readers with diesel engines in their boats would know that bad diesel fuel is common if it sits for a long time. I've clogged up our Racors before from taking on old fuel as algae grows in it if moisture is present. The very nice girl looked in her records, and even she was surprised to learn that they had last taken a diesel fuel delivery on the previous September, nearly a year ago.
We weighed our options: We had had three travel days and gone through 9 locks so far. Adding two more locks up and then two more coming back from Rock Island to get stale fuel did not seem appealing to us at all. We made our decision to wait for the fuel at Fairport, and then spend the rest of what was a beautiful day on the hook, catching sun and swimming, and possibly having a beer or two.
I pulled off of the channel and motored over to the fuel dock at Fairport Landing. The seediness of the place was not apparent from the channel, but up close, the place was definitely no beauty. In the interest of brevity, let's just say that Fairport Landing had seen better days. But, I was thoughtful of the pleasant conversation I had had with the owner on the previous day, and I was confident that the fuel was as fresh as he had promised.
We waited at the fuel dock and I took some trash up to the dumpster. There was a restaurant on the property, but it being a Wednesday, I had doubts if they would even be open later in the evening, but I made a mental note. The owner showed up and we took on 252 gallons. Swing Set ran a total of 37 hours upstream burning 6.73 gallons per hour. At our speed, but running against the current, we only got a little better than one mile per gallon for our 244 mile trip. Not really bad, but I expected better fuel mileage.
I followed the owner into the restaurant to settle up the bill and get some beer and ice. The interior of the restaurant had some real character and the looks of the outside were deceiving; it was nice and neat inside, there was the largest beer can collection I had ever seen lining the walls in glass cases. There was a big corner bar and lots of tables and a game room with pool tables. I got a history lesson about the place and was told they'd be open that evening for sure and Wednesday nights were one of their busiest. I was sold.
We took Swing Set across the river out of the channel where the fella at Fairport told us was some good anchoring, set a hook, and popped a few cold ones and took some sun. The picture above shows the best way to drink a beer while sunning your back side, even if the theory of drinking beer through a straw gets the alcohol to your brain quicker is true or not.
There was a nice breeze spinning our wind generators and we had all the windows and hatches open, it was a perfect day to lounge around and think about starting our return downriver on the next morning. As the afternoon wore on, I kept watch on the parking lot at the restaurant across the river with my binoculars, and sure enough, by 5 o'clock, quite a few cars had already arrived.
We had been attired in swim wear for 5 days already, so it felt weird to put on regular duds for a change. I had dropped the dinghy into the water earlier, so once we got dressed, we motored back over to Fairport Landing for some dinner.
As the amount of cars in the parking lot advertised, there was a good crowd already sitting inside the cool interior of the restaurant. We took a table at the window where we could see the river and Swing Set laying at anchor across the channel.
The waitress brought a couple of very cold Bud Lights and told us about the dinner specials, with fried chicken being the special for Wednesday. I can't seem to resist fried chicken, and Rosie followed my lead and after that it was "two fried chicken dinners, comin' up".
As we reveled in the pleasant atmosphere, a couple at an adjoining table asked if we had come from "that big boat across the river". We said we did and they were puzzled as to how we could leave our boat over there on the anchor while we were in the restaurant having dinner.
We explained as to how we were confident that no one would mess with the boat, and that the anchor had held fast for the previous 4 hours or so, and there was no reason to think that it wouldn't hold for several hours more. Not being boaters, they had lots more questions which we were happy to answer, that is until the waitress arrived with our dinners.
She sat the plates down and I thought she had made a mistake. I didn't see canaries on the menu, but I was certain that that was exactly what she had brought us. The food did have the shape of a bird, and an exploratory bite revealed that we did indeed have chicken dinners there before us, albeit very small chicken dinners. As my opinion of the place started going downhill fast, things got worse.
I had gotten cole slaw with my dinner, and Rosie had gotten green beans. This fact is important as we later figured out why I had come down with some mild food poisoning and Rosie didn't. I need to be very delicate here: It became necessary for me to make my way to the restroom. Very necessary. What also soon became necessary was for us to get out of that restaurant and back to our boat, pronto.
Now Rosie was feeling fine, and even finer due to the number of Bud Lights she had consumed throughout the afternoon, and she was more than a little disagreeable when I told her that we had to leave. She became more understanding as to why we had to leave once I told her the reason, but not any less cranky about it.
We took the dinghy back to Swing Set and I couldn't get the dinghy tied up fast enough before stuffing my face with any and all medications we had on board that I thought would relieve my suffering.
What had started out as a promising day and evening wound up in disaster, but once my stomach settled down, we got a goods nights sleep and by the next morning my condition had improved. If we ever get back up to Fairport Landing, we'll just have beer and pretzels, thank you very much.