We waited at Port Charles for the UPS driver to deliver our last fuel filter (for the generator) while Paul, Dustin and Preston finished up in the engine room. We were anxious to get on down the river! It was a drizzly morning and we managed to get out around noon. Alton was just about 20 miles down the Mississippi. As we rounded the corner at the mouth of the Illinois, we could see Grafton in our rear view.
Palisades is the word used to describe a line of lofty, steep cliffs and interesting rock formations usually seen along a river – these majestic Mississippi Palisades live up to their name!
The number of barges being pushed by tows increased from 3 x 5’s (15 barges) to 6 x 7’s (42 barges), and as we boated down the river, water slides and churches lined the hillsides.
Along the way was the historical river landmark, “Our Lady of the Rivers”. Our Lady of the Rivers is a shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 25 foot statue of Mary, mounted on a 20 foot concrete pedestal, sits at the water’s edge looking across the Mississippi to the bluffs above Alton, Illinois. This tall white statue gets its name from the fact that three major rivers: Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi, intersect within a few miles of the site – and is used for navigation, historical remembrance, and is the site of the annual Blessing of the Fleet. The Blessing of the Fleet Parade is a big boating event that we were fortunate to witness while we were in Grafton. For this annual tradition, hundreds of decorated boats gather from miles around to receive a blessing from the town priest, asking for Mary’s intercession to protect their vessels from harm. After the blessing – the boats parade up the river to the nearby town of Grafton.
and now on to “The Alton Marina”…
We pass under The Clark Bridge (named after explorer William Clark – of The Lewis & Clark Expedition) to enter Alton Marina. The $85 million dollar bridge is a cable-stayed bridge across the Mississippi River and is sometimes referred to as the Super Bridge. We had many views of the impressive bridge from our boat – buy sunlight and moonlight, with the moon above and with clouds and boats.
Alton Marina is a great facility. Among other amenities, they furnish big white fluffy towels and private baths for transients.
Alton was preparing for their anniversary celebration and party the coming weekend – but no boats had arrived yet. With the exception of one transient sailboat, we had the whole dock to ourselves. What a difference a day makes!
It was a short walk over the pedestrian bridge to town and to the Bluff City Restaurant for an early dinner. Ron had chicken livers, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and a salad. Karen had “fried guacamole” (I don’t recommend fried guacamole).
After dinner we walked around to take in some sights of Alton. Alton is another small quaint town of around 25,000. The amphitheater was next to the marina, the old tire store is now an antique shop, and the Argosy Casino was nearby. We didn’t let Santa out to play this time!
….and the sun set over Alton…..
RANDOM STUFF: ? ? ?
Tomorrow – down the Mighty Mississippi!