Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Peoria, IL to St. Charles, MO (July 12 to August 14)

The IVY Club was a great stop for us.  We got a car from Enterprise and drove to Abingdon, IL where Joe's aunt Kay is currently living in a nursing home - after several broken bones and two hip replacements.  She corrected Joe on her age saying that she won't be 93 until October.  She's an amazing person.  Many of Joe's cousins, Kay's children, showed up for our visit as well has his uncle Phil, his wife and a daughter.  We had a great visit - much longer than we'd anticipated.
 From there we stopped off to visit a cousin from the other side of Joe's family.  Another good visit but unfortunately much to short.  One thing we've liked about cruising is that it has allowed us to visit friends and family that we probably would not see otherwise.
From IVY we made a short trip to the city docks in downtown Peoria.  From the docks it was only about a block to the Caterpillar Visitor's Center.  When you first enter the exhibit you are sent to a theater to watch a short film complete with seats that shook as the large earth movers crossed the screen.  Then we were told that the theater was actually in the bed of their biggest dump truck!  After the film we went downstairs where we could view the rest of the truck and climb into several different machines.  They even had a simulator where we attempted to cover a pipe with dirt; something Joe had much more success with than I did.  There was also an exhibit that went through the company's history and technological advances.  It was interesting, but we came away feeling like we'd just experienced a giant infomercial for Caterpillar.  The entrance fee was small, though, and it was an enjoyable visit.
After we left Peoria we passed a pair of smoke stacks. I noticed how brightly painted one of them was - then Joe noticed the guy part way up painting with a roller!  And waving to us as we went by!
The water was still high which meant the wickets on the locks were down.  It was something to see the flooded lock as we went over the dam.  Although, we never would have known the dam was there.  The lock walls were completely covered with water.  All along we saw evidence of the high water.
 One problem with high water is than all the debris that has collected on the banks now washes down the river.  Since we were going downstream at this point it had not posed much a problem for us until we got ready to raise the anchor one morning.  Large logs had collected on the bow of the boat.  We were finally able to dislodge them using long poles.
We stopped at Port Charles Harbor, near St. Louis, MO, where we planned to stay for a while.  First we had Carolyn Ann pulled to check the bottom and the running gear.  We'd heard several thumps along the way and wanted to be sure we hadn't hit anything that had done damage.  Everything looked fine there.  Joe also had the technicians there check the steering and auto pilot.  He'd been concerned about that for some time and felt that it was getting much worse.  After checking out the system, they told him they were surprised it was working at all!  So Joe made up a work list and we got on a plane for Seattle.
A brief detour here from cruising.  Our daughter and son in-law had moved to Washington state about two years ago and this was our first trip out to see them - and the area, as neither of us had been there before.  Caitlin and Andy had purchased a house east of Seattle in North Bend - where some of Twin Peaks was filmed (if you go way back in your tv watching).
While we were there Joe and I toured a little bit downtown - saw the space needle, rode the monorail, watched them throw fish at Pikes Place Market, and of course went to the new Chihuly museum.  The hot shop in Tacoma will be on another trip!
While we were at the market we watched ships coming into port for Seafair.  A band played on the dock, fire boats made fountains - it was quite a spectacle!
On one of Caitlin's days off, we road the ferry to Bainbridge to go to Hurricane Ridge on Olympic peninsula and see the Pacific Ocean as Caitlin had not been to those yet.  One of Joe's old friends from  his working days lives near Hurricane Ridge, so we had lunch with him and his wife and he drove us all up to see the spectacular views.  He started to tell us how we should go back, but we were set on going the long way so we could stop by the ocean.
We had to pass on the rain forest - definitely on the list for another trip - but we did swing by the world's largest red cedar tree.  We thought it would just be off the main  road, but we ended up on a narrow paved, then dirt road for about a half an hour!
We made the mandatory Pacific Ocean stop - a great photo op for Caitlin and Joe.  Caitlin would have loved to stay for the sunset, but as it was we didn't get home until about one am.
Joe's brother Mike had offered us his place in Whistler, BC for a week.  He's a skier and doesn't usually go during the summer, so we took him up on the offer.  The drive up from Vancouver to Whistler was just gorgeous.  I don't know how Caitlin and Joe, who took turns driving, managed to stay on the road with all the gawking we were doing.  Mike's place is great - right at the bottom of the mountain.  We were planning some "light" hiking.  Caitlin had found an "easy" hike to a train wreck.  We had a little trouble with the directions and she and I started down a  path that Joe was sure was not the right one.  When we got to the end, there was a lake.  A few people were on the shore and a few in the water.  No one paid much attention to us at first, but then one lady in the water could see our confusion. We started asking about the train wreck and she came out of the water to give us directions.  Naked!  After talking a minute or two, she picked up her towel.  Cait and I both thought, "Oh, good, she's going to wrap it around herself."  But she didn't.  She just casually dried herself off all over while she talked.  We did find out that we were in the wrong place, though.
We drove several miles farther down, found the right path and even got some written directions from someone on their way out.  This was an "easy" hike.  It did not go up a mountain, but that was about the only easy thing about it.  We did go along a beautiful stream with some nice looking rapids/waterfalls along the way.  Joe decided he'd just stay there for a while.  Caitlin and I finally found the train wreck.  About ten train cars had come of the track fifty years or so ago.  It was decided to just leave them there rather than go to the expense of retrieving them.  They've got nice graffiti painted on them and it's hard to imagine how they ended up where they are - some would have gone into the stream except for one poor tree.  Unfortunately, when we got there, Caitlin realized that she had left the memory card out of her camera and there was some issue with the one Joe gave her, so no pictures!
The next day we took a gondola ride up the mountain.  This is not my favorite mode of transportation, but the views were incredible.  Once up, there is an open lift that takes you to the summit.  I told Joe and Cait that they were welcome to go, but I'd just wait where I was.  To get to that lift, you had to go down a long hill.  Which meant when you came back down, you had to come up the long hill.  They both opted out too.
After photos in front of the Olympic rings, we took the peak2peak gondola across to another mountain.  This gondola claims to have the longest unsupported span in the world - I think that's the way they put it.  Anyway, you went down some, then across, then back up the other side.  Again, impressive views.
We decided on the easiest hike they offered on the other side.  Not exactly easy - I think the altitude was getting to us a bit - but, again, the views made it worthwhile.
The way down the mountain was an open lift, with, again, amazing views.  Joe did accuse me of bending the safety rail with my terrified gripe, though.
The next day, we did one more hike to see the ancient cedars.   That was quite an adventure - beginning with the road to get there.  We saw a few cars, but kept having to let the atv's pass us.  Once we got to the cedars - after a pretty good hike - they were worth the trip.  On the way back there were people on zip lines crossing way overhead.  Not getting me on one of those!
We'd gotten into Canada with  no problems, but coming back to the US was a different story.  As soon as we mentioned tomatoes, we were told to pull over.  No tomatoes were allowed, although the border patrol guy told us it had been a day to day thing.  If someone called to ask about tomatoes he had to tell them they could bring them if they got there before noon.  The next day it was okay if they came after noon.  We'd brought some New Zealand apples with us from the US and purchased some Galas in Canada.  We were allowed to bring the Galas in, but not the New Zealand ones that had gone to Canada with us.  Joe did have a nice chat with one of the officers about firearms training and training in general, though.
We'd had great weather our whole trip but it was cloudy the morning we left.  No view of Ranier - until we got above the clouds!  Then St. Louis greeted us with rain.
Back at the boat, some of the jobs were finished, but there was a problem with the auto pilot fix.  Once the new part arrived - with the exact same part number as the original - it was a totally different configuration.  They finally decided not to try to fit it in  where the old one was, but made new hydraulic lines and mounted it in another - better? - place.
Also, Fred and Linda had arrived on Young America!  Then Mike and Linda arrived on Sea Dream!  We enjoyed two days of catching up before Mike and Linda headed back south.  They'd originally planned to join us on the trip up to Minneapolis, but life and schedules interfered.

After a few re-stocking trips to the store, we'll be ready to start up the Mississippi.

More pictures on picasa

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