It’s been a crazy three days of paddling, every bit as nutty, actually as I anticipated, with the 11th hour remedy to the fish fence issue, and then getting used to being on a river populated with barges, rainstorms, intense winds, and generally getting back into the swing of two months of solid paddle mania.
Toss in dealing with locks, not knowing where we’re gonna sleep at night when we start out in the morning, and it’s a whirlwind of crazy. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants and connect-with-as-many-folks & media about our water-our rivers, bays, lakes, and ocean. Cause we really need to get this poo right-how we take care of and manage our water resources.
Chelsea and I were hosted by Sue, who totally gets, the clean water message, with her business of recreation and camping. We were totally lucky to have been able to stay at her awesome campground, Condit’s Ranch ( condits-ranch.com ) here in Putnam, IL. It’s about a 15 minute drive from where we pulled out in Hennepin, and it is sweet-views of rolling hills and swimming lakes. I wish I were able to hang around more-because three is a lot to do here. There are even karaoke nights and bonfires and is super casual and cute. Folks really go out of the way to create a little summer paradise at their spots, so the vibe is relaxed good fun. Definitely the place to park your tent or RV, chill out and listen to the sounds of nature-pure paradise. Sue was so welcoming-she makes you feel at home right away-and she would not hear of us sleeping in our tents in a storm, so she insisted on letting us crash a sweet trailer. We are so greatful!
Now we’re gonna pack on out and hit a breakfast spot she suggested- The Country Stop Restaurant in Hennepin. Then it’s paddle to Peoria. Really, this is the best way to see the country, at least I think so anyway! I wish more folks could have the opportunity to do this.
It might be a late start but the there are NO LOCKS!! Woohoo for this next 42 all downhill journey. Those locks, as cool as they are can hold you up an hour or more per lock, ESPECIALLY if there is a multi-barge tug going through. These big guys can’t even fit in the lock-they hafta break it down into manageable barge chunks.
According to the ACoE guy at the last lock, the river will crest at 4 feet higher in a matter of days because of all the rain in the Chicago area. I’m hoping to feel the impact of high, fast water for today’s and tomorrow’s paddles. But I definitely hafta be careful and watch the overflow. Mike, our host from a couple of days ago, expert waterman, and Romeoville FD, warned me to use extreme caution as he’s lost friends due to the overflows. Advice heeded! I’m paddling for clean water but I don’t want to be a martyr for it!!