Day 5 – August 13th

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This stretch of the Illinois River is THE best part. It widens out so if the wind blows, preferably at your back, like it did for me yesterday, there is some swell to ride. The rolling hills in the background make me think a bit of the Hamptons in Long Island, NY, and more folks are playing on and in the water.

I’m guessing the water is cleaner, and folks, like the lady I just met in the bathroom, have told me that the think the water is cleaner than it used to be. Then, and this happens more often than not, like it did just now, that the person telling me this will then say, “oh, my son got a staph infection from the water and my other kid got an ear infection.” So tell me, how is that cleaner? With all the corn fields growing right up to the water and Chicago’s unSanitary canal dumping raw sewage into the drink, how far downstream do you hafta go before its clean? And with all those people in Chicago and development in that area, how can one possibly think the downstream areas AREN’T going to be compromised? Especially as there are more sewage treatment facilities all the way down as well as some pretty big polluting industries.

From the smell of things, I’ve passed more than one pulp mill. Once you smell a pulp mill you never forget that weird acrid odor. Not as bad as what I’ve smelled on the Fenholloway River from the Gulf, but definitely distinctive.

Yesterday was the busiest day on the water for recreational traffic. Well, when it gets hot where is the best place to be? It’s definitely killing me right now to have these raw rubs, because I really want to hop in and cool off. It’s brutal, to be so hot, surrounded by water, and not be able to jump in because of the threat infection.

So today is a bit of an earlier start with one lock, which might just be open (it’s a four foot drop) because of the high water. Tomorrow is a longer paddle, and two locks. So today I’ll enjoy the casual pace and hope this high water from all the rain in Chicago continues to hold and push me downstream, like the debris from the city.

Last night our dockage, shower, and dinner were sponsored for by Roz and Bill Wolfram. Chelsea and I stuffed ourselves on the awesome food being served up at a gathering of yacht clubs and enjoyed the company of our hosts before leaving and stuffing ourselves with cookies. We were allowed to pitch my tent (and Chelsea her hammock) at the Detweiller Yacht Club. It is always so nice to be sleeping where your boat is.

Onward ho!!  And don’t forget to sign my petition for clean water if you haven’t already!

For our ocean!

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