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Day 16

Location: Hoppies Marine Services, Mile 158.5 of the upper Mississippi River

Distance Travelled Today: 38 Nautical Miles

Total Trip Distance: 571 Nautical Miles

The lovely Laura Lee arrived last night and we got underway again this morning. It was a short day for several reasons. First, I had to return the rental car this morning so we never got started until 9 am. Second, we had to go through two locks above St. Louis. Most importantly, Hoppies is the only “marina” between here and Paducah, Kentucky where Laura Lee gets off the boat Friday. There is barely a decent anchorage and our next stop tomorrow requires us to travel 110 statute miles, about 11 hours of travel. So, for tonight, Hoppies it is.

After a beautiful day Sunday with a high of around 70, today was warm again in the low 70’s. However, clouds are rolling in and we had 20 mph winds from the south all day. It’s is supposed to rain starting late tonight with a cold front coming through and for the next few days, highs will again only be in the 50’s.

After the two locks this morning, we entered an incredibly busy barge area with much maneuvering around by enormous tugs with barges. At one point, we passed a tug pushing 20 (empty) barges upstream. They were four wide and five long, the biggest arrangement I’ve seen yet. The heavy industrial and barge area lasted until well below St. Louis. We went right through the center of St. Louis2006 Sturgeon Bay to Mobile 063.jpg and were able to see Busch Stadium where the Cardinals won the World Series Friday night. We took the obligatory pictures of the arch, not meaning to make it appear to grow out of the lovely Laura Lee’s head.

Several miles below St. Louis, we finally left the industrial landscape and again started passing through peaceful countryside.

Hoppies Marina is worth a comment. It is written up in all the guidebooks not only for being the last stop for about 200 miles, but also for being interesting and colorful. The marina was created by tying together four old barges (one marked as being built in 1949) and allowing boats to tie up on either side. There is a fuel pump on one of the barges, a covered area with old sofas and chairs called “the lounge”, a phone booth with no phone in it and, what most people have written about is Hoppie himself.Apparently Hoppie used to hold forth in the lounge and tell river stories or give advice on where to anchor and where to watch for barges in tight curves. Hoppie did come down to meet us but, sadly, he does not appear to be in good health. His wife did all the line handling and no one appears to be holding down the lounge as we had read about.2006 Sturgeon Bay to Mobile 068.jpg However, Hoppies is still a friendly place to stop and still the only place to stop for quite a while, so we’re glad to be here.

As I’m writing this, the wind gusts are picking up to around 35 mph causing whitecaps in the river. The boat is gyrating around as if we were at sea and the old ropes holding Hoppies barges to the shore are stretching and straining. Hoppie and his wife came out and hooked four or five old ropes together and tied one end to the barges and the other end to their pickup truck on the hill which they used to back up until the rope was tight. The barges are anchored here and I think they’ll hold. I hate to tell hoppie that if the barges and boats come loose, their pickup truck is likely to go with us out into the river, if the rope doesn’t break first. Even as we bounce around, it feels good to be off the river and tied up on what promises to be a stormy night.

Sunrise is at 6:24 here tomorrow morning and sunset is at 5:05 PM. With 11 hours of travel scheduled, we’ll have to be out of here at first light. We’re hoping to pull out by 6:00 to arrive at our next anchorage by 5 pm. We barely have cell service here but somehow the internet is working slowly. If we can’t log in for a couple of days, I’ll keep the journal up and post it when we can. We’ll report back soon.


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Reader Comments (2)

John, take care of my niece; as well as yourself! Hoppie's sounds like it's on it's last legs. Surely better times lie ahead,

Good news (so far) from So.Carolina. Lots of praying going on.


October 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterUncle

please send me hoppies e-mail address thanks Paul Mueller on precarious

December 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Mueller

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