Monday, August 27, 2007

End of an era...past the Great Lakes

Hello all: It's true, we are in Chicago (that toddlin' town) and finished with the Great Lakes for this cruise. Lake Michigan has been unpleasant to us, often rolling the boat badly enough to throw things around the cabin and occasionally dunking the bow under. The places we've visiting along both sides of the lake have been great but we are relieved to get off the lake itself.

On Friday, August 24th, we docked in Milwaukee. We had a great time meeting friends and sightseeing. We went to an Impressionist exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum which is right on the harbor front. There was an antique car show at the park next to the marina. In all, a great time.
David and Darcy have lived in Milwaukee for several years and it was great to see them. Both are musicians (link to Darcy's website) ; in fact she plays the horn for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. David is a journalist who has written about, among other things, boating.

The art museum is a very striking building, perhaps a work of art all in itself. The current main feature is an exhibit of the Impressionist master Pisarro (link). We got a chance to see many of his works from all stages of his career, including some of his entries into the Salon and other paintings exhibited with the rebellious Impressionists.

From Milwaukee, we went to Waukegan, and from Waukegan, we went to Chicago.

The photo at right shows how the Chicago skyline loomed up out of the mist... the photo does not convey our relief at nearing the end of another rocky-rolly day on Lake Michigan... not much wind today but there was a swell left over from the night & early morning when there were 20 knot winds. Not that we're complaining, as many people in the area have been hard-hit by storms and flooding.

Here is a schooner taking tourists for rides. This tall ship came in from out on the lake, thru the breakwater wall into the harbor, at about the same time the Winnie W did.

There were also many tour boats running around the harbor.

Here is a view of the Chicago Lock gate just beginning to open. This is the entry into the Illinois Waterway system which we'll follow down to the mighty Mississippi.

This lock was put in place in the 1890s at the mouth of the Chicago River, in order to reverse the river's flow; this results in river water that ran thru the city into the Mississippi basin instead of the open waters of Lake Michigan... which also serves as the city's drinking water source.... thus, the official name is the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal.

There is nothing left of the original shoreline; this is the inner harbor basin with the city's police & rescue boats, and work barges. In fact, if you look closely, you can see a barge under the Shoreline Drive bridge here, supporting maintenance crew hard at work on the underside of the bridge.

Glamorous classic yacht or tourist excursion boat? This is the El Presidente (link) which takes skyline-viewing trips around the Chicago River and harbor, but she was built as a private yacht 1939 and served as a naval auxiliary in World War 2. Doug said she is one of the most beautiful yachts he's seen.

This is one of the bridge keeper's houses. Just another bit of classic architecture lost in the big city.

Driving thru the middle of the city was like being in a watery canyon. The GPS reciever complained that it could not hear or see it's satellites...

This is the view aft, showing the Winnie W's mast & antennas folded down, just after going under a bridge. It was very convenient that we did not have to wait for any openings (except one railroad bridge with less than 10' clearance) and the Chicago commuters should appreciate it, too.

So here we are (link to GoogleMap). Tied safely to a wall, checking with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for lock operations & flood stages, hoping to continue tomorrow at least as far as Joliet.

Best wishes to all
Doug & Kathie

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