We headed for Chicago the first weather window we got. We loved our summer trip. Canada was everything we’d hoped for and we always enjoy a trip down the Michigan coast, but we had been delayed too many times and had to get home. Ben had some travel coming up for work, we had maintenance to be done on the boat, and we needed to get organized to start to head south. As Mother Nature would have it, we woke up early to find fog. We waited for quite awhile and eventually saw a boat or two heading out and decided to join the ranks. We knew we’d be fine once we were out of the channel and in the open lake.
We headed straight to Hammond, IN to fill up. Hammond has some of the cheapest fuel on the lake and is on our way into the Calumet River. After fueling we headed into the Calumet and began our trip to Dolton, IL to Marine Services. This is the yard that has kept our boat for winter storage and does all our maintenance that Ben doesn’t do. The trip down the Calumet river is interesting. Definitely different than boating through downtown on the Chicago River but a great view none the less. It’s very industrial and a unique trip. The trip also contains our first lock on our way south. It’s an easy lock where you don’t even have to tie up. You just float free in the lock.
We arrived in Dolton and tied up for the night. Our boat was scheduled to be hauled out of the water the next morning. We woke up and were packing up when a few guys came over to untie the boat. We went running out to tell them that we and all our stuff were still on the boat! This was the first time the girls and I had watched our boat come out of the water. The whole process makes me crazy nervous. I’m convinced the boat will fall. So to watch it come out of the water, be power washed down, and then be put on stands was quite the feat of bravery for me. The bottom of the boat looked pretty good. The boat stayed put (and plugged in so we didn’t lose our food!) and we headed to our house in Chicago.
The Zeeffs were in Hammond when we stopped there. They went down for fuel as well and were killing some time before heading south on the rivers. They had plans to come back to Chicago and spend a night docked at the Tiki Hut on the Chicago River. So we headed downtown to meet them for lunch. The river walk is so much nicer than it was a few years ago when we docked on the river. We took the train down and then walked along the river over to where their boat was. We had lunch outside and then found some fun climbing stuff for the kids while we visited and enjoyed the sunshine a bit.
As Ben kept adding things to be done on the boat and the river forecast kept getting worse, it soon became clear that it was going to be simplest to leave the boat in Dolton until Ben was back from his work trip to FL. Once we made this decision it freed up some of our schedule and we were able to fit in a trip to Michigan for Maddy’s best friend Claudia’s birthday! We were missing our friends and although it was a quick visit it was so good to see them.
Back in Chicago more friends were moving through Chicago by boat! It was the Wilsons turn. The girls and I spent a day with Wendy and her girls at the Museum of Science and Industry followed by a trip to our house for dinner. Ben picked Bobby up for some West Marine errands and they met us at home. After dinner we walked to a new ice cream place by our house because we know how the Wilsons like ice cream!
Ben headed to FL the last week of September for 9 days. The girls and I hung in Chicago for a couple of days and then headed to my mom’s for quite a few days and then back to Chicago. Ben had a whirlwind trip covering a lot of miles between 3 different stops in FL. But….it was finally time to load the boat and HEAD SOUTH!