Alton, IL to Grand Rivers, KY (where we crossed our wake!)


We spent several long travel days on the Mississippi River. Fortunately we were traveling with the current so we had an extra push in our favor. First day was 84 miles to a free lock wall where we reconnected with Parker & Leslie (Scaliwag). 

Getting a nice push from the current on the Mississippi River, typically at this engine RPM we would be going 7 knots. 


Sunset from the Kaskaskia lock wall. 
Our next day we covered our longest distance on the rivers – 129 miles (~10 hrs). Getting this distance in allowed us to turn off the muddy Mississippi onto the less muddy Ohio River. We dropped the anchor off the main channel out of the way and after making dinner we went to bed early. It is amazing how a long day of doing nothing can make you tired. It's similar to a road trip in a car, you sit most of the day and are exhausted. 


The Mississippi River does not run in a straight line. 

Kind of what you expect to see on the Mississippi – we only saw one river boat like this, the rest of the water traffic were commercial tows. 

A long travel day on the rivers can make you a bit stir crazy. Proof here is that Kent thought Penny should be up high navigating with him. 
The next morning we called the Olmstead lock and were told to come on through. We did not even wait a minute, they were ready for us as we approached. This lock replaced existing locks on the Ohio and helped reduce the wait time for traffic as there is now only 1 lock to go through in the area instead of 2 locks. 

The Olmstead lock and dam is huge. Construction started in 1995 and is expected to be completed in 2020. It is the most expensive and the largest inland waterway project in the United States. 

We pulled into the newer city transient docks in Paducah, KY after an easy 35 mile day. Our original plan was to stay just a night but it turned out that John & Gina (Alysana) were able to meet us a few days later in Paducah via car from St Louis, we of course waited for them. They had started their Loop from Green Turtle Bay a few weeks after we had started and were now able to travel with us the last leg to cross their wake. Parker & Leslie had also traveled with John & Gina in the past few months so they also waited to leave Paducah with us and celebrate the four of us crossing our wake. 


Paducah’s downtown 14′ flood wall has been beautified with murals showing the town’s history. They are quiet impressive. 


Each mural is full of detail. 

May flies were everywhere at the Paducah dock, a true swarm every morning covered our boat from bow to stern. This pic is taken after I had already brushed off a majority of them. 

These look delicious right? Leslie was in full baking mode while we were in Paducah baking Penny her own special dog cookies. Us humans were not left out, she made a delicious chocolate cake for all of us to enjoy. 


Pre wake crossing celebration dinner with John & Gina and Parker & Leslie in Paducah. 

Truth be told the last leg of The Great Loop was a little anticlimactic. We traveled 28 miles for the day with a 5.5 hour delay at Kentucky Lock. Ironically of the 105 locks we have transited we never had to wait close to that long. Fortunately the lock master called in the 3 of us that were waiting before dark, allowing us to get through the lock and into Green Turtle Bay Marina during the daylight. 

Video – The last lock before we cross our wake going into Green Turtle Bay Marina. 


 Heartbeat coming into Green Turtle Bay Marina. It was the first time all year that we were arriving at a marina that we knew! 

Heartbeat, Scaliwag and Fratt House making our way into the marina (thanks Byron for the picture). 

We will replace our white flag with a gold one signifying to others that we have completed The Great Loop. 

Congratulations to John & Gina on their wake crossing! 

Our complete route – you can always find more detail under the “Track Us” section on the blog homepage.  

We have met so many wonderful people, seen some amazing places and learned a ton about our country's history in this past year. Life is short and unpredictable, we know that first hand and are constantly reminded of it through other people's stories. We will never regret our choice to travel now while we can. 

What is next for us and Heartbeat? We plan to keep moving down the rivers to Mobile Bay, AL work our way to Florida and then over to the Bahamas for the winter. When we left on this adventure we had allotted ourselves around 2 years of travelling and we are just over one year in. There is still so much more out there for us to do, see, learn and explore.

For those out there who have a dream or passion do not hesitate or overthink it, just do it while you can.

Stay tuned, we will continue to share our adventure as it unfolds. 


Heartbeat's complete Great Loop details – 

Days: 379

Miles traveled: 8,122 (we enjoyed a lot of side trips)

Engine hours: 1,025

Generator hours: 454

US states visited: 17

Number of locks: 105

Countries visited outside of the US: 2 – Bahamas and Canada

Where we spent our nights – see our 365 day blog update for marina vs anchorage etc. as total trip % was basically the same as that update.