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St.Louis to Cincy on the DQ 9/21 - 9/27 & more

 
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:26 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 371
Default St.Louis to Cincy on the DQ 9/21 - 9/27 & more

JoAnn and I just completed our 3rd Steamboatin' cruise and our 2nd on the great DQ. It was a fine adventure with a couple of unexpected changes from the announced initnerary. Leaving St. Louis, the DQ headed upstream past the Admiral before turning to head down the Mississippi River and swing up the Ohio at Cairo, IL. Our planned stop at Cape Giradeau was changed to Cairo where the mayor greeted the boat with an official proclomation and plaque that was duly posted aboad the boat for passengers to view.

As we cruised up the Ohio on Friday night, nature provided a magnificient lightening show that lasted nearly five hours. The effects were continuous and stretched all across the horizon. Most who viewed this display said they had never seen anything like it. Bolts of lightening shot from the sky to the ground, from cloud to cloud, and in great explosions of fire that resembled the videos we all saw from the opening nights of the War in Iraq. Strangely,
most of this activity was so far away that thunder was only occasionally heard. But the news the next day told of as many as 40 tornados that hit in Eastern Kentucky, well ahead of the boat. With those storms, a lot of rain fell and the river began to rise. While we were tied up at Henderson the next day, the river rose two feet on the guage at the landing and a lot of driftwood began to appear in the river which continued all during the day and next night.

The staff on the DQ was excellent with entertainment by Bob Schad, Bob Stevens, and the Walter Kross band. These fellows had been on our first DQ cruise in 2002 so we were glad to see them again. And, we were lucky to have Travis as our waiter in the dining room, a man who is one of DQ's best employees. He told us of his experiences and hardships following Katrina which had all but destroyed his home.

During the cruise, the engine room was available as always so any rumors of limited access seem to have been mistaken. In fact, I was given a piece of the DQ's paddlewheel by the chief engineer as a souvenir. It will be proudly displayed here at home.

After landing in Cincinnati, we headed back to Louisville and cruised on the Belle of Louisville to Carrollton as the boat headed to the Tall Stacks Festival. I was pleased to meet Franz and Carmen, Keith Norrington, Pat Traynor, Pat Carr and other folks from the dot org forum on the Belle.

Our plans were changed a bit so that instead or cruising on the Belle from Carrollton to Cincy, we chased it to shoot video. While I missed being aboard, the shots from the shore were worth the effort and I hope to use them in a future video. The morning departure from Carrollton was absoultely perfect with boat surrounded by steam and her stacks belching black smoke. It was as if the Idlewild was departing a typical landing during the heyday of the packet boats. The Belle was resplendent and seemed to be mechanically perfect as she cruised upriver with her 'scape pipes announcing her presence all along the way. We caught her at several places, including Rabbit Hash where a proper salute was sounded on the whistle and calliope.

The Natchez emerging from the Portland Canal on Sunday, as mentioned by Judy, was a complete surprize to me. It was a real time warp to see these two steamers almost together as we departed Louisville and even more surprising was the speed she produced to overtake the Belle. (If I had been the master of the Natchez, I would have been tempted to run a circle around the Belle before speeding north.) I was hoping for one of those impromptu steamboat races so well described by Fred Way but it was not to be.

On Tuesday, I dropped by the riverfront at Covington and shot a little more video of the boats across the river. Seeing the Belle and the Natchez side by side for the first time from a distance, I was struck by the difference in size of the two boats, the Natchez very much a sleek Lady of the River and the Belle the old workhorse that has defied time and nature to emerge as the grand tribute to America's steamboat traditions and history that she is.

And, I was equally impressed to see LST 325 as well. I had never seen an LST "in person" before we passed her at Evansville on the DQ a few days previously. To think what that ship represents is awe inspiring. My dad built LST's at Jeff Boat duringWWII so I was particularly glad to see her. It was with great reluctance that I headed down I-75 back to Tampa that day. But then, I had just completed 9 great days of 100% steam powered fun on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. What could be better?

-Jim Herron

Last edited by Jim Herron; 10-06-2006 at 07:45 PM.
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