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September 5, 2018
Grafton, Illinois: From the Mississippi to the Illinois

The first port on our new, revised itinerary was Grafton, Illinois. Grafton overlooks the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Illinois River. At its height in the 1850s, the town had a population of 10,000. Today the population is 650.

The confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, as seen from the air

The confluence as seen from the boat

We would have half a day here, which would be more than enough. In our research last night, we couldn’t find anything noteworthy for sightseeing in Grafton. At the last minute, we both independently stumbled upon a four-mile bike trail along the Illinois River.

Our bicycle ride was very pleasant. The paved, dedicated trail followed either the river or the highway, and was mostly flat. Along the way we saw a lot of waterfowl. (We also saw a couple of river otters, but they disappeared too fast for a photograph.)

The Grafton bicycle trail

We saw lots of birds, including white egrets and grey herons

Once we returned the bicycles, we walked around town. There wasn’t much to see in Grafton – there isn’t even a grocery store or pharmacy in town – except for some interesting travel signs.

Water bottles and popcorn in hand, we set out to explore Grafton on foot

We loved this sign, which pointed in every direction

We are not expecting much in the towns between here and the end of our cruise. As far as we are concerned, the real joy of this adventure is being aboard a paddle-wheel steamboat. The ports are just stops along the way. Speaking of which, tomorrow will be our last river cruising day!

This sign showed us how far we’ve come, and how far we have left to go


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