At the Hardin Riverdock the tie-up is free if you dine at the restaurant. We obviously arrived too late the night before to be able to have dinner but not to worry, they serve a mean breakfast. Fueled-up with eggs and potatoes we cruise downstream toward the confluence of the Illinois River and the Mississippi River. We have traveled down the Illinois River for 303.4 miles and at Grafton, IL we meet the Mississippi River at mile 221.5. Just a few miles downriver is Alton, IL (40NM), where we dock for two evenings. On arrival we top-off the diesel, pump-out the head and give the boat a bath. It is amazing how filthy the boat gets, between the industrial areas, the mucky river-water and the bugs it is nice to see her clean (at least for a day!). Larry and I explore Alton which is the first town we have stopped at that actually has hills. But far beyond its’ hills, it is Alton’s history that is great to experience. We are lucky enough to meet Don Huber at the Catdaddy’s Tavern and low-and-behold he is the town historian. We learn that Lincoln almost fought a duel on an island near here until the challenger realized that Lincoln’s reach extended his own. Don also tells us about the assassination of journalist Elijah P. Lovejoy in 1837 (an ardent abolitionist), in addition to Alton being the site of the first State Prison in Illinois during civil war times. The next day we take the bikes out to explore many of the historic sites that Don has told us about and then end the day at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air, a great place to people-watch, listen to live music and have a couple cold ones. Up early and feeling lucky to clear the Mel Price Lock and Dam 26 and the Chain of Rocks Lock and Dam 27 within an hour and half. We keep cruisin’ down the Mississippi River to St. Louis with its’ traffic jam of tugs and tows. Not to mention the river runs pretty fast at your stern here and controlling the boat in these busy channels with oncoming traffic is a herculean effort on Larry’s part. Further downriver we tie-up for the evening on the wall at Kaskaskia Lock at mile 117.5 on the Mississippi River (86NM). With the river running fast at our stern (4 knot push at times) we rack up the miles today with a long run down the Mississippi River to the Ohio River. There just are not many options for places to stop or safe places to anchor on the Mississippi so we keep cruising along and make it through the new Olmsted Lock to an anchorage called ‘Bean Branch Creek’ on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River (144NM). The next day we have a short run to Paducah, KY (20NM) where will spend two nights at the City Marina. We have a nice time in this ‘big - little town’ as the locals say and move on through the Cumberland River to the catch the Barkley Lock just as it is opening - what luck! We will spend two nights at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, Kentucky (40NM).