The afternoon before we leave Chicago the crew takes down the bimini (cover on the top of the fly bridge) and lowers the arch in preparation for the dreaded low clearance Santa Fe railroad (RR) bridge at mile 301.5 on the Calumet River/Illinois River. Independence is too tall, even with her arch down, to pass under the bridges on the Chicago River which have a 17 foot clearance (Independence needs 18 feet). So the less sexy, very industrial route of the Calumet is our path ahead. The, now fixed, Santa Fe RR swing bridge normally has a clearance of 19 feet, however with this years’ high water levels the actual height has varied and has caused quite the chatter on the ‘Looper’ websites (AGLCA forum). Larry and I check these sights every morning to get an idea if the water level is dropping and what others have experienced. After saying a sad goodbye to Chris Adams the morning of our departure, we leave the Chicago Yacht Club bright and early and head south 10 miles to the Calumet River opening. This is by far the most industrial and busiest river we have been on so far. In the harbor we scurry past a massive ship preparing to enter the river to load salt and we end-up behind a tug and tow (barge). Larry slowly maneuvers us behind the tug & tow and we patiently wait for bridge openings. At one bridge the tug is so slow as he carefully makes the twists and turns of the river (he is probably 170 feet long) that once through the bridge the bridge tender starts lowering the span while we are on approach. We are not sure if we should stick or pass under until the tender (on VHF) says ‘better hurry it up!’. Larry throttles up and we are fine but that certainly isn't how it’s done in Florida! One bridge after the next we draw closer to the Santa Fe. After approximately 39 bridges (and one lock - Thomas O’Brien) the Calumet River joins the sultry sounding Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal - don’t fall in the water here. This canal permits ship traffic to go south in addition to all of Chicago’s sanitary waste (treated we hope) keeping it out of Lake Michigan. Finally, after a year of sweating the idea of passing under the Sante Fe...getting the arch cut, painted, repainted, measuring and remeasuring, we pass under the bridge with room to spare and a huge sigh of relief. The long day ends with one more lock which we make by just minutes. As we approach the lock door is coming up the kind lock tender at Lockport Lock lowers it for us. It would be a four hour wait if we had not caught that lock. We arrive at the Joliet wall, tie up and raise the arch and replace the bimini putting another hurdle behind us.