Did you ever have one of those days where it was just really fun? You know, where everything you did was fun, the whole day, and when it was over, you just felt good. Yesterday was one of those days.
Dan, Dan’s son Danny, Danny’s girlfriend Jen, and I decided to go to Grafton and ride the new SkyTour. It had recently opened November 1st, and being the trendsetters that we are, we wanted in on the action. We decided to take the Grafton Ferry which is not very far from our home in St. Charles, MO. I checked the website, and off we went on Friday.
When we arrived at the Grafton Ferry landing, the important word here being landing, the ferry was no where in sight. If it is operating, it is in sight. A quick phone call informed us the ferry was closed for season. What? Okay well, this part wasn’t too fun, but we decided we would drive to Grafton instead, taking the long way around over the Alton Bridge, through Alton, and along the Great River Road.
Please note: I had checked the Grafton Ferry website which listed the hours; however, one has to scroll down to see where it says the Ferry is closed for the season.
Once in Grafton, we easily found the SkyTour. When heading north through Grafton, the SkyTour is on the right, but there is also a building on the left advertising the SkyTour as well as tickets. Parking is on both sides of the street. We parked on the left, at the larger building, because we saw it first. We learned this is where season passes are purchased; regular tickets are bought at the SkyTour across the street.
Season passes were offered $29 which is half price. A single round trip ticket costs $10. We considered the season pass deal, but we didn’t think we would ride the SkyTour more than 3 times in the coming year, so we passed. It’s a pretty good deal though.
At the SkyTour, riders can choose a gondola or an open seat chair. We chose the gondola and enjoyed the scenic ride to the top destination which is Aerie’s Winery. We also chose to disembark at the top. There, we visited the gift shop, walked inside the winery to view the menu and sat by the outdoor fire pit for a bit. Before too long, we were riding our gondola back to the bottom.
It was really fun, and we very much enjoyed the SkyTour. Other than the winery; however, there is not a lot to do at the top. We all thought just a few more activities at this Grafton summit would enhance the experience. I would have liked to sit by the fire and drink some hot chocolate. There could also be a short walking path to a lookout platform. Danny mentioned a place he visited in Australia where one can ride little go-cart type cars back down the hillside, even offering slow, medium and fast routes.
While the menu at Aerie’s looked fine, we had planned to eat at The Loading Dock, and we stuck with that plan. The atmosphere at The Loading Dock was filled with twinkling holiday magic as the place sported a temporary indoor ice-skating rink among all the holiday decorations. Dining tables were warmed from above; a couple tables even had a fire pit atop. Our food was delicious, and our service was attentive. After our meal, we walked outside to the large deck area which offered a couple more outdoor fire pits. We were all happy with our meal and the fun, casual atmosphere. Satisfied, we were ready to head home.
I’m a little bit stubborn, some might say, and I had not yet given up on the idea to take a ferry. So, a quick phone call to IDOT confirmed, yes, we could take the free Brussels Ferry to Brussels. From there we could drive to the other side of the island and take the Golden Eagle Ferry which takes us right into St. Charles County in Missouri, about 10 minutes from our home. Both ferries were open and operating. The Brussels Ferry operates 24 hours a day, and on Fridays, the Golden Eagle operates until 2 am. There is an $8 fee for the Golden Eagle. If you go, I do suggest you call to confirm as one never knows what could happen with regards to ferries.
It was actually dark as we rode each of the ferries across their respective rivers, the Illinois and the Mississippi. We were surprised at the number of cars using the ferries, but what do we know? We were on it. We also were pleasantly amazed at how much shorter our trip was back home. GPS had indicted using the 2 ferries would be longer than the drive back through Alton, but I would guess it was less than half the time of the Alton route.
Back home, we continued our fun with games of Taboo, Scrabble and Farkel. This is the best thing about the holidays – spending time, having fun and making memories with the people you love. Riding the SkyTour in Grafton was a good way to do all that.