Living on 'river time'

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"This is in case we go down," he said, and launched into a jaunty church hymn called "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder."

It got a raucous applause.

"I would have turned to Jesus sooner if I knew it would get such a big hand," Lemen said.

Everyone laughed.

"Do you know 'Stringing Wires Above the Mississippi?'" a woman called out to more laughs.

We were learning to embrace river time.

"Hum a few bars and I'll see," Lemen hollered back.

Instead, he launched into "Goodnight, Irene," which morphed into a massive singalong that went over quite well for a full-voiced audience recalling its youth atop the glassy Mississippi.

If you go

The Spirit of Peoria runs about 15 overnight trips per year from Peoria to destinations that include St. Louis; Hannibal, Mo.; Starved Rock State Park; and Alton, Ill. Prices for one- to four-night trips range from $360 to $960 per person, which includes tax, gratuity, snacks, meals and quality lodging. There is a cash bar on the boat. More information: 800-676-8988,

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