Monday, June 13, 2005

Whatcha do last weekend, Sis?

Let's see....

Started off with T-Ball. Thomas is quite the little player! They get 6 coach pitched balls, and if they still haven't hit the ball, they get to hit off of the tee. I know... it's just T-Ball, but my baby is doing so good! *Proud Mama* He went three for three on Saturday- 2 home runs and a triple (which would have been a homer, but his foot didn't hit third, so he got sent back and then couldn't make it back in to home). The picture above shows him rounding third and heading for home. Notice the "HEY! That kid is running the bases...again?" look on the other team's faces... cracked me up.

Sunday was busy for me- I ended up driving a total of about 5 hours, back and forth, across 3 states. In the rain. Did I mention that it rained here on Sunday? (see "WOW" post below in case you need a reminder) Anyway... I volunteered to help out at the Ride for the Red, a bike rally which is one of Red Cross's biggest fund raisers. Thanks to Tropical Storm Arlene, it was WET. From 7 until 11 it rained, sometimes a sprinkle, sometimes a mist, sometimes a downpour. Puts a real damper (pun intended) on a motorcycle rally, don't you think? Instead of 1,000 bikes, we ended up with exactly 201. Bummer...

The rain stopped just after the bikes left the starting point though, so I decided to go pick up the family and head out to the finish line which is about 90 minutes from our house. I got a little lost... I thought there was an exit off the highway close to the finish line (hey- the roads crossed on the map- why wouldn't there be an exit there? DUMBASS). We got there an hour late, and the bikers were all leaving. After a day getting wet and then dry over and over again, they were worn out. Who could blame them?

Fortunately it wasn't a total wash out (gee... I'm just full of puns today). The Markland Locks and Dam were right around the corner from the finish line. If you've never seen how locks work, you've missed out on something Dam cool and unique to river life. The Dam Ohio River floods frequently, and after the Big One back in 1937, the Army Corps of Engineers (thanks guys!) designed a series of 50 locks and dams along the Ohio to prevent devastating floods from happening again. Markland Dam is one of those dams, even though it wasn't completed until 1964.

It's so cool to see how they work. (If you follow the ACE link above and poke around, you'll find a lot of cool information on locks and dams) The river level is at different depths, depending on which side of the dam you are on (at Markland, it's a 35 foot difference), so all watercraft have to go through the locks to get to the other side. We were there to see a huge barge go through- three wide and 5 long, plus a huge tug. It was so big it couldn't fit into the locks in one piece. I'm guessing it was around 1,000 feet long, because the lock is 600 feet long, and they had to take it apart in the middle to get it through. They unhooked the front three barges and then closed the gate. (notice how little the two guys look in the picture, to give you some idea of how big those things really are) Then they pump the water out of the lock until the water level inside the lock matches the water level on the other side of the dam. The lock opens, and the watercraft goes on through. This barge was so big it had to be done in two pieces, so a small tug hooked onto the front three barges, pulled them through, and then the big tug and the remaining barges pushed into the lock. Kinda like the instructions on your bottle of shampoo "Lather, rinse, repeat, for best results."

Watching the guys work the locks isn't a quick thrill or a rush, but it is soooo cool to see how it works. And after living through the next "Big One" flood in 1997, I can honestly say that the Army Corps of Engineers has saved countless lives, homes and businesses through their Ohio River project in the 30's.

Even though Sunday didn't turn out ideally, a Dam good time was had by all. (I can hear you all groaning... I'm in a punny mood today- sorry)


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