Fun on the River, Lock & Dam

If you had been following my two prior posts about my adventure on the river, this will be the final one as I share the amazement of Lock & Dam #16 on the Mississippi River.

I did not realize until this adventure how many dams there are on this river and actually how many rivers across the world share this same lock and dam technology. This part of the trip was my real reason for going. I love seeing how things work, so I will share some of things I thought interesting and maybe it will be interesting to you as well.

As we head downriver, the new I-74 bridge is the first structure we see. The official name for the bridge is the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge. It replaced the old metal structured bridge which is currently being taken down.

At night, there are colored light that really show the beauty of this bridge. Depending on the season or holiday, the colors will change. Before getting to the bridge, there is this pile of boulders right in the middle. There evidently is enough soil on this small rock island to grow vegetation and usually it is surrounded by pelicans but today they are further down river.

Notice the numbers on the post with the orange caution signs…these are mile markers. The entire river is numbered and posted periodically. While there is no mileage map of the river, it is on a GPS of the river for the boat captains who use this river to know where they are at any given location. Our guide told us the number of products that in a year average up and down this river and I was amazed. Without the help of our rivers, a good portion of the products we use would be less getting to us.

As we got under the new I-74 bridge, you could see the old one as it is being dismantled and taken down. This twin bridge was originally a single bridge but as the area grew, it needed to be larger.

The first span opened in 1935 as a toll bridge. In 1959, an identical twin span was added to satisfy increased traffic. The twin spans were upgraded to carry interstate traffic in the mid-1970s. Built for a daily crossing of 48,000 vehicles, the daily average at its closing was 80,000, making it by far the most traveled bridge in the Quad Cities.

From the bridges, we headed to Lock and Dam #16. Upon entering, we tied off to the side and waited for the gates to close.

The lock system uses gravity to lower the water. Underneath the lock chamber are deep tunnels and when the gates are locked, the weight of the water above the tunnels pushes the water through the tunnels which lowers the boat.

You can see how far the waterline fell for us to be able to exit the lock chamber. Because the lock is so close to the Arsenal bridge, when the river is running high, which it is now, the bridge has to open for boats to be able to pass under it.

This section of the bridge is operated by a trolley car engine that allows it to rotate 90 degrees allowing water traffic to pass by the bridge.

Because this section of the water flow is controlled and relatively calm, the downward river side is a haven for pelicans and other water birds.

Once we were out of the lock, we could see the roller dam. From what our guide told us, this is the largest roller dam in the US. He also told us that the knowledge they learned when making this particular lock and dam was used when they made the much larger Panama lock and dam system.

The water coming through the roller dam was a lot more turbulent than the water from the lock. The purpose of the roller dam is to break up and control ice flows during the winter.

As we traveled further down river we could see the Centennial Bridge but we turned before we got there and headed back to the dock.

Before returning to the dock, we went through the original lock from the late 1800s which is no longer in use but was still interesting the way the water flows through it.

As we returned back through the lock we had a supervisor of sorts watching us to make sure we behaved…a blue heron. A really beautiful bird. He evidently is a regular guard.

All in all this was an interesting and fun excursion. I hope you enjoyed my photos and maybe learned something different. Below are some additional photos I took while on the river. Hope you enjoy them.

In closing I remind you of the beauty and power of kindness. The kinder we are, the hope is, the kinder the world will be. Lets at least do out part in always being kind.

FOTD, June 4, Begonias

Summer , for those of us in the above the equator, is the time where we watch nature bloom through it various stages and colors. Flower of the Day Challenge gives us the opportunity to share the beauty we see.

Today, I am sharing my begonias. They are just now getting started but already beautiful. There bright red color almost looks unreal.

The doubled begonias look a lot like a small rose.

As you enjoy the beauty of flowers through your summer, regardless of the side of the equator you are on, remember the smile they give you and return that smile to others. It’s one of the easiest ways to show kindness.

FOTD, June 3, Darn Squirrels

Ever year as you start your work in your garden, there is usually a small deterring factor that can make it difficult. It could be a late spring, a freak storm right as the garden starts growing or local pests, insects or other critters.

Mine this year is squirrels. I have not been bothered by them in years past but this year they are a profound pest. Seeds were dug up and eaten, young plants were dug up while looking for seeds and for some reason they had a taste for seed potatoes.

While on one hand, they seem cute…on the other hand ENOUGH ALREADY!!

This year I planted (or trying to plant) a sunflower circle. The center (14′ dia) is mulched where we may put places sit. The outer was planted with various sizes of sunflowers creating a cascade effect in flowers…if the dang squirrels would quit digging up the seeds.

When I went to water this morning, again the young tender plants that were trying to come up were now gone along with evidence of multiple holes where other seeds were planted. FINE! I give up…sort of. I went back to the nursery and bought plants to at least have something to surround the cool circle. Maybe there will be enough seed that make it past these digging brats to at least show the purpose of the circle. Below are pictures of what I will plant tomorrow after church. Various types of yellow daisies, coreopsis, and something with a tiny yellow bloom that had no name tag. They all have the sunny smiles like the sunflower so at least we will have these.

Even when you are faced with digging brats or other situations that test your patience, smile on the inside and be kind. Kindness has a way to make all sour things taste just a little sweeter.

Fun on the River, Part 2

If you read my post yesterday, you will remember I promised more interesting pictures today. When I was young I grew up on the rivers of Florida and saw wonderful wildlife and interesting plant life. The Mississippi River is a much larger river and throws out a different kind of beauty. The people who founded the Quad Cities area, recognized this beauty and built amazing homes along the river. Today I want to share a few of those homes. While I don’t have history on a lot of them, the few I do have, knowing these home are now close to or over 100 years old makes them more interesting. For instance…

This house, built in the late 1800s is now a museum on the Rock Island Arsenal. It was built by a high-ranking military official…and the second one he built. I don’t remember on what military grounds they said he built the first one, but the government was not happy about it and took it away from him. They transferred him here where he proceeded to build another one. They tried to take him to court and fine him but he died before that could happen. The reason for their unhappiness…it was almost the size and opulence of the White House, where the President lives.

Another beautiful home along the river was built in 1855 by Antione LeClair, one of the founding fathers of Davenport, Iowa. I believe it is also a museum.

Below are other interesting home built along this section of the river. Some are more modern but still in the early 1900s.

This one below was one of my favorites, not because of it size but the design. I love the Victorian turrets.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the fun I had. Tomorrow I will share the pictures of the bridges and the lock and dam. Until then be safe and be kind.

Informative and Fun

Today I went with a bunch of kids on the first Channel Cat ride of the season. This one went through Lock and Dam #16. Now, I probably have some of you going…


All across the world, the larger rivers use of locks and dams to help move products up and down our rivers. The bigger the lock, the bigger the cargo/ship it can move. Since my background was in engineering/quality control, I wanted to see how these actually worked, I knew the principles but I wanted to see it. So over the next few days, I will be sharing the pictures I took of the river, the beautiful homes, and some of the history I enjoyed from this 2 hour excursion.

This is one of several water taxis we have in this area called Channel Cats. They are used for tours, like today, or during summer celebrations to take people to various places of fun.

This was our guide. He is a civil engineer specializing in the care and construction of the locks and dams in our area. This picture was taken while we waited inside the lock for it to fill with water as we headed back toward the dock.

The design of lock and dam structures by civil and mechanical engineers has significantly improved river navigation and, consequently, riverside economies. These engineers must thoroughly understand the fundamental concepts of Pascal’s law, water pressure and gravity in order to design functional and reliable systems.

Now that you have some basics, lets start our trip. The Mississippi River is divided into two parts, the upper Mississippi and the lower. Not really sure why since it is the same river but there you go. Where I live, Quad Cities area, is a metro area including Davenport Iowa, Bettendorf Iowa, Rock Island Illinois, and Moline Illinois and this is part of the Upper Mississippi River. This is also where the crook of the river flows east-west, instead of the normal north-south as it goes around the nose of the man. For many of us, as taught in school, Iowa is part of the man’s head that stands in the middle of our country. I have seen the weather do some interesting thing as it intersects the curve of the man’s nose of the river.

The lower Mississippi starts in St Louis, Missouri, and flows out into the Gulf of Mexico.

As we pull away from the dock, we pass by the dock for the Celebration Belle, a paddlewheel boat that also does river tours.

The Mississippi River really is a beautiful river reminding me if the much smaller rivers I grew up on in Florida.

I hope I have interested you in the things I saw today and will come back tomorrow for more pictures. Now that I have covered the basics, tomorrow I will show you some of the amazing homes along the river. It is too much to cover in one post.

And as we close, I remind you again of the power of kindness. One small ripple will carry many waves to others in need.

Always Be Kind

FOTD, May 31, Weed?

Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge sometimes asks you to step out of your normal mindset and see what you see. So in stepping out I question…is it a weed?

It has large rich colored leaves. The stems hold small clusters of tiny flowers that sport only four petals but their color is a lovely soft purple. In my world, if it blooms its a flower – for in reality, before flowers were captured by our amazing horticulturist, they were probably weeds too.

So delicately beautiful. I tried to identify them with Google but had no luck. They looked similar to ones I saw in the wildflower collections…aka weeds to some, but still beautiful. I think we can sometimes judge people this same way. If they don’t look like how we are use to people looking, we sometime miss the beauty that is within. The old adage of judging a book by its cover.

As you start your summer, try to see the beauty all around you. Even some beetles are quite colorful – I just don’t want them on me. But everything thing created deserves kindness – close up or at a distance. There is a picture I share off and on as it strikes me hard on the reality of ALL created beings understand kindness and love, providing they feel safe enough to share it with you. I did not take the picture but wish I had seen this first hand. So always be kind and safe and reflect the love that has been given to you.

FOTD, May 27, Peonies

Peonies are a beautiful flower but a pain in the neck bush. So, since this is Flower of the Day, we will focus on the beauty of the flower. The two bushes I have around my house are a light pink color with oversized blooms which fall over due to their weight if it rains or wind blows.

This bloom was so heavy I had to lay it in my young blue spruce tree to hold it up to photograph it. Plus ants love these blooms and once they are picked, the ants scatter.

The bushes at the church are a darker pink and a little smaller bloom allowing them to stand proud on the bush instead of drooping due to their weight. This time of year, if I am not at home, I am at church working in the community garden, hence why these flowers are chosen today. The summer flowers are not blooming yet.

I close in a reminder to always be kind. It is such an easy thing to share and something we all need. Regardless of how good or bad your day has been, kindness shows your inner strength.

FOTD, May 26, Iris

Yes, I am also sending pics of Iris blooms. I have been waiting for the one in my yard to open. It was given to me and I was told it was a lovey yellow…it is not. Its purple, a light purple but not yellow. Today it looks sad so I will wait until another bloom opens to photograph it. However, I have some beautiful blooms from around my church.

I was told that this was an old fashion color. Not sure what that means but it is really lovely.

This next one looks like an iris but the bloom is small, maybe a miniature variety if there is such a thing.

These are such interesting blooms with their shape and color variations. Flowers are another way we can see ourselves. Some of us are smaller, some are more colorful but all of us just want to be loved and show how beautiful, in our own way, we each can be. So remember to be kind so that others can be kind in return. It will make us all happier.

FOTD, May 25, Fence line

A couple of years ago, I decided that concrete blocks made the perfect planter for the short grassy area between my fence and the sidewalk. It’s about a three-foot-deep section running the length of the yard. The blocks are spaced about three feet apart allowing for splashes of colors along the fence. Each of the holes in the concrete block are just the right size for a single plant of profusely blooming Superbells, more specifically known as Calibrachoa, and I planted them there again this year. By mid-summer you will not even see the blocks for the flowers will completely cover them and drape toward the ground.

But I wanted to do something different this year between the concrete block to make a full line of color along the fence. So I chose bushy perennials that I would not have to replant each year. I alternated pink and purple Veronica and golden Yarrow between the blocks to add size, texture, and color. I know from research that these plants can be invasive if not kept in check so we will see how it goes. But I think their colors will be interesting against the white lattice fence.

So, summer fun in my yard has officially started, but there’s still lots to plant. As the yard fills with fun and color, I will share the smiles with you. Even though we think plants can’t talk, I beg to differ with you. They speak in a language we can not hear but a language that we see and their language is beautiful. Share their beauty with others and remember to always be kind.

FOTD, May 24, Dianthus

Cee’s FOTD, Flower of the Day Challenge, is always fun this time of year as Mother Nature raises her beautiful floral head. The majority of the community garden is done so I got to play in my yard. Last year I planted several colors of dianthus and their colors this year are just as beautiful. I am planting more perennials this year to help make less work for me next year. I will share those flowers on another day – today is dianthus day.

While the darker pink are a fun variation, each plant has its own expression of the color or extra markings…like being dusted with white.

Some have more white dusting and some have less but show a white center.

Then we get into my favorites, the rich velvety reds.

Then you have the flowers variation that can’t makeup its mine – red with pink edges or white edges…so lets do both.

Regardless of their color, they are amazing perennials. I love that they can tolerate the crazy winters we have – 80 degrees one day and snow the next. Welcome to the Midwest.

Flowers always make us smile, even those of us who can sometimes be a grouch. So look at flowers more often, smile more often and always be kind. A smile is the easiest form of kindness that there is.