‘17 A To Z Challenge – T

Challenge2017

letter-t

You just know that a darkness-loving troglodyte like me would be fascinated with being underneath things, and by;

TUNNELS

With tunnels and the like, I am intrigued not merely with the fact that I am under, but what (specifically) is over.

At a place in England, it is necessary for a narrow-boat canal to cross a river. It does so on a multi-arched aqueduct.  It is fascinating to see photos or video of a west-bound river steamer passing directly beneath a south-bound canal boat.

When we had tired of going from Windsor to Detroit, or back, on the big bridge, and driving above ships in the river, I decided to try the tunnel. While it’s a little more distance, back then, the connection to I-75 was quicker and easier.  I never worried about the tunnel collapsing, but it was interesting to think that I might be driving directly under a 1000-foot-long lake freighter.

When we used to go to Niagara Falls, down at the other end of Lake Erie, I took the opportunity to return home via a tunnel under the Welland Canal. It’s possible that I drove under that same freighter from Detroit.

It costs a lot of money to dig a road tunnel, especially through rock. Most of the American Interstate system, at least in the eastern mountains, goes around them.  One exception is I-40, from Knoxville, Tenn. into North Carolina.  There are two tunnels within a few miles – but only if you’re travelling East.  If you’re heading West, at one of the tunnels, the divided highway hangs along the side of the mountain.  Being in the tunnel there, only means that you’re under pine roots and raccoon shit.

Skyline panorama

We came through Pittsburgh one time, following the Interstate down the edge of the river, 30/40 feet higher than the water. I-376 suddenly crosses the river, and plunges into the side of a 150 foot stone cliff on the other side, and doesn’t seem to come up for air until you’re almost into Indiana.

It’s one thing, especially at spaghetti-junction highway interchanges, to be driving underneath other cars or even big transport trucks. On the west side of town, the Conestoga Expressway passes under not only several surface streets, but the main railroad line, so I’ve driven under trains.

To accommodate our new street-railroad system, two of the major, downtown streets have been excavated under the rail line, so I’ve had even more opportunities to drive under trains. A couple of blocks from the daughter’s place, there is an old, shallow underpass, where I’ve often driven under trains.  I try to be sure that, when I drive under something, I can get all the way out the other side.  Despite signs warning of “Low Underpass,” a couple of times a year, THIS happens.

Tunnels

There’s an underpass like this, somewhere in the States, that’s so famous that it has its own website. With a name like ‘elevenfootsix.com’, you can access it and watch live video from a traffic-cam, or access archived footage and photos.

At least twice a week, some big-rig, or local delivery truck like the one above, rips the top off and gets stuck. There must be a Ryder truck-rental agency upstream, because every second truck is a (now-damaged) Ryder.  It’s (almost) amusing to watch RVs swoop under it, but peel off roof-mounted canoes or air-conditioning units.

I have finally driven under an airplane. One day, coming around the Expressway, on a sunny, cloudless day, suddenly I was in a shadow, and then out again.  What was that??  Ah….a 20-passenger commuter plane, heading for the local airport.  But it’s mid-afternoon, and the sun is off to the west, so I wasn’t directly under it, merely in its shadow.

All that changed on my most recent drive to Ottawa, to visit the Grandson. The highway goes past a Canadian Forces Airbase, and there were two big military transport planes angling in for a landing, 45° ahead and to my left.  Can I?  Can I?  I hope!

The first one crossed the highway and went to final approach.  A minute later and a mile further east for me, and lower and nearer for the second….VOOOM!  I went right under him!  When a C-16 cargo plane passes 200 feet above you, there’s no mistake.  The sonic vibrations pounded me and the car.  I could see his nose out the passenger side, while his tail was still on my driver’s side.

Small things do indeed amuse small minds. It’s better than being under suspicion, under investigation, under the influence, under arrest, or under a misapprehension.  What things would you admit to being under?   😕

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By the way:  Happy New Years guys.  The best of good wishes for the coming year, and thanx for your ongoing company and support.  😀

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’17 A To Z Challenge – R

Challenge2017

The word ‘Roundhouse’ has two, very different but connected meanings, so, for the letter

letter-r

I’m going to tell you about them.

Roundhouse Slang. A punch in which the arm is typically brought straight out to the side or rear of the body and in which the fist describes an exaggerated circular motion.

This is a type of punch that is usually not thrown until a jab or a hook has stunned an opponent, and his defenses are (slightly) open, because it opens the defense of the fighter who is throwing it. The large circular motion is necessary to accumulate speed and striking power.

At the height of his career, I saw Bruce Lee demonstrate, what he called ‘A One Inch Punch.’ He stood before a sparring partner, tightly clenched his fist and held it 1 inch from his opponent’s chest.  He then wound up his ‘punching muscles’ while holding back, like a dragster revving the engine, but standing on the brakes.

When he had achieved maximum dynamic tension, he suddenly extended his arm, and the victim went stumbling backward. But that was not a punch! That was a push, a powerful push, but a push.  Even a dragster cannot achieve its top speed in its own length.  A punch requires time and distance to amass its total potential

Roundhouse II

a building for the servicing and repair of locomotives, built around a turntable in the form of some part of a circle.

My home town was the end of a railroad line. Another spur on the other side of the peninsula extended all the way to the northern tip.  Train engines can push backward, as well as pull forward, but pulling is more efficient.  Normally, at rails’ ends, and any other place where locomotives have to turn around, roundhouses are used to give them a 180° spin.

My town though, grew up because it was a Great Lakes Port. Besides the river docks, a long stone pier was built out to the offshore island, offering storm protection.  The railroad was used to carry freight from Lake Huron, to Toronto and Lake Ontario, before the building of the Welland Canal, to get past Niagara Falls – grain to flour mills, lumber to the factories, iron ore to the steel mills.

As the railroad came north into town, a spur line branched off, and ran west, out to the end of the dock. The spur line branched back, and joined the main line ending at the station, forming a giant Y, with an empty triangle inside it.  The engines and cars which needed to be reversed, were merely backed up, and run forward around the Y.

We never needed an expensive and maintenance-intensive roundhouse. We did have a big railway building that was large enough to house a couple of locomotives, and cars which needed repair, out of the weather.  We called it ‘the roundhouse,’ but no engines ever got dizzy on a roundabout.

Now, the trains are all long gone, the tracks ripped up, the right-of-way is a hiking trail, and all that’s left are my fond memories. That feels like a roundhouse punch.   😦  😯