Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Dam Trip

Last weekend, Thursday after pre-school, well all loaded up in the van headed to Poppa and Graham's for a get away. Poppa wanted to take Titus fishing because Spring is a good time to go. My Dad is thrilled beyond his ability to express in any way that that Titus enjoys fishing. He thought when he had a son that his son would be an angler as well and love the sport which he loved as a lad--that didn't happen. I did give it a try's a really long story and I need to stay focused on this one. I'll tell the story some other post--promise. Anyway, Titus was busting to get to Poppa's house and go fishing. My Dad has been catching fish at grand lake for about a year and a half and taking them to the pond to stock it. He has carp, bass, and other fish beings caught at the lake in that pond. It's a perfect set up for an anxious five year old who loves to fish with his Poppa.

We had not pulled into the driveway and unloaded when, "Poppa come on let's go fishing!" Of course that was music to my Dad's ears, "Hang on sport, let's get unloaded, don't you want to go tomorrow?" "NO! Now, Poppa please let's go fishing." Dad got the fishing duke you need to fishing on a pond in the middle of a pasture, and his camera and headed off with my boy who was so totally and completely beyond excited he couldn't stand it. I have a feeling my Dad was so totally and completely excited he couldn't stand it either, but he would never let on that HE was excited.
They were gone probably an hour or more when I heard the door open, "DAD...DAD...I caught seven bass! SEVEN! and we had to watch out for the cow poop--it was huge!" "That's awesome, Bub." Dad had two shots of Titus holding his catch. When you catch bass you admire and release so you can catch them again. When you catch carp, you kill them and eat them (well I don't as I don't really like fish). He was so excited, "Hey bubba...come on let's go play...I caught seven fish and it's was awesome! The cow poop was huge and everywhere!" I wasn't sure if the fishing or the cow poop was higher on the made my day list.
Dad mentioned that he wanted to take us to the spillway so we could see the water. Kendra and I had that slow motion turn and look, "spill see...water...ohhh-K." It's been raining in our neck of the woods, typical spring weather, and the water is really high. To the point that there is a considerable amount of flooding that has happened. Grand lake is a man-made lake, made possible by the Grand River which was dammed in 1937-40. The Grand River Dam project, GRDA, produced a dam that was Oklahoma's first facility to produce electricity by hydroelectric power and is also the worlds longest multiple arch dam, 51 arches and 21 spillways. The dam is over a mile long and quite a sight. All of this information, by they was is thanks to a quick Google search done about ten minutes ago.
Friday morning we got up and made it out the door by 11. We stopped at Dairy Queen (there are two restaurants in Seneca where you can safely eat this is one. It is the ONLY nationally recognized fast food place. My Dad has always loved road trips. We used to load up in the car and just drive to see the country side. We would drive for hours and hours, which was so horribly boring to Sis and I. Kendra was hoping to stay home with Teensy, but no such luck she didn't nap and had to go. "So Poppa, how long is this trip?" "Well...about twenty or thirty minutes." Kendra was suspicious. "You said that the last time it took us an hour to get to the place you wanted to eat...are you sure?" "[chuckling] yes, it's just the other side of Grove." Kendra looked at me with that, we are screwed look on her face. It's a good twenty five minutes to Grove, provided cars are actually accelerating. You see people in Seneca and Grove like to allow gravity to accelerate their cars. You know how you can put your car in drive and have it kind of move? Well, that's exactly how they travel--ON THE HIGHWAY! It really takes me on the fast track close to insanity. Once in Grove the dam is another twenty or so minutes away. The whole journey there took about 45 minutes to reach.

I did realize that saying, dam, is fun. Fun because it sounds like a bad word, but really isn't since it's a real deal retaining wall for water. So, while on this dam trip we got to say dam without my Dad's furrowed brow of disapproval. En route we saw an alpaca farm which was kind of cool, those animals are pretty impressive and the farm was really neat. We didn't stop just drove by in a rush to get on with our dam trip. As we drove I saw a sign for, "The Dam Hotel." "I have to stop and get a picture of that! how cool is that." The dam hotel is in Disney, Oklahoma. I wanted to get out and see if they had a shirt that said, "I love my dam shirt." but we didn't stop.
There was a really cool Dairy Whip counter that I wanted to stop at as well, but we didn't. These dairy counters are peppered all through my stomping grounds and part of my child hood. I love going up to the white painted cinder block building, reading the menu written on plywood, mounted to the side of the building. Then you go up to the tiny stainless steel counter and look at the teenager whose hair is pulled into a pony tail, wishing she were anywhere but in Disney, Oklahoma at the dairy whip. The sliding screen window is pushed open allowing the smell of cold air and Clorox to fill your nose. "Help ya." The burgers are always great there, crispy buttered and toasted buns, greasy grilled fried hamburger patty. It's such a tremendous part of my childhood--I love it. I'm guessing these started to spring up when Dairy Queen became huge hit and folks thought they could do the same thing too.
Upon seeing the dam I have to say, it was cool. Very 40's with the rounded concrete arches and such. I had this, "now what" feeling as we drove over the dam. We saw the dam...there was water on one side and just a tiny little stream on the other. My Dad did say that he and his Dad used to come to this spot and fish in a wooden boat. I had a quadrillion questions, but knew that Dad wouldn't really purge so I just asked a few and tried to satisfy my unbelievable hunger for more nostalgia. I get little trickles every now and then. "Let's go on up to the spillway." It, too was a bridge, but man oh man was it cool. This picture to the right shows all of the gates open allowing the water to, spill out. The engineers have calculations of exactly how much water passes through the gates per second and know how fast the river can recede if the gates are open and such. I didn't care about that--the power of rushing water was awesome! We pulled off the side of the road onto a graveled space and got out to take a peek. Get a closer look. I had Teensy so I wasn't allowed to get too close. I'm not sure if Kendra thought the pull of gravity and rushing water would suck her out of my arms or what, but I had to stay back. It's a mom thing.
This picture, to the left, shows the ferocious rush of water. The mist rising from water crashing through to freedom and the sound of the water rushing was quite a spectacle. I could have stood at that spillway for the rest of the day and just watched the water spill. It was really cool. I noticed something interesting while on this dam trip. With every car that stopped (there were about eight or so) while we were gawking only the men got out and went to look at the sight of rushing water. The women stayed in the vehicle read the paper, made their grocery lists, filed their nails, picked their toes, biding their time until their man got back into the car. It was kind of funny to me. Do you think when the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea that things were slowed down by all the men who stopped, gobsmacked by the sight of this Sea parted like fine hair, just held back. All the while women were, "watch out for that rock...don't touch that fish...let's go you don't know how long this water will hold back...sir, will you please get moving it's JUST water." That struck me as funny. I see the same expressions on men when they are planted in the strategically placed chairs of department stores as their women rummage through clothes completely gobsmacked by the beautiful sight of all the pretty fabrics and smell of dye. Just love people watching.
When we got home, Dad went to pick up grandmother as she had not seen Teensy since she was in the NICU. I have to say I was shocked at the sight of my grandma. For my whole life my grandma didn't change. She had this timeless age about her. I'm not saying she was Dick Clark or anything, I'm just saying that she has aged gracefully--until now. She looked old. At 92 the reality is that she is old, but she looked old. Her hands were not the hands of my grandma. Her face was beginning to get that sunken look, just looked old. She, however had not "changed" that much as she was up to her old self which told me that she was still Grandmother. She loved seeing the boys and Teensy and they just looked at her like they look at all of the old ladies who want to love on them at church. Lean in and take it with a smile. Chubbers was a little more vocal, "go way wantchyou."
After supper I took her back home and had a good chat. "See that hotel?" "Yes ma'am." "Well Tig (my cousin Tiger) had this girlfriend stay the night with him after they had a date and he had won all this money playing bingo...well he got up the next morning and she had up and left him high and dry and taken all of his money." I didn't have heart to tell my grandma that he had probably hired her for the night and she took more "tip" than she should have. I don't blame her, you haven't seen my cousin! I was stunned to learn (the hooker story did kind of catch me off guard) that he was a Grandfather! He's only 40 and the grandfather of 3! Holy buckets!
My hometown was very much different in a freaky kind of way. The Pizza Hut that I grew up going to was a nail salon, there's a new one down the road. The McDonald's is still the same, thank God. My high school had added on and changed, but Senior Hill was still there. After dropping her off and saying good bye I drove away wondering if that would be the last time I ever saw her, but put that aside. I had the same feeling I had as a kid and we dropped her off from church, which was very strange. It was the feeling of empathy or sadness, I just get consumed and full inside with this, "I hope she's not lonely" feeling. Hard to express, have you ever felt that way? Can you put it in better words? Hope you know that of which I speak. I love my Grandma and wish her life had been more joyful and happy and that she had shared her love for life with others so that their lives would be happy and joyful. That didn't happen and it's been sad, really sad. But I've tried all my life to build happy memories and rest assured that I did everything I could to be doing the right thing. No regrets.