Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yellow River News

Hi Guy's,

Sounds like you have been having a fun summer and are either too busy or bored and could use a blog entry so here is one if you want it, sorry we still haven't gone digital so no pics.

Jayne and I just got back from a weeks stay up at Yellow River, had a great time visiting with everyone and the weather was good. They had some really nasty floods up there this year, luckily we missed out on the worst of it. Just before Labor Day they had 15 inches of rain in 4 days.

The creek came up so high that it went over the top of the pedestrian bridges at the crossings and the water came to within 10 feet of Charlie's trailer. Everything in the first part of the campground upstream of Charlie's spot was under water.

There were some people trapped in the back but they were able to get out the next day. Rylan (the Park Ranger) closed the entire campground for a week because parts of it were still flooded and where there wasn't standing water the ground was so soft that you couldn't park a camper.

This year we started a new routine up there. When we there over Mothers Day, Rylan asked me if I would do some volunteer work when we came up for two weeks the end of June and the first of July because Harold, who works at the park was going to be on vacation the second week of our stay. The deal was I would work a couple of days when Harold was gone and could camp the two weeks for free.

Now remember the camping there is $9.00 per night so we aren't talking engineers wages, but I like to help them out so I agreed to do the work. The first week we were there Rylan was on vacation so Harold and Dick (another camp host who also works at the park) saw an opportunity and worked me Tuesday and Wednesday mowing. Now when you sign up to do this volunteer work you a technically a State employee so you are covered by workman's comp and if you throw a rock through a windshield while mowing the person goes after the state and not me.

Well I was suppose to have Thursday off but that changed quickly. Charlie and Grace had to go home that morning for doctors appointments and a graduation and would be back the next Tuesday. Harold and Dick were going to finish up a few chores and call it a week, they don't work on Fridays. Since Rylan was still on vacation this was going to leave Dick in charge until Rylan returned Sunday night.

Well Charlie drove over to our camper at 6:30 Thursday morning and started honking his horn and shouting, I through on some pants and a shirt and stumbled out. I got up to his truck and he said I was going to be busy as hell, Dick had a heart attack and drove himself to Prairie last night and then they flew him to Lacrosse. So he gave me the keys to his camper, the tool trailer, gator, A-Frame building and the sawmill headquarters and said I have to go your in charge !!

I slowed him down enough to ask him how Dick was but he didn't know much. It ends up that Dick is recovering but won't be able to return to work. So I went and looked Harold up and helped him finish things up all day. Had to spend the rest of the weekend cleaning outhouse and riding around on the gator answering everyone's questions since no one else was around.

Rylan got back Sunday night thankfully, but said now he was really short help for the next week. He recruited his father in law who was also on vacation then to help us out. Needless to say what was suppose to be two days of working to camp for free turned into about 70 hours of mowing, cleaning outhouses and scooping horse poop.

Oh well it was a change from the normal grind. While we were up there this time I only spend 19 hours mowing. Rylan had me do that so Harold, John (another volunteer) and himself could clear a huge log jam left by the flood at the first fishing hole in the camp. I felt sorry for those guy's but even sorrier for the chainsaws, I didn't know those things could run under water !!

Wednesday was Charlie's 81st birthday so I had to do the 21.5 pound turkey over the campfire while mowing for the pot luck that night. Sorry you missed out this year Rex. It was a challenge cooking the turkey while mowing, had to make a lot of trips back to check the fire, but the worst part was not being able to have a beer as the State won't let you drink while working. Last year with Rex helping we keep telling everybody the turkey would be done when we were, and we weren't too far off.

That's about it for Yellow River this year, Charlie and Grace think they will be back next year if their health stays good.

Mary, If you and Nikki get close to Indianola on your way back you are more than welcome to stay at our place for the night and have some dinner, it would be great to visit for a while. Give us a call if you think you can stop by.

Travel well our friends,

Mark Hutchens,
P.E.Civil Engineer II
City of Des MoinesEngineering Department
515 283-4045