On July 19th, 2010, a tornado with ripped through the small town of Eagle, WI, bearing winds of between 111 mph and 135 mph. It cut a swath 4 miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, destroying at least 25 homes and damaging hundreds more.
Last November I drove through Eagle on my way back from southeastern Wisconsin, on a cold but sunny day. I was just taking the road less traveled, doing what my co-worker calls "getting your nose dirty" by riding the backroads and keeping your eyes open. "Try a road you have never been on, and hook them all together," he says. So I was.
By November much of the storm's damage had been cleared away, but the thing that struck me as I rolled into town was the cemetery.
The row of oaks along the east side had been snapped off five to six feet off the ground right down the line, and the oldest of the trees had been literally topped. Snapped in half as it were. Sad to see, but awesome nature none the less.
It's kind of a spooky old place, even on a sunny day. There is a "Boot Hill" in the middle of the lot, complete with dilapidated concrete crypt housing the town's founding fathers, I guess. Or maybe it's a keep for the local voodoo queen, who departed after "mysterious circumstances". (I'm making that up. I think.)
I wanted to come back for the evening light and get the tangles of the trees silhouetted against the sunset, but it was not to be, not on this day at least.
The city had done a good job cleaning things up, but bearing in mind this was five months later, there were still many trees to limb, and still this massive pile of huge ancient oak to sort out.
Some nice table-top and furniture material there. I vowed I would go back in the evening someday, just to see if my spooky impressions were correct. I'll have to check the sun tables and see when the sun is on line to "go down" over Boot Hill.
These next photos I didn't take myself, but borrowed them from Wikipedia, after one of those, "I'm looking for something else, but WHAT THE HELL IS THAT...?!" searches.
Turns out this unique vehicle is called an "Amphirol," designed and built in the southwest Netherlands in he 1960s.
It is a "screw-propelled vehicle," with it's propulsion provided by two large, hollow worm gears that it rides upon.
The Amphirol is able to navigate the sticky clay revealed by the outgoing tides and, owing to the hollow tubes, "swim" through the water during high tides.
|Note the beached boats in the background.|
However by adapting two independent transmission units, it makes it possible for the screw cylinders to be deliberately driven in the same direction, so that the vehicle can crab sideways on dry land at the rather alarming speed of 19 MPH.
When moving sideways, steering is effected by angling the front of the cylinders so that they are no longer parallel – giving it a large minimum turning radius. This lends it to modern-day purposes, such as compacting tailings from industrial processes.
Primarily though, Amphirols are used for ground surveying, grooving the surfaces of newly drained polders to assist with drying, and to carry soil-drilling teams to remote, barely accessible locations.
I want one. Or at least I want to drive one. I also want to drive a Sno-Cat too. I might have a more realistic chance at that. I know where one is anyway.
Here's some more links about screw-driven and similar vehicles, including an early "snowmobile." And one with the Ampirol on a cool old Pathé newsreel, fighting fires and running the polders in Holland.
Last but not least, just a photo I personally need to see in the middle of February: one of our favorite beaches on Lake Michigan, in the middle of summer.
This beach is a little south of Two Rivers, WI, and it's great.
The dog loves it. Seems like it's always uncrowded, good for meandering down and pondering the world, and it has a sand bar that goes out into the lake for many dozens of yards. Kind of the epitome of a sandy Great Lakes beach in my mind.
Here it is on a little bit of a wilder day.
Okay, back to spring cleaning, and daydreaming about driving weird vehicles.