Visiting the Soo Locks; Engineers in Iraq; Happy Festive Season
We stayed in a rustic cabin near Brimley, Michigan for two weeks, and ran wild through the woods and in a rowboat on the bay while our parents visited with friends in the next cabin. As an educational side trip, we visited the Soo Locks, watched a ship pass through, and visited the Canadian side - the first any of us kids had ever been out of the United States.
I kept a diary and took photos, carefully describing the pictures in my album: "Wilfred Sykes coming through Soo locks", the locks, the Canadian shore, the rail of the Macinaw Bridge.
George Wharton, writing on boatnerd.com, reports that the Wilfred Sykes, built in 1949, was "the first new American-built Great Lakes vessel constructed after World War II." I was happy to see that she is still in service, transporting taconite after carrying steel for the first 50 years of her life. All this retrospection highlights the fact that that vacation was 50 years ago. My sisters are all retired and I am still writing about the maritime world.
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As 2008 ends, the stock market is languishing and we here at IDR are waiting to see what 2009 will bring.
This magazine has weathered other storms, including the year 1983, when George Watts told me that he had not seen things as bad in 20 years in dredging. I changed to an inexpensive printing method on newsprint, and kept that up for about a year until things got better. I'm hoping that the relatively good business climate in the shipping and dredging industries will keep our advertisers with us. Our major purpose is to provide an information vehicle for the dredging industry, and we will continue to do that.
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The Corps of Engineers mission in Iraq includes rebuilding an infrastructure that has been widely looted and destroyed. The Corps web site contains many personal stories by engineers who are finding satisfaction in this difficult task.
My nephew Maj. Phil Dacunto is stationed in Iraq with the 14th Engineer Battalion from Fort Lewis, Washington, and he wrote home in November that he and a group of friends had visited the ancient site of Ur, said to contain Abraham's house as well as the pyramid-like Ziggurat.
That was on one of their good days. The day after Thanksgiving he wrote to describe a nightmarish trip and 16-hour traffic jam in the desert that he thought gave credence to Thanksgiving as the worst travel day of the year -- one of those situations where you look back on it and laugh, but it's not too funny at the time.
My Scottish friends say that this time of year is known in Scotland as the Festive Season, which I think is a nice way of including all the observances humankind celebrates in December and January. So the staff of IDR wishes you all a wonderful Festive Season, wherever you are in the world - the Middle East, the East, or the West - and peace and prosperity in this coming year.