Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Decade in Review/ 2005

This is the fourth of a series of posts titled "Decade in Review". Each post will be dedicated to one year or at most two, so no one will get bored reading the entire long document! This is a review on the very busy year 2005. Thanks for reading!!
- 2005 -

A major retail change was in store for the Chippewa Falls area in early 2005. The new Walmart that was being constructed near the intersections of the new highway bypasses in Lake Hallie, officially opened its doors to the public on January 26th of 2005. Some people love Walmart, and some hate it, but everyone agrees that when Walmart moves in, people's shopping habits change.
February 8th, 2005, was cold. Cold enough that most people wouldn't spend more time than necessary outdoors. My sister's dog however was outside, and seemed totally crazy about the blue spruce, so my sister had to go out to investigate. She found a little white creature perched angrily in the tree, just out of reach of the dog. It appeared to be a very tiny cat. Not about to be grabbed however, it leaped from the tree and took off with the dog in hot pursuit. Taking refuge behind some lattice, it hoped everyone would go away. After taking control of the dog however, my sister managed to capture the tiny but very fierce kitten who bit her coat and growled all the way back to the house. We suspect that his poor attitude stemmed from some previous abuse that was obvious upon close examination. After some cleanup, proper care, and vet treatment, he began to grow and has now become a large tomcat! (he's still fierce, although one of the biggest cowards we have!) We named him Percival, although his main nickname is Great White.

A highlight for my sister and I occurred on March 19, 2005, when we sang at an open mike night at Barnabas Christian Coffeehouse. As the “stars” of the evening, we were asked to definitely consider returning!! Never mind that it was our first time ever performing on stage or with microphones! We had put on concerts for Grandpa and Grandma a few times before however, so performing in front of people wasn't totally brand-new. After that, we tried to attend most of the open mikes that came along there over the next 2 years.

Oh one more thing, I officially graduated from high school in 2005!!

The summer of 2005 was hot, especially in July. There was one heat wave in excess of 100 degrees, with a maximum for the year of 102 degrees on July 16th, 2005. When it gets that hot, I guess you eventually pay for it, as we learned a few days later.
The morning dawned hot and sticky, on July 23rd, 2005. By 10 am, it was nearly 80 degrees and the wind was zero. It was not exactly cloudy, but it wasn't sunny either, just kind of a very thick haze that made the sky a washed out whitish gray. Things began to slowly darken throughout the late morning, and although I had not been listening to the weather reports, I grew suspicious. About 11:40 am, as I was getting even more suspicious of the weather, I heard a vehicle go by on the road, his windows down, and the radio on with the tell-tale beeeeep...beeeeep...beeeeep of a severe weather statement. On high alert now, I rushed around telling everyone that there was a major storm of some sort blowing in. I then ran back to the house to check it out. Deciding it was a waste of time to try to learn anything off the radio, I grabbed my camera and went to the window. As I scanned the sky down toward the horizon, the subtle grays that had been gradually darkening throughout the morning had suddenly darkened into a very dark line across the bottom of the entire western horizon. I stood transfixed, watching the sky, as the dark line raced across the sky toward me. As it drew near, I observed that behind the initial dark-hanging clouds, the sky was an eerie yellowish blue-green. As I didn't see any tornadoes, I continued to watch... as the tornado siren began to sound. By this time, everyone else was in the house (I think) and were attempting to coax me down the basement. I took one more picture just before the dark part of the line moved overhead, and it's pretty easy to imagine how it was, just by looking at the photos now! It was now noon, and from the basement, we watched as a terrific wind roared relentlessly for about 20 minutes, and the rain poured down in torrents. From there we couldn't immediately tell if the storm was any stronger than any of the other windy thunderstorms that had blown through here recently. After the storm had passed however, there was no doubt. A quick scan of the nursery turned up several large trees that had been toppled by the storm, and at our other piece of land up the road, our huge old black oak tree had been unceremoniously snapped off about 15 feet up, crashed down and had narrowly missed the building. Wind speed reports for the area were generally around 80 miles an hour, with 78 mph reported at the airport. Upon further investigation, I found that some areas had fared worse than we had. In Irvine Park, the entire upper park was closed off for some time due to fallen trees. It looked like a war zone, as about 35 percent of the trees were broken off or uprooted throughout a large section of the upper park, especially above Glen Loch. Also, down by Eau Claire, some trees were snapped off at the base; totally leveled, and others were uprooted. Some headlines compared the storm, although distantly, to the massive windstorm of July 15th, 1980, which roared through with sustained winds well in excess of 100 mph. This storm was not as widespread as 1980 however, only damaging a swath from about Houlton and Hudson, along Hwy 64 and 29 to about Stanley, WI. The 1980 storm damaged a couple hundred mile swath from Eastern MN across Western WI, all the way down to at least Steven's Point.

As you can see, locally, the July 23rd storm was definitely the highlight of the year, as well as being aptly titled the “windstorm of the decade”.

The new Hwy 29 that had been constructed past our place in 2002 was finally ready for public use. Crews had been working on various segments over the past couple of years, and finally the concrete contractors had finished the paving.
On August 15th, 2005, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Hwy 29 Chippewa River bridges. The next day, August 16, 2005, the first public traffic was police-escorted down the brand new corridor of Highway 29, completing the 4-lane link from I-94 to Green Bay, and erasing the legacy of the old 2-lane “bloody 29”. Tipped off by a police officer a few days earlier, I was waiting with my camera in hand to photograph the historic event.
Nationally, but particularly in New Orleans, the storm that put 2005 on the books was not the Wisconsin windstorm, but massive Hurricane Katrina that put much of the city of New Orleans under water. August 29th, 2005, was the day that Katrina struck, and despite dire forecasts, unfortunately no one was ready for it. Of course problems surfaced immediately, such as the lack of preventative maintenance on many key levees that were supposed to protect the city and abandoned hospitals. There are many other allegations surrounding the handling of the disaster by the government, and I am not qualified to comment on whether they are true or not. All I can say is that Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters ever to strike our nation.

On October 2, 2005, I took the first of my record-setting bike rides. On this one, I rode down the Chippewa River Trail down through Eau Claire, and most of the way to Durand before taking a 2 mile shortcut up the Red Cedar trail toward Menominee. I had to turn around then, as it was getting late. My final mileage on that ride was 79.33 miles.

October 16, 2005, will always be remembered by the residents of Chippewa Falls. In the early morning hours, a motorcoach containing members of the Chippewa Falls High School Marching Band, including the band director, was traveling on I-94, returning from a marching band competition at UW Whitewater. Unbeknown to the driver of the bus, a semi trailer driven by the now infamous Michael Koslowski had just jackknifed across both west-bound lanes of the interstate. As the bus crested the hill, about 2 miles north of Osseo, the jackknifed rig was just out of the range of the bus headlights. By the time the bus driver saw the wreck, it was too late to stop. Saving the bus from rolling, he took the only other option available to him and hit the wreck squarely. That crash will haunt those who were on the bus and their friends for years. Along with the bus driver, those killed in the crash include the band director, his wife and granddaughter, and a student teacher. Thankfully, all the students survived, though a few with serious injuries.

Now you ask, “Did anything good happen in 2005??” Well, I'd have to say yes, though sometimes it might be hard to see! Take my brother's wedding for example; I think that might qualify! The wedding of my brother Timothy was set to occur in Ohio, where his girlfriend was from. Now Ohio was a long trip for us, but my uncle offered to do most of the driving, so we agreed to go. We secured some reliable help in taking care of our animals, and left in the early morning hours of November 17, 2005. Driving all day, trading off drivers along the way, and periodically stopping to eat, I-80, LaPorte Indiana
...we finally arrived at our destination in central Ohio about 9 pm EST on November 17. The trip was such a whirlwind that I don't remember much that really impressed me about Ohio, especially since most of the time I saw Ohio, it was dark! The wedding ceremony occurred on November 18th, with the reception dinner immediately following. Now my brother is Mennonite, and I guess I must say that I am glad I am NOT Mennonite, because I definitely don't intend to have a stilted and strange wedding such as his, but anyway, enough on that! We left soon after the reception, to drive as far as Cleveland Ohio, where my uncle had booked motel rooms. The next day, we took a side trip through Chicago, and stopped at the Lincoln Park Zoo near Lake Michigan. After taking a leisurely walk around there (I have to go back sometime; that was fun!) we left, and my uncle drove us through downtown Chicago. That was something to see! I had never been downtown in a huge city before, only through the outskirts, so that was an experience!! After Chicago, we headed home, completing the last leg of our whirlwind Ohio trip. Once home we collapsed and attempted to catch up on the sleep we had not gotten during the trip!

>>><<<>>To Be Continued<<>>><<<

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