Tag Archives: Denver

Taking Flak: Denver Names and History

I’ll probably take some flak for writing this essay.  Oh well, I have before, and I probably will again. 

Recently I took a bus to downtown Denver for an event.  Why the bus? Traffic and parking anywhere near there are just another form of self-inflicted brain damage. And I don’t need any more of that than is absolutely necessary. Just ask my wife; or my neurologist.

Just after exiting I-25, the bus came to a stop right behind center field of the baseball stadium called Coors Field – the Colorado Rockies’ home park.  I got to wondering about the street names at the intersection:  Park and Wewatta.

Surely Park was not named after the ball park.  That didn’t come until 1995. So … what was the street named after? Or for?  I could not think of a significant park along its diagonal path, from northwest to southeast. In fact, after consulting a map, it does not have one. It surely did not really come that close to City Park, or the Park Hill neighborhoods.   

What to say about Denver’s Park Avenue? How many times did Audrey and I traverse its entire length en route to the old Children’s Hospital?  How many grains of sand in a bucket?

First to discuss is the non-cardinal direction of Park Avenue, and all the streets in downtown Denver.  The city, and its twin – competing – city Auraria, were founded during the early years of the first Colorado gold rush, in the late 1850s, at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek – water being very important to civilization in the arid west.  The original streets naturally ran parallel and perpendicular to the water flow there: Cherry Creek enters the South Platte at nearly a right angle; Cherry Creek flowing from southeast to northwest, and the South Platte flowing from southwest to northeast.

Streets were numbered moving northeast away from the city’s southwest-most corner. The street that would one day be called Park Avenue was then called 23rd street.  Around 1873 there was a major city effort on improving street naming conventions, and – for reasons I have yet to discover – 23rd street was re-named Park Avenue.

I found a great interactive map of Denver made in 1878 with almost infinite zoom – I surely thought that would help me. But there were no parks along Park Avenue. 

Park Avenue does cross over the the South Platte River, and its flood plain. Maybe some land there was set aside – as a sort of park – before the railyard there became so expansive. Surely you wouldn’t build where it could flood.  [There has not been a severe flood of Denver from the South Platte since 1965.  Flood control has improved greatly.  Building on that flood plain used to be a dicey proposition. Now it is cluttered with buildings, many of them apartments and condos].

Perhaps it was wishful thinking about “Parks of times yet to come” –  (Denver does, indeed, have many parks) – maybe someday there would be a park at the end of the Park Avenue.  The “end” is where it meets Colfax Avenue, and yields to the more traditional North-South-East-West grid found throughout the rest of the Denver area, and many “planned cities” everywhere.  

Or perhaps, Park Avenue was named after something else. 

Plenty of things in America, particularly the west, are named after other things and other places well-known further east – whether “further east” is somewhere in America, or across the Atlantic.  One of our former “hometowns” – Erie, Colorado – was named after Erie, Pennsylvania … each one hardly a “wonderland.”

“Park” is the fifth most common street name in the United States, according to the National League of Cities (NLC).  [Oddly, #1 on the list is “Second”, or “2nd”.  I assume “First” sometimes gets renamed to Front, or Main, as it is still is #3 on the list].

Probably the most well-known Park-named street is Park Avenue, linking Manhattan and Harlem in New York. And indeed, it was named after a park – sort of, anyhow.  It was originally 4th Avenue, but a rail line was built along its length in the 1830s, connecting the two neighborhoods.  To minimize slope, a cut was made through Murray Hill.  Once the rail line was in, it was covered with grates and grass in the 1850s, which became a sort of common area known as “the park.”  Grand Central Station is there now.

I cannot tell you why Denver’s street is called Park Avenue. For now, I’m going with Denver’s Park Avenue being named after New York’s famous and more glamorous Park Avenue.

It’s a bit quicker to get the source of the names of three “W” streets lumped close together, starting with the intersection where the bus stopped, near Coors Field: those are Wewatta, Wynkoop and Wazee Streets.

 Wynkoop Street.   Edward Wynkoop was one of the first white settlers in Denver, one of its founders, and was appointed the first sheriff of the county and territory in which Denver lay at the time (Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory). 

When the Civil War broke out, and there seemed to be a need for soldiers (there were actually some battles in the west), Wynkoop was part of the 1st Colorado Volunteer Cavalry and became an officer.  Both as sheriff and as commander at Fort Lyons in Colorado (some 150 miles to the southeast of Denver), he tried – in vain – to promote peaceful relations between Denverites and the local Amerindians, mostly the Arapahoe tribes. 

Unfortunately, in late 1864, he was re-assigned further east, to Fort Riley (in modern day Kansas).  Only a few weeks later, on November 29, 1864, one of the saddest, bloodiest, and tragic crimes in Colorado history was perpetrated near Fort Lyons along the banks of Sand Creek.  Under the “leadership” of John Chivington, several hundred mostly Arapahoe and Cheyenne Amerindians, who had camped near Ft Lyon under the promise of protection, were attacked and butchered without warning.  We still mourn the event, a black spot on America’s soul and history, now known as the Sand Creek Massacre. 

The location is now, finally, federally protected as a National Historical Site, and part of the National Park System.

Not exactly a savory bit of history, but it closes the loop on the Wynkoop street name.  To put a better looking ribbon on the story we’ll continue, to well over 100 years later. 1988, a few guys with an urge to make beer, and not much else to do, got together and founded the first micro-brewery in Colorado: Wynkoop Brewery, right there on Wynkoop Street.  One of those guys was an unemployed, laid off geologist named John Hickenlooper.  After a very successful business career at Wynkoop, he went on to become mayor of Denver, governor of Colorado and is currently a candidate for president of the United States.  It seems likely that “Hick” will change horses and run for US Senator … we shall see.

Wynkoop Brewery is still a fantastic setting to have a craft beer, chat with Kurt the bartender about ANYTHING related to sports, get a burger, and catch up with friends.  And it’s only a few blocks from many good things to do and see in Denver, including catch a Rockies game at Coors Field.

Wazee, Wewatta.  Another of Denver’s founders and early residents was a “mountain man” who began life in Scotland, William McGaa (Also known as McGau). He kept moving farther and farther west, finally settling at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte. He had lived, on-and-off for several years, among the Arapahoe. He had a reputation as a rather unruly vagrant. 

He began naming some early streets, including one after himself and two after his Arapahoe wives, naming three parallel streets (evidently skipping a block each time) as McGaa, Wazee and Wewatta.  McGaa’s own street (where he apparently lived a while) became quite notorious as a street full of grifters, drunks, prostitutes and gamblers.  At the time it carried the nickname “America’s most lawless street.”

[According to legend, McGaa also named Champa after himself, claiming it was one of his Amerindian names. Champa is still called that today]

The names of his Arapahoe wives, Wazee and Wewatta, still adorn downtown Denver street signs over 150 years later.  McGaa, ever the prototypical, free-spirited, western mountain man, was not really cut-out for city living – even a city as new and raw as Denver.  He himself was a regular rapscallion there on McGaa Street; notorious for his excessive drinking, gaming and womanizing.

Not unsurprisingly, McGaa kicked-off a tad young, age 43, in 1867.  Upon his death, and seeing no reason to preserve his name, Denver changed the street name to Holladay.  This was to honor Ben Holladay, a successful businessman who had developed the Overland Stagecoach Trail and the Overland Mail Trail. Denver essentially recognized his – and the trails’ – contributions to the city’s early economic development.

Overland Trail as spur to Oregon/California Trails

Unfortunately, due to the circumstances of the era – and unfortunately for Holladay himself – the street continued to be home to much of Denver’s amoral behavior and business.  Two years after Holladay’s death, and under petition from Holladay’s family, the city changed the name again, in 1889, to Market Street. Not really being a market street, per se, city historians believe this was done with a smirk and a wink to acknowledge all the “activities” going on there.  It still carries that name Market, yet now has a much cleaner image.

There’s an old saying “If you are taking flak, then you must be close to the target.” Flak is an interesting word, isn’t it?  You, dear reader, might feel like flinging some “flak” at me right now. In that case, I’m over the target.

It’s a term that comes from WW2, and it’s interesting that we English speakers don’t use the term “ack-ack” instead.  Both terms have similar military jargon origins. 

In early electronic communication – both telephonic and wireless – words, and even spelling, could be confusing.  The Brits came up with using “ack” instead of saying the letter “a”; because even saying “a” could be misinterpreted (like a bad cell phone connection), especially given dialects which might prefer “ah”, “ay” or even “eh”.  Anti-Aircraft fire simply became abbreviated as “ack-ack”, which they started using in WW1.  Somehow, we Americans never really picked it up, not doing much flying “over there.”

Flak has a more curious germination. I deciphered it recently while wading through William Manchester’s exceeding dense history of Germany’s most famous industrialist family, the Krupps.  Flak comes directly from German “Fliegerabwehrkanonen”; or literally “Flight Defense Cannons.”  Germans, of course, having that propensity to smash words together. In there we can detect Cannons (Kanonen), Defense (Abwehr) and Flight (Fleig-) … in this just a single word!  [As usual, almost always in reverse order of significance: just think: Flieger Abwehr Kanonen; Or: guns defending against flight … easy, huh?].

How or why the Allies began using the German term “flak” is still a mystery to me.  But, it does seem to have better flow and onomatopoetic value, does it not?

Well I’ve drifted rather a long way from Park, Wewatta, Wazee, Denver, baseball and apple pie. So, I’d better quit before I catch any flak – which originally would refer to the guns that are shooting at us,  – and not  the nasty stuff that might hit us!

Peace, take care, and remember: if you’re taking ack-ack, you’re close to the target!

Joe Girard © 2019

Thanks for reading. As always, you can add yourself to the notification list for when there is newly published material by clicking here. Or emailing me at Joe@Girardmeister.com.

Hate and Love: A Brief Essay on Race in America

Hate and Love: A Short Conversation on Race in America

The Clayton area of Denver is a historic neighborhood of vast cultural and architectural diversity, dating back to around 1880 – just about the time Colorado became a state. Unfortunately, Clayton currently also has one of the highest rates of crime of any of Denver’s 78 neighborhoods.

This past weekend a really awful crime was committed on personal property in Clayton; a family’s home was defaced with racist graffiti, shown here. As reported in the Denver Post, the family has decided to leave these most distasteful markings on display to show what is going on in their neighborhood. [1]

Hate graffiti, Denver. By Sam Tabachnik, Denver Post

Racism exists. It’s a fact that we’d often rather not be reminded of – especially in normally placid neighborhoods and social gatherings of white-collar light skin people – across the country.

Racism. It can be explained as ignorant; but that does not excuse it. It can be explained as something that is learned from family, or peers; but that does not excuse it. No explanation can excuse it.

Despite regular occurrence and reporting of such “real” hate crimes, I bring hope. A fair look at ourselves shows trends that among we Americans such dark, putrid idiocy is becoming a waning part of who we are as a country.

For evidence, I will herein only address the topic of interracial marriage, and our attitude toward it.

When, in 1967, the Supreme Court pronounced its unanimous 9-0 decision in Loving v Virginia – thus giving the Lovings and every other couple the sacred human right to marry whomever they love, regardless of race or where they live – only about 3% of marriages in the US were interracial. Today that number is over 17% – or more than one of every six. That is astounding, and it is good news.

Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving

More important, I believe, is the overall acceptance of interracial marriages. In 1958 approval of mixed black-white marriages stood at 4%. Today it is near 90%. Those ignorant bastards are a shrinking minority, and the trend is irreversible. I say: Good.

The internet has helped. So many seekers have gone in quest of extra-racial soulmates that sites have sprung up just for such searchers. Supply meets demand.

It’s not just apparent to me as I walk through airports, stores, museums, parks and zoos. I’ve noticed that TV ads, cereal boxes and store posters regularly show mixed-race families… With children.

Add to that the increasing frequency of inter-faith marriages. According to Pew Research, this has more than doubled from 1960 to 2014: from 18% to 39%. One easily suspects it is even higher now.

Taking both together (interfaith and interracial) the arithmetic says that well over one-half of marriages in the US are now very mixed by any standard, especially standards before 1960. This is a good thing, and a great positive point to keep in mind when confronted with the divisiveness so prevalent in our modern media and communications. The evidence suggests that most people can see through differences and get to agreement … even love.

On another tangent, I presume there are additional mixed couples who cross political boundaries. Well, good for them! In the current environment, it’s understandable that those numbers seem to be dwindling.

Back to interracial marriages and their beautiful mixed-race offspring. I will cite three of the most accomplished and good looking:

  • Barack Obama (½ black, ½ white);
  • Jennifer Lopez (Puerto Rican with mostly unknown mix of Spanish, Amerindian, Black); and
  • Tiger Woods (½ Asian, ¼ Black, 1/8 White, 1/8 Amerindian).
  • — [Let’s leave politics and life-style choices aside … but I’ll venture to mention that Woods did take a very blonde Swedish wife … who infamously did take a 9-iron to his car’s rear window – and to part of his cheek bone.]

I don’t expect that racism and the stupid, ignorant, hateful acts that come with it will completely disappear in my remaining lifespan. Or even my children’s. But the trend is real and irreversible. Thus, I do have hope that the simple, honest light of human love and dignity will continue to shine into the dark corners of hate whenever and wherever possible, and thereby extinguish that darkness before the 21st century ends.

Or, more simply: React to hating with Loving.


Joe Girard © 2019

Update note: the 17+% interracial marriage statistic includes all possibilities, not just black-white.  This is: all possible pairings of Amerindian, Asian, Black, Latino and European White.

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To contact Joe just email him at joe@girardmeister.com


[1] Hate Crime / Spray Paint in Denver: https://www.denverpost.com/2019/03/05/racist-graffiti-denver/

[2] About the Clayton Neighborhood, Denver: https://claytondenver.org/

[3] Another source on frequency of interracial marriages: https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2017/0706/Growing-acceptance-of-interracial-marriage-in-US

Dam Good Flow Control

To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities; that is the basis of the American art …” – Mark Twain (How to Tell a Story).

Like most who’ve dwelt for any length of time along the Colorado Rocky Mountains I have a habit of regularly quaffing water through most days. Sometimes copiously. Given our semi-arid climate, mile high altitude and generally active life styles – all circumstances that lead to high rates of water expiration – keeping hydrated is never far from our minds. In fact, in many ways for us just east of Colorado’s mountain divide, water is very important – whether we know it or not.

Typical Weekend Jam on I-70, west of Denver, CO

Typical Weekend Jam on I-70, west of Denver, CO

The westward drive along I-70 from Denver, winding up into Colorado’s scenic Rocky Mountains, can provide both eye-popping and ear-popping exhilaration. The type of high elevation experience you get depends largely on the wild mountain weather, road conditions, time of day, your attitude, and – sometimes – flow control. Traffic flow control. Sometimes it moves swiftly; yet often it slows to a crawl (or slower) … so popular and loved are these mountains. And subject to the whims of weather.

A very few miles after you exit the Eisenhower Tunnel [1] (completing your passage under the continental divide), after twisting down and around a few bends, you are treated to the view of the Dillon Reservoir [2]. At about 9,000 feet elevation, and covering over 30,000 acres, the man-made lake lies, more or less, between the mountains of the Great Divide on the east, and the Gore Range and Tenmile Range on the west.

Approaching Dillon Reservoir descending along I-70

Approaching Dillon Reservoir descending along I-70

Most winters find it frozen-over solid for at least part of the season. On summer days its surface is bedecked with sail boats and usually a few kayaks and canoes. Most evenings are clear and you’re likely to catch a lunar reflection, or even a stellar reflection. Buffalo Mountain, magnificently dome-shaped and looming visibly from nearly every point in the Dillon basin, is likely to have a bit of snow on it even in summer. Within all that is a glimpse back into history.

Long before there was a Dillon Reservoir, way back in the first decade of the 20th century, during the Edwardian Era, Denver’s long, lustful and thirsty gaze finally began crystalizing into a vision of conquest: it yearned to own the water of the Blue river basin.

As Denver’s population surged past 150,000 – part of its 50% growth in that decade – and no end in sight to its growth – city planners knew there would always be demand for water. Denver has virtually no physical boundaries to expansion, and it enjoys a dry, semi-arid climate.

The 19th century Colorado gold rushes led Tom Dillon to set up the first settlement near the confluence of three mountain rivers in 1859. These were the Snake River, the Blue River, and Tenmile Creek. The settlement became incorporated into the Town of Dillon in 1883. Much of the population of a few hundred was connected, directly or indirectly, to the extraction of gold, particularly farther south up the Blue River, near Breckenridge.

The town was moved twice, just a mile or two, in order to accommodate better service from rail lines. But, when the gold rush slowed down, the Town of Dillon and the Blue River region stopped growing and slowly began shrinking. Still they hung on … and on. Many people left for Denver or other cities and towns with better prospects, and ranching became the main commerce of the area. A third move for the Town of Dillon – much more significant and decades hence – was yet to come.

The Great Depression gave Denver the opportunity they sought. Dillon’s population crashed: from over 800 to fewer than 100. Denver’s Water Board began buying up the land in and around Dillon at bargain basement prices, primarily via tax liens. When they had 75% it was enough to get serious and file plans with the Federal Government: plans for a great dam across the Blue River. After several rounds of planning and proposals, eventually an achievable and acceptable plan was approved. It included a long, wide earthen dam to be built across a narrow spot in the Blue River valley, just downstream from the three-river confluence.

By the late 1950s the small Town of Dillon’s fate was sealed: its current site would be flooded, deep under a new reservoir, and it would have to endure yet one final move, this time to a hill on a site near the northeast end of a dam yet to be built – far above the river. Many chose not to make the move, instead leaving the area.  At the time of this final move Dillon’s population had dwindled to a mere 57 souls.

The dam itself, which was completed in 1963 and just over a mile in length, is a marvel of engineering and dam good flow control. The flow control consists of four principal flow features.

The first flow control feature is the primary reason for which the dam was constructed. It’s the Harold Roberts Tunnel measuring just over 23 miles long. The tunnel draws water through a 10 foot diameter tube that passes underneath the continental divide, and – with one slight jog – into the North Branch of the South Platte River. As an engineering and geological marvel, the tunnel took about 19 years to complete, beginning in 1942 – although there was some down time for World War II. Once the water enters the South Platte watershed, it is eventually used in the Denver area for washing dishes, bathing, and flushing toilets. About 5% is estimated to be used for landscapes.

Dam flow control feature number two is its hydroelectric plant, operating at nearly 200ft of head. I’m pretty sure it only operates in the late spring and early summer when the mountain runoff is sufficient to keep the reservoir’s level high. At peak it can generate 1.8 Megawatts. If my math is correct, this is enough to provide average electrical power flow to an estimated 1,500 households. [3]

Flow control feature three is actually the primary and most regularly operating feature: gates that permit a fairly steady flow of water downstream to the Blue River of 500 to 1,300 cubic feet per second. The low end keeps both anglers and trout happy; the upper end is achieved during spring run-off and keeps rafters happy. Anything above 1,800 cfs puts the Blue’s channels and rafters at risk. Just very recently flow control feature #3’s six gates were replaced; after 50-years of service they required some updating. [4]

From here the Blue flows generally north, between the Gore Range and the Continental Divide to one more dam, the Green Mountain Dam. This provides more water to the eastern slope via the Colorado-Thompson water project. After another 13 miles, the Blue joins the mighty Colorado River – so mighty it was once called the Grand River – at Kremmling.

Morning Glory Spillway

Morning Glory Spillway

The final form of flow control, feature #4, is sort of a “flow control of last resort” to protect the dam itself. If the water gets much above 9,025 ft elevation the structure of the dam could be at risk. This feature of last resort is the dam’s Morning Glory Spillway, which is set at an elevation of 9,017 feet. The water that “spills” into it, bypasses the gateway and the power plant and goes downstream to the Blue River (This is a few miles from the Thompson Tunnel inlet). [5]

{!!!Warning! This dam feature used to be called “The Glory Hole” – in fact, sometimes local publications still refer to it as such. This term has been used for dams in general for a long, long time. Unfortunately parts of modern culture have appropriated that term for darker usage. If you’d like to find out, go ahead and use an internet search engine – but PLEASE don’t have children in the room. I won’t discuss further and … you have been warned.!!!}

Four main features. That’s a lot of flow control.

The Dillon Dam and Reservoir do a lot more than provide the city of Denver (and its customers and partners) plenty of water… in fact about 40% of their annual water usage, on average. [6] There are ample recreation opportunities too. I’ve mentioned downstream fishing and rafting, as well as sailing, kayaking and canoeing on the reservoir itself.

But there’s more. Around the lake are bicycling, hiking and walking paths. There are parks. There are on- and off-road bike paths with opportunities for wildlife viewing. And there are some campgrounds too.

Near the north bank of the reservoir, just west of the dam itself, is a favorite campground of ours called Heaton Bay. For several years we used to go there at least once a summer. The campground is popular: We’d secure a few adjoining choice sites well in advance for ourselves and some close friends of ours, the Weprins and the Cronks.

Our families and couples (Girards, Weprins and Cronks) are all about the same age, as are our eight combined children. When the kids were all teens we’d love to hangout at the campground for a weekend. The days would be filled with some combination of biking, canoeing, hiking, and grilling. The evenings for BBQ, chatter, singing and beverage sipping. Later at night we’d exchange stories (often scary), drink a bit, and lie on our backs and spot satellites passing overhead, and sometimes the occasional shooting star.

Truth be told, the later hours included burping, farting, and – eventually – snoring.

It was probably about 10 years ago that we three families (read: wives and moms) had just such a relaxing weekend organized. The original plan was to arrive early Friday afternoon, and stay until Sunday afternoon.

Plans always have at least one hiccup. I provided that hiccup. I had some task at work that seemed important at the time … and so I could not leave until mid-afternoon. Long ago I forgot what that task was; but I cannot forget what it caused.

So I stayed at work a few extra hours while the family motored up to Dillon Reservoir. No worries. I could just drive up the mountain later, on my own, through the tunnel, and arrive at Heaton Bay … about 90 minutes after departing … and still avoid rush hour and arrive in plenty of time for dinner.

By 1:30 I’d finished work, gone home, and loaded my car with my clothes and gear pre-staged the evening before. As I left the house I satisfied my usual habit of grabbing a water bottle for the road. It’s important to stay hydrated in Colorado (see above). I was feeling a bit dried out already due to busy day, so I grabbed a bottle that was bit larger than normal for me, at a generous 24-oz (~0.75 liter).

And off I went. I made great time down to Golden, the last town with easy access to gas stations, provisions and facilities, before getting onto I-70. Gosh I was making great time, especially for a Friday. As I passed the last easily-accessed gas station I glanced at my gas gage to ensure there’d be enough fuel to comfortably get up to the mountains.

Even though I had plenty of gas I had that feeling like “maybe everything was not okay.” I checked the dashboard: engine running ok, not too hot. I knew the tires were filled right. All my clothes were packed; at home I’d verified all doors were locked, appliances turned off. I felt I had enough water, even though my bottle was already less than half full.

Had I forgotten something Audrey wanted me to bring? No. What a great day! I guess maybe everything is okay after all.

About 15 minutes later I was dropping down into the last valley outside Genesee Hill on I-70 before heading up to the divide. Traffic was growing a bit thicker, but still moving briskly, when I received a biological tickle that suggested perhaps something was indeed missed back at Golden: the last good chance to take a pee.

No worries. Snappy traffic with sane Colorado drivers and a beautiful clear-sky day. I’ll be in Heaton Bay in well  under an hour.

15 minutes later, I finished the water bottle while rounding a curve and approaching the eastern outskirts of Idaho Springs in the left lane at about 70mph. That’s when I saw it – a tremendous parking lot along the westbound lanes. Everything had come to a complete stop for a far as the eye could see.

Complete. Stand. Still. Now aware of my filling bladder, I wondered if I could force my way off the freeway. No dice: bumper-to-bumper. I’m feeling a little tense.

Five minutes. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. There really is no way to get out and pee…privately. Traffic news says that recent rains have caused a large mudslide just west of Idaho Springs.

The slide is all the way across both lanes of westbound traffic.

For distraction I call Audrey. I might be late.

Perhaps at this point I wasn’t thinking logically. The adult bladder can comfortably hold up to about 1/3 liter. Uncomfortably perhaps ½ liter, or a bit more. I’d just consumed ¾ liter. Plus I’d had some coffee and tea before that. My rear molars were preparing to do the backstroke.

Once the bladders are quite full, the ureters can no longer disgorge urine; backpressure builds up into the kidneys.

The kidneys’ reaction is to slow, and eventually cease removing fluids and toxins from the blood stream.

When toxins are no longer removed, the muscles grow weak, the eyes grow bleary and the brain’s processes are less than optimal.

How much fluid in my bladder now? Well, I recalled that once after a surgery, under narcotics for pain control, my urinary system stopped. Completely. Finally, after what seemed forever, I suddenly spewed forth nearly one full liter. [Nurses are compelled to measure such things.]

I got the (obvious) idea to use the now empty water bottle as a receptacle. Could I manage?

I began studying the woman in the large Chevy Yukon beside me. Would she notice if I did my own great “Southern Exposure”? Perhaps not, if I timed it correctly.

This would be my own exercise in damn good flow control… I had no interest in spillage. A further challenge to flow control: once the dam’s gateway was open, how would it stop at the bottle’s ¾ liter capacity when as much as a liter could be required?

At this level of desperation there is only one method of flow control: damn good will-power.

I have a bit of a sensitive nose, and so I’ve been known to sneeze … suddenly and violently. As the barn door opened and the plumbing interfaces successfully engaged for a tight connection … I got the tickle. The nose tickle.

Focus Joe. Focus. If you feel a sneeze coming on, sometimes you can avoid or postpone it by breathing slowly through the mouth, with no air flow over the sensitive nasal hairs.

During this important meditation … focus, focus, stay engaged, breath gently, through the mouth … two things suddenly happened that startled me. One: the lady to my right got curious and glanced into my car. Oh my! The shame! Did she see Little Joe? Two: the car in front of me began to inch forward. Through all of my focus and will power I had failed to notice that far ahead the cars had begun to crawl. The inch-worm wiggle had made its way to me.

Engaged in will-power and mind control – engaged in a tight plumbing connection – I allowed my car to move perhaps one car length. Whereupon the line stopped. Five seconds later it started again … for one more car length. This repeated itself again, and again.

This was going to be “difficult.” I’d say “hard”, but “difficult” is more appropriate. Inching along, with Mrs Kravits (of I Dream of Jeanie, oops, Bewitched [7]) sneaking peaks, the morning glory spillway began to flow.

First a trickle, and then a full throttled torrent cascaded into the previously empty Dysani bottle. The good old ’99 Acura inching along, Gladys Kravits almost hitting the car in front of her … the fluidic seal miraculously held tight and there was no spillage.

Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor. [8]

Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor. [8]

I became aware of the rate the bottle filled by its new warmth. Urine emerges at the full 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit of the body.

One final challenge remained. Enjoying this full and sensational release,… I wondered how my will power – my flow control – how Little Joe would perform in the task of stopping at ¾ liter when there would be so much pleasure to be had in going the distance? So much pleasure in unloading the last full measure of … bodily fluid.

Somehow I managed everything. Keeping a steady distance between cars in stop-and-go traffic. A tight fluid seal. Stopping at 100% bottle volume, with a little something left in my tank … so to speak. Getting the cap neatly back on the bottle. Little Joe back home where he belongs. Good material for nosey Mrs Kravits to have future gossip sessions … or sweet dreams.

Just as mission was accomplished traffic started moving steady. First 1 mph. Then 10mph. Then 15. Then 30. In a few minutes I was passing the mudslide on a single inside lane that had been cleared.

What a mess the road was. But my car, bottle, pants and car seat were not a mess. Whew.

As soon as traffic opened up a bit, and access to the right shoulder opened up too, I spied about 20 cars pulled over with gentlemen who were facing away from the highway.

I couldn’t hold it quite as long as they did. But my flow control was still damn good.


Wishing you safe travels and clean flow.

Joe Girard © 2015



[1] The westbound tunnel is the Eisenhower. Officially the eastbound tunnel is the Johnson Tunnel, although usually both are referred to as “Eisenhower.”

[2] Dillon Reservoir is often referred to as Lake Dillon, or Dillon Lake.

[3] http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3

Average household consumes 911 kWh/month divided by 24hrs/day and divided by 30.4 days/month = average burn rate of 1.2kW.

1.8×106W divided by 1.2×103 W = 1,500

I also estimate this takes only ~260ft3/sec, or 15,600 cfm.

[4] Recent work at the dam:



[5] The Morning Glory Spillway was also upgraded during the recent work at the dam

[6] Roberts tunnel and Denver water supply. http://summitcountyvoice.com/2012/09/02/colorado-roberts-tunnel-turns-50-this-year/

[7] oops, I got confused between two magical women shows from the ’60s, and the nosy neighbor lady.  Thanks to Gil G for catching this boo-boo.

[8] The role of Gladys Kravitz was played by Alice Pearce, from 1964-66, when she passed away, aged only 48.  She was awarded an Emmy for her portrayal posthumously. She was known as “the chinless wonder.” Sandra Gould took over the role until filming ended, in 1971. Pearce and Gould were good friends. Resource==>  Gould gets role of Mrs Kravitz

I might have this confused a bit with the role of Amanda Bellows (married to NASA doctor, Dr. Bellows) from I Dream of Jeannie, played by Emmaline Henry.  Ms. Henry also died rather young, on 50 years old.