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Friday, August 1, 2014

June Trip 2014 - Part 7: I'm a Big Fan

Well, blow me down, me-hearties!  That might not be as well known "pirate slang" as the shivering of ye olde timbers, but the meaning is the same.  It's meant to convey a sense of such amazement and shock that you are startled to the point that you could be "blown down" as if dead.  I suppose the modern equivalent would be something like "you could knock me over with a feather" but they hardly allows for a good "ARG!"
When we'd left their mountaintop my uncle had suggested that by following Route 30 we would come across some of "his" windmills.  Some?!   Well, blow me down-- we came across LOTS!!

As I've written in earlier posts, the trip across the state is one we've done many, many times before on the Turnpike.  From the Turnpike you can see windmills slowly spinning in the distance as you pass the ridges near Somerset, but they are relatively few and quite far off.
Driving Westbound along Route 30, almost immediately after cresting the summit, you see a windmill.   Then another.   Then another.  Then-- omigosh they're everywhere!
It's not like other windmill farms I've seen pictures of from the plains and flat "flyover" states.  Here the windmills are planted all along the ridges and following the undulations of the ground.  They're not uniformly spaced.  They're not uniformly placed.  There are no rows.  No common heights.   You could almost be convinced that they were living things, organically rising from the ground where their seeds happened to settle.   Quite spectacular, really.
OBVIOUSLY, we had to stop.   The Barn Murals were just the beginning of our photo-op-awakening and now I was primed to seek out interesting roadside attractions.  By golly-gee, this qualified!
My only regret with these pictures is that our vanity plate had not arrived prior to the trip... so we just had the "dumb" random alphanumeric plate.  I haven't "debuted" our vanity plate officially on the blog yet so I'll keep it quiet for now-- but suffice it to say I now feel compelled to stop here again and retake the pictures WITH the plate!
My uncle spent a number of years working out here in the "early years" of windmills in Southwestern Pennsylvania.   I don't know all the particulars-- or rather, don't remember them confidently enough to state them here-- but basically he did a lot of the negotiations with the landowners that led to the ability of the windmills to be built where they are built.  I believe he also scouted many of the locations with that intent and the organic arrangement of these huge "wild windmills" can probably be rightfully attributed to him!  If not, I'm sure he'll correct me and we'll update this accordingly.
Amusingly, as I was setting up to take pictures showing the front of the car, a black SUV pulled in rather conspicuously behind us.  I'd already been parked here a minute or two taking the other pictures and my first thought was that we had attracted the wrong kind of attention...   but my anxiety was quickly eased when I spotted-- AGAIN-- the telltale shape of a smartphone being held over the steering wheel, capturing our car with the windmills behind it.   Dear black SUV owner, I will be awaiting my share of the royalties... and wait until you see my nifty new special plate!
Now, I know a certain number of you are wondering about the specifics of who owns the windmills now, what kind of power they generate and other details.   I don't know.   I have no idea at all.   Surely not enough power to light up all of Pittsburgh, but the breezes here are pretty consistent and on this particular afternoon nearly all of them were actively rotating.  Some were a little lazy...  but then maybe they're supposed to be like that?  I know there are gears and transmissions inside them so I assume the blades would-- more or less-- spin somewhere around the same speed regardless of wind speed.

If you do go on this detour, you'll be happy to note that there are ample shoulders on the roadway here and it is nearly arrow straight (though rolling) so positioning your car for the best pictures is pretty easy.  Honestly, were it not for my restless family members slowly warming up inside the locked car (because I had to make sure the door handles retracted for the photos!) I would have varied the pictures more and played with the perspective.   Another reason to go back, I suppose!
I think taking a picture from this side of the road you could probably get parked just off the pavement and surround by the wild grass... but alas... was not to be on this trip.
There are a few places you can pull farther off the road but I don't think you can get a car appreciably closer to an actual windmill without trespassing or being more adventurous than you probably should be in a road car.  
It's as good a time as any to remind you-- or inform you, as the case may be-- that clicking on any of the pictures on this blog will give you a larger/full screen view of that picture.  I'm not suggesting my photography skills will land Serena on desktops worldwide as beautiful wallpaper, but at least you can get a better look at the map below and other details.  Wallpaper fame would be cool though, y'know.
Eventually my family made their impatience subtly known and it was time to continue along the ridge.  Our next stop wouldn't be as scenic, but is was important.  I'd been wanting to go there for years but had never worked up the nerve to go...  and there was no compelling reason to put it off any longer.  I climbed back in the car and as I pulled back out onto the beautiful byway I couldn't help but think to myself:  "Let's roll."

See the map of this detour and more navigation details by CLICKING HERE.
Click HERE to read about the road trip from the beginning.
Click HERE for Part 8: Honoring a Place I Avoided.

Video clips from the first leg of our road trip-- if you haven't seen them already:
Thanks for visiting us here, CLICK to read more at www.TeslaPittsburgh.com and check out the videos on our YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/NZCUTR.

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