Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bike America Day 48: Turbine Under Construction

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day's miles: 51.15 miles
Overall miles: 2,464 miles

With Susie’s incredible hospitality, we were in no rush on Monday morning. We sat around her kitchen table eating a plentiful breakfast complete with bagels, huckleberry jam, greek yogurt, cereal, orange juice, coffee and tea. Then we got a tour of three turkey buildings, each with ten thousand turkeys in different stages of life. The first held babies only a few days old which we could touch and hold in our hands. The third held birds nearly ten weeks old wich were full and beautiful.

Finally, we were on our way back to Rock Island where we’d resume the ride. As I applied sunscreen, standing in the heat. I felt tired, lethargic and a bit nauseous. It occurred to me that I must have been a little hung over after the plentiful beer and wine the night before. I hydrated well and powered through.

My mom and I rode ten miles through town to the airport and eventually felt like we were back in the country. We stopped once to refresh ourselves with diet coke (for her) and an orange push pop (for me) and again to talk briefly with Nathan on speaker phone. At mile 18, we stopped in Orion for lunch at Subway. After eating, we met back up with the Northern Tier Adventure Cycling route, which we hadn’t been on since Sandpoint, Idaho. It was a very welcome treat to resume following the detailed directions and organized maps of the route.

My mom and dad switched around mile 30 and we had an interesting afternoon among vast cornfields and wind farms. I will admit that I had been concerned about the terrain in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Not because I feared it would be too challenging physically. I worried that it would be flat, boring and a mental struggle. Right away, we were pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the roads of Illinois were. We had some hills and even when we didn’t, the many barns and farmhouses were interesting rather than monotonous.

We wondered why none of the turbines in this expansive wind farm were inactive. Then we passed, on our right, a half built turbine base with a propeller of blades lying next to it in the corn. I have seen turbine blades be carried on trucks on the interstate but was still in awe of the size of this propeller. It was unbelievably massive.

A few turns later, we came upon another series of half-constructed turbines and one was in the process of being built. We stopped and watched as a crane lifted a piece of the cylindrical base onto the piece below it. Several men, who looked like ants, stood atop the lower piece guiding the loose one so that the two could be lined up perfectly. I can only imagine how scary it must feel once the piece was set around them. Like being in a deep black hole with a cylinder of metal all around. I’m interested to know if there is a ladder inside or if they are pulled out on some sort of cable. The tower looks teeny tiny in my pictures but it really put in perspective how huge the windmills are, especially given how small the men looked standing atop it.

We talked about standing there to watch the full construction. We could see other pieces of the turbine, including the blades, laying on the ground by the crane. But we knew it could take hours, or days, to finish and we didn’t have all that time. So we rode on, psyched by the brief glimpse of construction that we’d gotten.

Upon arrival in town, we learned that the city park didn’t allow camping and wondered if we were SOL. Then my mom was informed of a campground four miles outside of town at the historic Francis House. I sat in McDonald’s blogging and drinking iced tea while my parents drove out to set up camp. When they came back to get me, I sponge bathed in the McDonald’s bathroom and we headed to Station House for dinner. I had a steak salad and a glass of wine before heading back to our tents for bed.

1 comment:

  1. Carrie,

    In the tower of the wind turbines, there is indeed a ladder with multiple landings every so often. And there are safety wires inside so that one can attach a body harness to it and will prevent a fall in case someone lets go of the ladder. There is also a lifting crane inside so that someone doesn't have to carry heavy loads to the top.