Monday, June 16, 2008

Homeward Bound

After stopping at the Reno Subaru dealer to get fluids changed and tires rotated, Millie and I were ready to make our long trek east all the way home along I-80. Nevada and the salt plains of western Utah were desolate with the exception of road signs here and there warning drivers to not fall asleep at the wheel (guess that is, indeed, desolate!).

Five solid weeks of sightseeing and photography had finally taken their toll, and I barely took any pictures or made any further detours to see tourist attractions the whole way home!

One thing I did notice on this trip (that I'd been oblivious to in past trips out west) were the numbers of extremely long coal trains going to and from Wyoming. Wyoming is the nation's leading coal producer shipping 446 million tons of the stuff a year to our older coal-hungry power plants. Production comes from only 21 mines, and all but one of these are surface mining operations growing at a rate of 10% a year. At that pace, I wonder how long it will be before all of Wyoming's mountains are gone.
Fortunately, I did find some glimmers of hope during the trip, and found them, surprisingly, in Wyoming as well. The largest wind farm I spotted on the entire trip was one just outside of Laramie where there were over 200 turbines humming along at the top of a ridge. This was about the size of one I saw in southern California last year. Now if we could just start filling up some of the vast Midwest wheat and corn plains with some of these turbines, we might honestly have a chance at stopping some of those hundreds of coal trains going in and out of Wyoming each day!

As I got closer to home, I began hearing news reports of the extensive flooding in Iowa. Many roads in the eastern portion of the state were closed including a section of I-80 (forcing a 110-mile detour). As I got closer, road signs kept advising motorist that the detour would start in Des Moines, however, when I finally got to Des Moines, the last sign said I-80 was now open. Thinking it might be a fluke, I stopped in town for awhile to listen to the next newscast, where they did indeed confirm that I-80 was now open. So I was able to stay on course and get home a few hours sooner than planned. Here were a few shots of what I saw that night:

As the sun set for the last time of our 6-week 8,000-mile adventure, I pulled the camera out one more time to take a shot. What a beautiful, amazing, fun trip it had been....but Millie, the T@B, the Subaru, and I were now all completely exhausted and couldn't wait to get home and stay there for a while!

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

do signs that say stay awake...really make sense?