I first made the run from The Dalles to Condon, Oregon, in 1992. I was on a motorcycle that first time and found the experience of riding through mile after mile of wheat fields both exhilarating and awe inspiring. Since then I've made well over a dozen trips down that highway, and every time it is a little less exhilarating, thanks mostly to the intrusion of the windmills.
I forget what year it was when I saw the first of the wind farms being set up along the banks of the Gorge, but I distinctly remember feeling a little unnerved by their massive size and the sweep of their blades. At the time they seemed like a quaint idea, but I never gave them much of a chance at becoming a success. I didn't buy Starbucks when it came out in 1992, either, so I am accustomed to being on the wrong end of bonanzas.
Over the years I've watched them proliferate like bull thistle, first congregating mostly along the walls of the gorge and the uplands nearby, then spilling out onto the great, rolling bosom of the Columbia River Plateau. This last trip they dogged my heels until I dropped down into Cottonwood Canyon. God, I hate the sight of 'em.
When I've complained out loud about the relentless expansion of this technology, some of my critics have taken me to task for being so negative about "such a great renewable." "What," some have asked me, "are you saying you'd rather see us stay with fossil fuels?" They do not see the great irony of this latest corporate, federally subsidized, scourge upon the land, no matter how much I protest about it. But this technology is backfiring, to some extent, because it is not replacing our dependency upon fossil fuels so much as it is augmenting our seemingly insatiable thirst for power. We aren't conserving energy, we are wallowing in it.
The laws that govern the conservation of energy - any kind of energy - are hard and fast. When you remove massive amounts of energy from a system - any system - there are consequences, usually nasty ones, so far as the system itself is concerned. Mark my words.
Meanwhile, Rocinante and I will continue to joust with the inevitable. Next up, the Nukes.