Pilot Truck Stop, Interstate 70 exit 188, Near St. Louis, Missouri, December 30, 2016

  As I mentioned, I am waiting out a 34 hour break (i.e., Marooned) here near Saint Louis.  The last time I was Marooned in California, I was also faced with a boring day.  I had a walk around the place out of desperation.  The entertainment bar was set really low, but I found a mystery.

  I am sitting in the Trucker Lounge, looking at my hundreds of photos for those from the truck stop in question and I find many others that have not yet made it into a post…Until Now.

To get to the place along California Highway 99,  I passed through Palm Springs, which was once a Desert Resort where Hollywood Celebrities vacationed.  Many built homes in the surrounding hills.  Bob Hope was a long-time Palm Springs resident.

palmspringswindmill_besmirchedPalm Springs valley from the road

    Someone decided to erect windmills to generate Green electricity.  The novelty factor probably wore off long ago, but the Federally funded construction continued.  The land owners love these things because they generate rent income that has a really hard time re-locating.

PalmSpringsWindmill_Highway1.jpgCalifornia figured out that endangered birds were being chopped up by the things and they stopped the older, smaller ones.  You see a few of them in this picture at extreme right.  Their towers are open lattice-work.  California built newer, bigger windmills that throw the birds farther where they won’t be counted.  Apparently, no one thought to put aside funds to have the old ones removed, so they sit there despoiling the view, still.  Don’t worry, they’re pretty much lost in the crowd by now.

PalmSpringsWindmill_Highway3.jpg A Majestic View of the Mountains…well, it would be

PalmSpringsWindmill_Highway2.jpgDown the road a bit, the view is similar.

Before I leave the subject, there is a New Rest Area between Waco and Fort Worth on Interstate 35 that has an example of truly appropriate wind power.  The Aeromotor windmill was developed in 1888 and sold 24 units that year.  By 1892 they had sold 20,000 windmills.

The Aeromotor represents an appropriate and useful form of wind power that requires no Federal Subsidies.

   There is no electric generation involved.  A gear-reduction linkage drives a rotating shaft that has a crank on it that lifts and drops a long rod that drives a mechanical water well pump.  No batteries are required.  The “energy storage” is in the form of a water tank which fills when the wind blows and can be tapped whether the wind is calm or gale-force.  This was truly a revolutionary innovation that brought water to the arid plains and expanded American agriculture exponentially.  Aeromotors are still sold today. This demonstration well in the rest area is not just a mock-up, but actively pumping water.

Back to California Now

Later in the California trip, I spent a 34 hour break in a Truck Stop in the Central Valley between Bakersfield and Delano.  I was pronouncing “Delano” with the accent on the middle syllable until a nice girl at the cash register told me it was Franklin Roosevelt’s middle name, which has the accent on the first syllable.

Things are very flat and empty out there, with vineyards and orchards making up the landscape. It takes irrigation to coax that much vegetation out of the desert.

newstreets_afar As right now, in Missouri, there was not much to entertain and so, I went to see what that wall in the distance was all about.  The nice grassy area in the foreground is irrigated lawn-scape in front of the truck stop. 

newstreets_1The area is under development and streets and sidewalks are already installed – complete with stops signs and street names. 

    Why the containers?  Remember, this place is near a busy truck stop that fills up to over-capacity most nights.  Desperate truckers looking for a night’s sleep after 11 hours of driving will park anywhere.  They also tend to make oil stains and tire marks very much like those you see in the crosswalk on the street side of the containers.

NewStreets_Wall.jpgThe wall is made of simple cinder blocks, but a high level of workmanship is evident. 

   The patterns that decorate the wall are made from “split block”.  As the name implies, those are made as a double block that is split down the middle to make the rough surface on one face.

Such a carefully built wall must have something important inside, yes?

newwallstableinsideThere is a gap in the wall that reveals…a hole in the ground.  What little rain that falls is accumulated in the bottom, as the vegetation indicates.

   I should mention that as I was walking past the gap, a compact car backed out and drove away.  I thought it wise to keep walking, but I came back after they were gone.  The table you see on the left holds some cleaning supplies…Cleaning Supplies?

It is behind a security service sign that makes one wonder why, if they want to protect the cleaning supplies so much that they hire a security firm and maybe install alarms (or cameras?), why did they not put a gate on the gap in the wall?  Oh yes…and why did they put a wall around a hole in the ground?  And wall or not, what do they need a hole in the ground for?


Another pristine new street leads back to the road with the truck stop entrance.  It has a container-blockade as well.  That is why it is a pristine new street!

   Before we leave California,

     Tulare is a town in the Central Valley.  What I never knew before was that Tulare was also the name of the largest lake in the Western United States.  If you never heard of it either, it is perhaps because it no longer exists.  There is a rest area near Tulare with a historical montage of plaques, one of which tells the story.

TulareLakeCropAnnotated.jpgTulare Lake.  For scale, compare it to San Francisco Bay at upper left. 

There were also drawings of Tulare Lake with boats sailing around – so this was not just a big, shallow puddle.  The sun was right behind me as I photographed the plaques and most didn’t come out well.  Even the photo above had to be cropped to eliminate a glaring over-exposed reflection of the sun.

Tulare lake was tapped for irrigation early in California history and was quickly drained to non-existence.

I am awaiting a new load assignment and I may be preoccupied with my “day job” for a few days.  So, in case I miss y’all on the Day….Happy New Year!

Over The Road,


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