Angletech, coal trains, Colorado, D/S/C, Denver traffic, diesel electric locomotives, high gas prices, IPS, slow and stupid drivers, Terra Trike Tandem Pro, wind farms, Wyoming
Have you, gentle readers, taken a day trip that played out as a seemingly endless stretch of highway? Did you find yourself daydreaming—not dangerously unconscious of driving—gently while taking in your surroundings? Mrs. Manor and I did on July 1.
As you may recall, in early May I wrote about taking an orphan recumbent tandem trike into our family. We’re nice like that. We picked it up in mid-April, hoping to get in as many rides as possible, but Wyoming’s summer has come late, and the weather was generally nasty. Sure, the temperature might have read 68°, but with the ever-present cold wind, it felt closer to 48°. Add many rainy days, and we only got in about 15 rides until the freewheel in the Independent Pedaling System gave up the ghost.
That’s the IPS, which is situated behind the back of the front seat—Captain—rider. Terra Trike was glad to fix it under warranty–they have great customer and dealer service–so they shipped the parts off to Angletech in Colorado Springs, which was the inspiration for the day trip. Inspiration, meh. No trip, no ride. That’s one of the inconveniences of living in Wyoming. There is no bike shop in my part of the state that has a clue about recumbents–none sell them–and white bread shops, confronted with a tandem recumbent trike, react like they’re being attacked by a hostile extraterrestrial: ain’t never seen one, don’t know nothin’ ’bout fixin’ no tandems. Angletech is the only savvy, fully stocked recumbent shop in this part of the country, so off we went, a bit more than 800 miles round trip.
Due to the aforementioned weather, Wyoming, which is mostly the high desert, except for the far western reaches, is unusually green. Even when brown, the landscape has a severe beauty, but when it’s lush and green, it’s more visually soothing. The rolling prairie, the bluffs, the mountains, rivers, the deer and the antelope (that’s where they play), and the sparse traffic, are relaxing and easy on the eyes.
In eastern Wyoming, the main rail lines generally parallel the main highways, so there are always mile-long coal trains, carrying unfathomable tons of electric vehicle fuel. As I’ve so often observed, Democrats/Socialists/Communists seem to have no idea from where electricity comes. To them, it comes from, you know, the thing! Electric stuff, you know like lightning? That’s electric, right? They catch the lightning and that comes out the outlets in your wall! And there’s lots of lightning, so we have plenty for hundreds of millions of electric vehicles, which they’re going to mandate in a year or two.
They are apparently unaware of how the locomotives, which pull the container cars that carry the coal, work. Yes, they’re driven by electric motors, but the electricity for those motors doesn’t magically appear, and no known extension cord is long enough to deliver power from a D/S/C’s condo. It’s created by very big and powerful diesel engines, which is why they’re known as diesel electric locomotives.
You’ll forgive me, gentle readers, to learn whenever I see one of those coal trains, I smirk and chuckle, but I also marvel at the brilliance and determination of those who designed and built them, and the rail lines, and the machines that mine and carry the coal to the trains, who built the power plants, and generators, and transmission lines and every bit of electrical engineering magic that delivers reliable electricity to our homes, and the men and women who work in those industries, and on the railroads. Without them, when we plug something into a wall outlet, nothing would happen. They are among the men and women of merit who built the nation, who built western civilization, who gave America the highest standard of living the world has yet seen, and who, fighting against daunting odds, keep it all afloat.
And then I sigh and shake my head at the fools smugly determined to throw it all away.
Throughout Wyoming, there are wind farms. Wyoming, you see, is windy. I can’t recall a bike ride I’ve ever taken without having to fight the wind. On my last 20-mile ride last week, I rode in every direction on the compass, and the wind shifted to give me a lovely headwind for about 80% of the course. That’s Wyoming normal. Howooooo! Good training! Me ride fast, beat wind into submission!
We passed a wind farm blighting a high ridge like poisonous toadstools. The highway passed through the middle of the windmills. I didn’t stop, but a quick count revealed around 40 of the prairie avian Cuisinarts. What was particularly interesting is no less than 18 of them were idle, their three blades feathered, producing not a watt of energy. This has been the case whenever I’ve passed that wind farm.
How could this be? Were they just resting? As in the parrot sketch, all shagged out after a long squawk? Idle, they’re not producing electricity, and thus, not making money, and they’re a very expensive proposition. I suspect what was going on is they were broken, and because they’re more than 300 feet tall, and out in the middle or relative nowhere, they’re very difficult and expensive to repair. Not much of them, by the way, can be recycled, particularly the blades. Ironically, one of the very few landfills in America that accept them is in Wyoming. There, they will persevere for millennia under the rolling Wyoming landscape, a monument to ill-intentioned corruption.
Imagine if D/S/Cs get their way, and no one can drive anywhere without passing through an endless wind farm, with half and more of the farmers standing at attention in their natty white suits, their propeller beanies producing nothing. Ah, green utopia.
The trip, once the Colorado border was reached, became an exercise in blood pressure suppression. The difference in scenery and anxiety is dramatic. Wyoming has around 600,000 souls, and Cheyenne, the biggest city, has something over 61,000 people. As a result, one can drive for long stretches of pretty much empty rolling prairie. Of course there are ranches, cattle, the aforementioned deer and antelope, the occasional small—as in tiny—town, state-maintained rest stops (well maintained), and pretty well maintained roads. Bad roads, no commerce, no commerce—bad, unless you’re the Biden Meat Puppet Administration, then necessary for the liberal world order.
Once I neared Ft. Collins on I-25 South, it was a nightmare. There weren’t as many construction zones as usual, but the traffic was bumper to bumper in 3-4 lanes both directions. Denver was, as always, horrific, and I was passing through after morning rush hour. the rocky mountain high has become a carbon monoxide choke. I found myself, for 20-mile stretches, traveling an average of perhaps 20 MPH. There was no accident, no obstruction blocking lanes, no actual reason for it, just the requisite number of stupid, slow people in each lane—one–backing up traffic for 20-30 miles. This was the norm well past Castlerock, and I wasn’t able to do the speed limit except for limited stretches.
When we finally arrived, the guys and girls at Angletech were efficient as always, and fixed the problem within 30 minutes. Mrs. Manor decided we needed to get through Denver before evening rush hour, and we did, passing through at around 1430. It was worse, much worse, than the morning. We were not able to attain the speed limit until nearly to the Wyoming border, and at that point, it was a night and day difference. It was as though the “stupid and slow” sign was suddenly extinguished. Traffic magically disappeared, and drivers suddenly became capable again. Wyoming’s 80 MPH speed limit was an oasis in an over-regulated desert.
The trip should have taken a little more than 12 hours round trip. Add about an hour for gas stops and fast food dinner, and that’s 13. It took us 17.
What’s that you ask? How much did it cost? Gas averaged a bit under $5.00 per gallon, and—I’m rounding—cost $200.00 for the trip. A year and a half ago, we could have made it for about $90.00. Thanks a bunch Joe.
We stop about every two hours. Traveling in Wyoming, particularly during the winter, it’s never wise to allow one’s tank to fall below half full, and it’s good to get out and stretch a bit to keep day dreaming from becoming catatonia. Trying to transit the state in an Electric Vehicle in winter would be taking your life into your hands. Every time the nozzle clicked off, and I reluctantly looked at the readout, I had to strangle anger. D/S/Cs, our ”buy a Tesla” self-imagined elite rulers, have no idea of reality in general, and the daily reality of Americans who don’t live in coastal cities. Not that they care, but they no longer even pretend to care about the Deplorables of Flyover country, which am me, and Mrs. Manor, and the polite folks who never fail to help anyone stopped by the roadside. They delight in high gas prices, and they don’t care about the economic havoc they’re wreaking. It’s a feature, not a bug, it’s the plan, and the consequences are, as our dimwitted and evil Energy Secretary said, “hilarious.”
On the way home, after discussing all of this, Mrs. Manor, who is very wise—she married me, didn’t she? OW! OW! Stop hitting me my little passion flower!—quietly observed we shouldn’t vacation in Texas this year. The trip had been planned for nearly a year. We were going to ride our favorite organized metric century bike ride, and see all of our friends from teaching and music. The problem, you see, is it’s a 2200 mile round trip, and with our Colorado Springs trip as a benchmark, we realized we’d be spending at least $600.00 on gas—if the prices stay the same a month from now. Add motel and other general costs… We could have figured out a way to make it work even so, but it wouldn’t be smart, and what’s the point of living to our advanced ages if you haven’t picked up at least a little smart? Little things crop up, like the major chip whacked out of our windshield by a truck tire propelled rock near Denver. That cost $80.00 at Safelite in Cheyenne. They gave us 50% off. They’re like that in Wyoming. I guess I looked appropriately pitiful.
So we’ll hope inflation may eventually abate before we’re too old to travel, before we lose the will and even the ability. We’ll keep in touch with our friends by phone and e-mail, though it’s not the same. And as we drive through our beloved Wyoming, we’ll watch the EV fuel trains, and the half broken windmills, enjoy the sheer, soul-nourishing beauty of the place, and at the forefront of our minds one phrase will ring eternal: Let’s go Brandon!
Phil Strawn said:
I am reading “Travels With Charley” by John Steinbeck. Written in 1959-60 he and his standard Poodle go by pickup and camper from Sag Harbor New York to the west coast and back. Our country was different then and in a good way. I believe he found what he was searching for, the America he thought he knew and wrote about so eloquently and truthfully. I hope your travels bring enlightenment to you and your wife. Enjoy it now for it will soon be changed.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Phil Strawn:
The story about Charley and the bear has always been one of my favorites.
Phil Strawn said:
My cousin had a standard Poodle and he was the fiercest dog I have known. Of course he was Texas born and raised so he was a bit of a redneck. I first read Stienbeck at age 10, a gift from my aunt Norma, The Grapes of Wrath. Mark Twain and John Stienbeck are responsible for my obsession with books, and words. She gave me Thomas Wolfe, which I am forever grateful, and I gave her Truman Capote and Philip Roth. After a while she weaned herself from those horrid Mickey Spillane paperbacks.
John Heimer said:
Interesting electric/gas comparison on YouTube. 2022 Ford E-F-150 vs 2022 GMC Denali towing identical RV trailers from Longmont Colorado to Pueblo Colorado. I won’t spoil it for you.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear John Heimer:
I recently wrote about exactly that kind of EV pickup non-performance. This video actually proved my projections were somewhat optimistic. EVs aren’t ready for prime time, and there isn’t the slightest indication they ever will be.