Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Wind, Wind Farms, and Wildflowers

My theme for the A to Z Challenge: Desert Canyon Living

I had planned to write about Wind today, since it's constantly blowing in the canyon and we have had wind advisories (gusts over 45 mph) practically every day lately, with winds between 25 and 35 mph and gusts of 65 – 70 mph, more in the canyons and passes. But reading about all the rain, floods, tornadoes and loss of life in so many parts of the country, I didn't feel like writing and maybe complaining about Wind.  

Instead, I decided to write about how wind is managed and harnessed here in the mountains where I live. The Tehachapi Pass is one of the windiest regions in the world, with winds averaging 14 to 20 miles per hour throughout the year. So it's natural that Tehachapi became the birthplace of wind power in North America. The first turbines were installed here in the 1980s and now the highest ones reach 400 and 500 feet. They are scary huge!

I googled our wind farms and learned that with around 5,000 turbines in the Tehachapi Pass, we have the second largest number of wind turbines in the world and the largest in terms of output. The wind farms provide electricity to 350,000 residential customers each year. That sounded pretty good, but at the end of the paragraph it stated that wind power generated by the state's more than 15,000 turbines makes up only 1% of California's electricity.  That didn't sound like much, considering how much space these 5,000 or so take up in our mountains. The turbines are operated by a dozen private companies that provide work for around 400 employees. 

I stopped here the other day to take some photos of the lake that so mysteriously appeared in a normally dry field. I wrote about this lake in an earlier post. It is now much smaller, but continues outside of the picture. Still, you can see how it stands out, blue and pretty, in the desert landscape. And, as a bonus, I got some pretty good pictures of the wind farms. Wild mustangs roam up there and I always hope to see them when we drive through those mountains. So far, no luck with that.

Here are some scary pictures of Wind.  I figured flags would show off the wind best, but with no flags in sight, I used my hair 

and a sheet on my laundry line to demonstrate the power of the wind. I have better photos than this, but for some reason this one spoke to me.

I haven't been out yet to take pictures of the wildflowers that I know are covering the hillsides all around us. 

I will go on a photo safari in the hills soon. These pretty white, daisy-like, flowers are in my back yard. It's an evening shot, so not a clear one. 

The fields are so gorgeous, covered with these tiny 

lavender/pink flowers. Since we had so much rain this past winter, the spring flowers will be gorgeous and plentiful in the canyon. 

Angel is enjoying this field of wildflowers and I'm looking forward to finding a lot more to share.


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