I had a good nights rest and was eager to turn west toward Arizona. Not that I didn’t like New Mexico, but I have a lot of miles to cover and the P71 was anxious to get to the next spot.
Just outside of Tucson is the Pima Air Museum and it was just too good a place to pass up, but there was a lot of highway to cover to get there.
I wasn’t interested in the Interstate. Not because it is a bad road. It’s a very nice one, but I wanted to see some of the countryside. It wasn’t long before I came across this auto sales spot. It was quite empty, but it had some interesting vehicles:
I had hardly gotten a half mile down the road when I spotted these Datsuns from the early seventies.
The Datsun 240Z was a real head turner when it came out in 1970’s, and was soon followed by the 260 and 280 Z cars. But the original was so light and had a powerful straight six that it captured the hearts of street drivers and racers alike.
After many more miles there was this array of photovoltaic cells set up to generate electricity. New Mexico has plenty of sunshine so it probably works very well.
Further down the road and there was a windmill farm.
I have mixed feels about using wind power to generate electricity. Decades ago friends of mine were researching wind power in India and then applying some lessons learned to test some concepts on windy Cape Cod.
Today’s wind mill electrical generators a far beyond that technology. While they are a nice concept there are some factors that give one pause to think.
If you build a wind mill farm you also have to build a gas-fired electrical generation plant for when there is to little or too much wind. With natural gas currently so cheap, it hardly seems worth the extra cost of constructing the windmill farm.
Then there is the reality of the mechanical aspects of the modern windmill. It requires a sophisticated transmission to convert the speed of the windmill blades to something that the generator can handle. While these have a projected life of six to seven years, many have had end of life at as little as three years.
The generators rely on rare earth magnets to generate lots of electricity. Neodymium is the substance used and most of it is available outside of the US in China. Unfortunately when it is mined it is generally found mixed with uranium and so the mining process creates a difficult pollution problem.
The large blades are amazing in their design and especially their size. One of the unfortunate consequences of having those huge blades spin around is bird strikes. Thousands a year. Mostly it is endangered species that get hit the most.
Speaking of blades they pick up a lot of bugs, just like your windshield as you drive. Over time this caused the blades to dramatically lose their efficiency. The companies are struggling to find way to keep the blades clean as it dramatically effects the aerodynamics in a bad way as it accumulates on the leading edge.
Oh well, I was still driving.
Heading for the continental divide meant traveling through areas that would often have a lot of sand and dirt blowing around. It can become as blinding as thick fog. Luckily it was not a problem that day.
Heading toward the mountains I thought about all the movies that occurred on roads like this.
Finally I was crossing the great divide.
Arizona was in sight.
Soon I would be at the Pima museum.