Saturday, August 10, 2013

We will NEVER take our electricity for granted AGAIN!! Day 1 of the Energy Tour....

Every summer our power cooperative takes a bus load of people on a 1300 mile energy tour to South and North Dakota to see where our electricity comes from. Our names were drawn and we chose August as our tour dates. There was good and bad in that decision, the weather was fantastic, in the 60 - 80 degree range, it had been in the 90's on the previous trip, but the Marcus Fair was on so I didn't get to participate with any of my flowers.

We met the other 40+ passengers early Wednesday morning at the Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative, or NIPCO, by LeMars. We were the lucky ones as we didn't have far to drive, others were from 2 or more hours either north or south of us.

The trip was first class all the way, we stayed in very nice motels and had more food than we could eat. We stopped for 'comfort' breaks about every 2 hours, offered fruit, cookies, pastries and all sorts of drinks along the way. They fed us so often, we were hardly ever hungry when it came time for a meal and I hated stepping on the scale when we arrived home. We were the nightmare for families going out to eat, you could see the panic in their eyes as our bus driver pulled up in front of the door and discharged a load of people right in front of them - "AAAUUUGGGHHHH!!! We just want to get a meal!!"

The first day we went to Pierre, S.D. and toured Oahe Dam, one of the world's largest earth-rolled dams. One of the main benefits was to provide flood control to those living downstream and its generators provide enough electricity to meet the annual needs of 259,000 homes. My camera was packed away in a suitcase in the belly of the bus so I missed the best shots as we arrived and we left a different way. It's massive, has a 2,250 mile shoreline!!

Our bus driver, Dale, was great, when we arrived at the power plant, he fished my suitcase out so I could get at my camera and then I couldn't take pictures inside, 9-11 brought many changes. We got to go right down inside the bowels, there are no words to describe it. I was able to take some photos on the outside.
There are 7 generators, not all run constantly, it depends on the power that's needed.
The discharge, by looking at the water, you can tell which generators are running. Where it's dark and fairly calm, those are idled.

The water goes on down stream toward Pierre and points south....

.. the electricity is headed out on huge transmission lines...

...and we boarded the bus for the trip back to Pierre. We were treated to an indoor picnic supper at the motel, burgers and brats, right up Bruce's alley. Then we re-boarded the bus for a tour of the Capitol building, they left us little time to cause any trouble in town!
It is a beautiful and impressive building, inside and out, we had an 80 year old tour guide who was a spitfire and really knew her stuff. They have lots of gorgeous murals.


Back at the motel, Bruce turned on the tv and I knew I'd lost him. I donned my swimming suit and headed for the pool, only to be thwarted by the locked door. Our key card would not open it. The pool was as far from the front desk as it could possibly be, I power walked, needing to work off some of the excessive food I had ingested that day, to the desk and explained my predicament. The desk clerk was sorry, they were having trouble with it, gave me another key card and sent me on my way - only to be thwarted by the lock - again!! At that point I was thinking of just going back to the room, but the pool and hot tub looked so inviting, I hoofed it back to the front desk. This time the clerk went with me, with yet another card, and was able to open the door. I had the pool and hot tub to myself, I couldn't figure out why others didn't take advantage of it.
One thing I discovered the morning we left, I had to drag my sorry butt out of bed EARLY both mornings, 5:45 and 5:30 respectively!!! WHO THOUGHT THAT UP??? I was under the impression we were on vacation??? And I couldn't even make a deal with Bruce to serve me coffee in bed, sigh.
Day 2 awaits.....



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