Sunday, June 25, 2006

Is That A Turbine In Your Yard Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

A Tale Of Independence

Well, I promised I would post about the windmill ordeal. And, I must stop right and correct myself.

Wind turbine ordeal. Because, Lord knows, we're not going to grind wheat with this thing now, are we?

And, fortunately for all you readers, this will be a bit of a photo journal type post. Yay photos! We love photos! Then we don't have to write as much! Oops - was that last part out loud?


You would really not believe the logistics involved in bringing a wind turbine and 100' steel tower from Grayslake, IL to Schuylkill County, PA. I know, you think you might have an idea but, trust me, you don't. So I am going to walk you through this, step by step.

Step 1: Trying to Get Out of Doing the Actual Hauling Yourself

This is done by trying to locate a tractor trailer or something coming home from that area empty. Obviously, the first thing to try is the internet, right? No, wrong again. The internet was about as helpful as it would have been to climb to the bottom of my well and ask around down there. Oh, don't get me wrong - there are lots and lots and lots and lots and (lots) x 10 of sites out there. But none that give you any actual help with the problem. When we finally just broke down and called a trucking company to pose the hypothetical situation of "What if someone had a wind turbine and 100' tower in Il...", we were given a price of somewhere around $1,400. So, this brings us to the next step.

Step 2: Trying to Get a Towing Vehicle and Trailer to Just Get the Thing Ourselves Already Because, Cripes! $1400?!!!

First, try to get a flatbed or stake side truck. Because that is the best vehicle to do a job like this and also because we can all use a little exercise in wild goose chase. Then, start to casually drop hints everywhere - at work, at home, at the gynecologist's office - that you need to find a very large, flat trailer capable of carrying a heavy load. Eventually, someone will know someone who has one and you might want to try to call so and so. In this case, it was a guy that I work with. As it turns out, he had the perfect trailer and was all like "Just take it, I'm not using it..." So we jumped on it.

The next part is to find a vehicle capable of towing not only the trailer, but the trailer loaded down with many, many pounds of wind turbine and tower. So the thing to do is call ed's usa rentals and try to score a truck or SUV. Fortunately, they had a big ass Suburban that was available and had all the bells and whistles necessary for electric brakes and whatnot.

Just out of curiosity and a sense of impending doom I asked the gal at ed's "So, what is the mileage like on this thing?" She said she didn't really know but she thinks around 20 mpg or so. I thought she was being a bit on the optimistic side so I figured probably upper teens on the way out and then, once we loaded the trailer, about 2 or 3 mpg on the way back.

Step 3: Head West, Don Quixote!

(This is where the post will start to get interesting because I didn't take any photos of the "making phone calls" part of the process.)

Now, as in my last post, I am going to start letting the pictures tell the story here - mainly because I really need to get out and mow the grass today. So, here we go!

Here is a picture of the Suburban. I called it the Drug Lord Mobile.

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It was very plush and roomy. Kind of like a suite at a nice hotel. Minus the shower.

Because of not wanting to use vacation time, we planned this trip for when hubby had a 4 day off period in his work schedule. The unfortuante part of this is that we were leaving on a morning when he had just finished working a 12 hour night shift. The very unfortunate part of this was that, at some point, he would be too tired to drive and I was going to have to take over the wheel.

People, I can't even drive the riding lawn mower with the yard cart attached let alone a Drug Lord Mobile towing an 18 foot trailer!

Be that as it may, here I am, taking the helm after a quick stop for a bite to eat.

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Hubby had a few hours of peaceful slumber and eventually was ready to take the wheel again. Which was fine by me because we were coming into heavier traffic somewhere in Ohio. We were going to make a quick detour to Canfield but, as you can see...

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What is up with that? Closed.

Anyway...Ohio is very...flat. Well, at least it is after a short hilly section right after you leave PA. We stopped at a rest area in Ohio and I must say, Ohio has very nice rest areas. Since we were at least 10 kinds of long with our Drug Lord Mobile and 18 foot trailer, we parked with the big rigs.

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She is small but mighty.

Indiana...well, that's flat too. But they have very personable toll collectors in Indiana.

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This guy said "What you takin' my picture for?" To which I replied "Because we're frm Pennsylvania." It seemed logical at the time. But bear in mind, this was after many, many hours of flat driving.

We finally arrived in Illonois and it wasn't long before we were in the Chicago area. Here is a bit of advice for travelling in the Chicago area with a Drug Lord Mobile and 18 foot trailer: try to avoid it at all costs. Except when that cost is somewhere around $1400.

It seems there is no way around Chicago so you have to go through Chicago. As it turns out, the road we were on also happened to be under major construction so that the normal size lanes that are challenging enough when one is driving (or riding in, for that matter) a Drug Lord Mobile with 18 foot trailer, are now little, narrow construction zone lanes that make driving (or riding in) a Drug Lord Mobile with 18 foot trailer rather a bit frightening. I saw about as much of Chicago as I have seen of the Exorcist since what I did see of both was through the little slits between my fingers when my hands are over my eyes.

Ok...I exaggerate. A bit.

We got to our hotel just around 1am and crashed into bed. The next morning I woke up and took a looksie outside.

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Wetness. Everywhere. Not good. We showered, ate our continental breakfast, and headed off on the last 5 miles of our journey.

Step 4: Load the Gosh Darn Thing
We met up with the fellow who sold the wind turbine and proceeded to slide sideways through the mud to the lower section of his yard. Again, not good. Especially considering we were going to have to try to get back out with a mere 4 more tons of weight.

The owner took the lower section of the tower apart so's it could fit on the trailer. As it turns out, the second lower section also had to be taken apart since it too was also too wide for the trailer. Here is another picture.

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It took us all about 4 or 5 hours until we finally had everything on the trailer. In the mean time, the rain gave us a break. We were able to get the vehicle and trailer out of the lower section of the yard and aimed at the road and we felt all kinds of successful. After everything was loaded, the former owner guy took us to a spot down the road a bit to show us another wind turbine in action. It was about 120' as opposed to our 100'. We stared in wonder and envy.

Step 5: Get Thee Back To Pennsylvania
Soon we were back on the road and way too soon we were back in the Chicago area. Only this time, instead of racing through at midnight, we inched our way along with the rest of the mid afternoon traffic. Like this: stop, go, stop, go, stop, go, stop, go, etc. It took us close to three hours to make it around Chicago. And it was all very exciting for us what with 4 tons of cargo on our trailer.

Just as we were leaving Indiana, it started to rain again. Rain, and rain, and rain and rain. Like this: rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, etc.

Here's a picture to fill in the other 993 rains.

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That's what it looked like out my window. This is what it looked like out the windshield.

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We pulled over at the next rest area and ate something or other and waited for the rain to pass. Once the sun came out, we were ready to get back on the road. I took a moment to snap a picture of our Drug Lord Mobile with fully loaded 18 foot trailer on account of knowing you would all want to see. Here it is.

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Is that a rainbow shining over our Drug Lord Mobile with fully loaded 18 foot trailer? No, it is not.

Now we were in for a whole lot more flat driving. The only difference was that this time we had to go quite a bit slower and every once in a while we would start going all sorts of side to side. Hubby said this was nothing to worry about but I didn't believe him in the least and I commenced to severe worrying for the remainder of the trip.

Here is a picture of us going all side to side.

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Fortunately for you, it is not video. Just trust me that is was in mid fishtail. Scary.

Around dusk, we caught up to the rain storm again. Only this time, we didn't get into the rain. Instead we travelled in a huge circle of lightening. I'm talking MAJOR lightening. Like 6 or 7 bolts hitting the ground all at once plus another whole lot of bolts flying around in the sky. It was crazy. Like this: lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, lightening, etc. But all at once. Hubby and I were all "Man, this is some crazy lightening!" Then I started to think about the fact that I was attached to trailer with 4 tons of steel. Then I made myself stop thinking about that.

The lightening went on for - get this - 4 hours!!! During the first hour we were thinking "This is really cool!" During the second hour we were thinking "This is really cool and, my, isn't it going on for quite a while!" During the third hour we were thinking "How much longer can this go on?" And during the fouth hour we thought "Let's pull over and take a nap. Lightening schmitening." We planned on taking a small nap. Which, relatively speaking, it was I suppose. Like if you were comparing it to, say, a 12 hour nap. Eight hours later we were on the road again.

There were two truly priceless moments during the trip. The first was when we were in a merge situation due to an upcoming construction area. As we were approaching the single lane, a Prius came up along side of us with the driver acting like it might be a good idea to try to beat this Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer into the spot that was between us and the slowing vehilcle in front. Hubby looked at the car and said "Look at this guy in the Prius acting like it might be a good idea to try to beat this Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer. Well, look out buddy 'cause we've got a trailer full of independence!"

Maybe it was being on the flat boring road for umpteen hours but that just cracked me up. And speaking of being on the road for umpteen hours, the other priceless moment came when we were still about 70 miles from the Pennsylvania border. Poor hubby had been hauling ass with our Drug Lord Mobile with 4 Tons of Steele on an 18 Foot Trailer for hours on end because I refused to drive it once it was loaded. I was keeping a close eye on him, trying to make sure he got plenty of breakes and drinks and such. All of a sudden, he broke into "Jesus Take the Wheel". Which, I suppose should have really concerned my but it only served to crack me up all the more.

Finally we crossed the border back into Pennsylvania.

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I can honestly say I have never loved the hills of my home state more than that moment.

Another 5 hours and we were home, daddy, home!

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cuz E said...


Would love to know the total final cost breakdown. To compare it with the $1400 pro haul fee.

I know that the entire experience was priceless for you. But factor in the time away vs. the amount of actual grass cutting and roof rebuilding, etc.

Michael Plank said...

Youse guys rock! Next time we are up that way, we'll stop by for some wind.

Don't listen to Ernie -- you also have to factor in the diminished value of a post about waiting for the delivery truck to bring the turbine to your house.

How many times did you have to stop for gas, and how hard was it with the trailer?

Jozet said...


OMG, I really need to figure out some useful survival skill beyond just endlessly gestating and adding to the population - you know, for when I descend upon your house after doomsday and all.

I will, in the meantime, offer my husband's considerable demolition skills. The man swings good sledge hammer. And my kids can strip wallpaper. And if you need to mill anything, I can wear heavy wooden shoes.

Anyway - YOU RULE! Great post! Great photos!

Prezzie said...

I would have drove that Drug Lord Mobile because *nobody* was going to control my fate. I shuddered thinking you let a MAN drive you home with that big ol' thing attached. OMG! Have you not learned about men and toys??? Jozet, you really, *really* need to teach her. :o)

Great post and it's great you got this wind turbine - thingy. We have them in Iowa and it's kind of wierd seeing them but I think they're cool. Should have cruised another 4 hours to see me so I could see your pimp...err..drug lord car.

G. said...

I can't wait to see it in action. At your place, I mean.

©Jac said...

Thank goodness you didn't have to drive in S. Ohio thru the rain! Great entry!

D.B. Echo said...

It's going to make it a lot easier to give people directions to your house. (And I was just reminded of the checkerboard pickup truck story!)

Word verification word: qykbegup - What you say as you're choking to death and calling someone on the phone to come help you.

Anonymous said...

i was really impressed when i saw it, and it was still in pieces. i really hate to admit it, but i do have wind-turbine envy. spark

Arkansawyer said...

Great story... You should do this writing stuff for a living!

Maybe you should submit this along with your canning maters story (and the checkerboard truck story and.....) to Reader's Digest!!!

nadzent said...

Oh My God. You are crazy! I NEVER would have let Ernie drive for even a second. I would have been all white knuckled on the wheel but knowing I was the one in control and not likely to purposely squish the guy in the Prius with my gigantic shiny black truck-thingy with the steel turbine attachment. You are one brave chick.

You know, this means we are going to have to get one of these for the farm now, don't you? Ernie still nags about getting a goat.....until I remind him we don't actually LIVE on the farm...

Great post!

Amy said...

I've done that drive more than a couple times. Just never in a Drug Lord Mobile with attachments.

And yes, indeed, you guys do ROCK!

Mary-LUE said...

Came to visit per your sister's suggestion. . . She doesn't know me either, I just found her while I was cruising the blogosphere one day. You are very brave, gutsy, courageous. The windshield photos alone are anxiety causing! I love your take on it all. Happy turbining! (I have to admit I don't know what to do with one.)

Anonymous said...

My husband is soooo jealous!!!! Now he wants one. The neighborhood association probably has some "rules" or something about it though.
Hmmmm, wonder if this is why hubby is suddenly looking at acreage...

Tom Gray said...

Congrats on your expedition and your initiative, and best wishes!

We have a ton of information that might be helpful here.

Thomas O. Gray
American Wind Energy Association