City Slicker Visits The Ranch, Part 2

As I walked up the main road, I was excited about my hike and to see first hand the new windmill. I noticed the air was still, the sky was slightly overcast, and the temperature felt like it was in the upper 80's.

I turned onto a secondary road and passed through an orchard of olive trees. I noticed fresh fruit on the trees, which meant harvest season would be here in a couple of months. I also got a big whiff of fresh manure. Ah, nothing like a stroll in the country.

A head of me, was the first of three hills. As I got closer to this hill, I saw a chain- link gate with a lock on it. To the right of the gate stood a building which housed a workshop and two garages.

From the workshop emerged Daniel, the gatekeeper. Actually, Daniel is an employee with Morita Construction Company. Ever since Nan McEvoy purchased the property in 1989, Morita Construction has been handling all of the construction projects on the ranch. There is no job that is too big or too small for this outfit. In fact, it was Morita Construction, along with subcontractors, that installed the windmill. So, if you ever need a windmill installed in your backyard, you know who to call.

Daniel was kind enough to unlock the gate for me, and with a big smile he wished me luck on my trek to the top.

As I started up the second hill, I could feel the heat of the sun beating down on me. Sweat was dripping off my brow and rolling down my back.

Up a head of me, was a grove of old oak trees hanging over the road. I wasn't able to see through to the other side. The road just seemed to disappear into the trees.

About half way between the gate and the trees, I heard something stirring in the brush. I couldn't see anything, but the noise kept getting louder and closer to the road. Maybe it was a gopher or a fox. Maybe it was the chupacabra. Now, that is one ugly animal, and I wasn't about to wait for it or any creature to emerge from the brush.

I started having second thoughts about this hike. I really wish I could have flagged down a taxi or stopped off at the corner bar for a quick one. But that wasn't going to happen in the rolling hills of Marin County.

As I proceeded up the hill toward the trees, my survival instincts kicked in. I needed something to protect myself. I tried looking for a big stick, but I couldn't find any. Then, I heard that noise again from the brush. What was out there? Was a cougar tracking me?

I entered the grove of trees, and the sun disappeared. At this point, I was feeling a little nervous. Not quite scared, but uneasy.

I stopped dead in my tracks. Here I was standing in the middle of the road with tree branches hanging over me. I looked up into the trees. I looked to my right and to my left. I looked behind me. There was nothing. Not even a skink.

For those of you who don't know what a skink is, it's a small lizard which normally grows to about 8 inches in length. It's also the McEvoy Ranch logo, and there is a picture of this lizard on the bottles of McEvoy Ranch extra virgin olive oil. Occasionally, this lizard does show its face at the ranch, but not today.

I decided to pick up the pace and push through to the other side of the trees. When I made it to the other side, I was standing at the base of the third and final hill. From here, I can see the windmill's rotor blades.

I climbed up the hill. When I got to the top, the windmill stood before me like a monolith. And then, I met Dennis, the man from ENXCO.

ENXCO is a company with the primary focus on renewable energy. They also provide design and construction of windmills and maintenance services. On this day, Dennis, along with his partner, were debugging the system. That's right, debugging. Modern technology and the power of the wind have merged together.

According to Dennis, the windmill was spinning like a roulette wheel the other day, but on this day it was not rotating. I can see a look of frustration on his face. However, he was excited to show me the brains of the windmill.

We walked over to the base of the windmill, and he opened a door. Inside, I saw 3 or 4 cables coming in from the ground and running up the length of the windmill. Dennis pointed out to me that the windmill consist of four main parts. There is the tubular steel tower, the rotor blades, and behind the blades is the nacelle. The nacelle houses the shaft, generator, gear box, brakes, and controller.

The fourth main part is a metal box which is about the size of cigar box. This is what Dennis wanted to show me. The box has its own microchip. It's basically a computer and control system which constantly regulates energy output, checks the speed of the wind, and protects the windmill.

I looked at my watch, and noticed I was running a little behind schedule. I thanked Dennis for his time, and told him I had an appointment with some bees.

Before I made my descent, I walked over to the edge of the hill and looked out over the whole property of the ranch. It was an amazing view which included the olive orchard, the vineyard, and part of the gardens.

I also looked at the windmill one more time, and I thought about how it will provide electricity for the whole ranch, as well as produce clean and renewable energy.

To be continue