On the Horizon

This picture was taken from the mountain identifier, about 20 miles north of Condon.  On a clear day you can see a whole bunch of mountains from one tall spot in Oregon. I’ve driven back and forth on this road all my life, to and from The Dalles, to and from Eugene, to and from Portland. For most of those years, the only thing that changed was the color of the land: from brown, to spring green to early summer green, to harvest gold, and back to brown.  But in the past ten years, the view began to change.

In this not very good picture, just below the mountain (I believe that’s Adams by the way, in Washington state), those white stick looking things?  Windmills.  Every time I go home there are more on the Gorge, more and more in the fields along the way from Wasco to Condon.

There are a two camps: either the love-the-windmills-camp or the hate-the-windmills-camp. The farmers who have them are happy because it’s a good option for use of their land, when the crops don’t pay quite enough. The jobs building them and operating them, well that’s good for the area too. And it is clean energy. On the downside?  Some don’t like how they change the view. They’re so un-farm like, even though they call groups of them “Wind Farms.” Some people complain about the noise, the effects on the birds. And the whole recent kerfuffle about subsidies.

They’re huge. This picture will give you an idea. You see this was too big to fit in the picture, and those little specs on the ground, that’s me and a couple of friends. This picture was taken awhile ago, they’re making them even bigger now.

I’m not in the hate camp, I’m more in the mesmerized camp. There’s something about all that wide open land, and those windmills on it, looking naked and strange and, somehow right, but in a really odd way. At night, the red lights flash, on and off, on and off. It’s hard to stay on the road because I want to look at them. Actually, I think a lot of people are in the mesmerized camp. So that makes three camps.

3 Responses to “On the Horizon”

  1. Jackie says:


    The mountain identifier, near Condon is a pretty cool thing. On a clear day, you can stand on it (it’s a round cement platform) and see seven mountains in Washington and Oregon. The “Identifier” points you in the direction of each mountain and tells you the name. It’s pretty cool, especially when you get to see EVERY SINGLE MOUNTAIN. Unfortunately the actual identifier is looking a bit run down these days – not sure what the maintenance process is on it but maybe I should look into that.

  2. Randy says:

    They’ve had these in Southern CA for quite a while. Just take the 10 from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. They’ve been featured as a backdrop in movies. As you said, on one hand they’re fascinating, mesmerizing. On the other hand, they ruin the horizon line and forever change the way we see the world. So, what exactly is a mountain identifier? Is it one of those roadside ‘take a photo at this spot’ scenic attraction markers?

  3. I’m with you, Jackie… I’m very much in the mesmerized camp… I am helpless to look anywhere else. I think I can also say I have a foot in each of the other camps, though. We need clean energy and this is a good source of that but the views will never be the same and I get that, too.
    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need them. In a perfect world all of our choices would be better for the planet.

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