In the morning, I did a quick video interview of my host, which will be posted, once I get back home and have a real video editor work on it. After the interview, G. Michael Murphy took me on a whirlwind tour of St. Louis green sites.
The first stop was the Missouri Botanical Garden. They have Level 2 chargers available to the public, so Mike and I topped off our Volts (and politely freed up the spaces when the charge was complete). The MBG’S has electric maintenance vehicles we were hoping to see and photograph, so Mike told the front desk that I’m an important blogger in the world of EV’s and green technology. Unfortunately, we could not locate their EVs, but the MBG’s Public Information Officer, Holly Berthold called me and said it would be a good idea for me to interview Deb Frank, their Vice President of Sustainability. Hopefully, we can arrange that for Saturday afternoon, when I pass through St. Louis on the way home.
Mike, who is a member of the MBG, took me on a tour of the facility and we saw the oldest, continuously running greenhouse, West of the Mississippi, the Climatron, which is a geodesic dome with multiple climate zones, and several impressive displays of Chihuly glass.
Next, we drove through Forest Park, the largest urban park in the U. S. (even bigger than New York’s Central Park!) and proceeded to the Moonrise Hotel. They have Level 2 chargers for their guests, and Mie topped off again. We had lunch in the hotel’s Eclipse Restaurant and were joined by the hotel’s General Manager, Paul J. Lauritsen. Paul mentioned the original plan was to start charging for the electricity used by the chargers, but found they were getting o much additional business from people with EVs that the chargers ave paid for themselves just from that activity.
Besides the chargers, which guests use at no charge, the hotel has the Rooftop Terrace Bar, which has an overhanging roof composed of solar panels sandwiched between transparent sheets, which allow the patrons to look up and see the sky in the areas between the photovoltaic cells. The bar’s electrical needs are completely fulfilled by the panels. In fact, there’s a large moon mounted above the hotel, and it’s rotation is also powered by the panels. The hotel is adding a new attraction, on the remaining roof area that is also getting the solar panel treatment. On another building, owned by the same gentleman who owns the Moonrise Hotel, there were several cylindrical wind turbines. If you visit the Eclipse Restaurant, try the “Flynn Burger” and take the time to check out all their space program and science fiction memorabilia.
After lunch, I hit the road to Chicago. There was a dinner for the members of the media I wanted to attend. What is it they say about “the well-laid plans of mice and men?”
Outside of Bloomington, I came across a gigantic wind farm. I counted at least 55 wind mills. Once I saw this, I knew I needed to capture a photo of my Volt and some of the windmills. This is actually harder than you might think. The towers are so large, that it’s difficult to get the Volt, at a decent size, and still get the entire tower. The fields, in which these wind mills were installed were very muddy. I did the best with what I had. I was moved by the experience. i felt a combination of awe, excitement and even a bit of fear, watching these giant machines convert wind into electricity. I was a bit nervous that the locals, if the noticed me at all, would think I was some doofus who never had seen a wind farm before.
As I was driving out onto the highway, I spotted another person, taking photographs of the windmills. I went over to chat with them, and met Jodi Irvin, a storm chaser, photographer and mother of a young son. She said the sunsets in the area were particularly dazzling, after the sun had set and the clouds were lit from beneath. She said she wished she’d brought her tripod, so I loaned her mine and we watched and photographed the sunset and windmills together. Definitely check out her work.
After that, I high-tailed it to Chicago and my hotel.