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Road trip! Visiting Apple's North Carolina data center

Looking for an exciting geek adventure this summer? You may want to follow in the footsteps of GigaOM's Katie Fehrenbacher, who recently took a one-day road trip to visit the sites of some of the world's largest data centers. These facilities, all of which are located in a small area of North Carolina, include Apple's new Maiden data center as well as facilities belonging to Google and Facebook.

Fehrenbacher started her trip in Maiden, NC, which she refers to as a "sleepy, and economically depressed, outpost." The town of 3,000 won't see a large number of permanent jobs from the work, since data centers are usually quite lean in terms of staff. Fehrenbacher did manage to wrangle up a lunch of "black-eyed peas, fried okra, and baked beans" at one of the few open businesses in town, Scottie's Bar-B-Que (sounds like Katie's a vegetarian).

The Maiden data center is getting a 20-megawatt solar farm and 4.8 megawatts worth of biogas-fueled fuel cells to provide clean electricity at the facility; according to Fehrenbacher, the only sign of the solar farm at this time is a grid of hundreds of poles upon which the photovoltaic arrays will sit, and signs for Holder Construction (which is building the farm) and the Project Dolphin Solar Farm (the data center was known as Project Dolphin).

You won't get to see much on your driving vacation of the North Carolina data centers. All of the locations are hidden behind massive fences and are well-guarded. But at least you can stop in at Scottie's and get some barbecue... If you're too busy to hop in the car, at least take a look at a 2012 satellite image of the plant on Google Maps.

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