Wednesday, October 22

Dia del sol


Yesterday, we went on a yurt-related field trip. Our travels took us over the hill to Hopland, where we visited the Solar Living Institute. It's hard to miss this place as you're driving north on highway 101 ~ you can see the yurts, solar panels, trees growing out of old cars & Biodiesel fueling station as you pass it from the highway. Apparently, this 12 acre solar-land used to be a dumping site for CALTRANS, but you'd never know it today! The place is beautifully restored with food gardens and intelligent landscaping. There are several ponds and water features demonstrating the sustainable use of fountains, misters and waterfalls for cooling off in the summer. There are also HUGE solar panels flanking the southern edge of the compound.

Our first stop was the eye-catching windmill. Though barely a breath of wind puffed through the 80-degree air, the blades were lazily, and very occasionally, turning in circles. This particular windmill was directly hooked up to a pump and well, and water was overflowing a big steel horse trough with each turn. Lightbulbs went on in all our heads as we watched this awesome demonstration of free power. The windmill turns out to be fashioned in Cloverdale, just down the road, by Rock Ridge Windmills, all in the old-fashioned style. Here's a picture from their website:
The owner of the company recently acquired a bundle of old windmills and parts from a windmill collector, and we're seriously considering visiting his bargain bin.

We then went inside the SLI workshop yurt. They use this 30-ft yurt as a classroom for the many awesome workshops they do, and we were able to enter during the break of a photovoltaic installation class (and lo, it's a Colorado Yurt too boot!). We were mostly interested in checking out the L brackets, and to see just how big 30 feet of yurt actually feels.

It feels juuuust right.

Then it was on to the Real Goods store, in which we all agreed, had we more time, it would be very easy to spend thousands of dollars on amazing books, toys and composters. If you're interested, use this site to shop your head off. As it was, we had time only for composting toilets, the main reason for our trip. Unfortunately, they did not have any set up for trial use, but we were able to get the idea from the store models. Mom's first and most important question for the sales dude was "Will it stink?" A very excellent question, mom. Composting toilets do not stink. The composting of human waste has been refined over many years, and is as simple as throwing in a handful of sawdust once a day, and hooking the whole thing up to a small electric fan that's as noisy as a laptop computer. We saw several models, three of which I have poached photos from their respective websites and listed below in order from most to least scary.

So you can see it's not so bad. The actual composter of this last model from Sunterra Green will be under the deck. No water (or electricity, really) required!

We then traveled to Ukiah for lunch and Boonville for disc golf with yurts and composting on our brains. It was a great day, and we highly recommend a visit to the Solar Living Institute if you ever have time.


Sucked. We were both tired, and the scene that greeted us upon arriving at the prop didn't help our spirits.

Apparently, despite our best efforts to make our insulation look inpalatable, a small critter decided to feast on a few select pieces. Luckily the holes aren't too big or worrisome, and we believe we can patch them with some foam and tape.

After this depressing discovery, we made a run to the dump to recycle a truckful of cardboard flooring boxes, and then made our way up to ROSSIs. On our lists was flooring staples, visqueen plastic and 3/4" CDX tongue-&-groove plywood. We went three for three and decided to take a very hot and very patient Maia to the beach to wrap up our day.

Tomorrow we start the plywood.

1 comment:

charles said...

The wooden windmill is awesome!

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