Today I will leave on a 10-day hike/scramble in the Sierra Mountains in California. The Sierras are not my regular stomping grounds, but my friend JP convinced me to go along on this hike that he has been planning for a long time. JP started the northern portion of the Sierra High Route a while ago, and then I will join him in Bishop along with his other friend Greg to do the Southern Sierra High Route. If all goes to plan then we’ll exit near Cottonwood Creek on Aug 6.
Today our new solar power installation came online. It’s a 4.4kW grid tied system, built by Puget Sound Solar. It will generate more energy than we use in the summer, and less in the winter, for about a net-zero draw from the grid over the course of a year. There are no batteries; any excess power is fed back to Seattle City Light. The system is expected to pay for itself after 7 years. The installation includes a monitoring device, so we can track the amount of electricity we generate and consume.
We also replaced our roof as part of the project, and added some skylights, so the overall pricetag was about as steep as the roof is, but now we never have to worry about the roof or power bills for like forever. Plus it looks pretty nice, don’t you think?
Here is another batch of cute Elza photos:
For now, we’re planning to update the Elza photo page monthly, so check back again in a month! (updates may or may not be announced on the OK Blog)
Well, sort of. We have a friend who is a professional illustrator/comic artist and he used our house for inspiration on an animated music video he worked on for a local “Kindie” band.
See any resemblance?
I’m heading to Boston for Honk Fest! 2011. This is the original Honk Fest that started them all. I have never been to Boston before, so I am excited to see a new city and play with new bands, not to mention geeking out over their rapid transit system.
I leave on a red eye tonight and arrive in boston at 6:30 tomorrow morning. I’m hoping to sleep the whole way there…
According to my calculations, today I am 1/3 century old. For a while, I had been planning to have a party or something for the occasion, but the day has arrived faster than any planning process could materialize. Therefore I just shared the day with Amie, Felix, Nessa Rose (the spider), and our six chickens (two of whom have been uncooperative today).
I’m also thinking that it might be time to add to my tattoo. The next layer I am envisioning is some plant-like material to attach to the “interface” layer that currently makes up the outside. This is the last layer I have envisioned for the piece, although there could be potential for the plant to grow further over time. I’ll have to call up the family tattooist and see what her wait list currently looks like…
Our next door neighbor’s house is for sale, and for under $275,000, you could become our new neighbor! It’s the house just south of us, adjacent to our garden and chicken area. The house is about the same size and construction style of ours, but still has the original hardwood floors and original interior architectural features (unlike our house that had the bad 70’s makeover). We’re hoping for someone who might be willing to exchange occasional chicken care for fresh eggs, and maybe even someone would be interested in having goats live the yard.
So, I didn’t have much time to actually update my blog while I was in Idaho over the holidays, but here is a brief recap:
Amie and I boarded the Eastbound Amtrak Empire Builder on the evening after Christmas day. The ride was pleasant and uneventful. In Spokane after the two halves of the Empire Builder were joined, we rendezvoused with Shawn, who was coming from Portland and would be joining all of us in Idaho. We all sipped some semi-fine port from paper cups in the lounge car and perused a USFS map of the Sandpoint area. We arrived in Sandpoint around 3am, only about 45 minutes late. There was a truck waiting there for us, and we drove to Sleeps Cabins, our home for the next few days.On our first day in Sandpoint, we went on a snowshoe trip around a golf course. This was actually more interesting than it might sound at first, because the golf course was constructed in an old mining area with interesting topography including prominent rock outcroppings and preserved wetlands. The highlight of the trip was the former site of the club house, which had burned down only a few years after being built, and was never rebuilt because the bank had first dibs on the insurance money. The remaining foundation was an eerie sight; walking through it, I felt like we were exploring ancient ruins, but with a few remaining architectural features taken right from Sunset Magazine. On the second day, we went up to Schweitzer Mountain to go cross country skiing. Although we got an earlyish start, it was past noon by the time we all got our skis rented, got our tickets ($12 each), and got ourselves on the mountain. The group quickly divided into fast and more-fast subgroups. The more-fast group made it to Picnic Point, located just NNE of the Schweitzer base area, and then continued on a loop just above Picnic Point. The fast group arrived at Picnic Point as the more-fast group returned from the loop, and all had lunch in a small hut in the trees. We were treated with occasional views of Lake Pend Oreille in the valley below during a few rare breaks in the clouds. It was just starting to get dark when we returned to the base area. On day three, we awoke to find about 6′ of snow on the ground and howling winds. We had been planning to go on another snowshoe outing, but with the blizzard-like conditions, enthusiasm was muted. Also, dad was coming down with a cold. We decided that it would be a fine day for a sleigh ride! Despite his cold, Dad braved the blizzard and icy roads and went with us out to the Western Pleasures Guest Ranch. The horse-drawn sleigh was a new mode of transportation for me! It felt kind of like a carnival ride. The horses were a bit misbehaved and one of them had a voluminous bout of flatulence. Speaking of wind, after venturing out from Sleep’s cabins, we determined that the cabins were located at what must have been the windiest spot in the valley; at the south shore of Lake Pend Oreille.
On the fourth and final day, Amie, her dad, and I all went telemark skiing at Schweitzer. This was a blast. It was only my third time telemarking, but the snow was so choice that I was making somewhat-graceful telemark turns on the intermediate runs by the end of the day, after Amie had given me some good pointers. I tried out a few advanced runs later in the day. While my technique on these runs was far from anything that I would classify as graceful, the fact that I was able to get down them at all helped boost my confidence in my ability to ski in the backcountry and at least not get stuck too badly.
That night, I was supposed to board the westbound Empire Builder train to return to Seattle. I had a Sporkestra gig on New Years Eve the next night; I figured that this train, with it’s 10:30am scheduled arrival in Seattle, would give me plenty of time to make it to the gig even if the train was running super late. The train was supposed to arrive in Sandpoint at 11:49pm. In the early evening, I checked on the train status webpage and knew that the train was already running 3 hours late, fairly typical for the Empire Builder. By 10pm, the lateness had grown to 5.5 hours, so I decided to get some sleep. I set my alarm for 4am and planned to check the status then. At 4am it was 9 hours late. I snoozed again until 6am; now it was running 11 hours late. This suggested that there might be a problem. Around 7am, the train status page just said “call customer service” which I did and found out that the Empire Builder was stuck behind a disabled freight train somewhere around Whitefish, MT. Furthermore, I found out that the Empire Builder was going to be terminated at Spokane and the passengers would be bussed to Seattle. This was not satisfactory, so I explored a plan B. By this time Amie’s dad was awake, he offered to drive me to Spokane if I could figure out something from there. I bought a ticket on Southwest Airlines for $137. So we went to the Spokane airport and I boarded a late morning plane to Sea-Tac, which departed about 1.5 hours late. The flight attendants scrambled to serve everyone drinks before we landed at Sea-Tac. I took a Link train to Columbia City Station and walked the .5 miles home, with skis, boots and a large bag in tow. I had about 20 minutes to take a shower, get dressed and catch a bus to Tacoma for the New Years gig.