Yesterday, I wrote about our trip to Colorado to go to the Dead concert and to visit some of my family. While we were at my sister’s new place in the wilds of the CO mountains, Dennis particularly wanted to get the details on their solar panel installation, the battery bank, and the inverter for the house current. I had mentioned that they are totally off the grid, just like we are in Belize. But they are able to go a little more high tech than we are. Their house is poured concrete and their south facing window wall is a passive solar collector. This window wall lets sunlight fall on the concrete floor, which is stained a gorgeous deep swirly reddish chestnut color, collect heat and transfer it to the water pipes embedded in the concrete. Then they have a recirculator that pumps the water around so that the shaded floor can be warmed. Very cool system. And their Outback inverter is much more sophisticated than what we have in Belize. We may go with a system similar to theirs when we upgrade to mostly solar after we move to Belize permanently. Right now, we use a diesel generator to charge our battery bank, which is considerably smaller than theirs is. They have a propane generator as a backup to solar. Eventually our diesel will be the backup instead of the primary, but we are not there yet.
We did a lot of hiking while we were there. It was nice and sunny, but the wind was fierce. You can see some of the photos I took if you open my Colorado Mountains album on Picasa (http://picasaweb.google.com/lulalaney/ColoradoMountainsNearFtCollins#). But here are a few of my favorites.
On Saturday, my nephew, his wife, and their 2 terrific children came for the day. We went hiking to one of their favorite places that they have named “Crystal Mountain”. Crystal Mountain is a huge outcropping of stone that is loaded with quartz crystals. Some of them look like geodes and some are loose faceted obelisks that are clear. Very pretty and loads of fun to search for. We had a picnic lunch there. On our hike back to the house we saw coyote scat with fur and little tiny bones, a mysterious lone little speckled egg in the grass, loads of grasshoppers, and tiny little flowers almost hidden in the grass. It was a great day.
Dennis and I flew back to MN and then almost immediately left for a trip to Georgia. I gave a talk at a conference in Athens, where Dennis and I had lived for many years. We got caught up with old friends while we were there. After that we spent the weekend with my mother, who lives nearby. We spent part of a day with her at a state park in the foothills, Victoria Bryant State Park. Here are links to 2 Picasa albums from that trip: http://picasaweb.google.com/lulalaney/VictoriaBryantStateParkGA#
And below are some of my favorites.