Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hot Wind on My Shoulder

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

They called it puppy love

Introducing our new puppy!  What should we name her?
Make your suggestion in a comment!


Sunday, August 14, 2011


We've been busy, how about you?

On the 12th we headed out to our Solitario job site and ran into a few noteworthy mud puddles along the way.  Even though we have gotten probably less than a quarter inch over the past few days, some areas have gotten a lot more.  It seems like parts of the Solitario have been consistently getting a bit more than average. 

Even though our trucks are both two-wheel drive, Casey is a very skilled driver in all conditions, and navigated the mud pits and washouts with relative ease.  As residents of Terlingua, though, we all know that sometimes driving just isn't an option.  Flash floods can be very dangerous, and one can never know for certain what is below the surface of rushing water.  So we were not surprised to find out that Pat and Bob of Echo E. Ranch had spent Thursday night in town out of necessity.  We ran into them (figuratively) along South County road as they inspected it for navigability on their way back home Friday morning.

IMG_1522.JPGWe chatted about solar power and the desert until a stray cow meandered over and told us all to get a move on.

Back at the job site, we picked up where we had left off.  We connected the battery bank in a parallel-series configuration with two solid copper buss bars connecting the series strings into a parallel circuit.  These copper bars are really great and we hope to use them in future installations where applicable, and also in our own bank someday.

IMG_1592.JPGOnce the batteries were ready to take a charge, we wired the panels into one of the Apollo Solar charge controllers.  The setup process on this unit was remarkably simple and straight-forward, something we all hope MorningStar and OutBack adopt soon.

It was a long day, and we had a great view to watch the clouds forming all across the Big Bend skies.  It was plain to see that rain was in our future, but we didn't want to rush the job.  Nor did we want to get stranded at the site!

IMG_1608.JPGLucky for us, the rain held off until we began the drive back to town.  We could see that it was already raining on the Corazones though!  We hustled back and enjoyed the rest of the rain and wind from the comfort of our own home.

Saturday was spent beginning the installation of our bamboo flooring.  As you probably know, bamboo is one of the best raw materials on the planet, because it grows quickly, needs no fertilizer, and is incredibly strong.  While the flooring is considered "hardwood," bamboo is actually a grass.  It is as strong as any true hardwood floor, though, and looks amazing!  The flooring was less than $2 per square foot from Lumber Liquidators, and we borrowed the tool from Casey's sister and brother-in-law, so we saved a bundle and only paid retail for the cleats and the underlayment. 

IMG_1657.JPGThe weather has made it really easy to work inside!  The temps have dropped from triple digits to lower eighties, and the humidity hasn't been that bad either. 

We have had a few severe winds, as our turbine will attest.  We lost one of our blades while we were out in the Solitario, and had some things scattered across the desert.

The thunder and rain has signaled a late spring to many desert animals, like the Leopard Frogs, which were bouncing right out of the sand at the sound of a storm slightly to the south.  I also spotted the second rattlesnake of the season, a three foot long Black Tail Rattlesnake that was crossing Lake Ament Rd at the creek.  I didn't have a camera on me when I saw the snake, but trust me that she was beautiful! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Go West, Young Couple ...

After a beautiful wedding and a dreamy honeymoon vacation in Maine, we arrived back at the homestead and began packing for the long haul back to Texas.  We were surprised to see how much stuff we still had stowed away at Casey's parents' home, but Casey got the bulk of it packed into the truck.  We still had to leave a few boxes of knickknacks behind, but we were able to find room for a few bulky, but extremely useful items. 

Aside from clothes and personal effects, we squeezed in a wood chipper (for turning greasewood into gasifier feedstock), a gently used window (for our bathroom), a Honda 100 dirt bike (for fun), a spare 1-cyl engine (for who-knows-what), my parabolic skis (for someday), and a cooler my mother bought us that can fit not one, but two dead bodies (not actually for dead bodies, but tons of groceries)!

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After an unusually long (for the Catskills) period without rain, the precipitation decided to make a comeback on the day we were finishing packing and heading out.  So some last minute weatherproofing was called for, which delayed our departure by a few hours.

It could have been worse, though.  At least we weren't trying to install Casey's parents' septic system in the downpour.
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After a week in New Jersey with my family and friends, we hauled ass to Tennessee, and from there to Glen Rose, Texas.

On the third and final day of driving, we stopped in San Angelo TX to pick up a few more items. With our stuff from Ny and NJ, and the toilet, groceries, tools, underlayment, et cetera, the load probably weighed close to 1,200 pounds.  Thankfully, before we had loaded up in NY Casey installed some air shocks in the back end.  The maximum air pressure we can pump the shocks up to is 150 psi, and with that load we had them up to 130 psi.
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We managed to make it back to the Ranch before sundown, and we unpacked that truck faster than I could have ever imagined. 

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Since our septic system had been installed while we were out of town, there was nothing stopping us anymore from having a real indoor toilet.  So of course the installation of said toilet was the first item on my new hubby's Honey-Do list. 
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When we got back, there still hadn't been any significant rain, but there was a sprinkle substantial enough to clean up the roads a bit.  The skies were full of clouds, but they could not be convinced to drop any water.
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We want to get our bamboo floor underway as soon as possible, so we took a few planks out of the packaging for the first time since we purchased the flooring.  It is going to look amazing, but our air compressor is in need of some serious engine surgery, so the project will have to wait until Casey can perform a transplant and get it running again.

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Working hard does not mean you can't have a little fun, though!  And Casey is so excited to finally have a dirt bike down here.  In just a few days, I think he will have motored up and down Lake Ament road and all the side roads.  Just be careful not to drive through anyone's yard, Casey!

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Our next project after the toilet was finished (and the floor got put on hold) was to install the window we brought down.  It was a very satisfying project, and was done in time to enjoy a cross-breeze of the evening wind.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

On the road (yet) again ...

We left the hot n' steamy New Jersey Shore yesterday morning at 6:30 and arrived in (also muggy and buggy) Lebanon, Tennessee at about 10:30 PM eastern time (9:30 local time). Were still not sure exactly where the time zone line was -- you would think someone would put up a sign or something.

With fourteen hours behind us, we have another fourteen ahead of us before we reach our next stopping (and shopping) point, San Angelo, Texas.

Despite the usual hiccups and hurdles, the trip seems to be going well so far.  If we crash and die, we'll be sure to post it right away! 

Can't wait to be home ...