Solar Phase II

Figured out a way to mount the solar panel on my Yakima Roof Rack

I cobbled together some extra Yakima Bar Clamps and miscellaneous hardware to make a secure attachment to my roof rack.  This will provide an easy out-of-the-way place for the panel to travel and, if the car is parked in a sunny spot at the campsite, I can charge the batteries without even taking it off the roof.  I found some steel bars with lots of holes - these will bolt onto the outside of the panel frame and provide a tilting mechanism if I want to angle the panel more directly towards the sun.

The Yakima quick releases give me the flexibility of taking the panel off to place it in the sunniest spot though - always an advantage when camping in the heavily treed Pac NW.

The process of getting quick connects on all the wire is not finished but progressing . . . 

As I read more about various solar installs that folks have done, I'm not sure my current wiring and connect solution is the best way to go - but I understand it and it works, so it will do for now. 
I have short little 'pigtails' attached to the battery so that I don't have to always be fiddling with getting into the battery box and attaching wires.  I have also installed similar little pigtails to the charge controller so that I can hook up either long or short runs of wire, depending on how far I have to go from the trailer to find a sunny spot for the panel. 

Battery pigtails at the top - attach to the pigtails on the charge controller

My first attempt at a weatherproof box to contain the charge controller was a failure!

The box is a little too small; the wood block that I mounted the charge controller on wouldn't glue to the bottom of the plastic box; the inner tubing that I glued to the front where the wiring would poke out wouldn't stay glued.  So, I'm still thinking through what might work.  Ideally, I'll have a box that will protect the charge controller and allow the wiring to easily come out of the box for use or curl back into the box for storage.  I'm also thinking that out of the 'load' side of the controller, I'll install a DC plug so that I can charge some accessories directly during the day.  I currently only have one DC plug inside the trailer so I'm a little limited for charging all my toys. 


So, I concentrated on a couple of simpler tasks while I cogitate . . .

A 15 foot security cable so that I can lock the panel to the trailer frame.

And, a mount and collapsible pole (dowels hooked together with pvc pipe connectors) for my TV antenna - for those rare occassions when there is reception from my campsite!

Drowning in Green Beans!

Anyone know how to make green beans taste like pizza?

Apparently compensating for the late start to summer, my garden has decided to produce gargantuan amounts of produce right now.  For the last couple of weeks, I've been pulling massive amounts of green beans and tomatoes out of my miniscule little garden spot.  The tomatoes have outstripped the ability of my 3 basil plants to keep up (basil, tomato, feta salad . . .  yummm!). 

I've made all my green bean recipes several times over and still have too many beans to deal with - and forget sharing with the neighbors - we're all trying to give away the same stuff.  I have been accepting giant cucumbers (not bad if you seed them and slice them thinly - into the basil/tomato salads!) and canoe-sized zuchinni (shredded zuchinni in casseroles, frittatas, zuchinni bread and the ever popular stuffed zuchinni boats).  I may have to resort to pickling the beans - I was hoping I was done with the pickling after putting up 22 quarts of dill pickles!

All in all, this horticultural exhuberance has been benefitting my diet - almost 20 pounds now.  Which should help postpone the inevitable second knee replacement surgery (left knee next) that I know is waiting down the road a ways - hopefully, well down the road if I can continue to shed the pounds and build up stabilizing muscle around the knee with more bicycling.

Now, if only I could find a green bean pizza recipe somewhere . . .

About this much every other day!!!  The beans are actually green and the dark tomato is a 'Black Crimm' - extremely yummy!

Not all wildlife is in the wilds

I saw this deer and her fawn

. . . as well as some Great Blue Herons on a very sweet little paddle almost within sight of the downtown skyscrapers of Portland OR.  Just south of town one can paddle around Ross Island and, I'm told, even see the occassional beaver.
Her fawn had just disappeared into the brush

Current Designs Vision 140 - sweet, very light day-paddle kayak

Fires, past and present, but recovery is everywhere

Suttle Lake showing old fire and spruce beetle damage


Mt Washington through the smoke haze of the current Pole Creek Fire.  Not bad when this picture was taken, the wind changed the next day and forced me to cut my trip short.


No pictures of the bald eagle I saw fishing the lake every day, but I caught some of the slower inhabitants

Solar Power - Beta Test

Too bad the site was so shady

The first real test of my new solar panel setup was a partial success - I was able to get an almost full charge every day with the limited sunlight available through all the trees.  However, I did have to be pretty judicious in my use of power to keep the balance between charging and usage.  It was pretty annoying having to chase the little bits of sunshine around all day and I rarely had a spot that didn't cast some shade on the panel, but overall I was pleased with the panel.  The controller doesn't give a lot of info - just lights to indicate whether the panel is providing power, whether the battery is accepting charge and it should show when the battery is full (but, I never got to that point). 

Next steps for the Solar Setup

I've been hard wiring all the connections - so my next step is to find some weather-proof quick connects so the system is easy to set up and dismantle.  Also, I want to find a waterproof box in which to mount the controller.
A brief moment of pure sunshine - lasted about 20 minutes.

The bare minimum!  Soon, the charge controller and wiring will be ensconsed in a more sophisticated setup.

Why I oughta . . . . . !

Despite their incredible cuteness, Chipmunks are rascally little rodents!

Hey! Take the dog for a walk so I can get some more of your food!

My campsite at Blue Bay was in the middle of a chipmunk village and they treated the arrival of my trailer like I used to greet the summer ice cream truck!  I thought they were quite cute until I came back from walking the dog and found 2 chipmunks had managed to get into the camper through the screen door.  After chasing them out, I spent the rest of the trip recovering from the damage! 

I'm told that cultivating an attitude of gratitude increases personal happiness, so in that spirit . . .

  • I'm grateful that the interlopers chewed holes in a peach and a tomato, not my toothpaste.
  • I'm grateful that they only chewed holes in the bag of dog kibble and not my upholstery.
  • I'm grateful that they pooped but didn't pee on my upholstery (much easier to clean up).
  • I'm grateful that the cupboards were closed so that the kibble they swiped was stored in my shoes and bed - easily shaken out.

The cute factor continued to work in their favor though . .

One morning, I found a couple chipmunks at the bottom of the dumpster when I went to dump some trash.  Clearly, they had jumped in but couldn't make it back out.  Did I leave them there?  Of course not!  I found a branch and angled it into the dumpster so that they could climb out.  Took them awhile but they caught on and raced out.

Throughout the entire week, Molly (my 'scared of her own shadow' greyhound) studiously ignored the chipmunks - a lot of help she was.  Maybe traveling with my cats won't be such a bad idea.  I don't think the 'munks would have dared break into the trailer with my two little feline hunters in residence.

Mirror Lake Hike

Ack! It's September already; the days are getting shorter, the trees are starting to turn, the Fireweed blossoms are almost to the top!

And that can mean only one thing - summer is nearly over.  Thus begins my annual rush to cram as much 'summer' into the next month or so as I possibly can.  I'm eating heirloom tomatoes, garden cucumbers and zuchinni at practically every meal.  And, I'm biking, walking, camping, home project-ing in every spare minute.

I had to try hiking - even though my knee (the temporarily non-titanium one) has been acting up.  For once, the knee went along with the program and didn't hurt (much) on the moderate 3 mile loop up to and around Mirror Lake - so called because of the fantastic view of Mt Hood and it's reflection in the lake.  I didn't get a picture of the great reflection however, too many tired and hot hiking dogs were playing in the water.

Sorry, I didn't get any pictures of the hike up to the lake.  I was too busy huffing and puffing through the many switchbacks.  There were lovely views of Zig-Zag Canyon.