Saturday, August 27, 2011

Solar Panel Array Project

We are installing a solar panel array in our upper meadow which will hopefully provide all our electricity. It is connected to the electric company rather than using our own batteries. When we're making more power than we're using, the utility company buys the extra power from us. When it's cloudy or we're power heavy, we buy it back. We can't sell more than we use over time; hardly likely to be a problem. If we come out even, we'll be ecstatic.

Scott and Terry Martin unload the steel pipes

The "before" picture - you can see the stakes in the ground marking the site
Terry carrying the cement mixer up to the work site

These forms for the cement bases were balanced carefully
on the truck

And then Terry held them there during the
drive to the location
Scott took a course in solar installation and design last summer on line. He had designed the system with help from his instructor, Khanti. He hired several contractors to assist with the work. Over the summer he's been ordering the components from a variety of vendors.
We began construction this Tuesday, August 23 with the arrival of Terry Martin, his equipment and the steel pipes. Getting all the materials up to the site was the first challenge. Our upper meadow was recently brush hogged by Terry's partner Greg Miller and is not easy to get to with a truck, let alone carrying all this material. As you can see from the pictures it was slow going.
Dave, Scott, Greg Miller and Terry working hard to
install the vertical poles, six in all. 

I've adjusted the camera angle to vertical following the
post on the left so you can see the slope

All six verticals and the horizontals are up and ready for
the solar panels - arriving on Monday
One set completed and working on the second

The array consists of two sets of three vertical posts, sunk in concrete molds, each with a horizontal steel bar across. Fourteen solar panels will be mounted on one and thirteen on the other. A cable buried in a four foot trench, 18" down, links the array with the house. More on all of this later...
Next was digging the trench for the cable linking the
house with the solar array

Here's a better shot of Terry starting
the trench - lots of rocks of course!

There was over 500 feet of trench to be dug, cable laid
and then it all had to be covered up and raked smooth

Update on the Lean-to Project

Scott frames in the window opening

Window installed, siding completed - awaiting the new
roof, arriving on Monday
View from the side

A quick update on the lean-to project. Scott nailed boards over the roof extension in front to complete the roof - now awaiting the green tin overlay arriving this Monday. He then framed the window opening, installed the window and then finished the siding. He and I plan to put the roof on this week. Gail Smith has volunteered to help. More details to follow...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Saratoga Springs, "The City in the Country"

My sister and I had a lovely three day visit over to Saratoga Springs in New York. It's only an hour and a half from our home in Vermont and a pretty drive. We detoured a bit to drive along some of the Lake George water front. The down town is really honky tonk compared to Saratoga Springs but it's a beautiful lake.
We stayed at a Best Western as my sister is in a wheel chair. Most of the beautiful old Inns and Bed and Breakfasts are not accessable. The rest of the city wasn't generally a problem. We found the ramps down to the handicap seating at the Saratoga Performing Center very steep but luckily the ushers were very helpful. They arranged for us to be picked up after the performance by a golf type cart and returned to the parking lot. We saw the NYC Ballet perform Balanchine's "Jewels" and it was spectacular.
Gracious old Inns line the main street. A wide swath of
lawn, flowers and benches separate the sidewalk from
the street.

A large variety of stores and restaurants fill every available
storefront - unlike many down towns like our own in
Rutland, VT

Another view of the mini parks that line the streets

Horses are the city's mascot and
beautifully painted ones decorated
the streets and parks

The Adelphi Hotel is one of the oldest remaining Inns in
the city. An example of High Victorian it was built in 1877.

Congress Park in the heart of the city. Laid out and built in
1822 around some of the springs. Frederick Law Olmsted
did the landscape design in 1876.  It was neglected and fell
into disrepair in the 1930's and renovated beginning in 1976.

Two of the pavilions surrounding the still working springs

Great lawns and paths surround the ponds, streams, statues and fountains 

Part of the Italian gardens in a corner of the park. 

The city is really beautiful and luckily we had perfect weather. As you can see from the photos, it's a great place to walk around. We enjoyed all our meals there as well. Before leaving we stopped in at the Saratoga Race Track which was opening the following weekend. Scott and I hope to get over there in August for the early morning breakfast to watch the horses work out. I've done it before and it's amazing.

Looking back at the statues of Pan and the Meneads placed
around the sundial. In the back left is the path and stream
seen above.

The former casino known as The Clubhouse was built in
1870 and is now home to the Saratoga Springs History

Shakespeare in the Park - almost every night for two weeks
in July. This year it was Merchant of Venice

You can ride for free on this beautiful carousel carved by
Marcus Charles Illions.

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is host to
the NYC Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra as well
as a number of popular musical performers during the
summer months

There is a huge variety of retail stores downtown. I found
some elegant clothing here at Lifestyles on sale.

The Bread Basket Bakery is a great way to start the morning!

We had our first night's dinner at the Lake Ridge Restaurant
in Round Lake, NY around 15 minutes from Saratoga -
very good food, nice atmosphere and service, expensive

Forno Toscano Bistro at 541 Broadway, right
downtown was a fun, lively place with
very tasty food, moderate to expensive prices.
 You can eat outside too.

The Karavalli Regional Restaurant at 47 Caroline St., also
downtown, had good Indian food at moderate prices
with attractive decor

Monday, August 08, 2011

Building a Lean-to - Week Two

In week two we finished planking the roof, carrying in all the materials, and most of the walls.  One side wall is only half finished because we're installing a window there. The roof is all complete except for the green tin cover arriving in a week or so. Friday and Saturday nights were party nights with a lot of Sean's friends arriving and in some cases departing. Each morning we worked on site and then moved on to more fun activities - we are all on vacation after all.
Sean organized hikes on the Appalachian/Long Trail ending at Clarendon Gorge with a swim in the river. Many of the group are runners and various length/routes were completed each day. And of course, we ate and ate and ate and did a little drinking too! There were hot tub records set - eight adults at one time, and midnight swims. Despite all this, the lean-to was 85% complete by the end of the two weeks. Thanks everyone!
Friday night a big group arrived, although all but Derrick had to leave the next morning. Shown here from left
Molly, Trey, David, Erica, Chris, Will, Sean and Derrick

Will working on attaching the roof planks to the joists
with the nail gun

Saturday morning's work crew -
Derrick, Will, Sean, Heather and Scott

Spring Lake is just up our road. We swam
there during the day and sometimes
late at night.

Hannah, Piper and Jenny joined us on
Saturday along with Courtney and Deb 

Piper and Hannah carried in a lot of lumber on Sunday

Derrick makes even hard work more fun. He's working
as a team with Deb

At the end of Sunday morning the roof was finished
and all the materials carried in and stored neatly on site.
Work crew first row; Deb, Piper, Hannah, Jenny and
Heather. In the rear; Sean, Derrick and Will (Scott
taking photo)

Jenny hamming it up with her salad

Courtney is finally in the picture. She needed Saturday
morning to catch up on her sleep.
Here's the full weekend work crew - top Hannah, Piper,
Courtney, Jenny and Deb
bottom - Sean, Will and Derrick

Our daughter Zoe and grandson Nick joined the party on
Saturday - here at the lake enjoying the great weather.

Grandson Tommy provided music and
entertainment for us

Deb worked hard on the siding

Courtney stretching her long legs up to the
top of the job

They really did an artistic job on our siding

Derrick, Hannah and Gabriel nailing in the nailers

Nick helps by keeping everyone supplied with nails

Tuesday's work crew - Gabriel, Hannah, Piper and Nick in front
Courtney, Deb, Derrick, Scott and Sean in back
Heather took the picture

Wandi and Lisa at our ever present meals. Wandi and
parents, Scott's brother Brent and wife Wilma arrived
along with Lisa and son Gabriel on Monday

Thursday's work crew - Courtney, Piper, Sean, Nick and
Scott (Heather taking photo)

Not all work no play - fooling around in the kitchen,
Brent, Courtney and Wilma

Play and work perfectly combined - Piper helps
Nick build a Lego Millinium Falcon

And Courtney works/plays with Tommy to construct
a Lego garage with lots of cars and a helicopter

There's time for relaxing too

Sean is nailing in the supports for the roof extension.  We
ordered a special 18 foot 4 x 4 beam for the front of this.
It was a tough job hoisting it up in place!

Nick helped Piper and Courtney with their table top

They built a bench too!

The final work crew on Friday - Piper, Nick, Sean, Courtney, Scott and Heather