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Sunday, September 4, 2022

What a wet couple of weeks!

The seasonal creek in front of the property
and the bridge that PB built.
It's been an eventful couple of weeks, first of all, rainy season, our monsoons have hit full blast, it seems to have come a bit late, but in fact, as it has been pointed out by a good friend just up the road (thanks Robert!), it's normal for the wettest part of rainy season to hit in August. It's just that the last few years have been not so spectacular in the rain department, it's easy to get lulled into a sense of security, forgetting just how much rain changes things. 

There are a few things the rain affects out here, first and (perhaps most important) is the internet. Our internet is, well it's just bad. That has a lot to do with the fact that we are so far from town and in a hard to get to place, line of site doesn't exist because of the mountains. We don't have that many options for internet, I chose to go with the local route, it's slow, expensive and getting someone out to do any kind of repairs when lightening strikes one of the transmission points or anything else happens is near impossible, and our internet has a habit of going down over the weekend, meaning no one in the office at the internet place 2 town over. I also don't have much of a cell connection, I do have a cell booster which helps, but since I'm working from home now, I've burned through the majority of my data allowance for the month and I have over 2 weeks left in the billing cycle, so I'm trying to go easy on that as much as I can.

We do have super high speed internet at our local community center, and it's free, the problem is our second problem that happens during rainy season, the roads. Living in a rural, mountain community with unpaved roads that stay dry most of the year, when we do get major rains, either hard rain or unrelenting rain (sometimes both at the same time), our roads really suffer. They either become very muddy or completely washed out, complete with boulders that get pushed into the roads at the low water crossings, rocks that you can't see under the rushing muddy water, the kind that will tear up your vehicle... it's best to stay home if you can. Our little community FaceBook page is full of people asking if their road is passable, or posting pictures and videos of their roads being washed out. So getting up to the community center where I could use the free highspeed internet is a challenge to impossible.

We do have our own private community road crew that maintains our roads, the county/city does not maintain our roads in any way, they do the best they can to repair the bad spots as they happen, but there is only so much they can do, they are wonderful to have around, I'm very grateful for them.

The other thing that happens during the rainy season, cloud cover, which is not so good for solar power. The photons are not getting through as much and the ones that are getting through are mighty thin... We have 3 separate solar systems, I really like redundancy, we have 2 separate sets of lithium iron batteries with their associated solar panels and all the goodies that go with them, and a third set of old deep cycle FLA golf cart batteries on their own solar system with all the associated goodies, that one is typically used only for the refrigerator (chest freezer to fridge conversion).

Normally if one system gets used more and ends up running out of power, we have the other two to rely on to get us through until the sun shines again. And generally, even with the cloud cover, our solar systems are robust enough to charge fully, usually... but with the excess cloud cover, especially those days with an extra thick layer of clouds, the kind the roll through the valley between the mountain tops, it just isn't bright enough to really tickle the solar panels. So we don't get a really good solid charge. Combine that with the fact that we are having to run a sump pump 24 hours a day for days in a row, the "basement" to the SkyCastle is dug into the mountain side so during the heavy rains, we get water seeping up through the ground, we have to run a sump pump to keep it from becoming flooded under the house and potentially undermining the structure of the SkyCastle itself.

That sump pump has priority over all other things right now, we cannot allow the basement to flood, that means even the fridge and freezer, internet, lights, water pump, any and all other things take a back seat to keeping that pump running. There have been a few nights that we had no power to spare for anything else, PB got up a couple of times during each night to check the pump and plug it to another power system as each one was drained of power.

We've managed to get through this, as we do each year, the sun does come up, the solar systems do charge back up, the clouds and rain eventually do go away, the roads dry up and are repaired, it's all part of the price we pay to get to live where we do. It's not for everyone, but we love it. It's an adventure everyday.

During the worst of our power woes, I had to, HAD TO get online to setup some meetings between my employer and a potential client, the internet had been working (barely) well enough, but the power fully went out on 2 of our systems, the third was dedicated fully to keeping the sump pump going. It was one of the super thick cloud cover days, it was soaking wet, the ground saturated, the road was a mucky slimy mess, 2 of the low water crossings I would have had to drive through were near impassable, I decided to walk. I grabbed my laptop, phone and an umbrella and took off on foot to get to my friend/neighbor/employer's house, essentially a block away, you can see it in this photo that I snapped from my property, the light colored roof is on their property. Fortunately another friend was driving past in a high clearance, 4 wheel drive truck, going the right direction for me, she picked me up and dropped me off where I needed to be, that meant I showed up with less mud on my shoes LOL. I was able to make the necessary connections online to get the meetings setup, it was a very productive day.

That has been what I have been dealing with the last few weeks. I hope your life has been good, in spite of what I just wrote above, I love this and wouldn't change it for anything. Autumn is here, winter is just around the corner, I am loving the direction my life has taken with my new job. I'm still not used to staying home as much as I have been, I do miss the people I used to interact with, but not bad enough to go back to that chapter of my life, it's time to move on and embrace this new chapter.

I have some fun and exciting things to talk about in future posts, looking forward to writing more!

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