Sunday, December 23, 2007


A Christmas present for Pat

In an earlier post I told you all that I'd have more about those flowers known as Protea that grow at about the 2500 foot level on Mt. Haleakala. Maui Protea can be ordered to most places in the world that have overnight delivery by FedEx from Sunrise Protea Farm. We visited this farm on the same day that we went to the top of Mt. Haleakala and I decided then that I wanted to order some for Pat for Christmas. Ordering them went fine- the only problem was me deciding which one I wanted to get. These flowers come looking beautiful, then they dry to become a neat dried flower display. Due to that I thought it might be best to get one of their baskets rather than a bouquet that would need a vase, which is not provided. The basket I ordered comes in one made of bamboo wood so it should look good when the flowers have dried.

The FedEx truck arrived a bit after 13:00 Thursday, just after we had finished eating lunch. Pat's two grandkids were over for the day as their school ended for the holidays the day before. N was helping Pat bake cookies, B and I played billiards and some other games. Anyway, the kids got to see the flowers about as soon as Pat did. She recognized what they were as soon as she saw the label on the package. They should last about two weeks in very good condition, then we stop watering them and they begin the drying process. I'll let you all know later how that goes. Anyway, here are some photos I took today of the Maui Protea flowers:

Protea basket 01a
This first photo shows the basket sitting on our dining room table, with the Christmas wrapping paper that I used for a background. There is one very large bloom that is known as a King Protea in the center and it has many others of various varieties grouped around it. We placed it on a small plate as the basket is not water tight, so it leaks.

Protea basket 02
Here is a closer view that still displays the King Protea pretty well but also gives a glimpse of some of the others.

Protea basket 03
A different angle showing a better view of some of the other blooms. We bought seeds while we were there that should grow some similar to the purple and black one at the center left side of the photo. However, we have learned that it is two years after planting before you should expect to see your first flower. And that is assuming that we will eventually get our sunroom built!

Protea basket 04
I've turned it a bit to get a different view of some of the other blooms.

Protea basket 05
And here is a still slightly different view.

Protea basket 06b
A closeup shot of the King Protea. It measures about 4 1/2 inches across so is pretty large.

I had fun taking these photos but they really don't do justice to these amazing plants. Follow the link I included above to go check their web site and you will see other photos and what they offer to order. I don't know how well those we want to grow will do but it will be fun to try. In the meantime, we will have these to enjoy and, hopefully, continue enjoying after they dry.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Photoshop Elements play- a panarama photo

I got into my new version of Photoshop Elements today to try doing something that Jude from Edmonton Alberta pointed out to me that would be interesting. She took the two photos that I had posted earlier of the crater at the top of Mt. Haleakala and stitched them together to make one wide or panorama type photo. I thought I'd look through the photos I have from there and give the new version 6 with it's improved stitching of photos feature a try and this is what I came up with:

Haleakala panarama 1- 6 inch wide
This is made up of three original photos that have been combined into one. If I printed it at it's original 300 dots per inch it would make a photo 33 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall. I figured I would have to reduce it a bit in order to fit it into my blog and hope that I guessed about the right amount. I'll find out when I check the blog after I finish this post.

The process of making it was very easy and I'd recommend to anyone that they try the process. It sure makes a different photo from what the original looked like and makes it a lot easier for the viewer to get the overall picture. I know there are other programs available to stitch photos- the one used by Jude is different. PSE v6 has made quite an effort to improve their process and I'd say it is very easy- the computer does most of the work.

Our sunroom is still in it's 15 packages. No one has shown up to start to do anything in the way of assembling it. At this point I'd guess nothing will happen until after at least Christmas Day and probably until after New Years Day. We are starting to think of it as our phantom sunroom. I don't think I would recommend that anyone use the company that we did if they want a sunroom, unless you just want a phantom one. They do that well.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Wow, over a week since my last post!

I see it has been over a week since I last posted here and still do not have any photos ready to go, but will go ahead and admit to still exchanging air daily. I have been busy wrapping packages, still buying some things, getting our Christmas cards ready to order and now addressing them, etc. And we seem to be into the Christmas party season. Last night was the one in our senior park (that Pat was the Chairman of) and tonight is the one for my YMCA exercise group. There is another YMCA one the Friday before Christmas but it is a daytime luncheon.

My former next door neighbors are heading out today with their RV for the southwest. I envy them but I'd wait at this time and not leave until after Christmas. Annie & I did leave on Dec. 9th on what was to be her last Snowbird trip and we really missed being with our kids & grandkids for the holidays. I can maybe understand it if we were heading south in mid-Oct or something like that but this close, naa, I'd wait. I do know some who go south, then store their RV and fly home for a two week "vacation" or something like that in order to be home for the holidays. I still hold out slim hope that maybe we can do it (Snowbird) for 3 or 4 weeks in Feb/Mar.

We did get a phone call this morning saying they should be here today to start installing our sunroom. That is the sunroom that was supposed to be finished before Halloween. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting but it will be interesting to see if it happens. I'll plan to take some photos of the project as it is built.

Enough for now- time to start back to my wrapper job.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Our RVs solar system

I recently was reminded that I still haven't posted any photos of the solar system we had installed in our motorhome in early October. I have had the photos available and even ready to go to Flickr but just got so tied up with Maui photos that I hadn't done that post. I have just installed Photoshop Elements version 6 on my computer and will be playing with it awhile to learn the changes, so it will be a bit longer before I get to those other Maui photos. I will go ahead and post the set about the solar system.

Firstly, a solar system is a way of charging batteries from sunlight. The main advantage is to keep the batteries charged even while the rig is not connected to the power grid, like if we are boondocking out in the desert. The panels take the sunlight and convert it into an electric charge, the solar controller handles the monitoring of the charge condition of the batteries & sends power to them when needed from the panels. We have two 100 watt panels that are high output type panels, delivering enough voltage that the controller can take the extra voltage and convert it into amperage so that under good conditions the panels will deliver more power to the batteries than just the 200 watts the panels are rated for.

The first five photos were taken by the folks at AM Solar when they installed the system.

Solar system 01
This shows the entry to our motorhome with a light switch and the monitor panel for the solar controller on the wall beside the entry steps. This panel tells us how much power we are getting from the system and what is or is not going into the batteries, as well as the charge state of the batteries.

Solar system 02
A closer view of that monitor. Our system will charge two battery banks so it also keeps up the engine starting battery, which is important if you will be stationary for a couple of weeks and not running the RV engine. You would be surprised how large the phantom loads on batteries in vehicles really are.

Solar system 03
Here is the actual charge controller which is mounted out of sight under the kitchen cabinets. The batteries are located in a storage compartment directly below this which is good as you want to keep your wire runs as short as possible in order to avoid loss of power.

Solar system 04
The actual solar panels are about 2 feet by 4 feet in size and mounted on the roof. We can tilt them which adds about 50% more output in the winter by aiming them at the sun rather than just leaving them flat on the roof. This isn't as important in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky so it shines more directly at a flat mounted panel. These panels should last almost indefinitely as there are no moving parts to wear out and the glass surface will resist direct hits by large hail and other road hazards. The wires go to a combiner box and from there down the fridge vent into the interior of the RV, so no new hole had to be cut in the roof. I like to keep holes in the roof to a minimum as they can turn into water leaks if you are not careful in keeping them caulked.

Solar system 05
Most RVs come with pretty small batteries for use as house batteries. We upgraded to two Lifeline brand absorbed glass mat (AGM) 6 volt golf cart type units that together provide 220 amp hours of 12 volt power. This is only half the battery capacity I had in the Sea Breeze motorhome but I think it will be enough for our needs. I love the AGM type units as they are totally sealed and need no maintenance, plus have some other advantages. We can even run a small inverter to power things like the entertainment center that need 120 volt AC power.

Solar system 06
Here we are parked in our overnight space in a campground in Centralia, WA on our way home. You can see the typical RV hookups and my Saturn tow car connected to the tow bar and also one of the solar panels on the roof. Here we had power from the grid as you can see from the cable running from the side connector on the RV.

Solar system 07
This telephoto shot shows both of the solar panels on the roof. They are pretty easy to reach to tilt toward the sun when that is needed. We do not carry anything else on the roof so didn't loose any storage by locating the panels there.

I really like having a solar system as it is working all of the time. If I leave the rig parked in it's storage lot for a period of time, even without a power hookup, it will keep both the engine starting and house batteries charged. They are also gentle and charge batteries properly and fully, tapering the charge down to just a trickle when they come up to full charge. These systems are fairly expensive but I think well worth their cost. Especially if you like to boondock away from power hookups.

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