I had heard about Ephemerisle a few years back, but the schedule didn't work out until this year. Stellar Grey was nice enough to invite us on DIYsland, the 2nd main island after the Elysium complex. Much smaller, but also fewer sharp edges :)
While I wasn't able to help with the far away build in Oakland, I was able to work on a solar charging system that provided a lot of DC charging for cell phones, radios, lipo batteries, and other batteries:
the word got around, more happy customers :)
1.6Kwh served after 3 days, not bad (about 1/3rd to 1/4th of what an apartment uses in a day)
Being on DIYsland meant that we had to boat everywhere though. Elysium was "just across" but not really close enough that you'd want to swim there. The current was strong enough that it was hard to get to with our crappy inflatable at times (which I chose over a kayak to avoid rollover risks)
Sadly, Elysium which was full of sharp edges, wood splinters and things that would cut you (my pants got ripped on the first day), or puncture your inflatable, put a huge tear in our inflatable on the 3rd day:
it was long enough that patch kits didn't cover the tear. Duct tape did though
The problem with duct tape is that it's not really water proof. I was able to use duct tape to hold for a 5mn ride back to our island, and it prompty failed and deflated after that, thankfully when I was safely out of the water. Now, it's not that I can't swim, but I was full of electronics that don't like water at all, and ending up in the water at 02:30 in the dark and in strong current, is not the best thing ever. So, I superglued the duct tape for better water resistance and then duct taped the shit out of it:
My shirt is nice, but it just isn't made for swimming :)
Anyway, we drove to Pirate's Lair on Thursday and got picked up for a quick-ish boat ride to DIYsland:
home sweet home for a few days
our island because it got expanded a few times
we had entertainment :)
and evening music entertainment
On thursday afternoon, we went to Elysium to see the Sean Frenzy Commemorative Competitive swim that re-enacts Sean swimming away from the coast guard while on acid and running on land naked to get away from them (they did eventually catch him and released him later when he was feeling better :) ):
the winner won by quite a bit
for extra points he even ran to the helicopter
it went for a few flights during the week
also a water plane
The Elysium complex was "interesting", the connecting "roads" however moved and disappeared a few times during the next few days, temporarily standing people on one side or the other of the complex:
floating RV, nice :)
Interesting boats and floating things:
a bunch of other boats were rafted up together
great RV boat
More Elysium shots:
humans vs zombies
I even managed to run into my friend Shawn on the last evening
Some overview pictures:
Some sunset pictures:
Night was "interesting". By then, you kind of forget that you're only on a small river. It feels like you're in the middle of an ocean and that you'd better make your destination, or you could perish at sea :) This definitely made a difference when I was riding that could fail anytime raft on the last night.
Johan made a remote controlled kayak that shot fire:
Of course, night had partying. There was an awesome DJ boat:
Blues House had music of course:
DIYsland also had dancing, music and singing:
Some other boats paired up on saturday with the DJ boat for their own party. I only went to check it out once due to the untrustworthy duct taped raft:
The barge had a big dancing platform:
The trip back on Sunday was "interesting". I accepted an early-ish ride back to Pirate's Lair, but in the end it took over 2.5h to get back instead of 10mn because we were towing platforms and people which divided our speed by 10x:
did anyone call for pizza?
it was a long slow ride...
this is what I should have brought ;)
after way too long, we got back to Pirate's Lair
Thanks to all for all the hard work building and then taking back down this big city on water.
While we were home, a heard a hard thump. A young little bird flew right into our glass door. I found it on the ground, where thankfully it was just stunned. I was able to pick it up, and after a minute or so, it was able to fly off, looking good enough.
Since I had seen a lot of Sydney already, for my 4th visit there, I figured I would try and learn surfing. I signed up for a so called surf school with wavessurfschool.com.au which supposedly supposedly had 2x 2H of surf instruction, but really it was 15mn of very basic instruction with maybe another 30mn of help in the water, and then that's it. We got maybe 2.5H in the water with very little instruction, and few waves (often a 5mn wait between 2 rideable waves, sucks when you're trying to practise).
We had to get out of the water by 15:00 and basically I learned virtually nothing and wasted my day :(
too many people going to the beach that day and clogging up everything while interrupting our class
While I mostly lost a day not learning to surf, I went back, the next weekend with a different company, Australian Surf Tours, and this time booked a private set of lessons on a farther away beach by Thirroul (1h30 train ride away):
we started by looking at surf boards to get a feel for what exists
this was hard
too many times, I ended up like this :)
Long story short, I definitely learned a lot more. My instructor Tom Berridge did a good job, and while at the time I felt like after some rest I could have done another session, I was definitely getting tired after the 2nd set of sessions after lunch, and struggling to get up and pick the right waves. Tom saved me tons of time by choosing the right waves for me, and pushing me on the right ones so that I got a lot more training than I would have anyway.
Just to show how much I suck, or that it's not super easy, a compilation of failures:
and probably my only time successfully getting up later in the day when I was getting more tired:
It was definitely a good learning experience, but I sure would need a lot more practise before I feel like I'd be self sufficient
A few notes for myself if I try this again later:
Toes on the back of the board
Lift up and lock the arms straight up without grabbing the edges of the board
Stand up with back foot first
Try to have front foot as close to perpendicular to the board as possible
Quickly-ish put front foot forward without putting a knee down and taking off one hand but not the other
Keep enough weight in the back not to nose dive (it will happen anyway if the wave is breaking)
Don't put too much weight back that the board, it brakes and stops
Look for rip currents where waves break last, and use that to paddle out to the next wave
You can catch waves after they break or before. While they break will flip the board over.
Tried some Lion Mare, very interesting and easy to grow mushroom that is actually quite tasty:
it was already primed when I got it, ready to grow
it came to a sad end for the mushroom, but it was yummy for us :)
The other set was yellow oyster mushroom. This was a bit more picky. It had to be tented in to keep the moisture, otherwise it would dry out. However, doing so would also asphyxiate it and it would die because it couldn't breathe, but if you make too many breathing holes, then it's at risk of drying out again:
For our first day in Bruxelles, we went to check out Mini Europe because it looked fun. and it was. The only mistake is that we should have gone to see the Atomium first, before the line got stupidly long. I did get a few pictures Mini Europe from the Atomium, and those were nice:
After having gone to Kirkwood where the conditions were terrible, we left early since skiing ice was no fun at all. Arturo made the great suggestion of going to visit Black Chasm Cavern on the road back, just off SR88.
So let's be honest, it's far from being the best cavern I've visited in the US, however, it has a vast arrays of rare helictite crystals, which I had never seen anywhere else. Water pressure causes water droplets to be pushed out of the rock, evaporate, and leaves behind very unusual organic looking growths:
Good call Arturo, thank you (and thanks to Johannes for getting us there)