The trip to the east coast

Alas, I have returned.  After ten hour traveling days, I have arrived back at home.  The cat is certainly happy to have me home (she’s sitting in my lap at the moment.)

Really had a good time out in DC.  Spent some time at the Jefferson building of the Library of Congress.   Then on to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Definitely a highlight of the trip, something that I have wanted to see for quite some time.  The next day we went on down to Mt Vernon, Washington’s estate.  That place is pretty damn cool.  Washington, being a self taught architect, designed the house and all of the out buildings.  He was also into “technology”, things like a rope and pulley system that rang bells in the kitchen to inform the workers (they were mostly slaves) that one of the guests required assistance.  There were also 13 fireplaces in the house… can you imagine keeping 13 fireplaces running in the winter time in northern Virginia?

From the house, we drove on down the road the Washington’s distillery and grist miller.  As I mentioned before, Washington was into technology, and his grist mill was cutting edge for the day.  There is a 16 foot water wheel, that was fed by a two mile long ditch fed by a pond at the other end.  From the pond to the mill the land dropped eighteen feet, to make sure that there was constant water pressure to turn the wheel.  His distillery, at it’s peak, produced almost 11,000 gallons of rye whiskey, which in 1799 made Washington the largest producer of whiskey in America.  If you find yourself in northern Virginia, and are interested in history… and spirits, I highly recommend you stop by Washington’s distillery and gristmill, it will be worth the trip.

After leaving Mt Vernon, we drove out to and through Shenandoah National Park.  Plenty of wildlife around for those who look.  We saw several deer and a black bear.  Definitely one of the most beautiful places this country has to offer.  The history of the valley is interesting as well.  ” Employing audacity and rapid, unpredictable movements on interior lines, Jackson’s 17,000 men marched 646 miles (1,040 km) in 48 days and won several minor battles as they successfully engaged three Union armies (52,000 men), preventing them from reinforcing the Union offensive against Richmond.”  excerpt taken from wikipedia.  Needles to say the place has some history.  Before California was considered the “breadbasket” of the US, the Shenandoah valley held that distinction and to this day, it is one of the most fertile locations.

After Shenandoah, we drove on through to the observatory in Green Bank WV.  NRAO, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.  The “GBT” or great big telescope is the main dish at the facility as well as the largest man made moveable structure on the planet.  It stands 485 feet tall and the collection is is 110 meters by 100 meters… the thing is huge.  My girlfriend is working at the observatory for the summer, so we got a tour of the place… pretty cool piece of equipment.  They are scanning the Orion nebula, checking the composition of compounds that are floating in interstellar space, which just so happens to be one of the greatest star making regions in our galaxy.

I have said it already, but I do mean it, if you find yourself out on the central east coast, I highly recommend you check out a couple of the places.  It really helps ground you, knowing a little more of the history of our country, and seeing some of our own “state of the art” equipment in action.

 

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Time for a little R&R

Going to be flying out the DC area in a couple of hours for some much needed R&R.  This past week with other people being out on vacation from work, it has been absolutely nuts.  To top it off I haven’t seen my sweetie in almost 5 weeks, I am chomping at the bit.  Time can’t move fast enough.  After checking out the archives or whatever else we decide to do, we will be heading to the NRAO in Green Bank WV to see where she is working this summer.

I hope everyone’s summer is going well.

See ya’ll in a week!

One step closer, intalling drip irrigation

This weekend I finally got the drip irrigation system installed in the back garden.  This was the first time that I had installed such a system, so it was a bit of a learning experience.  Going into it, I had an idea in my head of how it was going to look and function.  As with many things in life, we get into it and something that you don’t expect comes up.  Since the plans were in my head, yes… I know better… the basic layout was simple, there were jut a few things that came up that could have been avoided had I had a plan drawn out ahead of time.

Starting at the hose bib, as with just about all projects you have to start at the beginning (DUH) I rolled out the 1/2″ line to see where I wanted to splice in the first tee.  Piece of cake, no issues, make the first cut.  From the tee, splitting off, I run about four feet of 1/2″ line to feed two 1/4″ lines that will be watering my hops.  Check, piece of cake.

On to the raised beds.  This is the point at which a drawn plan would have come in handy.  You see, my beds are offset a little bit.  They are ab out two feet apart, but one is about three feet closer to the house then the other.  So I guess the length of 1/2″ hose I am going to need and how I want to connect each bed to the main line.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the fittings are friction fittings, you push the tubing into the fitting and it will not allow you to pull the tubing out.  I had connected the left hand bed top the tee and the right hand bed to the elbow.  Which put the left hand feed line about ix inches from the edge of the bed.  Well… it wasn’t pretty, but you can actually get the tubing out of the fittings.  Minor issue, but it was something that was completely avoidable. From here I used some 1/4″ pre “drippered” tubing to do the job inside the beds.  Not sure I will be completely happy with the 12″ spaced dripper tubing, but we shall see how it goes, all of the base work is done, all I would have to do is change a couple of parts to get the desired effect.

So now, I do not have to worry about the plants getting over watered or forgotten when I go on a trip and have the watering taken care of.  I also invested a little bit more money and purchased an inline timer for the system, so that it is even less maintenance.  I think my hops will end up doing much better with a consistent watering schedule.  Time will tell.