Sol Fest Solar Energy Festival Has Become An EVENT/Skateboard Crash/David Grisman/Godfrey Stephens Carving/The Old and New Mini

This takes place every August on the Real Goods store/homestead/school/solar center in Hopland, California (about 2 hours north of San Francisco). The main theme is “alternative energy,” i.e. using the sun, wind, water and other natural forces to produce heat and energy. The other major subject is “green building,” i.e. straw-bale, cob, adobe, bamboo, and the like for construction. We set up a Shelter booth and sold books. The event has really jelled in the past few years; last year it was great; this year it was super. There were over a hundred booths, and good will and a healthy spirit in the air. Word has got out about this event. All manner of solar brilliance. Cooking with hydrogen, windmills of old and new design. Water generating wheels. Natural clothing,beautiful European grain grinders, solar-roasted coffee, builders’ books, all kinds of food, organic beer on tap, wine tasting, people were having fun! Plus, good music. David Grisman and friends played a great set onSaturday, the crowd kept them there an hour and a half, boogie-city. On Sunday the young bluegrass band Hot Buttered Rum had the big tent rockin and rollin. A lot of people were dressed to the T; all kinds of costumes, from practical to outrageous. Good vibes, mon. Real Goods staff and volunteers had the thing organized tightly, a difficult job with this level of activity.

Solar-roasted coffee beans by brothers David and Mike Hartkop. The power of the sun. People just loved this, it was witty, and it worked! A film crew from Bulgaria filmed it. As I write this I’m having a cup of latte I just made with their beans and for once I got the foam frothy enough.

James Brown watches over the Thanksgiving Coffee Company booth

David Grisman and his blue grass buddies connected strongly with the crowd.

We sold a ton of Home Work books. Something seems to have happened, at least in these circles, and we were swamped. In the two days about 100 people (no kidding!) told us how they’ve been inspired by Shelter, and now Home Work. A 4-year old said, “Mom, I want this book.” A 30s-year-old pointed to Shelter and said, “That book’s been around all my life.” Maya Jamal picked up Home Work and said, “Of all the books in the world, this is my favorite book.” I was stunned by all this. It’s a wonderful feeling, to connect.

Maya and her favorite book

Skateboard Crash of the Week, Deer Liver and Red Wine With Lou

I took off for points north on Friday. Lew was going to set up the booth, so I went up to see my friend Louie Frazier on Friday, and would then drive to Hopland Saturday morning. I took off about 4AM and headed up north on the coast, with a double shot of homemade espresso. I love this 3-hour drive. Beaches, cliffs, farmland, sheep.

I always start out early on this trip so I can get to Sea Ranch just after dawn. Sea Ranch is an exclusive and extensive community on the coast north of Ft. Ross. It has miles and miles of well-paved downhill pavement. It also has security guards who don’t take kindly to trespassing skateboarders cruising the private roads, so my to get there early, park my truck near a house that isn’t occupied, and skate. I found a hill that was steep in the middle; on my first run I started halfway down it, it went well, so I came back and went to the top, and took off. I got to the steep part, started accelerating fast and — there comes that moment where you have to make a decision: jump off while you still can, or go for it. I went for it. At the bottom I had to make a 90 degree left turn, came into it too fast, and crashed into the bank shoulder first, reinjuring a shoulder that had just about healed. I know, I know…

Got back on the road and lo and behold just south of Gulala was a freshly-killed faun on the highway. The very best of road kill. I picked it up, went on to Pt. Arena. Louie and I hung the deer up in a tree by the river and I skinned and cleaned it, washed it in the river, and packed it in ice for me to take home. For lunch Louie fried the liver, heart, and kidneys with onions, which we had with Louie’s homemade Zinfandel and slices of bread. Deer liver is an amazing food, way different from beef liver. This is real meat, not feedlot grain-fed anti-biotic’d beef. It connects you with wildness, opens a window back into our hunting/gathering past.

Deer liver, onions, herbs, sauteed in olive oil

After lunch both of us old guys took a nap. Then I took a swim in the river. Is this living or what?

The hometown bakery in Pt. Arena, Calif. has unique baked goods.

In Search Of Adventure 2006 and Richard Halliburton

When I was about 12, my favorite book was Richard Halliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels. Halliburton was a young explorer who criss-crossed the world in search of adventure. He swam through the Panama Canal, visited Petra, the city carved out of solid rock in The Dead Sea; he climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan and Popocatapetl in Mexico; got into forbidden Tibet and wrote about it all as if he was taking you, the reader along. My favorite: in India on a warm full moon night, he snuck past the sentry at the Taj Mahal, lowered himself into the reflecting pool and “…swam among the lotus blooms.”

Seeking adventure doesn’t have to be of the monumental variety. I thought of Halliburton yesterday: it was hot, and I walked down a local canyon to a creek. I found a pool, stripped, and got underwater. Simple. Immersed in the forces of the mountain. I look for adventure every day. Collecting mushrooms. Running on the beach. Skateboarding. Surfing. Paddling. A short bike ride. Going down a road not travelled before. Getting off the trails. You can do it anywhere; for example when you run in Central Park in NYC, you don’t have to stay on the paths or roads, but can cut through meadows and fields and climb rocks. Wherever you are, you can look for something that’s out of the daily-grind loop, that’s different and fun and exciting.

A Couple of Random Photos

The old Mini and the new Mini

Mask carved by Godfrey Stephens

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

Leave a Reply