I hadn’t talked to Jenn in months, but as soon as she found out we were only two hours away, she cancelled plans to hang out. It turns out she is now living in a yurt, on the property of her friends Meghan and West, who are completely off grid in a tiny house they built themselves. I couldn’t wait to get there and see it!
We met Jenn in Norwich and briefly went over to Hanover for dinner, then followed her back to the yurt. It is small but she fits most of her stuff in it. There is a wood stove for heat, a propane stove for cooking, lanterns for light, and an outhouse half built out back. The community she has in Vermont constantly amazes me. Her friends are letting her live on their land, more friends helped construct the yurt, another friend let her take some standing dead trees on his property for winter wood, and more friends are helping her build the outhouse.
We got a fire going in the stove to be able to hang out late. It’s not quite cold enough yet to need it, but it is cozy. She does have insulation for the yurt that is not installed yet but that will be a project for the upcoming weeks. Stretch and I both dream about tiny houses so we grilled Jenn for a while before bed.
Jenn had to work early the next day so Stretch and I planned to go for a hike. Then Meghan walked over just as we were leaving, and said she wanted to set up Jenn’s solar panel while she was at work as a surprise, so we definitely wanted to stay. She had a cool device to figure out the best place to put the panel to get the most sun, and we needed to come up with something to mount it on, in addition to setting up the wiring, and making a housing for the battery in the yurt.
I was mostly in charge of soldering, which I’ve done a few times, but it’s been years. We all worked a little bit on each part of the project though. There was a big pile of scrap wood we used for the mount and battery box, and plenty of tools, although a saw we needed did not work on the power supply at their house. We needed a few tools that West had with him at work too, so the project wasn’t totally finished by the time Jenn got home.
The battery had been charging all day on the solar panel so we did the inside setup. We wired one light and one 12 volt charging socket to the battery and had our moment of truth in switching the light on. It didn’t work! We plugged her laptop charger in and that worked though. I was worried my solder job on the light wire, the first one I had done that day, was messed up, but it looked solid. West got home and pulled the light fixture apart to find the wiring in there was very loose so he fixed that up. Moment of truth again: still no light! This time we found the inline fuse had blown. Replaced that, one more try, and we had light! It was very exciting, especially for Jenn, who has been there for almost two months already with no power.
It was dark at this point but we finished setting up the solar panel outside in the morning before we left. I felt very accomplished and happy to have been able to do that for Jenn. I also took a video for her to show her family and friends how she is living, since most people do not get how a yurt works.
We said goodbye and Stretch and I headed out to do a hike recommended by Rich. It was the Weathersfield Trail up Mt Ascutney, about three miles each way. There were waterfalls and beautiful views and it was a great test for my ankle. Rooty, rocky, and steep, that’s Vermont! I did just fine.
We were headed back to Massachusetts for the next stage of our road trip and stopped at the Vermont Maple Museum on the way. It turned out to be just a store, but we still got some maple candy out of it. I love this state!