Saturday, March 1, 2008

Vietnam Vacation part 2

Pine Mountain

Hello again from Pine Mountain. It is the first of March already and winter is about two thirds over. The sun has been out this week and the winter snow has started to melt. Both our wind turbines continue to spin producing all the power we need with some left over. Those of you that have just joined us, up here on Pine Mountain we produce our own power with five different systems. Regular power from the power company can be intermittant especially in the winter time when snow and ice storms and avalanches take down the power lines. We started 20 years ago back when fuel was cheap with a 10 K diesel generator. When fuel prices started to climb we supplemented that with twenty 130 watt solar panels a charge controller and a battery bank. Next we installed a 4 bladed pelton water turbine in the dam of our pond which produces a steady 2600 watts of power. We bought the water turbine from they specialize in water, wind, and solar power. The solar panels work fine but they only produce their maximum wattage for a couple hours around noon when the sun is out. We have lots of power hungry devices up here on the ranch so next we installed a horizontal 10 K wind turbine on an 80 foot tower from It is windy up here on Pine Mountain so our wind turbine is almost always producing power. It starts producing power at about 8 mph winds and is up to 1 K watts at 10 mph winds. Full power of 10 K watts is acheived at 30 mph. Most of the time our wind average is 17 to 18 mph so our wind turbine normally produces about 5 K watts. Finally we just installed a vertical 10 K wind turbine from This wind turbine starts running at only 6 mph wind and is up to maximum power of 10 k watts at 25 mph. finally we have enough power without running our expensive diesel generator. If you are interested in supplementing your power a good place to start is with a book that is known as the alternative power bible available at Well enough about power.

Vietnam Vacation part 2

Last week Roxana began her vacation in Vietnam. This week we have part 2.

Basket Boats

The next town on our visit to Vietnam was Phan Thiet on the gulf of Mui Ne. This town was just like it appeared in the travel brochure. Long soft sandy beaches and warm seas with a temperature of 27 to 28 degrees Centigrade which is 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
The hotels were inexpensive with good service. The local population met you with smiles and served low priced meals that had an incredible abundance and variety of tasty foods.

The night life in Phan Thiet was almost non existent The restaurants large and small are only open until 9 to 10 PM . There are no clubs or any place to go at night so everyone goes to bed early. Phan Thiet is a resort town that opened in 1998 and has still not been built up. Phan Thiet is not a disco or noisy party town but a quiet place where surfers, surf riders and windsurfers gather. We too wanted to drive a surf board with a parachute but the cost was too much for instruction and equipment rental. It takes seven 2 hour lessons before they will rent you a board and parachute. Each 2 hour session is $85 then equipment rental is $15 to $20 per hour. Therefore we admired the parachute surfers from the beach.
When the morning tide goes out there is a long stretch of beach exposed that glistens with beached butterfly cockleshells. We watched the Vietnamese people pull in their fishing nets loaded with the early morning catch. Some had round boats with baskets. The little kids were helping their parents and running around collecting cockleshells. The morning sun was warm and tender and not hot and harsh like it was at noon and early afternoon. The gulf of Mui Ne is not the nicest tropical water in the world. The storm currents stir up the sand and the water turns from blue to a brownish green color. Coconuts and other things that have washed off of boats and the shore float past. The best part of the water is that it is warm and you can surf for hours with out getting cold. We stayed in Phan Thiet for several weeks and made two side excursions. One trip was to Tacu mountain to the pagoda of the lying Buddha. The mountain is 500 meters in height. There are more than a thousand steps to reach the pagoda. The lying Buddha is 50 meters long made of concrete. The views from the mountain are spectacular and the sound of running water and song birds along the way keep everyone relaxed.
Our second side trip was to the sand dunes and red canyon and finally lotus lake. We traveled by motorbikes which rent for $4 to $5 per day.
The Vietnamese kitchen is a full delight. Especially the seafood. Freshly caught they lay in ice at the entrances of the restaurants. You choose what you like, fish, a tiger shrimp, lobster, crab, etc. put it in a basket then it goes to the kitchen to be cooked or it is grilled at your table. There are many good Vietnamese soups. They are made with rice noodles and seafood. I particularly liked the vegetables and the shrimp wrapped in rice paper with a garnish of boiled rice and string beans or cauliflower or even a boiled mango. It seems as if the Vietnamese boil almost everything and fry very little. The soups are served with soy and sweet and sour sauces and finished with a fresh French baguette. Vietnamese coffee is called white coffee. A spoonful of milk is put in the bottom of the cup then steaming water is poured through a sieve of coffee grounds. It is very tasty and very strong.
We went to Halong city on the island of Katba. Katba is the largest of a thousand islands in the gulf. Most of the islands are uninhabited. Some are stony and others are jungle covered. Some of the islands have huge caves and grottos. The island of Katba has dense well kept jungle and is about 300 square kilometers. The jungles are rich with animals, monkeys, leopards, snakes and birds. The town is very picturesque and consists of parks, theatres, souvenir shops, even an oceanarium. Boats go daily to the island and they sell world famous pearls for a cheap price. The pearls grow in the cockleshells. Finally our Vietnam vacation comes to a close and we head home to the snow and cold weather of winter.

Inexpensive Travel

Well that is Roxana's vacation adventure last December. I hope everyone liked it. If you would like to learn how to travel inexpensively go to this book explains how you can travel for up to 85 % off. If you really need cheap airfare go to this book will show you ways to fly for free. Finally if you want to make your vacation pay for itself go to and learn how to become a travel writer that gets paid for their stories.

Pine Mountain Evening

Well it has been another long day at the ranch. I have just finished my evening meal of baked winter squash, sausage, and apple sauce. I am having apple pie for desert and washing it down with this weeks coffee choice of the week from caribbean hazelnut. This is a delightful little coffee that makes you want to relax on a tropical island in the carribean. Instead of a tropical island I am relaxing in my recliner by a warm fire in the fireplace. Squeekers my African grey parrot is on his perch by the fire munching away on peanuts and chattering away mostly to himself. I am reading a book on computer shortcuts. Finally the fire burns down. I close the grate put squeekers in his cage and head off to bed. Good night from Pine Mountain. See all of you next week.