At Home in Our Winter Encampment


It’s been all quiet on the writing front while Robyn and I have set up our winter encampment site for our “Little House” (motorhome). Enormous ancestral black oaks ring Bearhaven meadow, whispering of the Maidu people whose acorn grinding rocks are not far from the year-round spring. Red-shouldered hawk has been a frequent caller, along with a band of curious ravens frequently circling to check us working on outdoors projects.

For electricity, we are supplementing the RV’s generator and her rooftop solar panels with twelve 20-year-old solar panels from our house’s original set. Robyn installed equipment in the RV to optimize both solar systems (contact us if you want details).

111105_rackmodel_300.jpg Not finding what we wanted commercially, we designed and built lightweight, portable racks to hold the panels off the ground and at angles adjustable for different seasons.

Such a fun project, just about right for the level of our construction skills and portable tools. 111105_pvrack1_3001.jpgWe started with drawings and a small foamcore model to think through our design.

111105_pvrackj_300.jpgEach three-panel rack is made of 2×2’s and held together by bolts. (I always envied my boy cousins’ lincoln logs and erector sets back in 1950s era of gender-specific toys. Now that longing is fulfilled.)

Some shovel work to level the ground for each rack, a long wire run from panels to the RV, voila! Extra juice!
We’re warm and cozy now as the cold winter rains descend upon us, grateful for our sweet corner in this wild country, and welcoming an introspective season.


  1. Ed Adamthwaite says:

    Good on you Janaia,
    and Robyn too. I hope that you have that very nice smug feeling from having made something that works. Especially when it works well. That’s the warm inner glow that backyard tinkerers strive for.

  2. Hi Janaia,

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I, too, am looking into getting into another wood project… Either a stand up workstation or a new dinner table. We’ll see! 🙂

  3. I hope you won’t get snowed in! Enjoy your new digs and let us know what you’re up to.

  4. Hi Janaia,

    Wonderful to hear about your recent projects! I’m sure Tammy and I will be contacting you an Robyn for consulting when we start a “little house” off-grid project of our own in about a year or so. 🙂

    Cheers and good luck on your winter prep! 🙂

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