Save Our Ferries!

By , February 12, 2020

You may have heard that one of our regional highways here in Alaska has been completely shut down.

I’m talking about the Alaska Marine Highway, the state ferry system that has connected the island and landlocked communities of Southeast Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska for almost 60 years. If you live outside of Alaska, you might know them as a great way to visit Alaska, and many people see it as primarily a tourist vehicle in the summer.

But it’s more than that. For those of us who live in the region it is, quite literally, a lifeline.

Haines Ferry Rally

The Ferry Rally in Haines February 11, 2020 (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

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A New Sweeper for the Solar Array

By , February 9, 2020

In the winter, one of the most important chores of the homestead is keeping the solar array free of snow (see Solar “Extraction” and Sweeps Season). To do that, I’ve relied for several years on an extendable pole, with a sponge on one side, and a squeegee on the other.

It has served us well. The squeegee has scraped off all but the hardest ice, which I remove (mostly) with a broken extendible car scraper. The sponge worked surprisingly well to shove snow off the glass.

This last winter, this tool developed problems; the extension portion rusted enough to stick, and often froze, needing to thaw in the shower between jobs. The screw-on head has steadily loosened to the point that I’ve needed to tighten it every 2-3 passes on the panels. When the squeegee began to break, risking scraping the panels with the metal frame, I mentioned to Michelle that we needed a new one.

Sweeping the solar array

Mark uses the old sweeper to clear the solar array last December (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

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