News from Serenity Valley

Welcome to the new original reality show, “News from Serenity Valley”.

Huh? Where’s Serenity Valley. Well, I won’t tell you where it is, but that’s what I decided to call my land. It’s not the most original, but it’s the best I can do, and besides, I like it so… there.

I decided to call my land Serenity Valley for a couple of reasons. First of all, it really is peaceful and quiet out there, and my land is vaguely valley-like, so it’s fitting in a literal sense. Secondly, the place has a real calming and soothing effect on me, and I imagine it’s a place I will always want to retreat to when life outside gets a little too hectic or overwhelming. And lastly, there’s the Firefly reference. As fellow Firefly fans may recall, Serenity Valley (the namesake of Serenity, the Firefly-class ship) was one of the decisive battles between the independence-loving Browncoats and the meddlesome and oppressive Alliance. I don’t intend to fight any battles on my land, and I certainly don’t intend on being defeated as the Browncoats did, but symbolically, I find the reference to be appropriate as I hope to establish and protect my independence and freedom on my land, in an increasingly meddlesome and oppressive society.

In any case, as I chronicle my land adventures, I’d like to document what I’m doing, and produce something. This blog is one output, but I like working with visual media, so I will try to produce some video every now and then. The quality will be mixed at best, and who knows if I’ll even get around to making more. The first episode is 11 minutes long and has taken me the better part of two evenings to edit. I’ll probably try and keep future episodes under 5 minutes, and be less nit-picky about the editing.

So, I hope you enjoy this episode, and I’d appreciate any feedback about it (positive or negative). (If you don’t see the embed below, here’s the link.)

17 thoughts on “News from Serenity Valley

  1. I enjoy reading your blog, but it wasn’t until I paused life and watched your video that the whole thing seemed a bit more real. Video is a difficult medium (lots of work for little product), so I wanted to let you know that I appreciated the effort.

  2. Heya! I just thought I’d let you know that Dave Adamson, Doran, and I all crowded around my laptop to watch your video. We had to pause it every so often to update Dave about what you were up to and why, since he hadn’t been following only your twitter, not your blog. Looks seriously intense. The oven is wicked awesome, as are the solar panels, but I could definitely see the trailer part getting really old. How much further do you have to go? Also, some Qs that came up were: are you camping on your land these days? Do you just leave your car out on the road, and is that your long term plan for where to keep your car? And are you going to stay at Serenity Valley as it gets colder, or do you have other plans for winter?

    Power to you.


    • Yay! I’m glad you guys watched the video.

      I got the trailer to within 20 yards or so of where I want it on the second day, but then couldn’t find a tree to tie the winch to that was close enough for my rope. So I’m going to have to go back with a longer rope (right now, I’m in Tahoe hanging out with my parents who are visiting from Japan).

      I’ll be back on my land next week-ish, and then I plan on spending a solid 2-4 weeks there before coming back out. When I’m there, I’ll leave my car on the NE corner, by the road. The last few days, I was camping by the car, and hiking up to where the trailer is (on the southern end) but once my trailer is in its final place, I’ll set up camp there.

      My plan, for now, at least, is to try and spend as much time as possible on the land until it gets too cold. I’m guessing that the temperature will drop to around/near freezing at night starting in late October or early November (I’m at 4400ft altitude). I’m also running out of money, so I’m planning on moving back to the Bay Area in late October-ish and find a job again.

  3. I agree with Lydia: seeing it actually happen made it all come to life. I found it all pretty mind-boggling – the work, the ingenuity of making things possible and dealing with the setbacks. In a word: shiny!

    • Yup, I plan on getting an ATV, although I’d like to build a structure of some sort where I can store it when I’m not around. Or if I had a truck, I guess I could haul it in and take it out.

  4. I met this guy in Arizona who lived in a fully-sustainable, off-the-grid house. His solar panel was set up on this stand so that it could rotate through a limited range, and the heat of the sun as it moved across the sky would tip the balance from one position to the other. I don’t remember exactly how it worked, but the sunlight heated something up so that the panel automatically tracked the position of the sun.

    I’m not sure if that setup was something he bought or built himself, but I thought it might give you some engineering ideas. He also used his whole roof as a rain catcher, so he had a water-use footprint close to zero – in the desert, nonetheless. Cool guy.

    • Yeah, I’ve been thinking about something similar using a light detector and some servos. Although, in theory, it’s possible to calculate the precise location of the sun based solely on the date, time and location too. Not sure which is easier…

  5. Pingback: Hi. Who are you? Where are you from? « Laptop and a Rifle

  6. I really enjoyed your first video here. I love the name of your little patch in the ‘verse. Can you tell I’m a Browncoat? I’m also a filmmaker and really saw some great editing in your piece. You might want to just shoot the video first and then narrate the audio later. That way you can be more concise in your message and bring your total video time down to that 5 minute goal you’re trying to achieve. It will also let you concentrate on what you are doing when you are performing whatever action. I was cringing when I watched you untie the rope on the tree. I didn’t want it to hurt you if it flew away with the weight of the trailer. You were trying to untie the rope, carry the camera and shoot the action and you were narrating what you were doing all at the same time. Add all that up and it could be a recipe for disaster. Plus the fact that you are out there by yourself… I don’t even want to think about it. So I would recommend setting up the camera on a tripod while you have your full attention on your task and then you can add the narration later.

    In all my researching of eco-type stuff I’ve come across a solar tracker that doesn’t need electricity or human interaction to track the sun. It’s called the Mother Earth News Super Simple Solar Tracker. Here’s a link

    I like the really simple rocket stove you have. Every time I had thought of building my own I had thought of elaborate setups using insulating sawdust impregnated cement, but what you’ve made is so simple and inexpensive. Awesome!

    Keep it up šŸ™‚

    • Hi Wayne, thanks for your comments. I hope you get a chance to see the later episodes, because I did shoot those with a tripod. And thanks for the solar tracker link — I’ll definitely check it out šŸ™‚

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