One of my favorite stops on Hwy 101 in Northern California is at Real Goods in Hopland. Real Goods specializes in solar power and environmentally conscience living. I have fun memories of stopping there many years ago on a road trip with my sister Gloria. The buildings and grounds all demonstrate various ways we can live more sustainably, and we even got our own personal tour with one of the caretakers, who showed us around and answered our questions. We spent two hours exploring Real Goods and it was enjoyed by everyone.
Pearl overlooking the beautiful grounds at Real Goods.
This bench/planter has seating for 50 and is planted with olive trees and hops.
The pond is amazingly clear. We could not only see the huge plants growing in it, but it was also full of fish.They use solar power to pump water from one pond to the next and use it to irrigate their garden and grounds. The water flows down through a series of terra cotta dishes shaped somewhat like a figure eight. As it enters each dish, it's drawn out to the edges, creating a whirlpool before falling into the next dish. This serves to aerate the water, adding oxygen to help the plants and fish in the pond thrive. No stagnant waters here!
There are several built in features used to tell time by the sun, and also to show where the sun rises and sets at different times of the year.
Erik and the kids tried out the stationary bikes, which are set up to generate electricity. They each have a light bulb that glows if you get going fast enough. The question is, how much power could be generated by all the people running on treadmills and using other kinds of exercise equipment?
Inside the geodesic greenhouse. Real Goods offers internships, and much of the interns' food is grown on the property. They learn about all kinds of sustainable practices. I wonder if they take families?
Greenhouse in the background on the left, tiny house on the right, and a large bank of solar panels behind. There was also a teepee and a cob house.
This is the showroom and store, where you can buy all kinds of goods related to solar energy and sustainable living. The building is constructed with straw bales and our tour guide explained how it uses passive solar energy. The large overhang shades it during the summer when the sun is high overhead and the concrete floor helps keep it cool inside. During the winter months the large south facing windows take in sunlight and the thick straw walls insulate it, enabling the entire building to be heated with a small wood stove.
In response to the "drive through trees" that can be found in the redwoods, Real Goods has a "grove" of trees growing through cars.
If you're ever driving this stretch of highway, plan an hour or two to stop and enjoy Real Goods! I love stops like this that not only provide a fun and interesting place to stretch our legs, but also an important part of education on the road!