Solar Decathlon: Lacking Sleep, Time, and Money

Why is it that every time I start a blog something comes along that makes it hard for me to keep up with it?
Oh, that’s right, because I like to volunteer my time away, and leave none for myself.

Let’s rewind a bit, back to before my last few blog posts, okay two blog posts.

Over the summer I volunteered my time, and communications/social media networking skills to the University of Louisville, Ball State University and University of Kentucky joint team for Solar Decathlon 2013 (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy).

I assumed this would be a relatively easy position. Occasional updates, post some pictures, take care of things on a website… boy was I wrong. A one man show to run that for six months, woah. I was in over my head, and I didn’t really know how to handle it – at first. It got better as time went on, and made me really feel like I was accomplishing something, something worth while.

The Phoenix House, Lot 113 on Decathlete Way

If I could have foregone my studies, just to be a part of this competition,… I would have. In a heartbeat. Who cares about school, when you get to participate in an experience like this. Now, hear me out, I have reasons, and well rounded ones at that.

The first of these reasons, comes with the bonds I’ve been able to share with my fellow classmates, and friends that I’ve made who have such similar experiences over not just the last few weeks and months, but the last few years! I’ve met so many lovely people, like those who have done so very many things, that words can’t explain how much they mean to me.

This leads directly to the beauty of each house that came to Solar Decathlon. Each house, no matter it’s owner, came with something unique to each team.
Austria, the ‘high-class’ beauty and openness of their interior space.
UNLV (Las Vegas), how the space flowed from one room to the next, and fit perfectly into the desert it would find it’s permanent home.
Alberta, with it’s dual use. Either being a family home, or an apartment style for two single people.
Ontario, the feeling of walking into a ‘home’ specifically resonated with me, and I compared it to our house feeling like I could just walk in and find myself getting comfy and cozy.
Capitol DC, and their story and purpose coupled with Wounded Warriors.

That list could continue, to point out my favorite piece about each house, but I’m sure it would be boring to most – because I’m not the best at describing the interior and exterior spaces, and how the feel resonates with you. Pictures, sadly, don’t do those first feelings justice.

Just walking down Decathlete Way every morning, gave me such joy, that I am sad to go and leave it all behind.
Such inspiration and beauty was found there, that I may not see on that scale for a good long while, and it made my heart soar and ultimately break at the end.  (In the middle of that, I really just wanted to set it all on fire so we didn’t have to bring it back home….)


Decathlete Way from the Orange County Great Park Balloon.

(What I write now comes from my long layover in Las Vegas. I’m sitting up against a wall, ‘borrowing’ power to keep my laptop going! It’s taken so much time to write this post, it should have just been little ones here and there…)

The time I spent in California, I expected to be a little bit of work, a little bit of fun, and full of no sleep. While the no sleep was spot on, I’m still impressed with the work that I still had to do when getting into the competition (not related to my job within the team!). When the water pump failed, and it’s replacement decided to go out for a bit, when we started losing points for these things, the team morale changed. (We renamed the Solar Decathlon, the Plumbing Challenge to try and keep us going…) It wasn’t really going well, but we tried to see the bright moments in each day,.. until finally, most of us were able to escape to the beach. That, that was needed. Running like mad for the waves at my first real experience at the beach, not just the Pacific Ocean, but the beach… playing in the surf, learning to swim, discovering a starfish and some awesome tide pools helped us all feel better upon going back to the competition!

I did my best, I tried to make sure I was keeping things updated on our Facebook, Twitter, Google+… even our website, and sadly, I fell behind. I was much happier to be with my friends and teammates, and to share in experiences, not just look at the things happening around a screen. Which, sadly, I so often seem to do. That calls for a change in a personal way, and something that I hope to combat with this new drive to experience and do more things.

(Well, I made it back to Kentucky, so some of this will sound redundant, but I like the way it’s written, so it’s staying…)

I’m excited to be headed back to Kentucky, to finally be back in my own home and bed, and go back to ‘normal’ life, but I also have a deep sadness. This is something that can only be felt by other Decathletes, and it’s not exactly easily explained. It shouldn’t bother me so, as I wasn’t involved from the beginning, but it does.

I don’t want to leave, to have things just go back to normal…. I want to make a difference, a big one. Something that makes others realize just how they can help out the environment, be a greener society, and leave behind a healthier planet for the next generation.

I wish to be a part of this, I want to show that I can do something that will leave a better mark on this small planet. Solar Decathlon has helped me out, given me a push (a desire), that I had previously lost.

Solar Decathlon 2013

The Solar Decathlon 2013 teams cheer ahead of the start of competition at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA on October 3, 2013 (Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)


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