Magazine article Sunset

Day Trip Hopland

Magazine article Sunset

Day Trip Hopland

Article excerpt

Why go now: You already drive a Prius, compost the family banana peels, and lug your own cloth bags to Whole Foods. Now it's time to take your eco geekdom to new heights. Sun city: Hopland (pop. 1,756) uses the most solar power per capita in the world. Where is it? Right off of U.S. 101, tucked into the hills of southern Mendocino County. Best time to visit: April 21, when the Solar Living Institute throws its Earth Day bash (free; 13771 South US. 101; solarliving.org), complete with live music, garden demos, and organic food-wine pairings. For a quick run-through: Check out the tipi, power-generating bikes, and vintage cars turned tree planters on a free guided tour. The vibe: Floppy-hatted Sierra Clubbers and in-the-know day-trippers taking advantage of the 12 lush acres of primo picnic space and on-site winery. Mmm, what's that ... ? The center's biofuel pump is filled with veggie oil recycled from nearby restaurants. So that really is french fries and tempurayou smell.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

1. Get centered

The Central Oasis, located near the Solar Living Institute's Real Goods Store, is a tree-shaded picnic area with a pond that serves a higher purpose: The trickle of water from the pond and connecting waterways mums the hum of cars zooming by on the adjacent U.S. 101, and a combo of algae-eating fish and plants keeps the pond healthy and clean.

2. Boost your DIY IQ

The institute's famous green curriculum offers about two dozen courses, ranging from growing your own mushrooms to biodiesel brewing. …

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