Anniversary in an Earthship

My sweetie and I just came back from from a 2-day trip in celebration of our 8th anniversary, spending 2 nights in an earthship in Taos, . We left Saturday around noon from Albuquerque. It’s only a 2 1/2 hour drive, but we made a couple stops along the way (most notably a boutique shop in Taos where Susan purchased a skirt that she fell in love with, and also bought scarves for the teachers she works with) finally arriving at the earthship around 6 pm.

It was one of the simpler and smaller earthships in the area. It’s very different than a typical home in a number of ways. They’re designed to be “off-the-grid”, completely self-contained, and very energy-efficient, using the ground to keep the inside temperature stable. There’s no way to control the temperature than opening doors, windows, and vents, but fortunately, the building is designed to stay at around 70F without doing much of anything.

Rain is the water source, and it’s used multiple times and in multiple ways. Water is filtered before being used for washing in sinks, bathtub and shower. It’s then directed to  some plants along the front inside of the house before being used in the toilet, and finally going into a septic tank. Drinking water is forced through a ceramic filter to make it extra pure.

Electricity is generated by solar panels and then used to power lights, outlets, and refrigerator, which is DC.

We had to be careful about drinking water only from the water tap, not the faucets, and had to get used to dim lights and some noises when the wind picked up. But we did have Internet and were able to watch Netflix shows.

The first night we walked around the neighborhood — can’t say we found it attractive, but it was interesting. There were several other earthships in the vicinity, some not completed. No one seemed to care much about landscaping. Susan would love to build and live in an earthship, but would try her best to make it attractive on the outside as well as on the inside.

On Sunday, we arose, fixed breakfast, then decided to take a car ride to the nearby Rio Grande Gorge. We parked near the gorge and walked across the bridge which spans it. It’s an absolutely stunning view. The Rio Grande river is at the bottom, about 800 ft. down.

On the way back, we stopped at the Earthship Biotecture Visitor Center where we learned more about earthships. Nearby are buildings where they teach and house students. It was like visiting an alien civilization. There wasn’t a conventional-looking building anywhere. Very interesting, nevertheless.

During the self-guided tour, we learned that there was a second, older earthship community near Taos. This was a small group of home, built on the mountainside near the Taos ski resort. We (mostly Susan) decided to try to find this community, despite being warned that you shouldn’t attempt it without a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

We drove east toward the mountains, passing through the quaint community of Arroyo Seco. The part of it that we saw was a collection of very interesting shops along a narrow and winding main street.

Continuing on, we climbed a steep and winding road, eventually reaching the Taos Ski Resort. It was beautiful ride with steep rocky cliffs rising up on one side of the road, and dropping down on the other side. The rocks were not solid masses, but large rocky structures that were badly cracked, looking like the whole thing would come tumbling down in an instant.

Since we hadn’t found the earthship community that we were originally looking for, we retraced our route back down the mountainside and turned onto a road that was the most likely route to take. We didn’t get too far before the road turned to gravel and we just didn’t feel like trying to go further at that point, especially knowing that we needed a 4-wheel drive vehicle. I was pleasantly surprised to see dandelions in full bloom. It reminded me of Ohio so just had to take some photos.

Back at the earthship, we just relaxed, watched a General Conference talk (since we missed church) and some things on Netflix, relaxed, ate dinner, and finally went to bed.

I had trouble sleeping, which is not unusual in any environment, but the bed and pillows were a bit hard. In the morning (Monday), we fixed breakfast, cleaned things up, and left shortly before 11 am. On the way into Taos, I had the “bright idea” of stopping at a small group of attractive-looking shops that we had passed by a couple of times without stopping before. The first was another high-end boutique with clothing for men and women. Susan convinced me to buy a leather jacket for around $400. Next door was a furniture shop where we ended up purchasing an onyx lamp for $500, which we affectionately referred to as our baby because you have to carry it like one. It’s beautiful, but not something I would have purchased had I not been with Susan, and had we not recently received money from the sale of the farm. One of the businesses I’m working on really needs to pay off.

We continued home, stopping at an Arby’s in Rio Rancho for dinner, and also stopped at Walmart to replace a screw that had fallen out of Susan’s glasses, finally arriving home a little after 5 pm.

As always, it was with a mixture of emotions that we returned, wishing our little vacation wasn’t over yet, but also appreciating the comfort and familiarity of our little home here in Albuquerque.

This video shows the earthship we stayed in.

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Susan over the gorge
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Me
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Susan again – she’s much more photogenic than I am.

 

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Dandelions!
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Susan in front of the earthship
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Me at entrance to earthship
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Ain’t we cute!
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Susan at Arby’s
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“Baby” Onyx

 

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