Getting Down to Earth in my Earthship – New Mexico Magic!
Blast Off in an Earthship!
Last week on a road trip with my sister and her son through “my office”, which just happens to be the Four Corners region of the Southwest, I got to make one of my dreams come true. I got to spend the night in an Earthship! An Earthship? “What the heck is an Earthship?”, you are probably asking yourself. No, I didn’t get abducted by aliens or join some weird cult. I simply spent the night off the grid in a cozy earthen home just outside of Taos, New Mexico. For some, ok most, staying in an “earthen home” for a night would not be a “dream” but a nightmare. But for me it was love at first sight when I saw this amazing concept in living in a documentary years ago as a young girl in Miami, by then famed “McCloud” TV star, Dennis Weaver. Earthship totally had me at “hello”! What could be better than living in harmony with the Earth – in a home made of natural and recycled materials and being totally off the grid – it just feels like that is how it IS supposed to be. Oh, we did have satellite internet…..that one I struggled with a bit but come on, I am not a mole….I like a convenience here and there and you know I love my interwebs! 🙂
The Greater World Community or the “Mothership” as I called it, is the world’s largest self-sufficient residential development and the brainchild of Biotect and Visionary Michael Reynolds. A “Mad Max” looking guy with long crazy gray hair – who drives around the property in a beat up old Mercedes with a patchwork paint job and cracked windshield, when he is not on his beat up dirt bike – a very cool dude! He has devoted his life to spreading “the gospel” of sustainable living all over the world and has many followers of his ideas and designs. Personally, I think he is a genius! The GWC (Greater World Community) is made up 650 acres of rolling sage covered mesa with amazing views of the gorgeous Sangre de Cristo mountains that are the spine of Northern New Mexico. The nights are as black as India ink with blankets of stars on this high plateau, and quiet – oh my gosh, I am sure all three of us slept better in our earthen cocoon than any other night on our weeklong road trip. What’s NOT to LOVE???? Many of the otherworldly funky looking homes are privately owned and some are available for nightly rentals there were also many under construction. There are even a few for sale…..yes, I play the Powerball weekly so maybe an Earthship is in my future…..dream, dream, dream!
I have driven by the community several times in the past, since I do a lot of my work in and around Northern New Mexico, and I always wondered what it was. It kind of looks like mounds of dirt perfectly spaced and the “ships” are all wildly different and very unique. Then I put 2+2 together and to my delight realized that this was THE PLACE. This was it, those crazy “tire, bottle and can homes” Dennis Weaver had talked about in his documentary that I saw years ago. After I realized that I made it a goal to sleep in one and I finally did. It was magic of a totally different kind – more of a surreal otherworldly kind of magic and I loved it! As we settled into our “Ship” for the night we all got strangely quiet. Who knows maybe this place just had that “grounding effect” on all of us, I sure felt it. I even donned my “super hippie” tie- dye dress that I would be arrested for wearing in Scottsdale. Ok not really but tie-dye is not that big in Scottsdale – unless it has bling on it, which is why I long for more “earthy surrounds”. I walked around the Earthship in quiet amazement at the soft cool walls with bottles and cans stacked perfectly then stuccoed. It was such an inviting warm space with the curvy thick walls and recycled wood along the ceiling. The main room of this studio sized ship was roomy and the kitchen and bath were just as perfect. Mind you, all water in in each “ship” is recycled and all energy comes from wind and solar power. There are even planters with trees on the southern window of walls to add clean air and, for some, a supply of fresh veggies for the winter in each Earthship. Some go as far as having a pond for fresh fish in the winter…how cool is that? I loved how organic it all was even down to the dusty floor. If you are looking for pristine “hotel-like” accommodations like The Ritz this is NOT the place for you – it is clean and very cozy with all of the comforts of home but can be dusty and we did have a few visitors of the buggy kind. I just said a quick “hello” to them and sent them on their way.
Before a yummy homemade dinner of fish tacos in locally made blue corn tortillas, we walked up on the roof, which is basically a ground level hill behind the “ship”, and watched the approaching storms just as the fire red New Mexican sun was setting. The lightning show that surrounded us was completely otherworldly. The wind was blowing and there were some very earthy looking “Earthshippers” who were done building a new “ship” for the day walking by. They were covered in dust and dirt with tattered clothes and were very tan from working in the strong New Mexico sun day after day – I had to shake my head to make sure I wasn’t imagining the scene – it was like a Sci-fi movie. If you saw the movie, “Book of Eli” that is what it felt like but without the mean people trying to kill us. I’m telling you, you can’t make this stuff up! I really did feel like I was on another planet far off in the future after the Earth had been destroyed or maybe it was way in the past – who knows but it felt awesome. This was the perfect place for not only distorted photos with my fisheye lens and wide angle lens but it was an “HDR Lovers Paradise” – I was in HDR heaven!
Ok, since I mentioned it, I guess I have to share the photo of me in my “Super Hippie” Tie-Dye dress……very apropos for the setting! I am sure this will be the next Earthship trend! In closing, I know this unique experience and “dream come true” will keep inspiring me to live smaller and with less and to continue to honor the Earth inasmuch as I can in my everyday life. I also hope that my nephew, who just earned his degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute, took away some valuable “seeds” for his future designs from our trip to this and other architecturally important sites (Mesa Verde, Taos Pueblo, etc) around the Southwest. I love when dreams come true – no matter how big or how small. My needs are simple and so are my dreams…..one of my next dreams is to LIVE in one of these amazing earthen cocoons! Who’s in? It takes a village to build a “ship” so I will need a few good “Earthshippers” to help me! For more amazing info on these harmonious homes checkout the Earthship Biotecture website: http://earthship.com/