A couple years ago I was watching a show on the HG channel about crazy and unique homes. One of the places they showed was so different than anything I had ever seen before that I had to tell Rick about it. This place, called an "earthship", was one of the strangest and most fascinating things I had ever seen. I had no idea what I started that day. From then on, Rick wanted to learn everything he could about "living off the grid". He spent hours reading books and researching. Soon, we thought we wanted to build one.
What is an earthship? It's the brainchild of an architect named Michael Reynolds. These homes are built using recycled material (tires, bottles, cans), harvest their own water through cisterns on the roof, use solar and thermal heating and cooling, are powered through solar and wind electricity, and have built in greenhouses which allow you to grow your own food while reusing and filtering the water from your sinks and showers.
Now, I am not totally crazy. I wanted to spend at least one night in one before we started this ordeal. So that became part of our plan. Rick would intern at "The Greater World Earthship Community" to learn everything he could about earthships, and we would have to spend some quality time inside one so I knew if I could handle living in one.
Fast forward a few years, and our plans started to fall into place. For the month of July, the Shimer family is in Taos, New Mexico. Five days a week, Rick heads out to work with "the hippies" and learn various aspects of building an earthship. Working alongside interns from Sweden, China, South Africa, India, New Zealand, and the US, he's made tires and cans into garden walls. He's plastered the inside of greenhouses. He's put in the wood framing for interior structures. His work has been filmed for a Swedish documentary. It's all been a huge learning experience.
|The first earthship I ever entered... For sale for just $400,000! (LOL) 3/2 "Euro" earthship. Yearly utility bill: $100|
|"EVE", the latest in Michael Reynold's architectural green building experiments. Yes, those are cans.|
Now, why are the girls and I here? Well... We're just lucky, I guess. Since we're all off for the summer, we could all come together. I can't imagine the girls being away from their dad for a month. So we decided to spend a month in a new climate and landscape, having as much fun as we can. I also had to spend some time in an earthship, so we did that, too.
I am so glad we rented an earthship. It's one thing to read about something, and look at pictures, and even walk through one. It's another thing to prepare a meal, have a shower, and go to bed in one. We got to experince firsthand how the hotwater was heated, how to get the stove going, how the AC powered fridge worked (just as well as a DC, actually), how it would feel to have flowers and plants growing in my living room and kitchen- and bedroom.
I got up in the morning and spent time on the comfy loveseat in the greenhouse, staring into the front yard. It was incredibly peaceful. I could easily imagine my own home, with my own plants growing, looking out into my own beautiful frontyard. (The one I was viewing left a little to be desired...)
What didn't surprise me was how like a traditional home it felt. I could flick a switch and have light. Turn on the faucet for water. Plop on the couch and watch tv. You weren't sacrificing comfort for sustainable living.
What surprised me the most were the spontaneous design elements that were part of the house. The absence of straight lines. Beautiful shells that were part of the curved (spa like) bathtub. The way the polished adobe floor had little tiles accenting corners and changes in height. A fascinating mermaid pictured in stain glass in the bathroom door. Skylights in every room. Glass bottles letting varicolored light into the hall.
It's official. I am ready to take up the next part of the journey that will lead us to living in our own earthship in Florida.
|The greenhouse in our rented earthship. The plants here are watered by "greywater" from sinks and tubs.|
|The living space. I loved everything about it- especially the banana tree!|
|Yes, the front yard needed work. In ours, this will have plants that are watered by "blackwater"|
|I plan to start sketching my own backsplash...the sky is the limit.|
|I love the shells in the "wave" on the tub|
|Our bedroom planter, including a little cubby and built in shelf.|
|Kaya enjoys the hammock in the greenhouse entry|