our trip was 15 days.
we left AR heading to nada in OKC. two hours still to go i get a text message saying, “get me out of here, everyone keeps asking me where the weed’s at”…1 minute later, “if i would have brought weed i’d be rich”.
when we first arrived at the earthships in NM it was pretty overwhelming. the one we stayed in was an earth mansion and i just couldn’t wrap my head around building it. it had an attached greenhouse, then inside more tropical garden over-growing the living room & walk way, then spacious bedrooms/kitchen, full bathroom and coop & run on the side of the house for the chickens.
regardless of the million dollar price tag, regardless of the off-the-charts level of kush….
earthships are completely off the water and electric grid. the idea of really building a house without the limitations of those two key things truly puts me in awe each time i think about it. let’s really think about that. the earthship receives 7 inches of rain a year then cycles it 3 times creating 21 inches of rain use in the desert. that line of thinking really punches in the balls my “fuck plumbing” attitude. for one, me not having plumbing doesn’t make my water consumption recycle itself. earthship plumbing does. the moment water goes down a drain it’s already moving onto it’s 2nd or 3rd use. plus their setup is so streamlined that it totally makes me jealous. when we do dishes at home, at some point we need to dump the dish water bucket. the (good) thing about dumping the water is that i know where it’s going. i have to think about it. the (better) thing about having things streamlined is that you don’t have to think about it. and you also know where it’s going. cooler than anything is that the house is made from the land you live on (the dirt from excavation) and landfill trash (tires & bottles). knowing with your 2 eyes where everything is coming from prevents us from making up stories of how “fair” aquiring it must have been. when it’s all said and done you could build a smaller one of these babies for pretty cheap. sure it’s a lot of labor pounding tires but tires filled with earth regulate heating and cooling. worth it.
we filled up spring water at the grand canyon. mark took a few panornamic pictures too. we had 50 million epic fails at dumpstering all the way.
*mt shasta, spring untapped*
we went to LA to check out the tonic bar brian gushes over. *ALERT* clearly i have prejudice against (large crowds) of fancy higher class people. the reason i know it’s prejudice is because everything about the grocery store/tonic bar should have been a total win. insane amounts of healthy real food all over the store. tons of the stuff looked like small-batch handmade. everything was top quality, nothing looked like it was skimped to keep the price low. everything was priced to reflect the high quality that it was, expensive but fair. sounds like a win but i couldn’t hang. everyone was way too beautiful, it made my eyes hurt. everyone seemed empowered and assertive while i was holding back a mini panic attack. the tonic bar really seemed like a gem. a low end drink was $8 and a high end drink was $20. had my gut been fully functional i would have picked out something in the $20 range. another stark difference that i noticed was that all the fancy young ladies sitting around the tonic bar all seemed super vibrant, i was expecting to see more sick people looking for wellness. no punk, no hippies, no homesteader, i clearly pre-judge. we dropped nada off and got out of LA in warp speed. i am over the city.
we completed a 2 year journey to find the perfect canteen. in a suburb of santa barabra we went a food co-op that looked like a little food mart shack. all the workers looked like street kids, they were playing hip hop and had health force on their shelves. their variety of healthy foods and snacks was pretty impressive. there i got two canteens that i’m taking to the grave. one all stainless steel 40oz and one insultated 20oz where only stainless steel touches the drink but has plastic on the outside of the cap. we liked santa barabra, maybe a slower pace city isn’t so bad.
we head up the coast, i’m working on my tan. we see rami. we couldn’t quite see what he was seeing in covelo CA but it was awesome seeing him and his sweetass beard. rami’s dog was super cute. once we got in covelo the rest of our northern CA trip was cold & rainy. set my tan aside. this is when the trip started to go down hill. we finished all of our gut friendly food (should have made more while at the earthships) and nights were too cold to sleep straight through. when we got to mt shasta (a major point of interest) i was sooo irritable. plus while talking to our homies about our group land via web conference it became clear that they’re thinking about land that $8K per acre; way outside of the numbers i was imagining. that felt pretty shitty but they’re good people and i don’t see setback in our plans.
we were running short on time because we have a scheduled tour at cob cottage in oregon hours away. total we spent 2 nights in mt shasta and filled up on their untapped spring water before heading north. the morning we left shasta we mapped out the area where there is wicked affordable land. we drove through montague CA which was about an hour north of shasta. the land that we saw was mostly flat with rolling hills in the distance. the land looked mostly cleared, no forest, but the sky had cleared up at that point and i could see potential for that area. because the land was already clear anything we would do would be restoration whereas getting land in the forest (which is my fantasy) would mean anything we do would be destructive. plus flat land means no one would be left out of facing south. whereas if we were on a slope we’d need to ensure everyone had access to a south facing side of the slope to build and grow food on.
when we crossed over to oregon, mark said that he liked the vibe better. oregon seemed more lush. the prices i saw online seemed that $4k an acre was lucky. most of the drive to cob cottage was rainy. i said at one point, “i hope it’s not raining during the tour”. at that point i hadn’t fully grasped that it’s ALWAYS rainy (8 months out of the year) in northern CA/western OR. about now i’m on & off irritable. we’re running an hour late to cob cottage. as soon as i got cell service i called allie to tell him we were running late. while scheduling this tour with allie on the phone he mentioned that they usually try to serve a dinner afterward but i decided because of my weird dietary guidelines that i’d rather them not go through the trouble. he asked me what i was eating and i was nervous to say meat because he sounded like a hippie. i name a few things and he says, “oh, sounds like what my wife is doing”. sweet.
we get to the cob cottage grounds, park the car and walk the foot path to the site. FUCKING PROFOUND. cob cottage is inside of the oregon rainforest. i’ve never seem something so grown up, so many layers, so alive and complex. it’s cold & raining but i’m thrilled. we walk up the trail and allie is sitting outside with his cute little toddler. he stands up, we walk to the myrtle (building next to us), we take off our shoes and he says, “so are you doing the GAPS diet?”. we walk inside and it’s super cozy. we took a million pictures but because the cottages are all round and small it’s hard to really capture the experience. we sit on the rocket mass heater bench and i’m in love, the room feels better than anything i’ve even known. allie talks with a smile, he talks like he’s the most relaxed person in the world. him, his wife and their 3 kids live out there, watching over the place while the creators of the cottage are in wales. he slowly starts talking about the room we’re in. he points at the ceiling (not insulated), the wooden door (with cracks in it), and one of the windows that never got finished (huge window space with flimsy plastic semi covering it). he points out all the flaws and concludes that despite all those potential weaknesses, the place was as warm and dry as a person could ask for. it’s also one of the oldest buildings on the property. he talked about the crazy dancing parties, where 30 or 40 people had been in the tiny space and it was all good. he was so relaxed, he kept saying, “we could go check out all of the cottages, what ever you guys want to do.” i told him that we had the $50 donation for our tour and he tried to talk me out of giving it to him. i insisted that his time was valued by us and he ended up showing us around for 3 hours. we toured about 10 buildings. half of them were 80% complete. some had straw bale exposed, some didn’t have roofs, most of them had tarps protecting the completed parts. he took us to a completed building and said that his mom had been staying in it. cozy. amazing. simple. he opened up a wooden door to a small box cut through the wall with a screen on the outside. he points around, “quart of raw milk, butter, bag of carrots, eggs…” holy hell! impressed. hole in the wall for a fridge. the tour is me, mark, allie and his 5 year old daughter. he said that he’s been teaching on and off for 2 years the fire (rocket mass heater) stuff. i asked if he’s built a cob house before. he looks around the building that we’re in and says that the house he built was about twice the size (my guess, 400sqft?). i asked him how much it cost him to build and he said $2,000. he said that it was mostly for the rock foundation. he said it wasn’t complete but it sounded like they lived in it the way it was. i started asking him about his house and he said that it only had one plug for a single light, that they pay $5 in electricity a month and he didn’t even know what the point to that was. he also mentioned that his family sleeps outside on a bed. he was blowing my mind but i was keeping my cool. every cottage he took us into he pointed out the strengths and weakness. one cottage was completely built by workshop students. a few of the completed buildings didn’t even have doors but a blanket over the doorway. i couldn’t believe how beautiful and dry each building was. it was a testament that a beginner could build a beautiful cob home. by the end of the tour my toes were frozen beyond belief. we went back into the myrtle and i stood on the warm bench. i need that bench. at one point i told him that we were looking into land in that general region but the cheapest land wasn’t that cheap. he pointed out that i was from arkansas where land is wicked cheap so of course i’m going to think of $4k an acre as pricy. THEN he asked us if we had looked into tax sales. he said that a friend of his had bought 4 pieces of land from tax sales, including 160 acres near shasta for $26,000! then he told me about a woman who bought land in montague who’s building a cob house and starting a cob community out there. he explained that she had taken a class at the cottage and was really pumped about cob. that she moved her wool felt business to montague and was going to make things happen out there. huh.
we leave the magical land of cob cottage and i’m totally high on the idea of making an electricity-free cob home for a few thousand bucks within a summer, fall block of time. i bought The Hand Sculpted House book from the cottage and read 90% of it within the next 3 days. (this is a must read regardless if you’re building an earthship or strawbale or whatever. must read first!) so we drive up the coast, get to portland, stay at (the boy) eli’s house and meet up with jonathan for coffee. i’m glad to see these two lovely men but i’m ready to leave. so we head back down the coast to see the redwoods that we didn’t have time for just the day before.
this time the sun is out and i’m in a good mood. this trip to CA was much better than the first time around. we saw the redwoods, stopped at the beach (lots of pictures), laughed a bunch. we stopped in redding CA for the millionth time to go to the health food store. when we came back to the car the guys in their car next to us say, “thats a good book” referring to my cob book in the front seat. so then i start through my million questions, “have you built with cob, how much did it cost you, how long did it take, how much was your land, what did you need to do to make your soil ready for cob building, etc”. i brought up the $4k an acre thing with this guy too. he said that in that area (which was 45 minutes from mt shasta) but outside of the city land was about $2k per acre and “here look up our realtor, he’s amazing”. we wrote it down: http://mountainvalleyrealestateredding.com/ the guys said land with a spring would be realistic. which reminds me, (the boy) eli said that he had some friends that saved up a bunch of money to get land in OR and moved there to look for it. and since they got there they keep meeting people and keep finding better and better land (better including cheaper).
this person is pumped. amazing pictures of everything will be posted here: https://www.facebook.com/TinyHouseAndLand
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