If you have been following along, you may recall I mentioned doing a tour up in the mountains at an Earthship community called REACH. Well, I’ve saved that tour for the last one. REACH stands for Rural Earthship Alternative Community Habitat and I saved it for the last tour, as it was one of my favourites. Mostly because of the location: up in the mountains with lots of trees. All of the other Earthships we toured were out in the desert. This was a nice change.

Let’s start with some outside pictures. This is what the area around the Earthships looks like: steep hillside with lots of pine trees.


Turning around and looking at the valley, this is what you’ll see.


Here is another one, way up on a cliff.


We toured two Earthships up a REACH, so I have lots of pictures for you. Things will jump around a lot, but I will do my best to fill in with explanations.

The first one we toured was a nightly rental, and also for sale. First thing we see in any Earthship: plants. Including a cactus.


And another look at the cactus, with the mountains in the background.


Opposite the plants was this small seating area. Just enough room for a comfy chair, in front of more plants that looks out at the view.


The other thing you’ll notice is stairs: there are a lot of them. You’ll think you’ve seen most of the house and then you’ll discover yet another set of stairs leading to yet another room. All of the Earthships up at REACH are built as a series of tiers, so you can imagine there are a lot of stairs everywhere.


Going up those stairs leads to another seating area / living room where you can once again enjoy the fantastic view. Here is a shot of one of my fellow academy students doing just that.


Here is what that view looked like.


Next we have a bedroom, similar in style to the ones over at Phil’s place. There is the loft above with the bed and a seating area underneath it. I’m not entirely sure, but it looks from the picture that the area underneath has another platform that would take a mattress for another bed. Right beside the fire place too.


Up top we can see the bed.


Coming back down a different set of stairs, we’re now into a bathroom area.


Here is a better view, looking out the windows in the bathroom.


This one just had a regular bathtub, but it was right up against the glass. That’s one heck of a view when you take a shower πŸ˜›


Moving further east, there was a doorway to outside from the center of the house. This is what it looks like standing in the doorway looking out/south.


If you walk out the door and look to the east, you’ll see this.


If you look down the hillside, you’ll see the top of the next house below. We’ll be visiting the interior of that one too, later on this tour.


Looking back towards the west, you’ll see the door we came out of on the right side of this next picture, as well as the rest of the front of the house.


Now we’re back inside at the kitchen. The refrigerator in this house merits special attention as it is completely passive. It doesn’t use electricity or funky gasses.


It’s a thermal mass fridge. It has an air vent that you would open at night to let in the cold mountain air which then cools the thermal mass built into the fridge. You close the vent in the morning and the fridge stays cool during the day. At least that is the theory.

The problem with this one is they used beer in cans as the thermal mass, but visitors keep drinking them πŸ˜› It’s also a manual process, so if you forget to open or close the vent, you may or may not have the cold stored in the thermal mass. This fridge is also twenty plus years old.

There wasn’t anyone staying there at the time, so there wasn’t much in the fridge, but you can see the beer can thermal mass in the walls.


Next we have the kitchen sinks, right up against the glass like in some of the older Earthships. Great way to use sunlight to dry your dishes.


Beyond the kitchen, we come to an indoor cistern. It’s neat to have, but it also acts as a big heat sink, so they don’t recommend them for colder climates.


Most of the beds in these Earthships are up on platforms. Here I am standing on a stairway, taking a picture of the opposite stairway that leads up to a bed. Under the bed is closet storage.


Here is a shot of the bedframe, though it didn’t have a mattress on it at the time.


Walking around to the other side of the platform and looking back, you can see the fireplace built in to the sleeping area.


This was in another section, but here we have another small sleeping platform built into the back of the house. Quite the precarious perch and not for those who are prone to falling out of bed at night. Definitely not to code either πŸ˜‰


Back outside, we’re at the far end of the house now, looking back along the front.


As I was wandering back through the house, I discovered another set of stairs I had missed. Low and behold, there was another bedroom up there.


All of the walls were a funky blue colour and this bedroom had its own en-suite bathroom too.


This is looking into the shower stall. Nice decorative edging there using the polished rocks.


Here is a better shot of the bed.


And the other side of the room, with the fireplace.


Time to leave that one and journey over to the second Earthship on this tour. No, this is not a picture of it from a distance, it’s just another mountain-side shot.


This is a shot of the exterior of the next Earthship on this tour. This one is owned by Kirsten and Ron. Kirsten was the woman who did all of the admin for the academy and Ron is a crew member as well as he taught some of our classes.


Yay, more plants… and more mountains.


This was the first bedroom we came too. Again, it’s up on a platform with storage underneath.


This is a picture of the custom tub in the bathroom. Unfortunately, you can’t see the set of stone steps up the left side of the tub.


Fortunately for you, I have another picture of it from an Earthship book I have.


Next we have a living room area, with some built-in seating and shelving areas.


Here it is again, so you can see it from the other direction.


If you turn around and look out the window from there, this is what you see: more plants and a great view.


It’s kitchen time, with Phillipa and Denina. Okay, maybe not. This kitchen looks very similar to the last one, in terms of layout, but it has the standard Sunfrost fridge and a fancy/schmancy gas stove.


No picture of the sink this time, but you can see the planters they have in the kitchen as well as the blinds on the windows. They also have that huge aloe plant in there.


Hmmm, more stairs. I wonder where these go?


Ah ha! Another bathroom. This one didn’t even have a separate area for the shower, it was just part of the room. No shower curtain or anything.


Two more bedrooms were up here as well. This is the first one.


It had some funky built-in shelves with drawers.


Bedroom number two.



At the far end of the house I came across this. It looks more like a nightmare than a WOM to me.


At the far east side of the house, there was a pleasant little patio with chairs and a barbeque.


Looking down from the edge of the patio, you can see that we are standing on yet another room.


I shot this panoramic of the valley standing on that patio.


This is the stairway that leads down from the patio to that room that is under it.


Nice fancy stained glass door.


The room under the patio wasn’t very exciting. It was mainly a junk room with odds and ends. It was like a sauna in there though, and that was just from the sun shining in the window. I did take this picture, however, of the back of the room.


That, my friends, is the mountain rock that all of these homes were carved out of… by hand. There weren’t any roads up there at the time, so they had to build one and it is dang steep.

They couldn’t get any big equipment up there either, so most of everything that was needed to build all of those Earthships was carried up by hand. A lot of labour went into building these places.

Originally when they wanted to build up there, the county said they were nuts as there wasn’t any water or power or anything. So they let them go ahead, thinking they would have to give up. Well, they were quite successful. There are about 30 Earthships up there.

Unfortunately, the county put a stop to building up at REACH. One of their main arguments was that no emergency vehicle could ever make it up there if anyone needed to call 911.

It snows up there a lot too. It is the mountains, of course, and Taos is known for its skiing. It is awesomely scenic though and a great spot to spend even just an afternoon.

That’s all of the pictures and that is the end of the Earthship tours I took while down in New Mexico. I’ve been home for over two months now but Earthships are still very strong with me. We’re working towards building our own so there will be more posts about that. I’ll also be putting up some technical articles, explaining certain areas. These would be good ones to ask any questions you may have about the whole process.


Tour: Phil’s house

The tours are almost all done. I’m down to my last two, but I saved some good ones for the end.

Today, we will be touring Phil’s house. Well, I should really say houses, because there are two Earthships on this tour: Phil’s and the house beside his that he bought after it was vacated and fixed up a bit.

Phil is the longest standing Earthship crew member, as far as I know. He’s been with working with Mike Reynolds and Earthship Biotecture since 1992. He built his own Earthship, basically just him and his wife. The design he used is a little different and is more similar to the older U-module Earthships.

Here is a shot of the exterior.


I think you can see right away, there is that two story add-on at the left side of the picture. Not something you’ve seen on any of the other tours.

On the far side of the add-on, they had a small chicken coop.


As we move into the house, the first thing we see are plants, of course.


Moving over a bit, while still facing south towards the front of the house, we have the kitchen. Notice it’s right up against the glass like in some of the other U-module styles we have seen. They also had the shades down on the windows.


Turning to the right a bit, we can see the entrance to Phil’s son’s room. We didn’t get to go in there as the attack cat perched above would purr furiously if we approached. Maybe a sacrificial can of tuna might have helped.

You can also see Phil’s head in the foreground at the bottom right.


Continuing to turn around, facing the opposite the kitchen we have a small living room. You can see stairs at the back.


Those stairs I just mentioned lead up to a platform where the master bedroom was. Underneath it was a seating area where they have a TV.


Here is what the TV room looked like, looking down into it.


And here is what it looked like looking out from it.


This is what the master bedroom looked like up on the platform.


Phil did mention that, if he were to do it again, he wouldn’t use this design. Because of the extra height required by the platform, it makes the interior space quite large. It gets a bit cool during the winter. Nothing really bad, but it’s not an optimal performer.

Of course, no tour would be complete without a picture of the bathroom. They just had a simple claw foot tub. I guess I lied when I said that the Suttan house was the only one that didn’t have a custom tub.


Remember that two-story add-on that we saw from the outside? Well, if you climb up the stairs (which I don’t have a picture of, booo) you’ll arrive at Phil’s daughter’s bedroom. Purple sheets too!


The attack cat was doing a head count as we exited the building.


Next, we moved out to see the house next door. It was a fairly similar design to Phil’s house, but it didn’t have the two-story add-on.


The first thing you see when you come in the door from the east side, is the kitchen. There wasn’t anyone living in this house, so all of the shelves were pretty empty. Phil was planning to rent it out.


Opposite the kitchen, was a seating area used as a dining room. At the back you can see the stairs leading up to the platform.


This is what it looked like in the area under the platform. That’s Phil’s left arm on the left side of the picture.


Lifting your head up, we can see the bedroom up on the platform and Phil’s head on the left side.


I walked up the stairs to the platform and turned around and took this picture so you can see the entrance, the kitchen and the dining area.


Up on the platform, we have the bed. This house only had the one bedroom.


Standing on the platform and looking out towards the front you can see the planters under the front face glass.


Last, but not least, the bathroom. Well, really just the shower. They didn’t have a tub in this house. Really simple stuff here.


Well, that’s all for today. Phil was a great guy, really laid back and we learned quite a bit from him. His home was pretty nifty too. And his last name is Basehart. How could you not love that πŸ˜›

Thanks Phil.

Tour: The Pyramid

This tour is really short. That’s because this next structure is really small. It’s not even an Earthship. It’s a pyramid.


This little guy was right beside the castle where I was staying. It’s small. It only has one room with two levels connected by a ladder. I do apologize as the pictures aren’t that great. It was really cramped inside so it was difficult to get the camera far enough away so you could really see what was going on.

Anyway, this is the entrance.


I should also mention the structure you see in the background on the left side of the above picture. That is what was called the Turbine house. It had a vertical axis wind turbine on the top that ran for almost 30 years with no maintenance. That’s a lot of continuous power generation. It is no longer running now, though.

Back to the pyramid. When you go inside, there is a small room with a ladder in it. The interior walls on the bottom level were all bottles, as you can see.


Going up the ladder, it gets even more cramped, but I did manage to take this picture of where some of the plaster had come off the wall, showing the old steel cans that were used to build the outer structure. You can also see how the little flower shape created by the bottles really shows the light.


Those are all of the pictures I took, but I have included some really old pictures I scanned out of one of my Earthship books that show it being built.



It’s always fun to finish with a double rainbow πŸ™‚


Tour: The Suttan house

Here we are once again, visiting another Earthship. This one was a one bedroom global model belonging to a Ms Suttan. I never did catch her first name.

This was was very well decorated, including the landscaping outside, as you can see below.


Unfortunately, this is early spring and a lot of the outdoor plants haven’t started up again yet. You can see the nice path work with the stones though.

This house also had a garage, but it was detached from the house. As you can see, it was also built using the same principles as Earthship homes: cans and bottles.


Here is a better look at the interior of the garage. You can see the back wall is done with tires. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t go with the logs for the roof of a garage though. Seems a bit excessive/expensive.


After that, we move inside and have our standard shot looking down the green house hallway. The planters are all very neat and tidy. Shades on the windows allow you to control the amount of sun coming in. Those ropes hanging down from the ceiling are used to open and close the skylight vents.


The first room we move into is the bedroom. Unfortunately, this next picture is blurry. That happens to me a lot. Dang phone.


Ms. Suttan also had a loom in her bedroom. You’ll get to see some of her weavings when we get to the living room.


Next is the bathroom. I think this is the only Earthship I was in that didn’t have a custom tub. The funky stone work is really nice though.


She had this awesome brass bowl for a sink. Of course, it’s blurry too.


The kitchen looks a lot like the other global model kitchens we’ve seen, though that tile work on the wall must have taken quite the effort.


Turning around, we have the living room. Here you can see the evidence of what has come out of that loom in the bedroom.


In the corner of the living room there was this weird light-in-a-bowl-of-smoke thing. Looked like it was dry ice kind of smoke/steam. I don’t think it was a humidifier as most Earthships have quite a bit of humidity.


The last picture is of the hutch on the side that had the really funky chess board on it.


I don’t know if Ms Suttan gives a lot of tours, but her house looked like it was staged for selling. It was really neat and tidy. Not that that is a bad thing. It gives us all something to aspire to πŸ˜›

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