before ever setting out on the road, if i could have picked only one place to visit and spend some time in new mexico, it would have been taos. this place has always sparked my curiosity not really because of it’s wide variety of things to do outdoors, but mostly because it seems to be a space living in a different time. outside of the tourist traffic and the high priced activities to entertain them, you’ll find a collection of people fully committed to living on their own terms, by their own means and completely conscious of their impact on the universe.
a little over a year ago, i stumbled across a concept called earthships from a couple of friends who had went to visit and posted to instagram. i was hooked on the idea and made note that i had to see and experience this myself, telling a couple of my friends about them in excitement about how we had to go check them out. as i made my way through new mexico stopping at carlsbad caverns, bottomless lakes and white sands along the way, visiting the earthship biotechture site was the first thing i had actually planned along the way contacting the site and setting up a tour and night’s stay so i could get to know a bit more first hand about this bizarrely forward thinking way of living.
leading up to and passing through the town of taos, the traffic was thick but as soon as i got through the main strip and headed west, the traffic thinned out and i drove as one of a few vehicles on the road that divided fields of endless miles of sunflowers and wild sage bushes. about 15 minutes later, i saw adobe like structures and pulled into the visitor center where i was warmly greeted by the staff and my guide, ryan, who would be leading my tour of the property.
contrary to the initial thought that might come to mind when you think of living “off the grid” the earthships are something beautifully crafted with advanced architectural thought, strategic construction, and running a smart, self sustaining system that you won’t find many other places. economically composed, these buildings are constructed from recycled and natural materials by the hands of volunteers and advocates who believe in minimizing their impacts on the ecosystem and living a self sustaining life.
the perception of living off the grid is often seen as the desire to be undetected and detached from society, and for some, this is completely true, but the bigger desire is to be fully functional and self reliant, responsible for one’s own existence and the means that are needed within this. this to me is not only a romantic notion, but one that i find attractive and what draws me to nature, the outdoors and nomadism.
making my way through the property with ryan, we toured the various types and styles of earthships ranging from intern housing, that was typically cohabited temporarily by volunteers who shared interests in learning how to create a smart structure in exchange for their time and labor to sites under construction with lavish plans and magnificent structural details to one of the loveliest and unique sleeping spaces one could choose to make an escape to for a night or few.
ryan and i finished up the exploration of the ‘ships at the phoenix, which i would argue was not only one of the most unique layouts but the most comfortable and open for entertaining a multitude of needs allowing a sizable group of people or a solo traveler to make an escape into the desert for an unlimited amount of time without any need to return to civilization. sectioned off into 2 living spaces, i settled into the smaller, more intimate side, taking in the luxuries that you would not have imagined from such a structure like hot running water, internet, cable and electricity and a cool comfortable room temperature that remained in the mid 70’s my whole stay. my bed faced out with a view of the greenhouse garden that made up of a mixture of vegetation for air purification and consumption and added a beautiful lush nook for lounging.
wrapping the day, i headed a short distance up the road to a local brewery, taos mesa brewery to have a beer and grab a bite to eat before heading back in the pitch black and down and around a dirt road leading me back to the phoenix. unlike my time spent in some other places, i had very little desire to actually branch out and explore the town of taos at that exact moment as i had a whole magical oasis to return to, allowing me to escape comfortably and safely and fully emerge into the desert without a feeling of concern. the air was thick with silence and the room was slightly illuminated with light from the moon and stars shining through the windows in the ceiling above. the room was cool and the space was comfortable sending me into a peaceful slumber.
i rose before sunrise and found the temperature outside to be a chilly upper 40’s but my the phoenix had kept me warm, unchanging from what it had been earlier in the day when the sun was beaming down. i cruised around, enjoying the sunrise over the rio grande gorge bridge and enjoyed a leisurely morning of coffee, oatmeal and yoga around the garden and in the courtyard before taking one of the best showers i had taken in over a month and packing up to head off to my next destination.
my time spent in the earthship biotechture community was short but memorable as it allowed me a glimpse into a lifestyle worth living. one crafted with thoughtful care, demanding of conscious daily practices and allowing for a life creating self dependency without sacrificing modern conveniences or esthetically comfortable living, a dream shared by many. my time in new mexico was greeted with a sweet departure as i pulled out of the earthship community that was a mixture of rentals and roads that lead to private properties inhabited by humans who have committed to calling one of these places home. heading down the road towards the colorado boarder, i peered out into the never ending fields covered in sage and sunflowers and stopped and gathered myself a bundle of of each and placed it on my dashboard to accompany me on the road ahead as a reminder of the time spent in a way and place that you must openly emerge into in order to fully understand the concept and way of life and to experience what it is like to co-exist within the harsh, varying climates and wildlife of the desert, a place that that entices many but a permanent home to very few.