Week One of our Earthship summer is complete. The past seven days have been a whirlwind of working, learning, settling in, working some more, and meeting interesting new friends.
Earthship founder, Mike Reynolds taught our three courses this week, which included The History of Earthships, Thermal/Solar Heating and cooling, Solar and Wind Electrical Systems. They were all pretty much overviews of some of the basic Earthship principles that we will learn in more detail in the weeks to come. Mike has been building, researching, studying, and upgrading his techniques over the past 40 years to bring us the Earthships that we see today. He is continuously trying to improve and simplify the designs to use more natural earth phenomena (i.e. wind, rain, sun, gravity, thermal mass, etc.).
The main concept that I took away from the first week is the idea that a home can be heated/cooled simply by being surrounded by the right amount of thermal mass and positioned at a certain angle towards the sun. Because the thermal mass (in this case earth packed tires and an extra four feet of earth) acts as a battery, storing heat and releasing it when necessary, you can keep your house at a perfect temperature all year round without using any kind of centralized heating/cooling system.
Think of the amount of energy it takes to keep your A/C on in the summer and/or your heater on in the winter. This is just one of the ways that an Earthship can cause you to owe little to nothing in utilities each year.
We are actually getting taught on a build that we get to see from the ground up. On the first day, our group laid out the beginning round of tires and started the tiring task of assembling and leveling the earth-packed tires. Needless to say, after the first day and a half of this, every muscle in my back ached. Getting out of bed in the morning was like trying to pry a lollypop out of a four-year-old’s hands.
As the week went on, it got easier (or maybe I didn’t let myself do as much physically intensive work. But I’d like to think that my muscles are just getting that strong. Watch out mom, I might be surpassing you in the awesome arm department!).
Anyways, on the work sight this week I wielded a sledge hammer, pickaxe and power tools, which is pretty awesome in my book. I learned how to get the tires in a single course to be completely level, how to use a builder’s level, how to get perfect dimensions in your building before you proceed, and how reinforce a tire wall with cement and cans.
Every night when we come back to our cave, I feel extremely accomplished and excited for the next day. I can’t help but think that this is how we should feel at the end of every day of our lives.
Traveling With My Person
Traveling like this while being married is a first for me and Grant. I’m finding that it is very different when you enter a situation with so many new people as a married person than as a single person. It is no longer me that people are meeting, it’s the GraRissa unit that is being introduced... something I am still getting used to.
I’m also realizing more than ever that my attitude directly effects Grant and his directly effects mine. Keeping a positive attitude in the face of exhaustion and uncomfortable situations is key when it comes to traveling with your partner. If you are both not actively trying to do this, you will both be miserable whenever things do not go according to plan.
Overall, these past few weeks of travel and the first week of Earthships have been a huge learning experience and I know there is still more to come.
Check back for more updates!
Grace and Peace Ya’ll,