This is what I love about seeing a region from the saddle of a bicycle. You're able to really witness all that is around you, none of it becomes a blur outside of a speeding car window.
It was late morning on the second day of a six day biking New Mexico trip with Backroads and we'd left our mineral springs oasis Ojo Caliente and were headed to Taos. The day began with rolling hills through Carson National Forest and I was looking forward to the sweeping views our trip leaders had told us about at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Mile 28 brought about a t-intersection where I could either turn right to get to the gorge and lunch at the Taos Mesa Brewing Company a little quicker, or turn left for a short out and back to visit the something called the Earthship Community. Intrigued, I went left.
Earthships are 'radically sustainable' and completely green buildings. They're designed to be built in any climate on the planet and still provide electricity, potable water, heating and cooling, contained sewage and sustainable food production. At their New Mexico community you can witness the construction, ask questions, take tours of the buildings and even hop in to their quirky (and thoughtful) visitor center and gift shop.
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Trash to Craft Homes in New Mexico
From Highway 64 outside Taos, New Mexico, Earthships look like the domed roofs of underground dwellings. Turns out they're even more interesting than that. After growing fed up with the amount of trash he produced, Earthship Founder Michael Reynolds started using old tires, aluminum cans, and glass as building materials. What resulted was a pioneering design for off-the-grid homes that heat and cool themselves, grow some of their own food in indoor greenhouses, filter and recycle their own water, and use a solar powered battery for electricity. There are now about 80 homes near the Earthship visitor's center and many more around the world. Travelers can arrange a tour or book a stay in one of five nightly rentals. What you'd imagine to be rustic on the inside is artfully decorated with aluminum-can or glass-bottle mosaics (above) and handcrafted decor made by other artists in the community. But the biggest luxury, which we discovered on a 20-degree winter day, is the warmth inside provided by nothing more than the heat of the sun. In the words of my tour guide, "You have to stay in one to get it." I'll have to return.
Earthships are the future! These self-sustaining homes have zero utility bills, all the conveniences of a modern home, and the ability to grow their own food. Perhaps more amazing then the homes themselves is the fascinating DVD about how they came to be, and the legal battle that followed. The stars at night from the ships are surreal, and the entire experience gives hope that we will find a more efficient way to live.