Please, please, PLEASE get in touch with us and let us know if we're inspiring or annoying you, if you have questions or comments, or just to say hi! We may even stop in and see you at some point!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Turkey Day 2017

Of November 2017, I can't say a whole lot.  It wasn't a remarkably adventurous month, but there were a few highlights, including a trip without the wife to take my son to see his grandparents in Lamar.  The way back included an overnight stop in Colorado Springs, a drive across the Colorado plains at night, and a stunning sunset over our future home.

Thanksgiving was a success here at the Outpost.  We brined and roasted a huge turkey and annihilated the leftovers in less than a week.  I also got a chance to squeeze some Monopoly in with my mom and brother.  All in all, it was a pretty successful.
The little one got a chance to go with Mom to a show put on by the high school, for a dose of culture.  

Getting through December will be a chore.  Nothing too new, but it's the month of waiting, financially caught up with nothing to spend, sort of like a diet celebration.  Next month, it'll be time to chip away at getting some permits, getting some work done on the BattleWagon, getting things in order for the adventure that awaits us up in the San Luis Valley.
One surprising development is a trailer we found at an RV dealer in Pueblo.  It's only 9 years old, 27 feet long, and plenty of room for us and the kids and a dog.  Only thing it doesn't have is a washer and dryer.  Seriously.  May be the place to start?  We'll have to see.  Something like that would save us a lot of time over building out a cargo trailer to fit our specs, and may save us money in the long run, too?
Digressing, though, we're very excited to check out all of the things we'll be able to see in the San Luis Valley, including the Great Sand Dunes, Zapata Falls, Blanca Peak, Penitente Canyon, the UFO Watchtower, the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad, so many things... stay tuned...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Checkpoint December

With the time approaching, a good half year away and closing, we've been thinking a lot about the basic materials to get started on this project.  While I'm kind of looking to build a trailer out so we can stay in that first, the second step is becoming frustratingly vague.  Do we build a micro-earthship so we can get some of the design and building bugs worked out before committing to the large structure?  Do we drop a tiny house or cabin out there first so we KNOW we'll be warm when fall and winter roll in?  Do we just go all out and try to knock out the whole project up front?

It's all up in the air at this point.  Sketching, calculating costs, figuring out where to source materials... it's foreign.  Not completely foreign, but our work has been cut out for us for a bit.  With the last of our abhorred financial commitments complete, the time to commit is rapidly approaching, and the excitement is almost tangible.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Questions We're Asking Ourselves

Here are some questions that she and I have been asking ourselves, since we haven't really pushed the blog at this point:

How are we going to build our earth ship?
Right now, the consensus isn't a consensus at all.  We're oscillating between strawbale and rammed-earth tires.  It may be a combination of both, using tires for structure and heat-retention and strawbale for insulation and detailed work.  We're not also entirely dismissive of using adobe mud bricks either, and we're definitely planning on putting a yurt on top.

What's the timeline like?
We're finished with our current obligations at the end of April 2018.  Hopefully, before we get down there, we have invested time and money into having the BattleWagon ready to go, if nothing else, and then maybe even buying a camper or building out a cargo trailer.  (Still oscillating on that, too.)  This way we have something to stay in while we pursue larger housing.  Then we hope to acquire a more economical vehicle, a Battle Scout, and start building a mother-in-law cottage that we can move into as an intermediate step.  This should be about all we can accomplish in one summer, next summer, especially if we're climbing and road tripping throughout.

What are we going to do for money?
Mom will still be working four days a week at the high school here in Salida, while I'll be working on the homestead pretty much full time.  The Boy will probably be helping me lots with the building, while the Girl will still have school in Salida, possibly full days at that point, so productivity should be at a high.

What is the closest town?
In order of population and distance:
Moffat; 116, 10 miles
Saguache; 493, 10 miles
Salida; 5,236, 40 miles *Closest regional bus line
Trinidad; 8,771; 170 miles *Closest AmTrak connection
Alamosa; 8,780, 48 miles *Closest regional airport
CaƱon City; 16,400, 98 miles
Pueblo, 106,595, 135 miles
Denver, 693,060, 239 miles *Closest International Airport

Is there anything there already?
There's nothing there.  It's a blank slate.  A few tumbleweeds, a couple of ant hills, and that's it.  No well, no electricity, no septic system.  Nothing.  Can't wait to build on it!  It's gonna be a blast!
Home, sweet home.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The BattleScout Search Continues...

One of the biggest challenges in establishing an EarthBase is finding the right vehicles to use for everything.  I say vehicles, because it's a lot more difficult to juggle a family in one single vehicle.  The BattleWagon continues to rock and roll, but eyes are peeled for a BattleScout, something small and economical, that will carry us all over the San Luis Valley for everything we need without breaking our bank.  The Valley is the size of the state of Connecticut.  Driving a 30-year-old van with a V8 around to get groceries in the next town could be a deal-breaker.  Plus, until we get established, the BattleWagon may double as a base camp.

The current best candidates are Toyotas.  Toyota makes rock solid cars and trucks.  My dad has a 1985 Tercel wagon, 4-wheel-drive with a granny gear, yet over 30 mpg on the highway AND a sunroof!  It has around 300,000 miles on it (second engine), and it runs and runs.  Recently, in fact, we had the good fortune, my dad and I, to drive this very car through the infamous stretch of US 285 known as "South Park" AS THEY CLOSED THE HIGHWAY, and, as I told him while I was driving, I didn't even realize it was that slippery.  Meanwhile, cars are upside down all over, semis are pulled over either chaining up or just waiting it out.  Slippery road, very high winds blowing previously fallen snow right across the road.  That car moved right along.  Blissful.

Also fitting the bill is one of Toyota's vans.  They are some of the only minivans available consistently with all-wheel-drive.  The older vans are especially noteworthy because the engine wasn't in front, it was underneath, so it looks and feels like you have a ton of room.  Plus they're a blast to drive.  The visibility is excellent, and the mileage is pretty darn good.  My brother recently came into a Previa for a case of beer, and all it needs is a transmission.  Van life trumps.

Beggars can't be choosers, and we'll be keeping our eyes open.  In the meantime, we're gonna take the best care we can of the Big Blue Van.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Grand Canyon

What can I possibly say about one of the most amazing places on the planet other than it was, well, one of the most amazing places on the planet I've ever seen.  I remember going there as a kid, and I remember looking off the rim into the great chasm beneath me and not being able to wrap my head around it.  As a grown up, not much has changed.  It's still bigger than my head has the capacity to rationalize.  Enjoy the slide show, as this blog is late.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Earthship Idea

Lately, we've been getting really excited about the idea of an adobe earthship.  The terrain where the homestead sits makes it just about perfect to keep the place cool in the summers and warm in the winter.  We figure if we face the big windows toward the south, we'll be in great shape.  Plus it gives me a great opportunity to build a pseudo replica of Luke Skywalker's homestead from the original Star Wars movie...

After watching some videos online, I'm excited and discouraged to see that most of the labor is relatively EASY labor (i.e. not mentally impossible), yet it is LABOR.  Hours and hours of hammering dirt into tires is in our future.  Just hammering dirt.  Rammed earth tires for the walls, we'll mud over them, paint them, and bam, we're pooping in tall cotton.  The tires are great for walls.  They'll keep the heat inside when it's cold, and they'll keep it cool inside when it's hot in the summer.  We'll hopefully be able to reclaim and reuse a bunch of water, up to four uses, which will help a lot in a place that gets about 10 inches of rain every year.
The idea is simple, but I suck at explaining things and I'm lazy, so I attached a diagram and some examples.  More to come.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Base Camp

For the house design, we have decided to use adobe pretty exclusively.  A Yurt has been requested, and I'm pretty okay with that.  I'm also planning on building out storage containers for different "missions" and purposes, i.e. a medical module, a library module, a module for sleeping, etc.  I don't know exactly how it all will come together.  There's also talk of recreating Bent's Old Fort and building an adobe Holt (a term for the Roman Legion-Camp-shaped fortresses in the lands of Jim Butcher's brain).  Either way, our work is cut out for us, and there's lots of it to do.

The first phase will be to make sure we have adequate camping quarters.  Using what we have to establish what we'll have to build first, that seems to make the most sense.  Currently, we have a very large tent, a teardrop trailer, and, of course, the BW itself.  The camper can hold two and a small half, the tent, up to 8, and the van can sleep three or four comfortably before it becomes cramped.  The challenge now is to turn these independent parts into a system that we can use as a base camp for construction AND for expeditions into the more interesting parts of the world.