Sunday, June 3, 2012

Alternative Lifestyles


What we thought was a short drive to a hiking trail recommended by a couple we met while biking the other day led us up a steep dirt road, and a quest to find a restroom in the middle of nowhere. Along came a BLM ranger, who directed us about 8 miles up the road (it became pavement again) to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge rest area.

At 650’ above the Rio Grande, the “High Bridge” as it is known locally, is actually the 5th highest bridge in the US.

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While standing on the bridge looking down, we got to talking to a man and his daughter who is in the area doing an internship at The Greater World Earthship Community, just a mile from the bridge. They told us to check it out, so after a couple miles of hiking on the West Rim Trail and the threat of rain, we drove down the road to see what it was all about. Earthship is an off-grid community about 10 miles from Taos. Too bad they charge a $7 admission fee, so we just took a brochure and walked around the outside of the houses near the visitor center.



They are constructed with all natural and recycled materials, collect water from rain and snow, use solar and wind power for electricity, and have some type of contained sewage treatment system. Quite interesting, and all in a lovely location with sweeping views of the Taos plateau and surrounding mountains.




This one is made of cement and aluminum can construction. Others use old tires and wine bottles. Looks like the prices average between $150,000-$250,000 but can go much higher.



In keeping with the sort of strangeness of the area, on our way home we passed this coffee/ice cream shop.


And then just had to turn down another dirt road where we saw some RVs and this sign.


This is apparently another off-grid community, but on a much lower income scale than Earthship. We came to a wooden bulletin board with just a few notices posted, one of which was a 3/4 acre lot for sale for $2,000. We figure if things get really bad, now we know where we can find an affordable place to park the Lazy Daze. We might have to get some more solar panels and batteries, and I’m not sure what they do with their sewage, but probably don’t want to find out.

There were quite a few old buses, RVs and houses in various states of disarray. It was a bit like Slab City, CA without the slabs, and in a much prettier area.




The local cafe.


I think we could live on this lot.


Our little hike turned out to be much more of an adventure than we expected. You just have to like New Mexico!


  1. Okay, I'm officially fascinated. The Earthship cooperative is cool, and all, but those kinds of "cooperative" communities just require too darn much cooperation. And, I think the fact that it costs $7 to look at their houses indicates it's too chi-chi for me-me.

    But, the "evolve" group - I've got to check that out!

    You could always do a composting's much easier than it sounds.

    Thanks for this info!

  2. No...I am not going on that bridge and look down. Are you crazy?

    Oh my gracious...they got the name correct...Earthship? It looks like a theme park from the outside.

    Coffee-ice cream, quiet a combination.

    Man did you two hit the jackpot with wired today. Love to see this stuff.

  3. A lot of the Terlingua folks are doing the same things a lot more cheaply. You can tour all of Terlingua/Study Butte/ Lajitas for free.

  4. Wouldn't dare walk that bridge, but what awesome views and what interesting communities you found. Have always heard hippies live in N New Mexico -- look like you might have found some...LOL!

  5. Very interesting. Would love to wander around both places and talk to the Earthlings to see what's up! Might even pay $7 to do it. Hey that's way cheaper than the movies these days. Thanks for giving me something else to add to my NM list.

  6. That is definitely on my list. I've got to check this place out for sure.

  7. Hi J&G,

    I once stood at the edge of that bridge and watched Tracey and our son Eric walk out and peer over the railing. Me - I couldn't do it! :)

    Those alternative communities look interesting. I'd like to check them out some day.

    I'm still living vicariously through your great travels and enjoying them immensely. We're sticking close to home these days, enjoying the little grandsons.

    Take care!

  8. Beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing. I would have been holding on to the rails of that bridge so tightly my fingers would probably cramp! :) Yep, gotta love NM and all its variety.