Living 'off the grid', as described to us by a gallery owner in Santa Fe, with 'no electricity, no phones, being near totally self-sufficient' is the vision of Earthship (www.earthship.com), one of several communities in New Mexico. In Taos, the Earthship Academy trains interns in all phases of home construction utilizing mostly recycled materials - tires, bottles and cans. Rammed earth berms and walls using adobe clay, walls of concrete with embedded bottles and cans, cisterns for holding rain water, grey-water recycling to feed plant and vegtable gardens, and solar arrays for powering household DC appliances.
Inspiring architecture dots the landscape of this community as coop members have designed and constructed their personalized 'Earthships'. Imagination being the only design limitation. The bottles and rounded edges give a strange appearance - but the insides are very nice and the utilities are less than $100 a year for propane gas for cooking.
Having topped up with sustainable dreams we head out to cross the plateau on foot, taking a trail along the rim of the Rio Grande. Where to? Oh, about four miles out to a vista point overlooking the river and multiple side canyons. The miles click by slowly across a fairly beautiful, yet unchanging landscape of sage brush, sand, blue skies, and views of the nearly in-reach canyon rim.
Being set back about a quarter mile from the rim we are urged to walk-on in hopes of reaching the vista ahead of an approaching storm now hanging over the mountain range to the north and west of Taos. Taking a side trail we sneak a peak over the rim, retreat to the main trail, reaching the vista after following another hour of undulating sandy trail.
Reaching the rim vista at Pecata Point the wind picks up cautionng too close a visit to the rim edge. Down below we spy several campsites and river access pullouts, destinations for another day perhaps.
The walkout, muscles now aching and lunch-missed, we're already planning our evening feast. Tonights visit, The Downtown Bistro, literally across the parking lot from our motel, turns out to be our second dining treat in Taos. Having worked the miles, earning our calories, we feast. A warm spinach salad and visit to the olive bar was followed by a duck creation for Karen and lamb stew for Ron. A California Cab to accompany, of course. Yumms. Stuffed and exhausted we retreated to our room, barely able to shower and plan tomorrow's adventure.