Tag: Travel

Stay in an Earthship on AirBnb Taos, NM

Earthship Community: Eco Travel in Taos, NM

What the heck is an earthship? : Travel to Taos, NM to the Global Earthship Community to find out. You’ll find the largest collection of off-grid housing grouped in one 640 acre community. An Earthship is a type of house built with natural and recycled materials with energy conservation in mind. It is designed to produce water, electricity, and food for its own use. It is a completely off-grid house that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels for living. The main features of an earthship are: Use of natural and recycled materials for construction Powered by Solar & Wind Energy Thermal Mass & Passive Solar Heating using soil Food Production (possible, with an added greenhouse) Water Collection/Recirculation of Rain & Snow Melt    The founder and creator of the Earthship concept is Michael Reynolds, who landed in Taos in 1969. His inspiration came from looming piles of garbage and pack of affordable housing. Over the next several decades, Reynolds turned trash into luxurious eco-homes by beginning to incorporate things like thermal mass, passive solar, and natural ventilation. Today’s earthships are built on a foundation of earth-rammed tires that require no foundation and provide heat and cool insulation. “Solar glazing” refers to the position of the exterior windows that allows the sun to heat the floors and walls without the use of fossil fuels or wood. Skylights provide natural ventilation to cool the home.  Earthship Community: Taos, NM Since the 1970s, The Greater World Earthship Community in Taos, New Mexico has grown exponentially. The world’s only completely off-grid community is 640 acres platted for 130 homes. The homes are certainly unique: resembling something from Star Wars. The adobe houses are built low into the ground, and camouflaged into the terrain of Taos.  The big draw of this community is an attitude of self-reliance. One resident sums it up: “You are the power company, the water company, the sewage-treatment plant and the food production.”  The Eco-chic designs are certainly unique. Earthship design seems focused on sustainability, less emphasis on aesthetics. You can experience Earthship living for yourself: through AirBnb and VRBO! I stayed in Holli’s cute eco home over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a perfect off-grid getaway complete with fireplace, an extensive library, an old-school record player, and a scrabble board (a necessity). We used it as a jumping-off point for exploring the Taos Mountain Valley and the Rio Grande Gorge. It was cozy, unique, and a nice reset from the hustle-bustle of Denver. Interestingly, I never felt limited by the off-grid setup. The home stayed warm with the sun, the solar power was more than sufficient, and we made do with a gas cooktop (even on Thanksgiving!). Check availability for your next getaway! Next trip, I found this dreeeeamy Earthship kitchen! You know me, I love a good kitchen. This is impressive for any home, let alone an Eco-Home. Find the Famous Taos Earthship on VRBO. Not ready to stay in an Earthship, but still a little curious? Stop by the Visitor’s Center for a tour. If you’ve got some extra time in Taos, this is an interesting stop. It’s just past the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, worth the extra drive if you’re in the area. Final Thoughts on Eco Living I was so happy to learn and experience the possibilities of eco-living in an Earthship. It certainly opens my eyes to the stress that modern conveniences put on our available resources. While I’m not quite ready to fully commit, I think there are some lessons I can bring home. I’ll be more aware of water usage, leaving lights on around the house, and hopefully working towards less waste. I’ll definitely be back to Taos, and it makes me feel good to have the Earthship Global Community as an option for a home-away-from-home as needed. Stay tuned for more Taos updates (hiking, skiing, and eating). You May Also Like: Fall Weekend Getaway: Buena Vista Colorado What It’s Like to Row 150K in a Month

Read More »
Alaska Range in Winter from the Alaska Train

Winter in Alaska: The Ultimate Trip to the Far North

Time to plan an incredible trip to experience Winter in Alaska! Follow along for my full itinerary for a 6-day trip through the interior Alaska from Anchorage to Fairbanks. A trip north to Alaska in the heart of winter is definitely not on the TOP of most people’s vacation short lists. Winter in Alaska is COLD and DARK.   However, Alaska has been on my bucket list for a long while. So, I rounded up my warmest clothes and we set out to explore the interior Alaska in sub-zero temperatures in mid-January with hopes of catching a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).  Here’s my account of the trip from activities to food and how we pulled it off: All the hotspots we visited on this map from Wanderlog: Map courtesy of Wanderlog, a trip planner on iOS and Android Day 1 : Arrival, Exploring Anchorage I began the journey to The Great North with a connection through Seattle. This was a fun connection because I met up with my friends, Amanda and Jillian who are working in Washington State. They were both key collaborators to planning this trip.  The flight from Seattle to Anchorage was pleasant on Alaska Airlines. Current COVID restrictions mean capacity is still limited. We did pre-flight screening to comply with Alaska’s travel restrictions. The process went smooth, and we were cleared for entry within a few minutes of arriving.  We rented a car from the Ted-Stevens Airport in Anchorage, with plans to return it downtown on Saturday morning; then we headed out into Anchorage to explore. First stop: food. We settled on a highly reviewed and recommended spot, Moose’s Tooth Pizza. This little pizza joint had TONS of unique options and catered to a number of special diets. Amanda went for a veggie-loaded pizza on a regular crust, Jillian chose a whole-wheat vegan crust, and I tried a split topping on house-made cauliflower crust. There was A LOT of food. We ate half our pizzas, and saved the other half for later.  Once we were fed up, it was time to check in to our AirBnb. The Bear Tooth House was a modest spot centrally located. It wasn’t a standout, but it was sufficient for our ramblings. Having a car was useful, and we quickly got our bearings around Anchorage. The city has an eclectic mix of newer, commercial establishments and rustic, aging businesses.  We perused google for sights nearby and were intrigued by one standout: Star the Reindeer. His reviews are a mix of appalling and disconcerting. We couldn’t not go. It turns out, Star really is an aging Reindeer living in a pen connected to a house in downtown Anchorage. The most fitting review we read: “Star died in 2018.” Accurate. On the way back to the AirBnB, we found a great health food co-op: Natural Pantry. We loaded up on healthy snacks for our trail days and for the upcoming travel day. This grocer is a standout amid the chain stores in Anchorage. The early winter in Alaska sunset definitely got to us on this first travel day. We found ourselves barely able to keep our eyes open at 7pm in the darkness. An early bedtime was in order for all of us.  Day 2 : Anchorage Park Trails and a Fantastic Museum We woke up to darkness on Friday. Another odd sensation as we waited for the world to wake up around us. Cold pizza made a great pre-adventure breakfast.  The weather was mild for this time of year in Alaska: hovering around 25-30 degrees most of the day. We bundled up in a few layers and picked out a first destination to explore: Kincaid Park.  Kincaid Park is a trail system located on the southwest end of Anchorage, by the airport. We took the Coastal Trail which wound down to the beach along the Cook Inlet. From the beach, we were greeted by the sun at 9:54am. Across the bay is Fire Island and you’ll get great views of the Kenai Peninsula. Many of the other trails in Kincaid Park are skier-only. In fact, there are over 40 miles of groomed ski trails including 12 miles of lighted trails (for those dark days). We saw lots of amateur cross-country skiers enjoying the mild winter day in Alaska.  Alaskan Beach After a few hours on the groomed trail in Kincaid Park, we drove across town to Far North Bicentennial Park. This is another popular trail system for locals. Interestingly, we were among the few people on foot. There were so many fat-tire bikers!! Next time, I’d certainly try renting a bike.  In Bicentennial Park, we took the Viewpoint Trail. While the trail was enjoyable, a word of warning: there isn’t actually a viewpoint on this trail. We saw cool trees and lots and lots of snow. (I guess that’s Winter in Alaska for you) Instead of wasting daylight (you only get so much of it) on a lunch stop, we snacked on bars and jerky. I made my first stop at one of Anchorage’s infamous coffee shacks. They are all over the place! Little tiny drive-up sheds that offer a selection of hot and sugary-sweetened blended beverages. On my next trip to Alaska I’ll do a better job of mapping out exactly which coffee shops to visit. My family would love a coffee shop tour in Alaska! Next stop: The Anchorage Museum. I have to say, we were all quite surprised by this gem in Downtown Anchorage. The building is incredible. We enjoyed the permanent exhibits on traditional Alaskan cultures, Alaskan history, and Alaskan art. A rotating exhibit on Extra Tough Women of the North was particularly empowering (and a bit absurd at times). I would highly recommend a visit to this museum on a trip to Anchorage when you need a break from the cold.  We left the museum just in time to catch the sunset, at 4:00 pm. After learning about the Good Friday earthquake (the largest quake ever

Read More »

Day In the Life: Richmond, VA

My Day Exploring RVA with Mom, Dad & Kelsey Going home to visit is always a special occasion. I’ve lived in Colorado for 5 years now, so any time I get to visit home is enjoyable. Richmond has changed A LOT since I was around, so this was a perfect day to really explore the neighborhoods of the river city. We had a Saturday with no plans, and since we LOVE COFFEE, I mean are OBSESSED with coffee…of course!  A coffee tour of Richmond! We started the day with a roastery. I love bringing coffee back from every place I visit, so this was how our plan began. My Mom introduced me to Roastology in Chesterfield. I found a great organic, washed coffee from Peru that I’m looking forward to brewing up on my own. Knowing we had a full day of tasting ahead, I chose to skip out on a cup of joe but Mom, Kelsey and Dad enjoyed a fresh drip.   The next stop was one of my favorite coffee shops in Richmond. I’ve only ever been to the Addison Street Cafe, but my older brother Josh convinced us to check out Lamplighter Roasting‘s location in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood. I was so impressed and inspired by this area. I love the modern-industrial style and revamped old buildings. Josh stopped in to say “hello” and we had (spoiler alert) the best drink of the day: Summer Lavender Latte. I seriously need to find a cafe that does lavender this well in Denver After leaving Lamplighter, we happened upon a RVA Bike Share rental station. What a find! Spontaneously we decided to hop on bikes and pedal to the next spot on the tour. Maybe the caffeine was getting to us… We left the hip Scott’s Addition neighborhood and did some sightseeing along Monument Avenue. After a few miles up and down admiring Richmond’s adorable historic homes (Thank goodness Richmond drivers are bike aware!), we found ourselves outside of Black Hand Coffee in the Museum District.  I ordered a refreshing ginger kombucha by Blue Ridge Bucha. Daddy D was onto his third latte of the day. Champ! This coffee shop was small, but a great find. Their menu was limited and to the point–they do espresso well, no frills.       Next, I went on a trip down memory lane. We cruised back across Broad Street and headed straight toward my high school. Since we were being extra active bicycling around town, we needed the extra “energy” from donuts. Alas, Sugar Shack Donuts earned a stop on the coffee tour. Luckily, this spot wasn’t here when I went to high school…because I could’ve easily made it a habit. We picked out our treats and took a break in the shade to devour. We tried a “Dirt” Donut: oreo with gummy worms, a Butterfinger dusted donut, and a Salted Caramel glazed donut. We certainly had sticky fingers on the handlebars after this stop!     The day was heating up, so after our sugar excess we started our return ride to the car in Scott’s Addition. We passed an awesome new park by the Redskin’s Training Facility, an adorable Gelato Shop (..to be revisited..) and several great breweries/tap rooms. [Perhaps next visit will be a RVA Tap Room Tour!] We stopped by to check on Josh at the gym, but we had just missed him. After checking our bikes back in, we hopped in the car and headed across the Manchester bridge. We needed to burn off a bit more energy, so we accessed the Flood Wall Trail from south of the James and had incredible views of the city. Mom spotted several bald eagles perched in dead limbs along the river. It was HOT! I am not used to the Southern heat and humidity, Colorado has me spoiled. We only lasted a few miles up on the flood wall and then returned where we came from for lunch (a healthy lunch, without caffeine, I might add) at Plant Zero Cafe. I’ve been here before when visiting and am always happily satisfied with a simple meal. It was all we could do to keep our eyes open on the drive home. A pre-dinner afternoon nap was certainly in our future. The morning of adventure was soul-filling in a way that only being home with my family can do. I’m looking forward to more days of exploring the city, always drinking more coffee, and laughing at ALL the dad jokes. Oh! From stop one to the end, Daddy D mastered the group selfie- and we are so proud:         What are your favorite coffee shops in Richmond? Any to add to the list for next time?

Read More »

My Go-To Podcasts

I spend a shocking amount of time in the car. Even more, I spend a shocking amount of time in traffic. You’d think I’d learn to avoid those times…but somehow Denver traffic has become a perpetual slow-down. My drive time is generally my call-Mom time (hands free!!). In the – event that she doesn’t answer, I’ve come to rely on podcasts to maintain my sanity. I greatly enjoy early mornings with my fat-laden coffee and a captivating podcast to lift my attitude on the way to work. Some weeks, I spend so much time engrossed in listening I start to feel like these podcasters are my actual friends. (Ok, Ok…Crazy?) Anyway, here are a few of my go-to current favorites:     Girls gone WOD. The friend comment? Yeah, That’s totally directed at Joy & Claire. These girls are incredible role models who came to podcasting with a background in crossfit. (WOD is crossfit lingo for Workout of the Day). They are funny, insightful, and REAL. I love that they are based in Denver, my tribe!! They often discuss crossfit/fitness/health, but incorporate so much real life relatable content.   The Primal Blueprint Podcast. I’ll admit I’m quite enthralled with the paleo/primal movement. I think there is great value in a return to our ancestral health values. I enjoy Mark Sisson’s podcast for how approachable he makes ‘radical’ diet and lifestyle change. I’m impressed by his views on fueling the human body, and his willingness to change his mind with new research. For me, implementing habit change is easier when I’m learning about it- and I am always picking up tid-bits from Mark and his guests. {I’ll give Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Radio a brief mention here too. He IS very polarizing- but I appreciate his philosophy and I DO brush up on the latest biohacking novelties….With my bulletproof coffee in hand, I might add}   Off the Vine. SHAMELESS. Yes, I have been totally obsessed with the Bachelor ever since my sorority big Amaura got me hooked in college. This podcast takes it to another level. IF you call yourself a fan, LISTEN TO THIS. Kaitlyn Bristowe is and will always be my favorite bachelorette and this podcast is just.. illuminating. She divulges juicy details about filming/production, adds in her snarky humor, and interviews a lot of bachelor “royalty.” It is lighthearted and entertaining and juicy.

Read More »