The very idea of an adventure is to live out of the ordinary scope of our everyday life. So to push ourselves out of our comfort zone is par for the course. This is how it was for me when traveling 10 hours north to a small northeastern Georgia town called Royston.
Through Facebook I had discovered a couple building an Earthship by themselves. The purpose of my trip was to learn as much as possible about these ultra-efficient homes in order to build my own someday.
I had only emailed the owner, Andy, twice and spoke to him on the phone once before making the trip up. I wondered if the trip would be worth using half of my vacation time, if my dog be content to stick around their property for a week while we worked away, if I would get along with the owners, if I would get the kind of education I was seeking, and if I would be leaving there with a feeling of achievement.
After an all too brief visit with my brother and his family in Warner Robins, GA, I continued up to the Northeast Earthship construction site and arrived late Sunday. I met the enthusiastic Andy for the first time in the dark. He seemed happy enough to have a new volunteer eager to help out for a week and I was grateful to be allowed to camp out on his property for the duration of my stay.
Monday morning came and working together flowed smoothly as our conversations covered a broad base of topics. We both shared our views on why we thought the Earthship design homes were everything we were seeking in sustainable living. Most of that day, and those to follow were spent on the details of the metal roofing with plenty of breaks for walk-throughs and descriptions of the various building aspects of a home that is completely self-sustainable. Besides the fact of no utility bills, Andy and his partner Rosemary will be taken care of by their beautifully hand-crafted home. From the planned solar and wind generators to the indoor greenhouse they will have a level of freedom that most homeowners do not comprehend. Their house will quite literally be caring for them.
Other systems include fully integrated heating and cooling through the use of solar gain and thermal mass, rain water collection, water reuse and filtration, air purification, indoor food production and the use of recycled materials to lower construction costs and reduce waste. If these were not enough, Andy has even been looking into other environmentally friendly back-up systems like a wood chip incinerator for radiant heating throughout the floor of home.
By Friday we were intent on finishing the vent box covers and the battery box cover. All of which were to be installed on the roof. It was cold working on the roof in the wind, but at the end of the day and drawing to the end of my visit we both felt very good about all we had achieved.
I had arrived with high hopes. During the long drive home I had time to reflect. I had gained a wealth of knowledge and two new life-long friends that were on the same path. Every aspect of the trip was a chance to grow and learn. I had invested my time and energy into their dream and was repaid many times over.