Monday, February 22, 2010

More tents to Haiti + New Blog Spot

Hello everyone,

We are now blogging at a new location: Please update your bookmarks and follow us as we blog about yurt, tent, and tipi uses, concepts, and innovations--we're also rolling out a video blog with useful how-to stuff.

Our latest posts is about our efforts to build more tents for Haiti relief. There is still big time need down there, particularly as the rains move in. Check out the blog to see what we're doing and how you can help.

Thanks and be in touch!
Sam Kigar

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CYC Donates Tents to Haiti

Chris-- a friend from the Fulbright program in Morocco-- called me Friday before last. He said he knew some doctors who were headed down to Haiti. They’ve been going for years and had actually booked a flight to Port au Prince before the earthquake. Their pre-earthquake plan was to go down, stay at a hospital, and do some humanitarian work. When the quake hit, plans changed but they were determined to get down there. The hospital-- St. Damien’s-- was still functioning despite sustaining serious damages; but it no longer had rooms for the doctors. They needed some tents.

There was a catch: the doctors had been rebooked for the following Sunday, just three days later. Seeing as the Colorado Yurt Company doesn't stock light weight tents, I regretfully told Chris to go buy tents at an unmentionable big-box store.

Later that day I stopped by Colorado Yurt Company owners' (my parents') office yurt. Jennie, our marketing manager, was in there and the three of them were putting their heads together, trying to find a way to be of some use in Haiti. We often dream of sending tents to disaster zones but the logistical difficulties always seem insurmountable. The Haiti Earthquake is case-in-point: As multiple governmental and non-governmental organizations geared up, the airport in Port au Prince jammed-up. Without proper coordination we feared that the tents would end up in warehouse in Miami. When I told my folks about Chris's doctor friends, they were excited. These doctors were gearing and going themselves! They would sling the tents over their shoulders, fly them down, set them up, live in them, and then hand them off to locals when they were finished. And these docs know Haiti. The University of Scranton Medical Alumni Council has sponsored a trip through Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos ( for years. Logistically speaking, it was perfect. I called Chris back.

The docs' flight had been delayed again: Tuesday or Wednesday. It would be a stretch to build the tents by then but we got to work anyway. On Saturday my mom and dad drew-up the plans.

They decided on a simple design: six vertical poles, guy-ropes, and overall dimensions of roughly 7ft x 7ft x 7ft. All the poles would be of the same length-- 3.5 ft-- the verticals at the front and back would each be two 3.5' poles, fitted together. The exterior was to be a light weight synthetic material that could be rolled up to expose screen walls. The whole thing would fit into a duffel bag.

By close of business on Monday, we had worked out the design and the first tent was done.

On Tuesday, the Colorado Yurt Crew would finish the remaining four and they'd make it to the East Coast and onto the flight to Haiti by mid-day Wednesday. Or so we hoped. But by Tuesday morning are hopes were dashed. We got word that the docs had been booked on a flight from New York to the Dominican Republic at 6:00 on Wednesday morning. There was no getting the tents to them by then. Unless...

As the crew scrambled to finish the tents, my mom booked me a flight to LaGuardia in NY City with free miles that my father had accumulated. My plane flew at 1:40 PM. The last stitch went into the fourth tent at 12:55. We dashed to the airport. I told the United ticket agent our story and she checked the bags for free. I made the flight and landed in NY at 10:00PM. Chris had driven down from Scranton. We met, hugged, and handed-off the tents.

Then he rushed them across town to JFK where the doctors were checking in. The four tents made their flight to the Dominican Republic and overland to Port au Prince. They're now functioning doctors’ quarters. We’re told that after several rounds of doctors use them, they’ll be handed off to Haitian families for semi-permanent housing. The fifth tent went out on Fed Ex that afternoon and will find its way to Haiti with the next batch of doctors in the coming weeks.

As for me, I headed into New York City, met a friend, and a bar tender who bought me a few drinks for my efforts. I was back in Montrose by noon the next day, less than twenty-four hours later, tired but overjoyed.

The crew here showed remarkable skill and agility in learning to make a new tent and being willing to do so. Chris and the folks at Scranton University were 24 hour support in making sure we got the right tents to the right people. The United Airlines agent was a huge help. And, of course, gratitude to a bartender in Brooklyn! Working with these people and being able to help in Haiti, even in this small way, was a great privilege for us.

Haiti is by no means secure. People are still being pulled out of the rubble. Others are in need of food, water, and medical treatment. Disease is an emerging problem. I’m sure you’ve given or heard about plenty of opportunities to do so but some of my favorites are: Partners in Health ( and Mercy Corps (

There is also still a great need for shelter. In the New York Times, Niurka PiƱeiro, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, said, “Tents, tents, tents. That’s the word we want to get out. We need tents.” Colorado Yurt Company has the capability to make a modest number of tents. We are currently setting up a partnership with a relief organization that can put our tents to immediate use. Stand by for information on how you can help.

--Sam Kigar

Monday, January 11, 2010

Response to NYTimes, "Broadband, Yes. Toilet, No": Why not have both?

You may have already seen Sarah Maslin Nir’s New York Times article “Broadband, Yes. Toilet, No” (12/30/09) about an adventurous couple that moved their young family to a yurt in rural Alaska. The Higman-McKittricks are an inspiring example of a wave of folks who are moving to yurts, making nature a part of their everyday lives-- not just a holiday treat-- and staying connected to a broader community through the internet. It’s Back to the Land 2.0!

From a yurt-dweller’s perspective there are some great points in the article: I loved the concept that the amount of living space in a yurt expands and contracts based on need at any given moment. I also liked the fact that they have internet in the yurt-- this allows them to connect all the diverse bits of their lives, remain active, stay in touch, and get written up in the New York Times.

But, by focusing on this one couple, the article doesn't give the full picture of the yurt-living experience. Toward the end of the article Ms. McKittrick is quoted as having said, “I’m someone who doesn’t mind giving up some level of convenience for having an interesting experience.” Many bloggers found the story to be inspiring but said that the couple sacrificed more than is reasonable for your average NYTimes reader. The worst part? The frigid trek from the yurt to the outhouse. I can't argue with that. This begs the question: Is sacrificing convenience a pre-requisite for yurt living? Most definitely not.

There are plenty of good options for putting a bathroom right inside your yurt, even if you’re off the grid. Below are a couple of toilet possibilities that our customers have used with great results:

The Incinolet toilet is a good option for folks who are hooked into electricity, either from a power plant or solar. The toilet requires no digging and no water. It works by periodically incinerating waste, so all that's left is a small amount of clean ash. Below is a picture of our customer, David Stewart’s Inciolet:

One of my favorite toilet options (for homes of all kinds!) is the Sun Mar composting toilet. Sun Mar makes a couple of models-- some require electricity, some don’t. These toilets are self-contained and compact. Installing a composter in your yurt is as simple as fitting an outlet, similar to a stovepipe outlet, into the yurt wall. They are odorless and produce fertilizer that can be used in growing non-edible plants. The Colorado Yurt Company is now a Sun Mar distributor, so give us a call at 1.800.288.3190 if you’d like any information or to place an order.

Perhaps the simplest and most rugged option (but still a far cry from an icy outhouse) is the do-it-yourself composting toilet. These toilets are as cheap as $25. They require little more than a 20 liter bucket, a box to house it in, a seat, and organic material, such as sawdust, to aid in the composting process. The waste from these toilets is also processed into fertilizer. The only problem with these toilets is that you have to figure out a way to protect against freezing. Click here to read about this type of toilet at the Humanure Handbook. Here is an instructional youtube video on making such toilets by the folks out of Pennsylvania that make the "Loveable Loo."

This lovely bathroom with a homemade composter is in Everett Boutilett and Louis Johnson's Colorado Yurt in upstate New York:

All of these toilets can be installed in a yurt bathroom, which is built by constructing a few walls inside the yurt. The yurt WC pictured below is a literal closet but without the water:

By adding an energy efficient toilet, like one of these, to a yurt, you can have the “experience” without sacrificing a shred of "convenience." No subzero dashes to the outhouse for me!

Other parts of the Higman-McKittrick yurt experience struck me as not necessarily representative (albeit cool). For example, the fact that they have to walk an hour to town to take a shower. Even yurt-dwellers without grid-based plumbing find all kinds of creative ways to have plenty of water right in their yurt, but that's a subject for another post.

Happy New Year,
Sam Kigar

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Colorado Yurt Company at NRPA 2009 in Salt Lake City

as blogged by Heather Martin, Colorado Yurt Sustainability Director

The meandering highways from the Colorado Yurt Company in Montrose, Colorado through the roadside rock cliffs was a perfect introductory backdrop for the week ahead at the National Recreation and Parks Association Congress and Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah. NRPA met and exceeded our expectations with an exceptional exhibit hall for our booth showcasing Colorado Yurts, Earthworks Tipis and Cimarron Canvas Platform Tents. It also included enlightening education sessions, fantastic new friendships, and really amazing reconnections at the many socials held all over beautiful downtown Salt Lake!

Cliff Connaughton, my tradeshow sidekick and our Colorado Yurt fearless leader, managed to finagle our truck 20 feet from the convention hall loading ramp. With minimal technical difficulties we got the new flat screen television and laptop to coincide so we could roll our yurt slideshow. Our beautiful booth was up and ready for the next day’s Exhibit Hall kick off, with plenty of time left over to head to a local pub to meet up with old friends and colleagues to boot!

Our first evening out wasn’t without highlights, as we were introduced to rock climbing star-turned photographer, Boone Speed. His nonchalant, humble disposition didn’t go unnoticed, nor did the local brews on tap. We had a fun-filled evening, and called it a night early in preparation for what we knew would be a day full of yurt discussions!

After our individual hotel gym cardio sessions, and grabbing a delectable to go breakfast of egg sandwich and fresh-brewed coffee the next morning, it was off to the NRPA Expo…

The full day flew by while Cliff and I got to chat-it-up with passerby-ers perusing the Expo aisles. Our yurt booth guest list spanned the globe, chronicling visits from national and state park directors, rangers and staff, municipal park department heads, private campground managers, adventure guides, Air Force base representatives, and bright-eyed college students to name a few.

The exhibit hall wasn’t just filled with folks interested in yurts, tipis and canvas wall tents, but also an array of thousands of vendors presenting products that ran the gamut, including (but not limited to): not-so-run-of-the-mill-restrooms, cutting edge climbing walls, miniature motor vehicles, pioneering playground equipment, outdoor exercise apparatuses, professional management magazines, and last, but not least, our neighbor to the left: fully lit, operable scoreboards.

AND sitting in this booth was none other than THE Tommy John! For those from a younger generation, Tommy John was once starting pitcher for both the Yankees and the Dodgers. The famous Tommy John elbow surgery is named after this very legend, seen casually shooting the breeze with his co-worker and star struck signature and photo requesters. It would be remiss not to point out that I, too, had a picture taken with the man we formally dubbed “sugar daddy” for his bite-size candy bar drop-offs on our table in route to the men’s room.

The fun extended into the subsequent evenings, mornings and afternoons, as yurts, tepees and canvas wall tents were discussed for camps, retreats, parks and individual living spaces.

On our final day, Cliff magically managed to maneuver our oversized truck, yet again, at the head of the line so that we were breaking the yurt booth down, loading the truck back up and on the road heading eastward home to the Colorado Yurt Company…all in less than one hour after the Expo closed!

To celebrate our speedy departure and NRPA Expo and Congress success, we grubbed on gyros and greasy fries at Cliff’s favorite family-owned Greek dive in Price, UT...all the while reminiscing about our exciting week of discussions about yurts, teepees and canvas wall tents.

Next road trip: American Camp Association in Denver February 16-19. See you there in 2010! Hope to see you at NRPA next year in Minneapolis, MN.

p.s. The Red Iguana is a must for amazingly authentic mole’ in Salt Lake City! It was featured on the Food Network's Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives show.

Play Red Iguana video from the Food Network WARNING! Don't watch this if you're hungry!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

YMCA of the Rockies - Snow Mountain Ranch

YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch is an incredible 5,000 acre conference and family center just outside of Winter Park, Colorado. It’s also the home of a new 20’ Colorado Yurt. We set the yurt up a few weeks ago just as the aspen were making their final statement of the fall with a fiery, orange blast of color amid billowing, low clouds that threatened to throw down the first big snow of the winter.

We stayed in Indian Peaks Lodge, one of the four lodges, numerous cabins and many campsites on the property. The rooms were very inviting and impeccably clean with a couple of beds, a mini-fridge, a sitting area and a back patio with a gorgeous mountain view. What’s that you say? No TV? Yes, no TV. Who needs television when you have 5,000 acres to explore? There is a WiFi connection, so don’t panic. An afternoon walk in the cool autumn air revealed an abundance of outdoor activities. Hiking, biking and horse riding trails meander all over the property. One of the trails I walked skirted along the edge of Sombrero Stables where the horses munched happily on their dinner. Another trail revealed a soaring zip line. Not into those things? How about miniature golf, disc golf, fishing, canoeing, archery, ice skating, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing or sledding? Don’t have the proper equipment? No excuse. Snow Mountain Ranch provides inexpensive rental options for just about anything you’ll require. Need something to do indoors on a rainy day? Try the rock climbing wall, swimming, basketball, volleyball, skating, ping pong, foosball or a variety of crafts.

photo courtesy of Snow Mountain Ranch

Unfortunately we didn’t have much spare time to play and explore. We had a yurt to set up before the snow flew. The talented ranch crew finished a handsome yurt platform the afternoon we arrived so we got an early start the next morning. The stairs leading up to the platform were finished off on either side with a rustic, hand-made banister. The tongue and groove wood floor inside added a rich and finished, yet rugged and outdoorsy touch.

The yurt went up pretty smoothly. Our shop manager, Clint Huddleston, came up with a great idea to combat a mild wind as we were getting the roof insulation and roof in place. We tied thin, slick ropes to the eyebolts in the circular compression ring at the peak of the yurt frame and then ran the ropes across the roof insulation tying the opposite end of the rope to the crisscrossing wooden slats of the lattice wall. This enabled us to have all hands free for unrolling the yurt roof and shifting it into place. Once the roof itself was settled, we simply untied the ropes and slipped them out from underneath the yurt roof. If you saw any clips of the balloon boy saga recently, that is pretty much what the roof insulation on a yurt will do if the wind catches it. So the ropes saved us a bit of chasing and avoided closure of nearby Denver International Airport.

This yurt included three of our new operable wooden windows. There are two big benefits to the new windows. They are set in a sturdy wooden frame so it is possible to cut out the section of the lattice wall that typically covers the window in a yurt. The ends of the cut lattice get screwed into the window frame so the frame integrates into the lattice wall without affecting the functionality and strength of the yurt. The view is unobstructed by the crossing lattice wall pieces. The second benefit is that the window can be cranked open from inside the yurt. A standard yurt window has a zippered flap in the wall fabric of the yurt which must be opened by going outside the yurt. Many yurts, including the Snow Mountain Ranch yurt, are built on a simple platform that is only a footprint for the yurt without additional outside deck space. If the yurt is elevated, unzipping and rolling up the window flap must be done on a ladder. In this case, the ability to open the window from the inside is an obvious advantage.

We had a great time at Snow Mountain Ranch and hope to make many trips back to play and to work. With adequate funding, the ranch has a master plan to incorporate tipis, canvas platform tents and several more yurts over the next couple of decades. I’ll leave you with a quote from their website.

"The glorious Colorado sunshine and breath-taking views set the pace to rejuvenate your spirit. Whether you are in need of relaxation or adventure, we have the inviting atmosphere that will stay with you long after you leave."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

World Yurt Maker's Conference - 2009

By Melissa Fletcher, owner of Yurts of Hawaii
and distributor for the Colorado Yurt Company

Ah, France in the springtime... The wildflowers, the vineyards, the old stone buildings, the YURTS!

I recently had the great pleasure of representing my business, Yurts of Hawaii, and our top notch manufacturers, The Colorado Yurt Company, at the first World Yurt Maker's Conference, held near Pont d'Arc and Gorges de l'Ardeche, France. The event was held at Canvas Chic's beautiful campground that is filled with rustic style yurts and canvas tents. The orchestrator's, Lucy and Nitsan of Spirit's Intent, helped build a beautiful, two-story yurt palace to be the central gathering place for the event. Several attendees brought their own, hand crafted yurts, that they set up and stayed in, the rest of us rented accommodations in the yurts and tents present.

A portion of the invitation explains a bit of the inspiration behind the gathering:

As yurt makers, we have all been captivated by something, an essence of the
structure itself, and beyond it to a living craft and a way of life. It has become an increasingly competitive market, especially in the UK and the USA, and in guarding one's part of that, one can separate oneself from a collective possibility (that) we can all share... we are calling everyone to discover what there is in the collective and to tell their story. (We will begin with) nomadic tents... introduce the origins and traditions of the structure. We will follow (with) the story of the yurt from its nomadic origins and how it came to the West, to developments of the structure, possibilities, uses, innovations and where it is going. There is a magical possibility of the yurt being the structure in the next stage of eco-evolution".

It was a small, yet rich gathering of yurt people from all over the world, each of us bringing our different experiences to share and learn from. We discussed different aspects of the trade and shared challenges, wisdom, various philosophies and our common stories of working with yurts. It was an affirmation and pleasure to meet so many others who are using yurts to bring about positive changes in our world. The event was held during the full moon weekend of May 8 - 10th, 2009 and attendees are hoping to make this an annual or biennial event.

Lucy and Nitsan and Lodewijk van den Belt, owner of the Canvas Chic campground, were responsible for making this vision a reality. They provided a wonderful menu for the duration of the event; think hand made breads, fresh fruit over porridge, roasted wild pig with potatoes, delicious salads... They gathered scholars, pioneers and craftspeople, several of whom were invited to speak and share their knowledge, ideas, and love for these structures. Among the speakers were (Alphabetically):

Bill Coperthwaite Founder of 'The Yurt Foundation', author of "A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity"Bill's reputation has preceded him with many in the yurt world. Credited with making the first yurt in the USA in 1962, he has incorporated this passion in his life along with other inspiring philosophies regarding community, education and encouragement for our fellow human beings. His joyful passion to create sensibly as well as artistically is downright contagious. Bill shared a bit of his personal journey, highlighting important lessons he's learned along the way, as well as design changes that he has made to the original yurt structure throughout the years. It was readily apparent that, much as his yurts are designed, he considers his life a constant and joyful work in progress.

"The main thrust of my work is not simple living - not yurt design, not social change, although each of these is important and receives large blocks of my time. But they are not central. My central concern is encouragement - encouraging people to seek, to experiment, to plan, to create, and to dream. If enough people do this we will find a better way".

Froit Bolara, a traditional Mongolian yurt builder, a person learns quickly that you can trust Froit to be straightforward in saying what he thinks. He is what I would consider to be a purist, holding fast to the opinion that anything other than a traditional Mongolian yurt that uses felt and traditional materials, is not a yurt. Many yurt lovers disagree with that statement, but I do believe that this attitude has its benefits; by keeping as close as possible to traditional yurt construction techniques, designs and materials, the original structure is kept pure and rooted in its native environment. I believe his is a critical role, as many others work to modify the yurt for different environments and standards. Rene Mueller reflected these thoughts quite articulately, "I think it requires someone like him to stick with the classics and he might even serve a greater purpose than he realizes, to maintain part of the Mongolian yurt culture, which is about to decline and vanish. As absurd as it often is, outsiders recognize the value of a culture whereas the natives already lost some of the trust in their values. At the same time, the value system of the entire world is in motion, and very few things seem to remain untouched from the changes".

Dr. Peter Andrews and Mugul Andrews, Anthropologists, Author/Illustrator of "Nomad Tent Types in the Middle East". Peter and Mugul were a delight to meet. They shared many tales of their travels and discoveries all over the Middle East. They discussed the social relevance intertwined in the many traditions of the region and showed us countless examples of how these traditions were interwoven in the culture's nomadic homes. Peter and Mugul started in their 20's to search for and preserve information regarding the cultural significance, actual technique and materials used in various tent-like shelters used throughout the region. Dr. Andrews states on his very informative site, .

"I started, as an architect, with the simple but ambitions aim of making a survey of nomad tents throughout the Muslim world. It rapidly became obvious that if I were to understand the ethnological context, tribal history, technology and terminology in comparison, an architect's training was insufficient. I had to set about acquiring an orientalist's training, and an ethnographer's, if not an ethnologist's, skills".

The subject has been a shared, lifelong passion between them and the depth of their findings is staggering. Peter and Mugul have given a priceless gift to the world through their tireless preservation of this quickly disappearing knowledge.

Day 1 Events: Presentations by Peter and MugulGetting to know each other. Showing of the Mongolian movie, "Tegris".

Day 2 Events: Spirit's Intent gathering in second story of the central yurt. Slide show and discussions with Bill Coperthwaite. Circle meeting, dancing, dining and music.

Day 3 Events: Presentation and discussion with Froit BolaraPresentation and slide show with Peter and Mugul. Construction of 'Playhouse Yurt' with Bill Coperthwaite and all attendees.

Throughout the gathering, Gabrielle Willand, a film director and her film crew were present, documenting our discussions, thoughts and perspectives. This was an added windfall that Lucy and Nitsan were presented with at the last minute. Perhaps the film crew's presence caused some people to be a bit reserved at first, but soon it became second nature and I believe we all look forward to seeing what was captured by the willing documentation.

  • A wide variety of topics were discussed throughout the conference, including:
  • The search for durable, affordable and eco-friendly materials
  • Meeting various building codes
  • Keeping to the nature of yurts/keeping things simple-Incorporating sustainable/Local materials
  • The benefits of predictability and permit-ability associated with the more 'engineered' yurts found in the States.-Defining the term 'Yurt'-Keeping yurts accessible to everyone
  • Redefining mounting misconceptions surrounding the idea of "home", "shelter", "castle"

In conclusion, I left this conference with shifted paradigms, all kinds of them, all over the place. I came away with an understanding that all of us working with yurts are working on various aspects of the same puzzle. I left secure in the knowledge that we are a community, within this world community, that is waiting to be developed. Many times in this community there is competition, it is inherent in any common industry, but the underlying beauty in this particular industry, is that we are all using yurts to help facilitate positive changes in this world, a world that is primed and ready for some serious, positive change. If we can agree that this is a common goal, then there are countless ways to collaborate and work together for the benefit of all.

I invite further discussion and also want to invite all yurt makers to check out Becky Kemery's website, She has shared news of a 'Yurt Guild' for all North American yurt companies and has included a private, 'Companies Forum' on the site as well, an ideal place for yurt companies to begin dialog and discuss industry issues. To join the forum you can register by sending your info to: .

There were many people that I met that deserve special mention, but really, everyone present deserves a bit more than I'm equipped to provide here. I look forward to learning more about what each person brings to the field in the coming years.

And some surprising news! We are looking forward to hosting a future World Yurt Maker's Conference here in Hawaii. So far we are preparing for speakers, lodging and a yurt building workshop with Bill Coperthwaite. We are hopefully aiming for this time next year, but, having never pulled one of these together before, it might take an extra year to pull it together. Anyone who is interested, please get on the mailing list by emailing me at .

Aloha Nui Loa to you all

~Melissa Fletcher

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tom and Lisa's Yurt of Their Own

by yurt owner Tom Betras
Photos courtesy of Jamey Hill, Rick Wolf and Lisa Burroughs-Betras

This little story began in the Spring of 2008 when we purchased our land in South Western New Mexico and it ended, at least for now, June 6th 2009 with the completion of our Colorado Yurt and deck installation.

The specific construction site was decided upon in October 2008. It was over the hill from the top of the plateau and above the little canyon but not close enough to disturb wildlife. The site has a fairly gentle grade with very little habitat affected and 360 degrees of great views. (Hindsight for night time noise/wind relief - look for less windy locale, thought it may not exist at 6,700 feet.)

Many options presented themselves as building opportunities but the yurt design ended up being the most appealing to us for the current project. Through some extensive research on yurts and yurt packages we liked Colorado Yurt the most for many reasons and settled on the 30' Yurt with the Wind Package. We decided to construct our own PLATFORM and CIRCLE for this location. We enlarged the basic 36' x 36' platform drawings available on the Colorado Yurt website and created our 50' x 36' deck.

Over the winter months, those would be November through March in North East Ohio, the plans were solidified for our project. Contractors are hard to come by in this area and we realized we wanted to do this ourselves. Talented, skilled manpower was what we needed for the plan. Having REALLY GREAT FRIENDS came in handy. Good friends from North East Ohio, Florida and Arizona, (you all know who you are Jim, Tom C., Rick, Jeremy, Jamey, Joe, Tom L., Jason and Chris) all agreed to assist in this 'Fun Little Project'. Not everyone was able to make the trip to the site but all contributed in significant ways and you will never know how grateful we are to you! THANK YOU!

Ok, now with the work scope laid out, a construction plan developed (over more than a few long afternoons), and a construction crew assembled, all that was left was to insure the materials arrived on time, gather all of the tools needed from the group, and hope that the weather cooperated. Late May, early June in South West New Mexico is quite beautiful, 85 degrees and dry, exceptionally. There had been no rain for six months and they need it badly. There were other problems to be solved as well, like how do we get all of the 'stuff' out there for the project so we needed a truck and a trailer to haul all of the tools, not to mention the furniture for the finished Yurt, to the site. Please Note: WE ARE OPTIMISTS.

Week One: Tom B. (Yurt Owner) and the Jeremy drove to New Mexico to get the site prepared, haul out all of the tools for the construction and haul out all of the furniture for the finished Yurt. Week one had a few little glitches like a flat tire on the truck and having to change lumber suppliers mid week for the entire lumber package. But other than that, it went well. Renting the bobcat with the 12" auger was the way to go to drill the 24 holes needed for the 6x6s deck posts. After drilling the 40" deep holes and pouring 6" concrete footers in each hole, the 6x6 posts went in perfectly. Of course you really need to measure twice, or even three to four times, to make sure you drill the holes in the correct spot and set the posts precisely where they need to be. You know, Pythagoras did invent a very useful theorem that we used for measuring and setting all of the posts. It became especially important for the four corner posts as the deck dimension was based on these posts being correctly installed. That college education really does come in handy every now and then. In the end: the holes got drilled, the water well pump was installed, concrete footers poured, 6x6 posts set and lumber delivered for the week two construction crew's arrival.

Week Two: The crew arrived Saturday and a good dinner was had by all. Questions were being asked about working on Sunday. Of course there wasn't any question about whether or not we would be working on Sunday, that was the official Day One for the entire crew. After a hearty breakfast at the Magdalena Cafe, we embarked on the first of many trips to the work site. The road was a bit, . . . how can I describe it . . . rough in spots and the local fauna was out and about, including antelope, jack rabbits and the ever present herd of cows. Once at the site, the work began. By late morning, the 6x6 posts were marked and cut to height (hindsight: very glad we had the laser transit for this, it worked GREAT).

The 50' x 36' deck main beams were built (out of three 2x10s each clamped and nailed together) and installed on the 6x6 posts.

And by the end of the day, one third of the 2x8 joists were installed. Great start for day one. Over the next couple of days the project continued to make leaps and bounds toward being ready for the Yurt installation on day 6. Day two saw the deck frame completed and the Yurt circle framed in. Insulation was partially completed for the circle frame by the end of the day.

Day three saw the completion of the circle framing as well as installation of the insulation and vapor barrier. The 3/4" treated plywood subfloor installation was the first completed task on day 4.

Followed by some of the decking and a start on the hardwood flooring.

Day five, the day before the Yurt gets assembled. The entire crew knew the goal for the day. We all agree no time for breakfast and are out at the sight very early. We eat almost nothing that day and work very hard. We had forgotten what hard work was until that day! The goal was to have 706 sq. ft. of 2 1/2" hardwood flooring installed, the bender board installed and as much decking installed as possible to facilitate the raising of the Yurt. So at the end of a very long day using up most of the reserve energy of the crew, we did just that. Finally at the end of day five, the bender board is installed and the Yurt circle is ready for the raising of the Yurt.

Day Six: The Yurt Goes Up. First of all, if you are thinking about constructing a Colorado Yurt (especially one of their big ones 27' or 30'), you NEED to budget for the technical expert to assist the installation. That was the BEST MONEY SPENT for the entire project.The door and lattice wall goes up first

Followed by the scaffolding, compression ring, steel cable and ceiling rafters.
Then the roof fabric and insulation. This was one of the most interesting tasks of the day as the south western breeze kept picking up in magnitude throughout the day with a couple of gusts that felt like it would surely lift the roof fabric and insulation and carry it to Arizona.

If it is windy AT ALL, you need many strong hands holding the fabric and insulation in place while the final roof gets rolled out and installed.

Once the roof is installed, the wall goes on fairly easy, comparatively speaking, then the wall insulation, the ceiling dome, the High Wind Package wall studs (if you have ordered them and there are a lot of screws for each of these 48 studs 480 screws to be exact) and some tying together of everything. Then voila, as the sun starts to set, you have your Yurt.

The final day at the job site for the entire crew finds us loading furniture into the Yurt and completing the deck. This finishes up by lunch time so the work crew heads down off of the property for a little rest, relaxation and sight seeing.

WHAT WE LEARNED (and are willing to share):

  • You can not rent a truck through normal channels to haul a trailer with tons of stuff to New Mexico.
  • Get all your bad luck out of the way three weeks before you go. (We had a car accident, no one was hurt.)
  • Consider wind and noise factors in Yurt location choice.
  • Make sure all your tools are in good working order.
  • Get all your arguments out of the way before you go.
  • Set aside more time for project construction. We were extremely LUCKY but we exhausted our friends, so there was no visit to the hot springs to soak sore bodies and no sight-seeing which was very unfair but necessary.
  • Our budget contingency was about right at 10%, but reasonable and needed, though we tried very hard to keep under control once we were out there we just had to go with the flow.
  • We are very grateful because we had a lot of goodwill from the town of Magdalena, Lori Scholes for putting us in touch and making the arrangements with the High Country Lodge, The High Country Lodge was the best, Bonnie, Mike and Darryl, we highly recommend them, Kelly Collins (Real Estate Agent). Everyone out there was very helpful in every way. Keith at Raks lumber yard and hardware supplies in Socorro should also be mentioned for going out of their way to make this all happen for us.