Mount Crested Butte Team Meets Moab Team


Stunning landscapes.

Moab, Utah.  I’d never been here on my few cross country tours.  Needless to say, the view is quite exhilarating.  After a four hour van ride with the whole crew, all of our things, and too much food, we stopped for a brief moment to take in the Moab sunshine.  The view (to mention it yet again) was fantastic.  The red rocks were mesmerizing, enchanting — a testament to history, prehistory, geology, and the enduring spirit of adventure.

Stunned interns.

Stunned interns.


We were graciously put up in a large dance studio by the Canyonlands Field Institute.  We would be staying for a whole week to join the Moab team in constructing two straw bale projects in the area.  Needless to say, we were glad to get out of the van.  The studio was very nice inside, and housed us adequately.


CR Team arriving at Canyonlands Field Institute

CR Team arriving at Canyonlands Field Institute


After a long rest, we headed into town to meet with Emily Niehaus, founding director of Community rebuilds.  In town, we picked up some shirts to get block printed by Emily’s awesome husband Chad.  We were welcomed to the Niehaus’ quaint, distinct and functional home in Moab, and enjoyed great company, food, entertainment, and a live block printing tutorial, in which we all created our very own community rebuilds shirts (thanks Chad).  The night was fantastic, and inspired (I believe) a certain unity and glue to our team.


Getting schooled on block printing by Dave Niehaus.

Getting schooled on block printing by Chad Niehaus.


The next day, we visited Hidden Valley, a fantastic (and somewhat magical) hike in Moab.  The place is really quite something to be behold — unbelievable rock formations, and genuine petroglyphs — it makes you think again of history, of the earth, and of the people that have lived in symbiotic harmony with it for many previous generations of humanity.  Our goal is to reconnect with that feeling — and the actions that follow that feeling.



Finally, it was time for us to integrate with the Moab team.  We were split into two groups which would rotate over the course of the next four days, each group getting two days at each site to experience a more full range of mid-to-finish tasks — each site at a slightly different phase of construction.  Most of the work consisted of light framing, including nooks, baseboards, finishing details, tile, and construction of mass walls, and lots of plastering.  The following images are of Site B, a more residential home.  Somehow, I did not manage to get pictures of Site A, but that’s O.K. — the layouts are nearly identical.



Later that day, we toured several beautiful straw bale homes located in an intentional community of healthy homes in Moab.



The next day, we returned to Site B to finish plastering, our mass wall, and some details, including preparing to install the doors and dry the brown coat in preparation for finish plaster.



Thursday, we toured two more owner-built homes.  These homes were by far the best representation of what a finished straw bale home can look — and more importantly, feel — like.  The homeowners were extremely gracious to let our whole crew come and look all over their homes — they cleaned them up wonderfully in anticipation of our arrival, knowing photos would abound.  The most fantastic detail of the homes is the sense of pride that each homeowner has for their structure — they just look better than any houses i’ve ever stepped foot in.  It feels like care and love — the hallmark of a hand crafted home.



We spent our last day in Moab at Arches national park.  Needless to say, the experience was more than memorable.  It was positively breathtaking and exhilarating.  Climbing vast sandstone rock faces and being smack dab in the middle of a outdoor, living, breathing geological museum made cave dwelling seem like not such a bad way of life.  Please go to Arches if you have not.  You will never forget it, and the energy there will make you feel wonderment and a sense of creative repurposing as you climb massive rock after massive rock, passively observing the flora and fauna at work around you preserving themselves in their little patch of paradise.



We ended the trip by visiting the local rock shop, where we all got our Tadelakt burnishing stones — stones of rockwell hardness 7+ which allow you to create polished stone smooth lime plaster finishes on walls or in showers.  I found their anti-theft sign particularly enjoyable.


Moab's rock shop isn't fooling around.

Moab’s rock shop isn’t fooling around.


We finished our day by running out of gas two hours away from Gunnison on our way back.  Somehow, it was perfect — we played camp games and waited for AAA to come give us some gas.  We’re in the middle of an expedition now — nothing can stop us.  Not even fuel shortages.  Not even impatience.  We are now a cohesive unit, loving every moment of our immersion into straw bale and earthen building.  Until next time, we will continue to work on paying attention to the gas gauge — and having fun.


Colorado interns stuck on Highway 70 who ran out of gas are just fine. We don't worry about a thing.

Colorado interns stuck on Highway 70 who ran out of gas are just fine. We don’t worry about a thing.

Erik Hans Rasmussen -Mount Crested Butte Intern 2016


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