Cal-Earth Superadobe Structures Survive Nepal Earthquake

Have you ever heard of homes and shelters being made of sandbags and barbed wire, that can withstand the forces of winds and earthquakes ? Last weekend I had the chance to see how that’s done.

IMG_20150502_130011I’ve always been interested in alternative architecture, and when I had the opportunity to visit Cal-Earth in Hesperia, CA at one of their monthly open-houses, I was amazed and delighted with what I experienced and learned about them. There is so much to say about this organization and it’s vision, the vision begun by Iranian-American architect Nader Khalili.

IMG_20150502_105330Nader Khalili began Cal-Earth in 1991. From the Cal-Earth website, “Born in Iran as one of nine children, his quest was to empower the world’s poor and refugees to build homes using the earth under their feet. Khalili’s son Dastan, and daughter Sheefteh, are now working to carry forward his vision and quest throughout the world. He was a prominent American leader on the value of ethically based architecture, where the needs of the homeless are considered above all else.”

IMG_20150502_125857croppedWhen I began an undergraduate architecture curriculum I went home and told my parents that I wanted to build homes for people who were homeless and/or could not afford the kinds of homes most Americans lived in. As it turned out that path did not open for me, but I did become a social worker, caring about families and their needs. So it is no surprise that I am excited to know about this venture in Southern California that is global in nature.

IMG_20150502_125627croppedThe open house began with a presentation describing the structures, their different functions by size and shape, and the materials and construction methods used in creating quick shelter. A small structure can be made by a team of five to six people within a day. In addition, larger permanent structures, using the same principles of construction can be built that withstand the elements of nature.

IMG_20150502_125710croppedKhalili’s daughter addressed the gathering of about 60 people regarding her father’s background and his vision for providing shelter for all people. She received word that day that 40 superadobe structures of an orphanage in Khatmandu, Nepal  survived the recent earthquake there. Cal-Earth has developed structures that withstand the dynamics of earthquakes, and San Bernardina County California has approved construction plans and permits for homes using the methods prescribed by Cal-Earth.

IMG_20150502_102206cropped IMG_20150502_102400 IMG_20150502_102414The Pegasus Children’s Project, from the UK, supports the orphanage. You can read their earthquake report on their web site. Although the earth structures were not harmed, other structures are in need of repair, and they are requesting funds for that.

IMG_20150502_112045cropped IMG_20150502_112210While the Cal-Earth web site and Facebook page say almost everything about these structures, they can’t tell you how to experience being in one. There is such an organic and grounded feeling I have when I enter one of these domes. To me it feels a bit like camping out in a tent, or being in a cave – even a big cave. The openings that are incorporated let the light in and create a very earthy, comfortable feeling to me. The creative possibilities are endless!

IMG_20150502_102108 IMG_20150502_101245 IMG_20150502_101329 IMG_20150502_101343 IMG_20150502_101441 IMG_20150502_101348

IMG_20150502_130250cropped IMG_20150502_130346Anyone interested in learning how to build using the sandbag and barbed wire construction methods can take a class either on-site, or via the internet beginning on May 11, 2015. There are various levels of workshops and training available.

For more information I urge you to visit the Cal-Earth website and visit their page on Facebook – Cal-Earth Institute.

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Birdland at Roper Lake, Arizona

I spent the past weekend camping at Roper Lake, a beautiful state park in the southeastern part of Arizona. The weather was wonderful, sunny and warm – very different from some of the more recent trips I’ve been on.

Yellow headed blackbirdI was amazed by all the different birds residing there; a flock of yellow-headed blackbirds, redwing blackbirds, cardinals, vermillion flycatchers, black ducks, doves, and others that I didn’t see or couldn’t identify. One evening I walked over to the lake and recorded these wonderful creatures as they began to settle for the evening.The only sound I didn’t capture was the deep “ribbits” of the bullfrogs. They sang all night!

I wanted to share the video here, but the file type is not allowed on WordPress…(unless I upgrade to a paid version.)

But here are some photos I took on the way home. I absolutely love the ocotillos when they are in bloom, and now is the season! I should create a journal of “photos through a dirty windshield”, which is what these were taken through. It seems I take a LOT of photos from the passenger seat!

Ocotillos in bloom cropped 2Ocotillos in bloom croppedBenson Dirty Windshield2

Note: Bird photo by Phil Myers –   photo taken at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

HOT Rally–A Cold Affair

small_imageBack in October I sent in the required information for participating in the Heart of Texas Recumbent Tricycle Rally in Austin, TX at the end of February 2015, an event sponsored by Austin’s Easy Street Recumbents. I had great anticipation of a wonderful time riding my recumbent trike and meeting other trike riders.

I’ve had the good fortune to find a great friend and travel companion who also has a recumbent trike. He and I headed to Austin earlier this week, and after two full days of driving we arrived in the Austin area with 35 degree weather that has lasted until today. No sun, drizzle, wind and icy streets – Blech!!! And therefore no riding to speak of.

021On Friday, after registering we ventured to the Veloway Park in Austin to ride the 3.13 circuit in these weather conditions. Once around the path was all that I was interested in doing, mostly because I’d come so far to ride, I just HAD to. In Tucson I ride in a group that rides together on Saturdays, led by a fellow who won’t lead a ride unless the temperature is greater than, or equal to 59 degrees. I like his style!

The rally continued on Saturday with some class time, learning about tricycle maintenance and repairs, followed by picture-taking of the group and individuals, some lunch, and a raffle (I bought $20 worth of tickets, but was unrewarded for that, except for the charity my contribution went to.) My friend won heel straps for his feet to keep them on the trike pedals. Some folks had their photos taken in this side-by-side recumbent, “Red Bull”, complete with steer-head hats. Clever and funny – we didn’t do that!

002CroppedRides that had been planned for today were re-scheduled for yesterday; however, the weather was not conducive to a safe ride, so they were cancelled. Not wishing to socialize the rest of the day, we left. Today, the trike rodeo that was planned for yesterday will take place, in hopefully better weather. We will not be participating, and will leave the area to visit some folks east of Austin for a few days before heading back to Tucson.

So much for lemons…

Now comes the lemonade part.

My friend likes to visit unusual places and some of them are found from the TV show, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”. One such place is the Counter Café near downtown Austin, a very small breakfast and lunch restaurant with a counter and a wall for several small tables for two. It was packed. I had a grilled pimiento cheese sandwich and my friend had scrambled eggs with crab cakes. Yum on both accounts! We spoke with the restaurant owner, Nick, who was born and raised in Tucson and who attended the University of Arizona. He was at hand when Guy Fierri, the show’s host, did a taste test of the café’s kitchen. We hope to return in a few months. (http://countercafe.com/)

As we were leaving the restaurant’s very tight parking area we discovered a retaining wall for one of the nearby residences. It was a very eclectic and humorous offering, as you can see in these photos. A nice surprise!

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counter_logoflatblack-01We also have been parked in a camping spot at McKinney Falls State Park, about 12 miles from the rally site. It’s a beautiful state park, with large trees and well-managed sites. Today we walked to the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. I took several photos, and found a surprise in one of them! See below.

Tomorrow we head farther east to visit some of my friend’s family and maybe find some warmer weather. We’ll be back in Tucson by week’s end.

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Looking more closely into the hole…028cropped

The Learning Curve

002Well, since yesterday I’ve learned to add another feature to the appearance of this blog – The Gallery that I titled “From the Road”.

As many of my posts are related to traveling I decided to create photo features of some of the places I’ve been.

The current collage is from the Gone With the Wind museum in Cleburne, Texas. You can read more about it here. The museum houses the collection of a Gone With the Wind “fanatic”, who I’m certain is not the only one!

Blog Renovation

Do OverIt is well past midnight as I write this. I’ve been experimenting with various themes available at WordPress for presenting this blog to friends, family and the general public. For now I’ve settled on this new look. I don’t know how long it will be before I decide to change it again. The previous theme seemed ‘dated’ somehow, and I am observing that my posts might be more interesting, or eye-catching if placed onto a different framework.

For those of you who follow my posts, I welcome your thoughts about this new arrangement.

Weathering the New Year

For the holidays I traveled with my friend to visit his family in Texas and to spend some time investigating interesting places. We left Tucson on December 13 and during most of the three weeks we were gone we were under cloud cover, rain, snow, cold, wet, uncomfortable weather. We carried a small portable electric heater so most of the time we used it when we had electricity. Last night however, we were stopped in our tracks on the highway by the worsening weather, and were forced to dry camp.

Road conditionWe left Fredericksburg, TX in the cold and wet, with freezing rain. As the day progressed the weather got worse. We were stuck on the highway for nearly an hour and a half waiting for an accident that we couldn’t see to be cleared. As we traveled we saw many tractor-trailers overturned, and a few cars that had slid off the road.

Truck 1

Truck 2

Truck 3

Truck 4

Truck 5

Truck 6

Truck 7By the time we stopped around 5:00 p.m. a few miles west of Ft. Stockton it was clear that we had to pull off. We found a safe place off an exit to ‘nowhere’ and parked. It being New Year’s Day I quickly prepared the black-eyed peas and rice traditional dinner, turned on the small portable propane heater and we got into bed with multiple layers of sleeping bags and blankets.

When I looked out the window this morning I saw that we’d gotten some snow and there were many tractor-trailers and cars parked on the shoulders of the road and around the exit where we were. Another RV was parked next to us.

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 002

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 003

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 004

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 006We were expecting to have a nice bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast; however, it seems that there is a leak in the trailer propane system, so we were out of propane. And we also had to hold our breath that we had enough gas to get to Van Horn, TX – luckily we did!

As the day progressed, and the miles passed the weather conditions changed frequently. From snow to freezing rain, to clear to fog, to windy, to not windy, to more snow, or rain, to sunshine, to snow again. It was a very chaotic weather pattern.

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 019

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 020

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 022 cropped

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 026

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 030

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 034

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 037 cropped

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 045 cropped

 

Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Highway 055 croppedI made a video of the snow showers in Arizona; however, I wasn’t able to insert it in this post. Will learn more about that later!

We arrived home in Tucson about 5:30 p.m. and unloaded our stuff. It was a long day, but we arrived safely, with a story to tell!

Tumacacori Fiesta 2014

Every first weekend in December, for 44 years, Tumacacori National Historical Park has presented two days of the Fiesta de Tumacacori. It’s a time when the community celebrates the cultural history and diversity in the Pima Alteria of southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

TumacacoriFor the past four years I have been a volunteer at this event. This past weekend I gave two days to assist, and I had a great time. In the past I’ve photographed the dancers, musicians, and awesome views of the Santa Rita Mountains.

This year as a greeter and representative at the Tumacacori National Park Service booth I had the pleasure of presenting a new focus for the Discovery Center. The Discovery Center is a section of the fairgrounds filled with booths of hands-on activities, from writing with a quill pen to inspecting chain mail to making adobe bricks.

This year, those who visited the Discovery Center booths could receive rewards for collecting stamps on the printed programs they received when entering the fairgrounds. On returning to the NPS booth they could choose their reward based on the number of stamps they collected. The rewards were a book for five stamps, up to nine, and a metal Tumacacori water bottle for 10 or more. The smiles and giddiness of the children, and even the adults who participated were wonderful. The most selected items were the Tumacacori cook book with recipes by staff and volunteers, and the water bottles. I think it was a very successful new program for the Fiesta.

I also enjoyed talking with the members of the U.S. Border Patrol who brought a couple of horses from their horse patrol unit. These are fabulous horses that are trained to track and detain persons illegally entering the U. S. over rugged terrain. They are also trained to be around people. I took these photos of a little boy reaching out to touch them.

Boy with Horse

Mustang-Draft and Boy2This brown horse is a mustang-draft horse, a very unique breed. He is very large and requires a large rider. Currently he is backup horse and not on regular duty.

Another activity for children is the piñata. Twice daily children could try their luck. This is one of the piñatas they opened.

Pinata2For two days there was cultural food and music and dancing and demonstrations of traditional crafts such as Tohono O’odham basket weaving, making cornhusk flowers, and making leather and horsehair rope. And on Sunday there was a traditional processional and mass at the Mission of Tumacacori church.
For more information about Tumacacori National Historical Park, the horses of the U. S. Border Patrol, and the Tohono O’odham people you can visit these sites.

https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrTceIL8oVUocsAWM0PxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTBsOXB2YTRjBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2dxMQR2dGlkAw–?_adv_prop=image&fr=yhs-mozilla-001&va=tumacacori+fiesta&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001

http://www.nps.gov/tuma/historyculture/index.htm

http://www.tonation-nsn.gov/

http://www.borderpatroledu.org/2013/04/the-horses-of-the-border-patrol/

Adventures on the Road to Discovery

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