Building Eureka Yurts and Cabins

We have decided on Smiling Woods Yurts for our first cabin

We decided our first yurt would be from Smiling Woods Yurts. If all goes as planned, we hope to be having a yurt rising in October 2014!!! We are planning a trip to Eureka Springs to mark the build location and meet with everyone that needs to do work on the property to get the site ready.

Here are some pictures of Smiling Woods Yurts. The first one show the type of windows we are going to put in the living room. The yurt we are getting will have an exposed wood ceiling like the other pictures below.

Love these windows!
Another option for windows.
Exposed wood ceiling and 5′ skylight.

Exterior view. Ours won’t have a basement.

Attended the Mother Earth News Fair

After checking on the well installation, Blake and I drove up to Lawrence Kansas to attend the Mother Earth News Sustainable Living Fair. We spent two days attending seminars and finding out about a lot of green living products from gardening, aquaponics, heating alternatives, solar power and other green building alternatives. To some this may not sound like fun, but it was the best home and garden fair we have ever attended. You can find out about the 2014 Mother Earth News Fair here so you can make plans to attend!

For our cabins, we have been researching building with structural insulated panels (SIP), Apex blocks or insulated concrete blocks (ICF), compressed earth blocks (CEB), rammed earth, and maybe even cob construction. We also are researching all the different yurt manufacturers. We were glad that Colorado Yurts had a 16′ yurt setup at the fair. It is much better to see and feel the actual yurt instead of just looking at pictures. Most yurts are made with architectural fabric, like this Colorado Yurt, but there are also hard walled yurts. Smiling Woods Yurts makes a hard walled yurt that we really like. Too bad they weren’t at the fair. Deltec Homes was at the fair but didn’t have a miniture version of their prefab, panelized round home for us to tour. They even make a rotating home now!

Colorado Yurts makes Tipis also and had one setup at the fair. The one below is 18′ diameter with 24′ tall poles. It was very spacious inside. We were thinking about putting a yurt and tipi next to each other. Then the older kids can have fun sleeping in a tipi and the parents can have some alone time in the yurt! What do you think about having Tipis for rent?  

The Chickshaw chicken coop was on display!
Ed Begley Jr spoke on green living

We opted for a Commercial well, so full steam ahead.

After much debate, over whether to put in a well for each cabin or put in one well and water treatment equipment that will handle all the cabins, we finally decided to go for the gusto.  So now we have to either add 4 to 6 cabins or we will be the water company for our friends and family who buy a lot on our 30 acres!  Below are images of the well being drilled on October 10, 2013.

We hit water and have great water pressure.

See the water coming out the pipe by his feet.

It doesn’t look like much, but this is our drilled and capped well pipe.
Now we have to build a well house and get all the equipment installed.

Our own personal water treatment plant

Our vision for our Eureka Yurts property has always been to keep it small. We’re thinking a total of six to 10 yurts will give visitors a feeling of being immersed in nature and allow us to run it ourselves, with limited staff. On the surface, doesn’t this sound like a reasonable dream? A manageable undertaking? We thought so, too, but now we’ve run into a roadblock: the well.

We knew we’d have to drill a well. What we didn’t know was that it would have to be asemi-public water system. It is our understanding that if more than 25 people will be using it, you must have this level of a system. We’re talking three, 1000-gallon holding tanks plus a well-house! Call us crazy but it was never our dream to develop our own personal water treatment plant.

We’re still learning and trying to determine if this is truly necessary for our property. Not only is it an enormous project in itself, but it requires a large up-front investment that we were not expecting.

Other than scouting a location for the well, we haven’t started the process yet. When we were out there a week ago, we learned that the location selected previously won’t work – it’s too close to the property line.

Once the well location is finalized, we start by paying a pro to drill in three test spots – making sure to drill down below the limestone shelf – and send the three samples to the state for testing. How long will this take? If the samples pass, we can begin drilling the well in earnest.

In a way, the slowdown caused by the location is frustrating but it also bought us some more time to investigate. Is a semi-public water system really required for our property?

We see ourselves opening the property with, say, three yurts: one for The Proprietors (us) and two for renting out. It will be completely self-run and very low maintenance so we can keep our customers totally happy while we master all the details of running a great property. If we’re starting small like this, might it be acceptable to drill a personal well? Again, we do plan to grow to six to 10 yurts over time. We’re wondering if it’s possible to drill additional wells over time as the property grows, which would probably add up to the same total cost as the semi-public one, but they could be paid for from the property’s income rather than a huge up-front investment.

We love the area around Eureka Springs. And we love the idea of simple yurt living. We want to ready the property in the least complicated, most cost-effective ways so we can get out there and start helping other people enjoy it, too.

Memorial Weekend in Eureka Springs – beautiful views, fishing, swiming, lions, tigers and bears Oh My!

Eureka Springs offers so many things to do and see for the 700,000 people that visit the area each year. Blake and I have been many times since discovering the area, but we still have a lot more to see and do. Below are pictures from downtown Eureka Springs, our fishing trip on the White River, hanging out on a dock on Beaver Lake and visiting Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

Downtown Eureka Springs

Hanging out on a dock on Beaver Lake
Our friend JB, Blake and I woke up early to go rainbow trout fishing on the White River with Captain Dave as our guide. The early morning fog made for some great photos.

We also visited Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge which was worth the visit.

Come check out Eureka Springs for yourself. We are sure you will fall in love too!

A road to the lower holler and some build sites cleared!

When were walking the land with the surveyor, we had to walk down a steep, rocky hill to get to the bottom holler.  (A holler (hollow) is a small valley or dry stream bed.)  Buck and Ed put in a road to the lower level and also cleared out some areas to open up the views for future cabin sites. They did an amazing job.

This is the top of the road going to the lower holler.
This is the circular area at the bottom of the road.
You can sort of see where the road starts going back up the hill.
One of the possible cabin locations.
Great spot for a cabin.

I love the dogwood trees on the property.

Surveying the future site of Eureka Yurts and Cabins

We walked some of the 30+ acres off of Hwy 187 to confirm the property lines and to see what the lower ridge was like before signing on the dotted line.  We have a good amount of frontage road if we decide to put some type of commercial building in.  For now we want to put the cabins back further on the property, with lots of space between them so everyone can enjoy the nature around them.  There are lots of spots to build cabins on the upper and lower sections of the land.  Below are some of the photos we took when we surveyed the land.

We have Hwy 187 frontage for easy access.

Eureka Yurts and Cabins walking uppor ridge.
Blake with surveyor at a clearing on the upper ridge of our property.
Surveyor and Jack (our realtor) walking the land.
Road winding through upper Ridge.  If you look behind the trees you will see Jackson, our realtor Jack’s dog, checking out the land with us.

Blake and our realtor Jack Cross at the Eureka Springs Christmas parade.

We are excited about the opportunity and look forward to the day we can have you come hang out in Eureka Springs with us! 

Finding Eureka Springs… Accident or Fate?

Our Eureka Springs journey began with us, Blake and Melissa, searching for a new area to buy property in for our retirement. We had owned land that we loved in Ruidoso, New Mexico, but we sold it in 2007 after finding out that water supplies in New Mexico were very low. This meant there was no guarantee we would hit water when the well was drilled and we may have had to pay to drill again until they hit water.

So Blake did a lot of research, making sure that water would not be a problem this time, then we planned a road trip to checkout possible locations in September 2009. We drove through Oklahoma to check out the Lake Eufala area, got out of the car, looked at each other and we both said “this is not it”. Our next stop was near Rogers, AR where Blake wanted to checkout a neighborhood that was building “green” energy efficient homes near Beaver Lake. We were winging it on places to stay, so I got on the phone to find a place that we could stay at with our 2 great pyrenees, Baron and Jenna.
I found a place a little past Rogers in Eureka Springs West, off of Hwy 187. It was dark when we made it to our cabin, which ended up being a camper, so we crashed for the night. When we woke up and drove around, we were happily suprised with the area. After checking out the green neighborhood near Rogers, we headed back to Eureka Springs West to drive around Beaver Lake. We decided to stay another night, at a different cabin resort, so we could see more of the area and visit downtown Eureka Springs.

Well, we loved the town, Beaver Lake and the White River so we stayed for a few more nights. We even hired a fishing guide that took us to fish for rainbow trout on the White River. We had a great time and we both caught our limit in just a couple of hours.  We didn’t want to leave, but our original plan

was to go to Mountain Home, AR since it was listed in a magazine as the #1 spot to retire for outdoor living. We decided to take the 2 hour drive East to Mountain Home on our next to last day. Even though it was further away from a major highway, we needed to go see the town just in case it was better than Eureka Springs. In our opinion, Mountain Home did not have the charm, activities, convenience or beauty that Eureka Springs had so we headed back to Eureka Springs to checkout more.

We both decided our accidental stop in Eureka Springs ended up being exactly what we were looking for.

Eureka Yurts and Cabins