Civil/Structural Engineering, Vashon, Washington, USA 206-463-5311
Ellisport Engineering Blog
Road Trip to Meet Yurt Clients. aka: Empty Nest Convertible Trip

Joanne, Elli (our yellow Labrador), and I took a road trip in our Volvo C70 convertible over the last few days of August to Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Western Montana.  First, the weather: sunny across WA (top down), sunny/cloudy/cold/thunder showers in the ID/MT mountains (top down, top up, heater on), sunny on the WA return trip (top down). 

We had several reasons for our trip:

To meet Michael Villardi of Smiling Woods Yurts (Twisp, WA) and see his “hard-sided” yurts.

To meet Hays Daniels and Vince Godby of Shelter Designs (Troy, MT) – fabric yurts

To see Becky Kemery, author of “Yurts: Living in the Round”, at Medicine Circle, ID

For much of our drive East through wheat country, we were the only car on the road.

Unfortunately, we arrived too late in Winthrop to meet with Michael, so will have to try again later.  Fortunately, we were able to see one of his hard-sided yurts, an impressive and beautiful building (with interior loft), located a few miles north of Winthrop.  Hard-sided yurts are currently the only “permittable” yurts, since they combine the yurt shape and roof framing with stick-framed insulated walls to meet the energy code.  During our approach on the driveway, we disturbed thousands of grasshoppers, which leaped over, under, and into our top-down convertible.

We headquartered in Post Falls, ID at the dog-friendly Red Lion on the Spokane River.  The next morning, we visited Shelter Designs, north of Troy, MT, on the ID/MT border.  This was an adventure through Forest Service lands on a gravel road across the border into Montana.  We found Vince’s 2-story straw-bale house, and drove in to Shelter Designs’ yurt office, adjacent to their newly-expanded shop.  Vince and Hays were very generous with their time, as they were in the middle of packing up one of their Eco-Yurts for shipment to California.  We could’ve talked yurts much longer, but didn’t want to delay them too long.

Then on to Becky’s yurt at Medicine Circle, a 5-acre land trust parcel near Priest Lake, Idaho, dedicated to permaculture, sustainability, and natural building.  We met Becky and David Kirchoff, and toured an outdoor kitchen, various yurts, tipi’s, sawdust outhouses, and some experimental structures.  Becky showed Joanne some “must-have” plants.  We even discussed a little business, including the North American Yurt Alliance (NAYA), our work on the Yurt Standard, and Becky’s future plans.  Medicine Circle reminded me of Boy Scout camps, though Dave stays year ‘round.  Last winter included 4’ of snow.

The trip included some beautiful country we’d never seen before, all the better experienced in a convertible.  We met some great yurt people.  This is a small, but growing, industry; relationships are important.  To successfully develop the Yurt Standard will require extensive collaboration with many yurt manufacturers, so it’s important for us to know them well.

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