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It’s Just Dried Mud

Posted on Aug 20, 2015 in Blog, Featured, Portfolio


This morning we met our neighbors at Enchanted Trails RV Park.  What a cool couple, they both work in the oil industry and she is half Sioux Indian and half Navajo Indian.  In Indian speak that means “too tough to mess with“.  We talked for quite awhile about Indian culture and her upbringing on the reservation.  As a child she lived completely off-grid and wore animal skins sewn by the women of the tribe and lived in a teepee.  She was in and out of their 5th Wheel while cooking and brought out some Indian Fry Bread for us all to eat.  It was awesome and she shared her recipe, perfected over generations.

We talked about what to see in Albuquerque and learned about the “blanket Indians” who sell their handmade goods from the reservation on blankets laid out on the sidewalk in Historic “Old Town” Albuquerque.  So late morning we headed into Old Town and found the “blanket Indians” selling their wares.  It was mostly jewelry, silver, turquoise and of course, Indian Blankets.  Prices were fair and negotiable and what a refreshing experience seeing items not made in China.

On to the next stop, Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The drive was interesting because the landscape was so different than what we’re used to seeing.  Downtown Santa Fe was very crowded and quite a bit more commercialized.  But the one thing that really stood out to me was the architecture.  The Adobe construction is pleasant to look at with its soft lines and less than dimensionally perfect geometry.  Today, this time honored material is gaining new popularity as a low cost, environmentally friendly way of building. After all, it’s just dried mud and really nothing more than simple bricks made of sun-dried mud. What’s more plentiful or inexpensive than dirt and sunshine? As a green building bonus, adobe’s mass helps keep buildings naturally cool in summer and warm in winter, reducing the need for air conditioning and heat.  Amazing how resourceful our species can be.

Be careful before you start building though, adobe works better in some places than others. The reason is that the mud for the bricks might include sand, small gravel or clay — whatever makes up the soil in an area. Water, and often straw or grass, are mixed with the dirt. The resulting mud dries naturally in the sun and air. But because fire isn’t used to cure them, adobe bricks aren’t hard. In fact, they shrink and swell with the weather. Here’s where things get problematic, an extremely wet climate prone to flooding might turn the bricks back into mud. Not only that, frequent freezing and thawing can make the bricks crumble. This is why adobe is used primarily in dry, mostly warm climates such as the arid southwest.

As we drove back to Enchanted Trails RV Park we discussed a deviation to our plan, a rerouting to accommodate being able to see and do more in better stead with the summer season and brutal temperatures.

“If we continue west on Route 66, we will be going through the desert at the hottest possible time.  However, if we turn right and head up into Colorado and then go east to California and down to Santa Monica to get back on Route 66 to Albuquerque, we will be taking better advantage of our time with the season and expand our adventure with more to see and do.”

Head north from Albuquerque into Colorado and then work west into Utah and over to California.  We can head to San Francisco and then down the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica and back onto Route 66 back to Albuquerque.  So at first blush it looks like a good plan and opens up new opportunities such as White Water Rafting, Salt Lake City, Bonneville Salt Flats, Moab and many other cool things to do and see.  Oh my, this is going to get really interesting…




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