Eagle River Weather

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Yurt has been Ordered

We recently made the down payment for the yurt and it's on the production line. If all goes well it will be done in mid May and will be up in Alaska ready to put together in mid June. Here are some specifics on our yurt:
  • 30 feet in diameter
  • 7 foot walls
  • the ceiling will be about 13 feet high at it's tallest point (the center)
  • dark red walls and a tan roof
  • 8 windows
  • 2 doors
  • 6 interior walls that create a closet, a bathroom, Leo's bed room, and the support for kitchen cabinets
  • a loft will be constructed on the interior walls and that is where Ben and Nicki will sleep.
  • we will have a gas stove, a few baseboard heaters, an oven, dishwasher, refrigerator, and a heated ceiling fan.
  • track lighting will be used to light most of it
  • built on a circular deck that is half way on top of a garage
  • covered stair way from the yurt to the garage
  • outside deck
The tentative floor plan can be seen below. Click on it if you want a larger view. You can see furniture, light fixtures, electrical outlets, and window and door placement.

You can see how a yurt is put together by watching this time lapse video of a 24' yurt being constructed. The first half of it is the deck being put together (boring) and the second half is the actual yurt construction (yeah)!

The Yurt, our household belongings, and the people living in and helping construct the yurt should all be there on June 13th. And, if the garage and deck are finished, we can start building on the 14th. If they are not done, then we will just have to live somewhere else for awhile until construction can begin. Keep you fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


So some of you might be wondering why a yurt, or more importantly, what is a yurt? Here are some frequently asked questions about yurts. First, I'll show you an FAQ from a yurt website then we'll dive into our own.

We are buying our yurt from Pacific Yurts down near Eugene, OR. On their website they have a FAQ page. Also, poke around their website for pictures of yurts and other info as well.

Now, questions we have been getting that are more specific to our situation:

Q: Are you crazy? Why would you want to live in a yurt?
A: To answer your first question: Well kind of. To answer your second question, because it is totally awesome and it'll be a great adventure for three years! Nicki and I love living in weird places. She lived in a tent for a whole summer, and the two of us lived in a treehouse for an entire summer in Juneau, AK. Also, it is going to save us some money initially. The type of house we would be looking to buy would cost around $200,000, however we can make the yurt work for about $50,000. After we are done living in the yurt we can take it with us wherever we live next. It could be a guest house, a bed and breakfast, or a teenager bedroom later on. Lots of possibilities.

Q: Aren't there bears in Alaska and won't they eat you?
A: There are bears in Alaska, but in reality our biggest fear in the Eagle River Area is actually Wolves. Just kidding! Well......sort of. We are not to concerned with bears for a number of reasons. We are not breaking ground in this whole yurt-in-Alaska idea. People we have talked to have not had any problems with bears attacking yurts and eating people.
  1. The yurt is made in a way that creates many difficult layers for the bear to break through including many layers of fabric, vertical wooden posts and a wooden lattice. If a bear tried to break through the yurt we could easily escape down stairs into the garage (connected to the yurt) and be safe inside of a concrete structure.
  2. We are living below tree line so the bears living in our area will be mostly black bears and resident bears. Resident meaning ones that spend most of their time in the general area. These types of bears can be trained to keep out. This is where our electric fence comes in.
  3. Most of our food, the thing that attracts bears, will be kept downstairs in our garage.
  4. As a last resort, we will have bear spray around.
  5. If a bear does rip the yurt, it is just made out of fabric so it can be patched. It's a cheap way to fix a wall with a hole through it.
Q: Isn't it super cold in Alaska?
A: It is definitely colder than what it is where we live in Seattle. However, it is not like interior places like Fairbanks. It will dip into the negatives at times but that is not the norm. Take a look at Eagle river's monthly average temperatures. If you use that page to also look at the record highs and lows you can see it can get much colder, negative 20's, but again, that is not the norm. Where we are living, up the valley, it gets less light (more on that later). So it will be anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees colder.
The yurt is going to be outfitted with electric base board heaters, a natural gas stove, and a ceiling fan heater. The outside of the yurt has heavily duty reflective insulation to keep the heat in. There will also be insulation in the floor of the yurt. The shape of the yurt also adds to the potential heat. It has less surface area for the volume that rectangular buildings and the circulation of heat is much easier too.

Q: Isn't Alaska completely dark in the winter?
A: No, eagle river is below the Arctic Circle so, it never stays dark or light for 24 hours. Twilight hours last a long time so the switch between day and night can take a long time. Here is time for the December 20th sunrise and sunset and the June 20th sunrise and sunset for Eagle River. However, from talking to people in the area of our yurt it seems that we will be with out direct sunlight for about a month and a half out of the year. Still day time but no sunshine because the sun dips below the mountains to the south of us. Now this might sound bad but if you look at where we live now, in Seattle, we can easily go a month and a half with out sun because of clouds and rain. If we need some sunshine we can just drive the 10 miles to town and see the sun there. The other advantage we have is the ease of accessing snow play around here, a great way to make winters bearable. And, if it precipitates here during the winter it is snow and not rain :)

Q: Are you going to have power, water and septic?
A: The yurt will be on the grid. We will have electricity from power lines that run pretty close to the property. There is access to a well close by. And, septic will also be hooked up. This is basically going to be a fabric walled house that can break down and move.

Q: What is this thing going to look like?
A: You can see what yurts look like inside and out. Our yurt is going to be 30 feet in diameter with a little over 700 square feet of floor space. The walls will be about 7 feet high with a center height of about 13 feet. The yurt is going to be placed on the side of a hill with a 900 square foot garage beneath it. From the top the basic floor plan will look like this.

The right side of the yurt will be on top of the garage which is down hill. This is a basic floor plan without furniture, lighting, or the loft. The loft will be above the cone shaped walls, bold black lines. Nicki and I will be sleeping up above on the loft and Leo will be sleeping down below in a nice closed in space. Baby containment if you will.
Sorry, I don't have any side views at this point. I do however have a picture of what the view from the deck of the yurt will look like. Unfortunately the clouds are in so you can't see the mountaintops. The deck will be on top of the garage.

I hope this has helped in answering any questions you might have had about our future home.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Meet the Members of our Family

Here is who is moving:



Saturday, April 5, 2008

The General Idea and Location

Nicki has been accepted into the residency program at Providence Hospital in Anchorage. Instead of just doing it the easy way and buying a house in town, Nicki and I are going to live in a tent 10 miles outside of Eagle River which is a town about 10 miles outside of anchorage.
The Eagle River Nature Center is about a mile up the road, and they have some pictures of the area on their web site.
We hope to arrive in Alaska on the 13th of June. When we get up there we will have to put together our Yurt (more about getting up there and the yurt later), move in our belongings, put together our IKEA furniture, and purchase our major appliances. Nicki will soon begin her new job and Ben will be taking care of Leo and Georgie and making the place more livable.