It was roughly three years ago when I first heard the word "yurt." According to wikipedia, a yurt is portable, wood lattice-framed dwelling typically used by nomads in central Asia (commonly associated with Mongolia). And though it is technically portable, it's definitely more home-like than tent-like. I liked the sound of it, and started researching them. What they're made of, how they function, how we might build our own... and even contemplating buying an acreage and putting up a yurt until Emir and I could get around to building our next home (that may take awhile....).
Thankfully, this past weekend (only three years later), I finally got to experience one first hand. Our friend Jason is a professional outdoor adventure leader with the University of Nebraska - Lincoln who regularly takes people (students and non-students alike!) on all kinds of amazing experiences. He and his wife Christina are living-breathing adventure/fitness advocates who ooze a contagious passion for an active lifestyle that will absolutely (and happily) infect anyone who comes in contact with them (they are directly responsible for the fact that I started running last year, which in turn got Emir into running too). So naturally, when they approached us and said, "Let's take a fun trip somewhere!" Emir and I responded with a resounding, "Absolutely!"
Last Wednesday morning we climbed into a van with another couple of great friends and headed west to the backcountry of Colorado for a weekend of cross-country skiing, good food, good friends and... a yurt. The inside of the yurt had three sets of bunk beds, a propane powered stove for cooking, some firewood, a table and folding chairs, and a wood-burning stove. No processed garbage or canned junk food, each couple would be responsible for a home-cooked/healthy meal. Christina & Jason cooked up our first dinner of whole-wheat pasta with fresh vegetables in an incredibly yummy sauce. The next morning Emir and I whipped together some buckwheat pancakes with 100% real maple syrup. For lunch we ate pitas stuffed with fresh veggies and that night, Paul & Stephanie put together an unforgettable veggie & peanut stew that disappeared in record time. Learning to cook and wash dishes without running water was actually... fun. The wood-burning stove kept the yurt more than warm enough while serving double duty and melting the continual supply of snow we placed in the large soup pot on top for drinking water and washing dishes. (See below.) When we weren't cooking... we were skiing. I had only ever down-hill skied before, so the whole cross-country thing was entirely new to me... but after wiping out a few times (and stepping through a few snow banks that reached up to my waist) I'd say I caught on fairly well. :) The scenery was gorgeous! The feeling of gliding over the snow while surrounded by sunshine and tall aspen trees was surreal. The view from the entrance to the yurt was breathtaking, day or night (that's the outhouse in the bottom left corner). Of course, we had to have a little head-lamp/night time/long-exposure fun! :) If your tail is wagging and you're thinking to yourself, "I'd like to go on an adventure!" Check out the current trip schedule and see what tickles your fancy. Jason and his staff lead folks on all kinds of trips like rock climbing, canoeing, camping, and biking. No experience/equipment required, they will get you the full hook-up! The pricing is unbelievably reasonable and... you don't have to be a university student... everyone is welcome!