Our Very First Night in a Yurt

Chris and I have fallen in love with yurts, and have chosen this unique and efficient structure to live in permanently. We have been inside a yurt and loved how it felt, but still wondered what it would be like to sleep in one. We felt it a necessary part of our journey to visit one overnight. So we found one on Airbnb in Connecticut, not too far from where we live.

Since check-in at the yurt wasn’t until three, we wanted to make the most of the day and what better way to do that than to make a beer run? We decided to head to our favorite brewery that makes some of the best beer in the country and some of our favorites. Since their beer can only be purchased directly from their brewery, we thought a trip there would be a perfect way to start our weekend, while also supplying our rented yurt with some tasty beverages.img_4005

We left our apartment at 7:30 am all bundled up, stopped for a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and trekked to Massachusetts to get in line at Treehouse Brewing Company. It was a freezing morning and despite my many layers, I was chilled to the bone. The line moved quickly and before we knew it we were inside, cans in hand, waiting for our growlers to be filled. One of the best parts about making this beer run, was the people we met in line. Excited chatter was easily exchanged as anticipation was thick in the air. This was such a perfect start to our weekend. Our own excitement for our yurt was amplified and blended with the excitement of the beer enthusiasts waiting patiently in line.

After we left Treehouse with our goodies in hand, we enjoyed a lazy drive towards our destination. While we were so excited for what was to come, we relished the treasured moments of that comfortable drive. Conversation flowed as beautiful New England scenery flashed across our windows. No matter what would happen later, we were already having a great time on a simple Saturday afternoon.

We spent the rest of the day getting lunch and stopping at another brewery before finally heading to the yurt. We pulled up the driveway and immediately I started screaming in elation as soon as I saw the roof of the yurt. We were here! We were finally going to be able to spend some quality time in a yurt!img_4008

We parked, and got out of the car as freezing December air prickled our skin. We grabbed our overnight bags as quickly as possible, and walked up the pathway towards the entrance. Chris began circling the perimeter, checking out how it was built. I pulled out my phone to snap some pictures. Then we came together at the door and walked in.

As soon as we stepped inside, a wall of warmth hit our cold faces and satisfied smiles spread wide. Any further questions we had about how well yurts stay warm in a cold environment were answered, and this was only after a few minutes.

Chris turned up the gas fire in the fireplace, and I read our host’s packet of yurt instructions. Then I found that they had left us a basket full of treats, information about local goings on, and a beautiful welcome note.img_4025

Chris went out to the car to grab a growler of beer. While he was gone, I lay down on the floor in the center of the yurt, flat on my back. I lay there for what seemed like a peaceful eternity with a beautiful view of clouds rolling by the dome window. I was taken back to a simpler time as a kid, lying in the grass, finding shapes in the shifting clouds above. Yet now I was an adult, in the dead of winter, enjoying the same vision, warm inside a yurt. Such powerful, immense peace filled my insides. Just one small glimpse of what is to come.

Chris walked in and poured us a couple of glasses of beer. He turned on some of our favorite music and the sounds danced around the space. I got up and joined him by the fire, taking it all in. Air filled our lungs freely, life was tranquil here.img_4016

Our conversation grew animated as we discussed how we would build our own yurt, looking around and picking the things we liked and ruling out the things we didn’t.

Originally, I thought that I wouldn’t really like the standard vinyl windows that are covered by wooden lattice. We had anticipated adding mostly thermal pane glass windows and supplementing with a few standard vinyl ones. Yet after this weekend, we realized that we genuinely liked the vinyl windows and will now add mostly vinyl windows and supplement with a few glass ones. Since glass windows are much more costly than vinyl ones, this discovery will save us money.img_4039

We walked around, mapping out certain areas. While we could see ourselves living in a space of that size after being in it for a few hours, we concurred with our previous choice of choosing a larger one. This was a 30 foot yurt, yielding 706 square feet, while our own future 40 foot yurt will yield almost double the square feet at 1256.

We spent the rest of the night playing cards, snacking on pizza, and thoroughly enjoying the space. When it was time to go to sleep, we curled up in the pullout sofa bed by the fire. The soft lighting from the flames, charmed the space into a lullaby of sorts. Sleep came easily and restfully.img_4050

When we woke up, sounds of winter birds chirped away. The fire crackled next to us. We were finally experiencing what we have been imagining all this time. We were warm, cozy, and were in the luxuries of the indoors, while being a little more connected to the Earth as we heard the sounds of nature around us.

We learned a few new things about this yurt, but the most important thing we learned over this one night stay, was that this structure was perfect for us. This space fit our personalities and our lifestyle to a tee. The feeling we experienced while inside the space touched our hearts. We could see ourselves here always.img_4052

While our current home is such a great apartment with stainless steel appliances, granite counter-tops, and hardwood floors all in an open concept, it is an environment that is almost stagnant. We come home and are often pulled into the world of television whether we want to or not. There are other things we would like to do with our time, but our apartment makes it very easy for us to sit in front of the TV.

At the yurt last weekend, I saw it all. I saw our lives spread across this space, with a master bedroom and bathroom, a guest bedroom, main bathroom, and a kitchen, living room, and dining room all in the main section of the yurt. I saw a baby grand piano sitting comfortably in the corner of the main living space, available to practice anytime I’d like. I saw Chris’s mandolin nestled beside it. I saw a dining room table ready to play cards, host a dinner party, or with a jigsaw puzzle spread over it. I saw our wood stove with comfy chairs around it with a small table to rest mugs of coffee. I saw our living room, a cozy place to relax with a TV that would be enjoyed, but perhaps not as frequently. I saw our kitchen filled with dinners simmering away, cookies baking in the oven. I saw ourselves, thriving in this space. I saw our life, lived and enjoyed like it is today, but exponentially more.

Now, sitting in the living room of our apartment as I write this, while Chris is working on a jigsaw puzzle, I’m looking around this stick-built structure, deeply missing those lovely yurt walls around us. We loved the yurt. We loved it even more than we had anticipated. We left with full and excited hearts, and willing to give our all to achieve our dreams.

Sleeping in a Yurt: the Next Stop on Our Yurt Journey

We have been inside a yurt, we have researched and fallen in love with the idea of living in a yurt, we have talked to yurt dwellers and read their stories, and we have started our own yurt journey, but there is one more thing we thought would be important before truly moving forward in our decision: we have to sleep in a yurt.

I started looking at different options on Airbnb at local yurts to rent for the weekend. Since we live in Connecticut, I looked at all the surrounding areas, like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Then I found one in Connecticut about 45 minutes from where we live, and jumped at it. While staying in the Vermont mountains in a yurt sounds like a great weekend retreat, we thought that for our first yurt stay, we might want to try one as local as possible. While this yurt will have a similar climate to our own, we will also be able to pick the owner’s brain about the entire yurt building process in Connecticut. 

We’ll enter this yurt with open hearts and open minds. We want to look at how it’s built, arranged, heated, etc. We’ll be making mental notes of what we like and what we don’t like, gaining ideas for our own future yurt.

This weekend’s yurt is nestled in the fullsizerender-1woods on the owner’s property, not far from their stick built house. Their yurt is equipped with a/c, heat, a wood stove, WiFi, kitchen with a refrigerator, running water, and an induction stove. There is a composting toilet in the yurt (which is an option for us if we don’t have indoor plumbing for a period of time), and a full bathroom with a shower in the main house, a short walk away. There is a private fire pit outside for our use and a four-season hot tub. 

We’ll be staying there this Saturday night, which is perfect timing. We have read about how well yurts hold up in the snow, and have heard how well they stay warm from yurt dwellers, but as always, there’s that small voice inside of us that wonders if it’s really as true as they say. We’d like to find out firsthand. Hopefully it will be very cold and snowy this weekend to give us the full experience!

We’ll also keep in mind that our own yurt will be different than what we’ll stay in. Ours will be for our permanent living space, so we will do all that is necessary to make it as comfortable in cold, snowy weather as possible. We are probably going to order our yurt from Shelter Designs. This small company was created by a group of people who have been living in yurts for years, and through trial and error have developed some great add-ons specifically for permanent yurt dwellers with potentially rough winters.

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Our beloved bus at a music festival last year. We left out chalk so passersby could get creative!

We are really looking forward to seeing what it’s like to sleep inside a yurt. A few years ago, Chris bought an old shuttle bus on a whim because it was the right time and the right price. It had been used as a makeshift RV from the previous owners and was virtually cleared out, except for a few seats in the front. We scrubbed it down, added a few chairs, a folding table, and a futon and we had a new portable living room. Ever since, we have used it on many camping trips.

 

The best part about our bus is how it feels to sleep inside it. It’s a large open space with lots of windows, which offers a beautiful view while protecting us from the elements. But when inside, sounds from nature are clearly audible, almost lulling us to sleep.

We have heard that sleeping in a yurt has a similar effect. The walls and structure offer a substantial shelter from the harsh environment, but still offer a connection to the surrounding nature. We imagine that it will be somewhat like sleeping in our bus, only ten times better. We will have the comforts of living in our own home, while still enjoying a connection to the outdoors. Staying in the yurt this weekend won’t be quite like sleeping in our own bed with our kitty curled at our feet, but it will be a great way to really see what it feels like to sleep with such a connection and separation from nature.

While we are both so excited for our weekend away in a yurt, a small part of us is slightly terrified. From all we have learned so far, we love yurts. We simply cannot wait until we have one of our own. But that small part of us still wonders if we will love it as much as we think we will. I can’t help but wonder whether we will leave this weekend even more excited, or ready to move on to new things.

Since deciding to build a yurt is quite unorthodox, it’s a big risk. A risk that will give us so much in return if it goes according to plan. Yet there is no surprise that we have some questions and concerns, if only in the back of our minds. We look forward to getting a few of them answered so we can fully move forward, whether it will be moving forward with our yurt journey, or choosing another path.

For now, we are going to enjoy a December weekend in a yurt with a delicious Connecticut pizza and some tasty craft brews, savoring one moment at time. Whatever happens, I know it will be a great weekend!

 

Photo credit: mypubliclands via VisualHunt / CC BY