Gimme Shelter!

4 Feb
Ramada in process

Working on the ramada

Ramadas in the old days were simple structures providing shelter from the sun and/or rain. A simple roof of river cane, tree branches, woven reeds, and even ocotillo canes were often devoid of walls. Modern technology has expanded on that old concept. And we have taken it a step our way.

An older utility pole off my place in north Texas served as the two front posts of the ramada on El Punto. Ed chose to use two galvanized metal posts for the two back supports. These will eventually encased within rock columns. As with all construction thus far on El Punto, everything was cut and attached with either human or battery powered tools. Without electricity, we have no choice.

Plans for the ramada have changed during the conception and building process. I first envisioned a simple structure with a roof with west and south walls to shield against the sun and west wind. Our recent two -week stay at El Punto impressed, no, hammered into us how strong the north winds cane be.  Old dried flower stalks from lechugilla and yuccas woven with wire were going to serves as the walls, and the ground would remain desert dirt.

The plans have now evolved to include an adobe west wall, complete with an arch and interior shelf and embedded recycled glass block. A rock semi-circular extension to the south wall will house an outdoor shower (again with recycled glass block). Because water is sacred in the desert, it would be blasphemous not to use any roof for catching rain water. Thus a gutter on the west end of the roof will divert rain water to a cistern against the SW corner and provide water for the shower.

We are still tossing around ideas for the north wall. I located the ramada where it is because of the outstanding and soothing views over Black Creek Draw to the east and north. To completely wall in the north exposure would be a ‘sin.’ But the power of the north wind would totally detract from the comfort of the ramada. So we are trying to develop a system that will provide a movable screen on the north wall: open to expose the views when the winds are complacent, and shut when the north wind howls.

Ramada grows

Rock for ramada floor

One cold morning we both dressed in many layers, drove the truck to a place on one of the roads and picked up flat rock that had been splintered and tossed aside by the grader. This pile will eventually be placed inside the ramada as a flagstone floor. Regardless, I immediately found myself spending time in a chair in the ramada with coffee in hand and sharing the morning sun with the dog. It also served as an opportunistic way to hang our laundry (after stuffing dirty clothes in the small bike panniers to ride into town and wash at the laundromat). Even with no roof, no walls, and no floor, it already feels like ‘home.’ Which is one of the many points on El Punto Coyote.

We have the metal roofing and a start on the adobe blocks. Ed already tested some small flat rock pieces around one of the back metal posts. I’m working on a design for the outdoor shower. And we are still tossing around ideas for the north wall. As in most things, this is an ongoing project, another side track in the overall journey. But no matter which stage of the process, the location is a heavenly place to sit and relax to enjoy the desert.

Sunrise and the ramada

Sunrise from the ramada

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