Growing Up Yurt

I grew up playing hide-and-seek between piles of tipi canvas and completed yurt roofs.  Before that I bounced in a Johnny-Jump-Up next to my mom as she sewed. These are my earliest memories because I grew up at the Colorado Yurt Company.

Our first apartment was attached to the tipi shop. The Yurt Co. in Ridgway, Colorado was home base for adventures that would roam by the schoolhouse, past the fire station, loop through Doc’s Candy Store, and reconnoiter at Town Park.

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Ridgway, CO from above (Photo Credit: SoCal L.A.)

When I was in middle school, I got to help out in the summertime. Usually, I’d cut parts for tipis. When my parents (Colorado Yurt Company owners, Dan and Emma Kigar) went out on a yurt or a tipi pitch, I went along. We would haul up to the high-country and spend the day raising a structure. Sometimes we’d go further afield. We pitched tipis and yurts together in New Mexican deserts, Oregon, Upstate New York, Southern California, and the Chicago Hilton to name a few places.


Sam on horse with tipi

Out on an early tipi pitch

These days I can pitch tipis by myself; though I still can’t raise one with near my parents’ skill and pace.  I picked up other good skills along the way: the desire to work hard and the ability to think methodically and visually.


Tipis, tipi, earthworks, colorado yurt
Oddly enough, these skills help me in my current life as a PhD candidate in Islamic Studies at Duke University. (To the question, “How did you end up there?” I usually answer, “Life’s twists and turns.”)

old sam
With Satchel the Dog (not pictured) just after arriving in N. Carolina

Now the shop is 30 miles north of Ridgway, in Montrose. (The amazing Colorado Boy Brewery occupies our old space.) And the operation is a little bigger. I’m far away, but the crew is still kind enough to let me back into the fold when I have some time to help out. I mostly work in new media marketing, though I’m always keen to go out on a pitch.

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Check out some of the awesome places where our tipis and tents live.


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