Maybe it was the third article I'd read on the "death of the American family vacation." Or maybe it was the fact that gas prices were projected to rise above $4 a gallon this summer. Or maybe it was my justifiable guilt that our summer vacation was helping to contribute tons of CO2 to the already warming planet. Whatever the case, a sense of sadness and longing had crept into our planning for this year's Wilson family summer.
It was my parents who taught me to love the natural world on just such road trips when I was young. It's something my wife and I want to provide our two girls -- the education and enlightenment you can only gain through travel, and the respect for nature you can only acquire by being "in it." Our summer trip is an integral part of the way our family works and grows together, and we are not ready to give it up.
My wife, Sherri, and I would lay awake in the dark, as we often do, mulling over these things as we fell asleep. We pride ourselves on having created a simple but unique life for our family, and have always been able to eke out a living with the laptop as we travel in the summer. We treasure the time we spend with one another each summer and the amazing things we experience together. There had to be some solutions. In time, we hatched a plan.
I'm Jeff Wilson, and this is the story of how we are saving and transforming our summer vacation. How we plan to cut our gasoline consumption (and our CO2 emissions) by almost 60%. How we'll charge batteries with solar and wind power, and how we'll alleviate the effect of the CO2 we do generate by purchasing carbon offsets.
Here's a look at how we've done things in the past. First, the vehicles: we drive a full-size pick-up and tow a 3500lb travel-trailer, averaging 11mpg over 12,000 miles each summer. Second, the power: we rely on battery power for our income generating laptop and cameras. Third, the effect: our annual trip across the country and back generates over 21,000lbs of CO2.
Now, how things are changing. First, we'll replace the truck with a 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid (http://www.chevrolet.com/hybrid/
). Named Green Car Journal's 2008 Green Car of the Year,
the Tahoe Hybrid gets the same city fuel economy as the 4-cylinder Toyota Camry (21mpg). We'll replace the trailer with a lightweight, low-profile, hard-sided pop-up model ( the Aliner "Ease" -- see it at www.aliner.com
). This should improve our fuel economy 70%-80% over last year. This will also cut our CO2 emissions drastically. Next, we'll charge the batteries with solar panels and a portable wind generator (see www.talcoelectronics.com
), eliminating the need for a gasoline generator. Then, we'll purchase carbon offsets from TerraPass (see www.terrapass.com
) to counterbalance the CO2 we do generate by planting trees, building wind turbines, and the like.
The Great, Green, American Family Summer
is about new horizons, adventure, and togetherness. The fact that we might help to save this venerable institution from extinction gives me hope. That we can tread lightly on the earth while giving the kids these life-altering experiences makes me proud. That the Wilson family will still have the amazing, wonderful, awe-inspiring, challenging, epic summer I remember having as a kid makes me downright happy.
Come along with us on this journey. Every week we'll update the blog and add pictures and video to let you know where we are and tell you about our voyage. Come with us as we explore places like Great Sand Dunes NP, Great Basin NP, the High Uinta Mountains of Utah, Craters of the Moon NM, the Grand Tetons NP, Yellowstone NP, Glacier NP, the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, the Columbia River National Scenic Gorge, Orca watching in the San Juan Islands, soaking in Oregon's Hot Springs, and experience so many other uniquely American adventures along the way.
We'll also give travel tips and hints, "must see places," and ways to make your
family vacation as green as it can be. We'll let you know how much we really are saving. We'll keep you updated on where we'll be appearing near your town, and just where you'll be able to read, hear, or see about us.
Tell your friends and neighbors, and alert the media. The Great, Green, American Family Summer
is about to set sail.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
See about Jeff Wilson at www.jeffwilsonregularguy.com
See about Sherri James Wilson at www.bluemoonbottles.com