Posts Tagged ‘ Camping ’

My Carbon Footprint

I recently finished reading William Power’s Twelve by Twelve: A One Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream.  The author’s memoir about his 4 month stay in this cabin without any basic utilities is a thought provoking read.  He uses parallels between his experience in the 12×12 and his time spent working in developing nations to make a strong point for lowering our carbon footprint and taking a new look at the so called American Dream.  Many reviewers commented that he didn’t spend enough time describing what it was like living in the cabin itself but I think they’ve missed the point.  After spending some time in a 300 sf camper I can say that when living in a confined space life is much more about what’s outside that space than in it.

This book really got me thinking.  Currently my husband and I live in a 2100 sf house in Florida.  Our dream is to purchase a fifth wheel camper and travel the country.  We will need either a 3/4 or 1 ton diesel pick-up to transport our new home.  The pick-up will be our main mode of transportation.  I’m sure we’ll bring bicycles and walk many places but we will not be the people in a Class A camper with our car hitched to the back.  I’m not knocking that, I just can’t see us doing it.

This has me wondering which carries the greater carbon footprint?  Living in a large air conditioned home or living in a space 1/6th the size but driving a 1 ton diesel truck?  I’ve given this a lot of thought.  While we will be doing a lot of traveling, our hope is to set up camp in a location and spend upwards a month at a time there.  If we do this we really want to get a feel for a community and it’s surroundings rather than just passing through the common tourist areas and moving on.

In reality we will most likely sell our larger home and get a smaller more self sufficient townhouse.  For at least a few years I want to maintain a home base.   I am assuming that either the utilities will be turned off while we’re gone or we’ll rent the space to someone else which I guess makes it their carbon footprint and not mine.  Can a footprint be transferred?

In my studies I found a couple of websites that help you determine your carbon footprint.  The first is a quick easy version the second is more detailed and frankly asked specific questions about water/electric/gas use that I couldn’t answer at this time.  According to the my surveys, living in our current household our carbon footprint was scored at 40.  I redid the survey using a mobile home and driving a large vehicle 20,000 miles per year and the score was 33.  The average american household scores a 53 so I am glad to report that either way we are better than average.  When I have more time and my utility bills at hand I will try the second calcuator which I’m assuming to be more accurate based on the questions asked.  Either way I found it very interesting and it put some of my concerns to rest.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator/

http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx

Advertisements

Great Smoky Mountains

So tonight is our last night of camping in our rented 5th wheel.  Overall it’s been really fun vacation.  My hubby and I have really enjoyed each other’s company and have gone outside our usual comfort zones.  We’ve hiked many trails within the Smoky Mountain National Park.  There are many great scenic drives and destinations.  We saw some great wildlife including the bear in the picture above.  The bear really was as close as it looks.  It was a young cub but no baby.  Sitting above us in a tree that looked far too weak to hold it’s weight, the bear did not seem bothered at all.  It was happily munching on leaves or berries while a group of us below were snapping pictures hoping the branch would hold!

After that experience we drove through rural towns such as Townsend and Wear Valley where we found some interesting antique stores as well as a local wood carver.  The carver had just finished carving a beautiful bear and his wife was just starting to stain it.  I fell in love and foolishly asked the price.  It was only slightly out of my budget so today we found our way back to their location with cash in hand.  He will serve as an adorable reminder of our vacation.  I’m sure our dogs will find him quite intriguing.  Driving back we drove past Walden Rd and then somehow crossed Walden Creek at least 3 times.  It seemed a sign that his name should be Walden.  Also, every other name my husband came up with was just plain awful!

As for my fears of being a vegetarian up in the mountains, they were well founded.  First of all, while the scenery is gorgeous, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are basically tourist traps, something I usually avoid.  With that said, our first night we ate at Jose’s Cantina which was typical overly heavy mexican food but I did manage to order and enjoy enchilada’s florentine.  We did a bit of cooking in the camper and on the grill which I enjoyed.  One evening I decided to have mercy on my husband and offered to go to Alamo Steakhouse which boasted a “veggie plate.”  In reality this was a side salad with 3 side dishes for $13!  After our server asked for the 3rd time if I wanted cheese on my broccoli for protein I not so nicely explained to her that ounce for ounce broccoli has the same amount of protein as steak.  Well she looked surprised and bothered by me.  The mushrooms and onions were my 2nd choice of side which after eating a few bites I realized had beef broth in them.  It’s been awhile since I’ve tasted beef anything.  Good news is that the sweet potato was very good as was the salad with homemade poppy dressing.  Lunch today was in a cafe inside a country store where I had a grilled swiss and tomato and some baked steak fries.  It was actually quite good.  I can’t imagine how I would have managed if I were vegan.

Vacation!

I’ll be off to Gatlinburg Tn early Saturday morning.  My hubby and I will be renting a 5th wheel and staying at a campground at the base of the Smokey Mountains.  It is our goal to one day own a 5th wheel and travel the country.  I am very interested in seeing how the RV lifestyle fits in with being a vegetarian.  I have done some online research and have found some cafe’s and restaurants that shoul be able to accomodate me.  Also working in customer service, I spoke to a customer who owns both a pub with a vegetarian restaurant  above it in Asheville NC!  We were considering Asheville as a day trip and after viewing the online menu’s I absolutely want to go.  I can’t find the link for the veg location but the pub also has a few interesting veg options.  Here’s the link:  http://www.jackofthewood.com/menu.htm

While I love eating out, I am also very interested to see how different it is to cook in an RV’s miniature kitchen.  Hopefully some new foods will inspire me to invent a new recipe worthy of posting.  I am bringing a few basic staples with me and plan to buy and consume local foods as much as possible.  I see no point in going somewhere new and sticking to the same routines, foods, restaurants, etc that you would be utilizing at home.  Now I just have to make it through one more work day, pack my stuff (yes, I’m procrastinating) and head out!