Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I left Chicago on Monday and after a quick stop at lake Michigan and some thrifting in Milwaukee I headed west to Madison, Wisconsin. Madison was a great place to spend the night. I found the Trader Joe's and the thrift stores and picked up 30 gallons of really clean grease.

On Tuesday I continued west towards La Crosse, where I crossed the Mississippi river again, into Minnesota. It's starting to get really hot the further west I travel. Chicago was lovely, low 70's but it's about 90 here and currently in the 100's with a heat advisory in South Dakota. Yesterday I really needed to find a shower so I headed to the Mystery caves state park but they wanted $23 to spend the night. The helpful ranger sent me to the state fair campground in nearby Preston where I camped for free and used the (slightly scary) showers. I talked to some carnies who were just packing up about running a diesel generator on vegetable oil while I was filtering my grease. Yes, I wish I had a pic for you.

In the morning I attempted to change the fuel filter for my vegetable oil but I could not get the thing to budge so I took it to the local shop and asked for help. Even the beefy mechanic who helped me had a hard time getting it off but once off the manager of the shop asked if I would be interested in talking to the local paper about how the van runs. Within five minutes a reporter named John was asking me questions and telling me about his experiences travelling in eastern Canada in a '76 Westfalia.

He asked me if I had any good anecdotes from my travels and I remembered this one, which I forget to publish here. I was in Austin, Texas filtering grease outside a biofuel co-op/ sustainable everything store and an employee, a woman in her late 40's said "I don't know if I would use the waste vegetable oil" and when I asked her why not she said "Because I'm a member of PETA" Does that make any sense to you? Of course not. I asked her what she meant and she said "Well, there might be animal fat in there". I pointed out that waste vegetable oil Is WASTE, it is essentially garbage, but I could not convince her that recylcing vegetable oil for fuel, even if it contains some animal fat, would not increase the demand for MORE animals to be killed and eaten.

Anyway, back to Minnesota. I have sustained the third sunburn of my entire life (I got one on my nose skiing in BC one summer and one in Mexico three years ago). This one is only on my left arm, due to driving west across the prairie in July. It's not peeling or anything but it feels weird when I touch it.

I am planning to make it at least to Sioux Falls, South Dakota today (there's a Value Village there!) and then I will spend three nights in the badlands and visit Wounded Knee. That leaves me two and a half days to get to Vancouver and pick Brenndan up when he arrives from Tokyo. I'm sad that I'm cutting this trip a bit short but happy about getting back to BC and spending August tubing in the Nanaimo river. I'm sure I'll appreciate the coastal temperatures too. Currently the only place for me to spend the afternoon is driving with the window open.

Thanks everyone for your caring and support, I'm feeling better now about losing so much stuff. Let me know if you know of a good data retrieval service on the west coast and keep those emails coming!

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