In previous posts I have hinted at the idea of our family taking a long road trip this summer; that was one of the reasons why we wanted to replace our aged minivan with a slightly less aged Suburban. Now that the eve of the event is upon us, I am ready to share more details.
I got a scare earlier this year when my elderly father wound up in the ICU with pneumonia. Since he lives 3,000 miles away back east, I couldn’t just pop in for a visit, and the decade since I’ve seen him grew heavier by the day. Thankfully, he improved quickly and was home within the week, but I realized again that time is short for us all. My Dear Wife and I began talking about the possibility of driving out there, with The Boys, to see him while the chance was there.
One thing led to another.
We’re going a road trip. And it’s going to be a big one.
Seven thousand miles; five weeks; eighteen states; four major cities; two Great Lakes; two oceans.
We have the balance of our tax return to pay for it, after having put close to $1500 into The Green Monster for repairs and upgrades. We have the time, since it is summer and I have a fairly flexible situation both with school and at work. The Boys will be “too old” for this sort of thing in a few years-Number One Son is starting 9th grade in “the fall” (school begins in late August here). This is the window of opportunity for such an adventure, and we’re driving through it.
We are only taking a minimal amount of food with us, partly due to space restrictions. We’ll plan out our menu 3 or so days at a time and shop accordingly. This should be fairly easy to do. We are not venturing out into unpopulated wilderness areas, though we may pass through some food deserts; our food benefits, being a federal program, are good in every state; and we are making a point of getting off the freeway to actually drive through and experience the smaller towns along the way.
This plan will provide some benefits as well. Traveling as lightly as possible will help keep our fuel cost down; not having an overstuffed vehicle will keep our stress level down too. We intend to use the local produce we find to supplement our largely box-based meals, which are sadly necessary due to the constraints of space, time, and cost. That’s going to improve both the nutritional quality and the enjoyment of our mostly one-pot meals.
I had made a magnificent “chuck box” from an old Coleman ice chest, and was going to use it in tandem with a two-burner Coleman stove, but the combination proved a bit too much for the limitations of this trip.
I went through my gear and pulled out all the non-essentials, centering everything around my one-burner Svea 123 “backup” stove:
All the necessary gear fits into one lightweight box:
Like the TARDIS, it’s bigger on the inside:
…though I have to move it through time and space myself.
Along the way I plan to study the availability of locally-sourced food across the nation. I know this isn’t as scientific a study as one could hope for. Still, since we’re going through small towns and on secondary roads, I think I can get a sense of how things are out there. I’m going to look for evidence of smaller, variety-based farms; independent produce vendors; farmer’s markets; food co-ops; and locally-sourced products in supermarkets. I’ll keep a tally of what we find and where it is, and try to report on our progress as often as possible.
The tracking of food waste was vetoed by the Executive Committee (e.g. my wife), but we’ll obviously try to keep it to a minimum.
That’s all I can think of for now; I’ve got to go and wrap up the final thousand things one has to do before leaving home for a month. More later, when it happens.