Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Post Mortem

Well, it took the biggest, baddest battery charger from Taylor Rent-A-Center, two extension cords, and three good samitarans in the (thankfully) very friendly town of Great Barrington to finally get the alum-a-womb going again. Once we got the motor going again, we didn't stop again until we parked it back in David's driveway - where it promptly died. Today we're home - unpacking, picking the kale, cucumbers and tomatoes (and even more weeds) that have ripened in my garden and evaluating our trip. (Oh, we overthink, I mean process EVERYTHING around here.)

So here is my warts-and-all evaluation of the success or failure of our trip:

Goal: Bring family out to Minnesota while not using fossil fuels.
Did we achieve this goal? Absolutely not. Next goal.
Well, okay: Bring family out to Minnesota while using as little fossil fuels as possible.
That's better. Did we achieve that? Well, John figured out that the alum-a-womb averaged 7.5 miles to the gallon of diesel. Okay, we get to stretch that because half the diesel we used was bio-diesel (made from old vegetable oil, so therefore not a fossil fuel, less polluting and No, it's not responsible for driving up the price of corn). So John figured that into the equation (thank God, that boy loves math), and we still average only 12.5 miles to the gallon. Yeah, still nothing to brag about. Ah, but the good news is that we got 23 miles to the gallon once we ditched the RV and rented the mini-van. But of course that's burning regular old gas with all of its environmental impacts and unsustainability and that's what we were trying to avoid in the first place. So. we were a big fat failure on Goal #1. Well, wait a minute, I'm gonna give us half credit on this one. We did get the family out to Minnesota.

Okay, but as any good researcher knows, if you fail miserably on your original goal, what you have to do is revise your goal.

Goal #2: Have a fun vacation with some quality family time.
I would have to say we did much better on this goal. The alum-a-womb inspired LOTS of laughter (and I don't just mean from the little old ladies who zipped by us on the roads. Even Sierra's elusive laughter was heard. And we certainly spent LOTS of quality time together (all that slow driving and time spent stuck in parking lots waiting for a jump, and then of course, there was that lovely Ford Service Center. Well, you get the picture.) And everyone in the family got to do what s/he really loved. John got to drive - and read maps, calculate gas mileage, talk on the phone - usually simultaneously, which he does love. I got to sleep while John did all the driving. Jeremiah got to play endless video games while John did all the driving (oh, and he got to buy gumballs at vending machines in at least six states and two countries!). And Sierra plowed through an entire four-book teenage vampire epic, and eat nothing but junk food, while John did all the driving.

Now of course for John and I, everything has to have some redeeming value. Surprisingly enough, no one asked us to dig them a latrine or donate blood along the way. But we did get to tell a lot of people about bio-diesel and the importance of figuring out a way to drive across country without burning fossil fuels. This conversation happened a lot, really. Whenever anyone asked why in the world we would rent a 24 year old motorhome in the first place.

Well, that's my assessment. I'm going to poll the rest of the family and tomorrow, I'll bring you their reviews.

I'll keep you posted,

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