Monday, February 26, 2007

Vanishing America and Alternative Energy

Vanishing America

Project Details...

See America on 15¢ a day!

Well, in fuel costs, anyway. By using Vegetable Oil as my primary traveling fuel, I will, theoretically, be able to travel anywhere I want to on my journey without spending a dime on fuel. (In extremely cold weather, though, I will have to run on regular diesel, but for 95% of my trip, I can run vegetable oil or biodiesel.)

That's the plan, anyway. With the trend toward alternative fuels, running your car on either BioDiesel or SVO (straight vegetable oil), is gaining ground as an acceptable option. Even Prince Charles of England is converting his vehicles to BioDiesel, as this Washington Post article points out: (

And now it seems Arnold, the Governator, Schwarzenegger, is doing likewise, and encouraging Californians to join in the effort.

Not only does running on vegetable oil reduce emissions, it reduces our dependence on petroleum, a substance that is guaranteed to run out eventually. The earth only has so much oil stored beneath its surface. Once that's gone, it's gone. Then what?

Well, we use a renewable source: VEGETABLES!

Though not totally legal in any state yet (Vegetable oil as a fuel has yet to be approved by the EPA or the DOT), it IS being used successfully all around the United States and in many countries abroad. It's an easy step to go from diesel fuel to vegetable oil -- after all, the diesel engine was originally designed to run on peanut oil! Once you filter and de-water vegetable oil, and keep it at the correct temperature, you have the ideal fuel for your diesel engine. You can even use waste oil from restaraunts! Just filter and de-water it first. It's FREE! Check out the follwing article from Car and Driver Magazine:

For my Vanishing America Project, I'll be driving all over the United States in a motor home converted to run on vegetable oil. (It will also run on regular diesel and biodiesel, but at up to $3.00 a gallon, I'll stick to veggie oil as much as I can.) I will also be towing a Land Rover diesel converted to veggie oil as my off-road vehicle -- all the power and torque of a regular diesel engine at none of the cost! Okay, sure, the conversion is not cheap. Now, you can do it yourself for as little as $50, or with kits you buy online for around $750, or you can go all out (like I am) and have a system custom built for you, but the bottom line is that you'll ultimately pay for the conversion in the first 200 miles of driving on veggie oil. And think of what you'll be doing for the environment!

It's an easy, affordable thing to do, and many people are following the trend. If you need proof, just look at all the conversion companies springing up all over the country: do an online search for "vegetable oil diesel", "veggie oil diesel", and see how many results pop up. It's inspiring. And, as we all know, it will likely take the government years to accept this alternative to oil (they do have to keep their oil corporations happy), but the move is on! BioDiesel is already approved by Federal agencies, so veggie oil can't be too far behind.

Keep your fingers crossed, buy an old diesel car and have it converted, or do whatever it is you do to lessen your impact on the environment. It doesn't take much. Just a little effort from a lot of people will make the difference.

Keep checking back with me during my journey. You're sure to see a lot of gorgeous pictures and read some interesting stories. See ya on the road!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Vanishing America

Vanishing America

Vanishing America is a Fine Art Photography project set about to capture the beauty and enchantment of the unique elements of our history and culture that are in danger of disappearing within the next two to three generations.

It is an ongoing journey to artistically document those things that make America wonderful, fun, beautiful, and exciting… the very things that are being forgotten, abused, and destroyed right before our very eyes. It is a project to show people what we will be missing when we allow "progress" to drain our wetlands, bulldoze our historic buildings, clearcut our forests, and pollute our waterways. It is also a project to document what will be lost to us through time, lack of use, and neglect – those things that, through natural processes, must be replaced, but nonetheless, have great value in our country’s history and culture.

Subdivided into several series of images, all of which depict American treasures that are in danger of vanishing forever (Wild Horses, Wetlands, and Iconic architecture, to name a few), it is a series of images meant to preserve, in photographic format, those things that define our experiences in America, before they are lost to us forever, and, hopefully, increase awareness and activism along the way.

There will come a time when there will be no wild Mustangs roaming the plains of the West; there will come a time when the Okefenokee Swamp will be nothing more than a field upon which developers can build another Wal-Mart; and we're fast approaching the day when the quaint small town is just a faded memory.

America, as we know it, is changing fast. And, sometimes change is good. But sometimes change destroys the things we love about our country. I understand that we can’t save it all – and there are definitely icons of our growth as a nation and as a culture that shouldn’t be saved. But that doesn’t mean we should forget them. Hopefully these images, and the ones that will follow as I travel across the United States, will remind people how precious, how ephemeral, and how important these aspects of our country and our culture are.

Project Plan:

Over the course of the next couple of years, I will drive around the United States in a motor home running on Solar Power and Vegetable Oil to photographically document America’s Wild Horses, Disappearing Wetlands, Historic Architecture and Settlements, Crumbling Industry, Small Town Life, and anything else that I encounter along the way that could potentially be lost to us in the next two to three generations.

I will map out several primary destinations that will be the cornerstones of my journey. I will reach these destinations via America’s seldom traveled backroads. And I will keep my eyes open and my cameras ready for the more subtle opportunities that present themselves along the way.

My journey will take me from the deserts of Southern California and the Salton Sea, out to the National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, across the Rocky Mountains, and into the Great Plains of the Midwest. I will travel to the abandoned industries of the Northeast, down into the mysterious wetlands of the Deep South, and all across the Nation documenting American icons and precious resources. The finer details will be mapped out as the departure date approaches. I will provide regular image and article submissions to numerous magazines, web log updates, and video. The project will culminate in a series of coffee table books, art exhibits, a possible documentary.

In order to reduce my overall budget and have an actual positive physical impact on the environment, I would like to make this journey in vehicles that run solely on alternative fuels such as solar power and biodiesel/vegetable oil.

The plan is to leave San Diego in the Summer, so keep your eyes and ears open. You might just see me in your town.