Madison, WI: Scott and Karly

When we first announced the tour…Karly was one of the first to respond. She extended a welcome for us to come and stay at her father’s house/farm which is about 15 minutes outside of Madison. Karly also works for the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau, and was SO helpful in our planning process…she even sent us a package of information about Madison and local magazines before we left Des Moines.

After we left the co-op, we headed straight out to the farm. We met Karly, and her husband Scott…as well as her dad, Mark. She also had guests that had just arrived from Denmark that day! Christina was a foreign exchange student when Karly and her were in high school…so she was coming back to visit and brought her brother along (his first visit to the U.S.).

We parked and gave the tour…then headed inside, where Scott and Karly made a delicious meal on the grill, and a yummy bean salad/wrap for Bella and I. We talked and laughed…learning more about Denmark and also about Karly and Scott.

Bella had a great time playing with the little kitty that had arrived to the farm just a few days earlier. She also climbed a tree with Matt and chatted with Scott about her imaginary friends. :)

We all hit the beds early…and said goodbye in the morning. It was great to get some “country time”…away from the busyness of the city.

Photo album here.

Madison, WI: Willy Street Co-op

We pulled into Madison right on time…coming into town and passing between the two lakes to head towards downtown and Willy (Williamson) Street. Madison advertises itself as “Lake. City. Lake.”…and it was as beautiful as the brochures! When we pulled into the Willy Street Co-op, they had a spot all marked out for us, so we quickly pulled in and set up.

Willy Street is a diverse and eclectic walking area…very similar to Uptown in Minneapolis. We enjoyed talking with all kinds of people…many that were already very well versed in using veggie oil as fuel. We found many already running straight veggie or biodiesel.

We met Dorothy, a beautiful and intelligent older woman from Prague, Czech Repuplic. Her husband, Erazim Kohรกk, is a Czech philosopher, writer, and expert in ecology. We chatted for quite awhile and she gave Bella some Czech money to add to her ever growing collection of “goodies from the tour”. :) She invited us to park at one of their homes in New Hampshire when we pass through.

We met Sarana and her strikingly beautiful children. Sarana and I have very similar interests and had a great time passionately discussing homebirth, dreadlocks, babywearing, following your dreams, and more. Her husband owns an eco-paint company in Madison and she has a fledgling non-profit aimed at helping inner city children through the arts and nature exploration. Her daughters and Bella played on the bed with all of the toys for a long time…it’s nice to have other children around for playmates.

We met Libby, a blog reader that I have conversed with many times online. It was wonderful to meet her and talk about “baby stuff”. She is due with her first in December. She works on the campus of the University of Wisconsin and was a great help before we arrived. She kept us company for a good part of the afternoon…hanging out until her husband came by to check out the RV too.

The co-op itself was fabulous. They had a huge deli and salad bar…and I had the biggest, most yummy veggie/hummus pita I’ve ever had…for $2.99! Crazy. We also enjoyed their freshly juiced organic apple/raspberry juice. We stocked up on a few groceries while we were there, and enjoyed talking with many of the employees of the co-op as they came out to the RV on their breaks.

So far, Madison has definitely lived up to it’s reputation as a thriving, diverse, and progressive community. As I left the co-op, I looked at their bulletin board and saw organizations such as Community Car and Arboretum Co-Housing Community. There is a lot going on here…bike trails, lakes, activism, crazy fans in Badger red. Good times in Mad City.

Photo album here.

Richland Center, WI | The Thiede Family

As we were leaving the Iowa City/Coralville, IA area, we were keenly aware that we were leaving our comfort zone! We were driving towards the unknown…taking off on a great adventure. Up until that point, we had been in cities that were familiar around the Midwest. We were with family and friends that felt like home. But were were EXCITED! We were finally doing it. No more talking about starting the tour, going on the tour…tour this, tour that. Now we were actually starting it.

We had a beautiful drive through the changing leaves of Eastern Iowa and Wisconsin. God’s creation is truly amazing in the fall. The colors all blend perfectly…designed by the Master Artist. It was a relaxing ride. We talked of where we had been and of the future. Bella napped and woke up happy and excited to meet new friends.

As we neared Richland Center, the roads became windy and narrow…we encountered a couple of detours, but Betty came through and got us there in one piece. As we drove down the street, we could see Dan and Alicia Thiede with their family…outside waiting for us! They live in a cute little neighborhood, with a huge corn field in their backyard. Kind of like a farming fairytale.

We jumped out to greet them and laughed at the funny sign on their pop up camper. Clever clever :) After giving them the tour of the RV and veggie system, we went inside and chatted while Alicia prepared our favorite meal. Hot steamy soup, crunchy green salad, and warm crusty bread with butter. Yummmy! After supper, we sat around and talked about dreams, big plans, and stepping out of comfort zones. Their children were so delightful. Brooklyn is 12 and loves Harry Potter books. She was fun to talk to and was so attentive throughout the whole conversation. Tucker is 9 and really liked his Star Wars figurines! Sawyer is 7 and loves photography. She also was wonderful at entertaining Bella…what a blessing! Angel, 9 months, is their foster daughter and is a cutie pie! They are a homeschooling family and it was fun to see them interact and learn together.

We called it a night and headed out to the RV. We awoke to delicious homemade scones with frosting on top (wow!), great coffee, and more fellowship. Dan took the morning off, so we were able to sit around and chat for awhile longer. We had to leave around 11am to make it into Madison for our next stop. We were so sad to leave their family…we had so much fun in the short time we were there. We share similar thoughts about life and faith…and it was such a blessing to be with them. We made plans to meet up on Sunday at their church in Madison…and for a picnic in the afternoon. We’re looking forward to seeing them again.

Photo album here.

Fairfield, IA

When we were at the iRenew Expo, we had several people tell us that we MUST go to Fairfield on the tour…so we adjusted our schedule and went there during our Iowa City stop. It’s a short jaunt down there from Iowa City…through cornfields and flowers. It a virtual hot bed of freethinking people…which is kind of strange to find in the middle of Iowa. We arrived and parked at Everybody’s Whole Foods from from 11am-2pm. We were able to talk with a variety of passersby coming to eat during their lunch hour. I was excited to find so many locally produced foods within the coop. Before we left, I bought some delicious organic cheese (the best cheese I’ve ever had…from Radiance Dairy. Yum), chocolate soy pudding, and hummus…all made right in Fairfield!

We had contacted Lonnie Gamble before we arrived and he was able to come down to say hello. Lonnie is very well-known around Fairfield and has extensive experience in the area of sustainable living. Lonnie is an engineer, educator, farmer, and community activist. He is the founder of Abundance Ecovillage and Big Green Summer, a 10 week summer intensive in sustainable design, where students live what they learn. He is a founding director and co-chair of the non-profit Sustainable Living Coalition. He is a founding faculty member in the four year Sustainable Living degree program at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa.

Lonnie’s professional qualifications include a degree in electrical engineering professional engineer license. His interests include renewable energy, the efficient and wise use of energy, local organic food systems, artisan foods and the slow food movement, natural building, permaculture design and local alternatives to the global economy. He is the founder of five companies in the areas of renewable energy and telecommunications. He speaks and writes regularly on issues in his area of interest.

He llves with his wife Valerie and their daughter in a strawbale passive solar home, where they harvest rain for water supply, get their electricity from solar and wind power, and eat something fresh every day from their extensive gardens. They haven’t paid an electric bill in 15 years. Click here for writings by and interviews with Mr. Gamble.(bio link).

He came to tour the RV and also to interview us for his radio show, Abundant Planet. He also gave us a tour of the facilities at Maharishi University, where he teaches in the sustainable living program. The program is the only 4-year degree program in sustainable living in the country. They are doing all kinds of cool things there…rainwater catchment, biodiesel production, solar projects, wind turbine projects, “slow” food projects…The buildings are under construction right now, but we were able to see a photo of what the finished project will look like.
It’s rare to meet a man of such passion and direction…we were encouraged by his commitment to his family, students, and his community.

The BioTour guys made a stop in Fairfield during their tour last year…you can read about their experiences here. They were able to spend a longer amount of time there and they give a great description of all Fairfield has to offer.

Photo album here.

Iowa City/Coralville, IA

New Pioneer CoopOur first stop of the tour was Iowa City and Coralville, IA. We had amazing weather…..weeeeeee! Our demo was located at the New Pioneer Co-op in Coralville…they were very welcoming and even gave us a $20 food credit to eat supper. Yum. We are actually members of the New Pi and have loved their good eats for quite awhile. Coralville is near and dear to our heart because we were staying at a hotel there a couple summers ago when we had our “live smaller” epiphany! :) While there, we were able to meet several people that we had only met online…Matt of Groovy Green, Kesa and her girls, Tara and the boys….it was great to put names and faces together! We had lots of other people stop and learn about veggie…spreadin’ the love.

I was also able to have a “mama night out” with my cousin Trish…we went to the Red Avocado and then to a Ani DiFranco concert (where I promptly got my camera taken away for snapping a photo of the opener, Melissa Ferrick). What fun! Melissa was such an AMAZING performer…I was mesmerized! She has a very similar style to Ani. I have been wanting to see Ani in concert for quite awhile, and it was definitely worth it. Delicious stuff. She swears a bit too much for my liking…but she’s such a talented artist and poet. She has a dedicated cult following, and we had fun watching the rather large man with the huge gotee in the front row dancing throughout the ENTIRE concert. By himself. That’s some serious love for Ani.

We stayed with the wonderful Joe and Tara while we were there. Bella and their son Liam had a great time playing together. They have a one month old little boy, Atticus, as well. He was squishy and squeeky, and all baby. Joe and Tara are both musicians and play in a group called The Beggarmen. Tara teaches Irish fiddle lessons from her home as well. Be sure to check out their newest CD, Newry Town.

Photo album here.

Tour Kick-Off

Good food.
Good friends.
Good weather.
A big blue RV.

What could be more fun? It’s amazing how many people we can fit in a little RV :) I think we actually have more seating space than in our previous apartment! We had a wonderful time in Des Moines talking with friends and family and saying goodbye.

Kick-Off Photo Album HERE.

Grease Update


We haven’t talked much about the actual gathering of grease…mostly because it’s just second nature now! Sometimes I will even forget why people are staring at us… :)

Here are some stats for you:

  • In 2 months, we have gathered and filtered over 500 gallons of grease…for a savings of about $1,500!
  • We have traveled 5,000 miles on veggie oil, with no problems.
  • It takes approximately 1 -1. 5 hours to gather 100 gallons of grease.
  • We store 20 gallons of extra filtered grease in containers in front of the RV so we can fill up the car when necessary.
  • We have never had any problems finding grease.

We have definitely perfected our techniques and have learned a lot in the past 2 months; we are much more confident and have the knowledge to handle most anything with the system. As with anything new, it took a little while to learn the ins and outs, but I cannot imagine ever going back to using gas in our vehicles. We are so happy with our decision to go veggie!

Support The Live Lightly Tour!

As the tour launch gets closer and closer…Matt and I are increasingly aware of our need for additional income! :) That is probably the most frequently asked question…”how are you making money?”. Well, this is where your help is needed. We are continuing to do photography and odd jobs while on the road…but it’s proving difficult to maintain a steady income. To supplement those professions, we have partnered with a company, Shaklee, that has wonderful, earth-friendly products for home and body. We’re going to be selling them while we’re on the road…and the great thing is that you can buy them directly from our new Shaklee website and support the tour in that way. Their products and their company values align nicely with what we are all about…and that is, helping people make healthy choices for the earth and for their home/body. They make it easy to be green!

Click here to see the “Get Clean” natural home cleaning line. They also have high-quality vitamins for kids and adults, and lots of other cool stuff.

Matt at Groovy Green did a nice little test and review on the Get Clean line. Read his opinions here.

The Get Clean line is getting lots of media attention…Shaklee in the News.

The other cool thing…Shaklee has “zero impact on global warming by offsetting 100% of its greenhouse gas emissions. For this innovative environmental leadership, Shaklee became the nation’s first Climate Neutral Certified company”.

If you are interested in our tour, and want to help us educate others about sustainable and simple living…PLEASE help keep us on the road! If you are already a Shaklee user…PLEASE start buying from our site! If you have been trying to figure out how to be “more green”…this is a great first step. You can even buy the entire line as a “kit”.

Other ways to help:
I would really like to start doing more graphic design while we’re on the road. Here is a list of services I can provide…contact me directly for more information:

  • Logo and business identity packages
  • Business cards
  • Posters and brochures
  • Postcards and other advertising
  • Birth announcements/Moving announcements
  • Personalized holiday cards
  • Blog headers

If you are interested in donating directly to the Live Lightly Tour Fund…you can use Paypal and send donations to

Thank you for all of your support already…we appreciate our readers so much! You make us happy.

In the Shop

In the Shop

In our daily dealings with the RV, we have come to expect surprises, annoyances, and a little engine trouble. So we weren’t alarmed when our alternator and radiator hose went out on our way back from the iRenew Expo. We pulled into a truck stop to assess the problem at about 8:00 p.m. and were able to talk with a mechanic and make an appointment for the next morning (which was nothing short of a miracle late on a Sunday night!). We closed the curtains, had a bedtime snack and headed to bed…this still amazes us every time. It’s so fun to drive your house around and just park when you want to sleep!

In the morning, we got up and I made coffee and played with Bella while they worked on the repairs. You can see the view of our “front yard” in the above photo. It was rainy and cool…a nice day to be inside!

I’m sure we will have many more days in the shop on this tour…especially with a 1994 motorhome, but it’s a natural way to slow down the pace. It’s not fun on the budget, but it makes for fun stories.

iRenew Energy Expo


Last weekend’s iRenew Energy Expo was delightful. The weather was amazing and we had a really fun time talking to people…both young and old! The couple in the above photo found relief from the sun under our awning…they hung out for quite awhile, chatting with Bella and telling us stories.

The expo ran for two days, and featured all kinds of renewable energy…alternative fuels, solar, wind, tricked out bikes, hybrids, and more. When we arrived, we parked and walked over to the main tent where we enjoyed a delicious meal catered by New Pioneer Coop. During our meal we talked with Scott and Rebecca, the founders and owners of Northern Sun, and also Richard, who was on the original editorial staff of Mother Earth News “back in the day”. We continued to meet interesting people all weekend.

We really enjoyed meeting David and Eileen Wetzel, from Decatur, IL. They drive a little VW Rabbit that runs on veggie oil. You wouldn’t guess it by looking at them, but they’re quite the criminals :) They got into a little scuffle with the IRS in Illinois over taxation issues and veggie oil. You can read more about it here. Luckily, it’s being overturned and it’s all working out in their favor…but they have some great stories! We enjoyed hanging out with them throughout the weekend and hope to meet up on the road sometime! (*if you want to read more about veggie oil taxation issues in general, check out the FAQ section and read Charlie Anderson’s response).

There were many, many workshops all weekend. We were so busy talking with people about the RV and car that we didn’t have time to make it to any…but maybe next year! We were also interviewed for a couple newspapers, a radio station, and a TV spot. Of course, we can’t track down any of them…but I’m working on it :)

Here are a few other things worth checking out:

More photos of the Expo here.
**Photo note: You can see our temporary banner on the side of the RV in the above photo…we are back in Minnesota this week finishing the vinyl wrap and will post photos soon!

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