Setting Out on a Biofueled Road Trip through BAMCO Territory

Me and Charlene leaving snowy Minnesota, which will hopefully be snowy no longer when we return in May!

As the Midwest Fellow for Bon Appetit Management Company Foundation, I get to work with folks at BAMCO-operated colleges across the country, from my home in Minneapolis, MN, all the way south to Austin, TX; west to Denver, CO; and east to Cleveland, OH.  Since much of my travel this semester happened to be all in a row (I’ll be with the American Meat screening tour, which BAMCO is cosponsoring, for much of its Colorado and Ohiolegs), I decided I’d set out on my own 10-week tour, henceforth dubbed Piper’s Epic Spring Semester Road Trip.

Not only will it be easier on the environment, as I’ll be traveling in my vegetable oil–powered car, Charlene, but I’ll get to visit more schools. I’ll be updating the blog weekly with my whereabouts, exciting things I’ve done and have lined up at my next destination, and so on — so check back often!

Me and my fancy luggage

The first state on my trip is Colorado, where I’m visiting Regis University and Colorado College until February 27.  After that I’ll spend 2 weeks in Ohio visiting Oberlin College and Case Western Reserve University, before taking 2 weeks of leisurely travel during spring break season to make my way to St. Edwards University in Austin for Farmworker Awareness Week, then setting off to hit schools in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa before returning home to Minneapolis in May.

Packing for 10 weeks is daunting. By the time I make it to Texas, it will be 70+ degrees, but it was difficult to fathom the need to be packing summer clothes when it was 10 degrees outside in Minnesota! As with past extended road trips, it helped me to view my car not just as a vehicle for transportation, but as my home for the next 10 weeks. This means that, in addition to decorating by taping pictures to the ceiling, I packed milk crates full of clothes as if they were drawers, turning my backseat into a makeshift dresser — much easier to pack a bag for a couple days at a time, rather than pack everything into suitcases.  With this system, I had more than enough room for everything and then some, while still being able to see out my back and side windows. That’s leaving the entire trunk space dedicated to vegetable oil. I even had two milk crates full of food, and another of books.

I’ll be keeping track of my miles traveled and gallons of diesel vs. WVO used

So with Charlene all packed, a full tank of diesel and veggie oil, and an extra 10 gallons of pre-filtered veggie oil to fill up with along the way, I’m off to Colorado!

Throughout the week, I’ll be guest lecturing in classes and meeting with student groups at both Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and Regis University in Denver. Then Friday evening, I’ll be a panelist at the screening of American Meat at Regis University.

I’m really excited about two farm visits I’ve lined up for this week. The first is a visit to White Mountain Farms, a BAMCO Farm to Fork vendor in Mosca, CO, which is the only successful large-scale quinoa operation in the United States. And on Saturday, I’ll be taking Colorado College and Regis students to tour Venetucci Farm, and then we’ll all go back to Colorado College for lunch so students from both schools can reflect and share their experiences.

This week looks like it’s going to be the perfect start to Piper’s Epic Spring Semester Road Trip!