Driving home an eco-friendly messageFRONTENAC - John Byfield and Kate Heber are on tour.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
FRONTENAC - John Byfield and Kate Heber are on tour.
The recently retired Oregon couple is embarking on a "working vacation," a cross-country endeavor that involves site seeing, and visiting family like they're doing today in Frontenac.
But the focus of what they've affectionately dubbed the Flying Cloud Eco-Discovery Tour is their special brand of environmental advocacy.
As proponents of eco-friendly living, they don't just advocate when they come to town. They show exactly how they're living it.
"That's our baby," Byfield says, pointing to the pair's silver 1962 Flying Cloud camper. He adds, "It's 2010 on the inside."
What he means is the couple's camper has been gutted and refurbished to support a highly energy-efficient lifestyle.
Its computer, stereo, LED lights, refrigerator and more are all fueled by two 100-watt solar panels on the camper's roof. The cupboards, countertops, floorboards and even the bed are all made from recycled, reclaimed or sustainably grown materials, Byfield said. Even the Cloud's John is green. It holds a composting toilet that mixes waste with peat moss, which produces compost.
The camper will be on display from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Third and Plum Streets in the parking lot across from Liberty's Restaurant.
They wish not only to show people how they live, the couple says, but also to learn what others are doing to be kinder to the environment.
The pair acknowledges their lifestyle may seem extreme to some. For instance they use only five or six gallons of water a day - still functioning, showering, washing dishes and drinking water - Byfield said, while most homes use hundreds of gallons in a day.
The couple doesn't expect others to adopt their lifestyle wholesale, he said, but they encourage others to make small changes.
"If people could take some of those practices into their everyday life it could make a big difference," Byfield said.
The couple has been traveling for two months. They set out after selling their furniture company and their house.
So far they've made their way east across the northwestern states. They plan is to keep heading east before going south and then back west. And while that's their general plan, the couple keeps its schedule pretty loose so as not to miss out on unexpected opportunities.
This week the couple is spending time with Heber's sister in Frontenac. Heber, a Red Wing native, said she and Byfield refer to the camper as Doris May, her mother's maiden name.
Byfield is documenting the couple's experiences on a blog available at email@example.com