Archive for March, 2011


Getting connected…to get away

A rainbow at Saguary National Park

A chance rainbow when we were driving through Saguaro National Park in November, 2009. I hope to see lots of desert flora on my upcoming bike trip. Photo: Alex Wilson

As I prepare to leave for a one- to two-month bicycle trip next week, I am struck by the irony of how much effort I’ve had to put in of late to stay connected while I’m away. Yesterday, it was two hours at a cell phone store as I finally relented to the “smart phone” revolution. I’m trading in my low-tech Motorola for an iPhone 4! I’ll be able to keep in touch via Skype, iChat, video chat, texting, e-mail, and maybe even phone from my bike. I have a Bluetooth ear thingy that I might even be able to wear under by bicycle helmet!

And I’ve been struggling with what to do on the laptop computer front. I was all excited about the new iPad2 and put my name in to get the first from our local Apple dealer, but as stocks ran out Apple seems to have stiffed the independent dealers for their own (higher profit margin) retail stores—and I guess I can’t blame the company for that.

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An Approaching Journey

Arrived in Boston at the Seaport World Trade Center for NESEA’s Building Energy Conference. This is significant on several levels. First, it was about 30 years ago that I began as NESEA’s executive director (then it was called the New England Solar Energy Association; now it’s the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association). Second, this is my last event commitment before I begin my sabbatical–something I’ve been planning since last summer.

The sabbatical will be something totally new for me. I’ve been at it for over 30 years, working long days, lots of weekends. Twenty-five of those years have been at my own company, BuildingGreen, Inc. What will it be like to have unfocused time and few deadlines? How will I adjust to eight months of this. Will I be bored? Will I waste time and feel frustrated?

I’m beginning the sabbatical with something totally different: an extended bicycle trip. I fly with bike to San Diego in just over two weeks and will head out eastward, panniers loaded with sleeping bag, solo tent, minimal gear, iPad, and credit card (plus a few other items). I’ll wend my way through the desert Southwest, generally following the Southern Tier route published by Adventure Cycling–though I might veer off now and then to explore desert wildflowers, towns with better food, innovative green developments–who knows what. I’m giving myself up to two months; I have to be at a meeting the week of May 24th. It’s possible that I’ll make it all the way to the Atlantic in Florida (3,100 miles), but more likely, I think, that I’ll not push as hard and spend more time exploring the Southwest–ultimately boarding an Amtrak train somewhere.

But, adventure it surely will be!