Seeing the Town: Days 18 & 19

At this moment it is 05/09 (Day 20) and I am sitting in Salt Lake City with my laptop and cell phone plugged into the sun. It’s been a very busy last couple of days and I am a bit behind on the blogs. I need to get on the road today if I’m going to cross the Rocky Mountains and make it to Fort Collins, Colorado on time so I am going to keep these blogs short and leave out some details even though there is so much to write about.

05/07 (Day 18)

I woke up much earlier then usual, around 6:30, and was greeted by a gorgeous sunrise over the mountains to the east. Since I was camping in a public area I wanted to get out of there early. I spent the morning cleaning up and even though I had no shower nor can use a shower on this trip found myself extremely clean after just a bit of attention. I found a big rain puddle and used my microfiber towel and Dr. Bronner’s soap, and before I knew it was looking spiffy enough to go to Sunday church. I threw on some clean clothes, moisturized with coconut oil, and put some essential oils on and I swear you would have thought I was a civilized man.

Around 10:30 I went over to the Goal Zero and spent 3 hours hanging out with them. They have about 100 employees and I probably got to see about 70 of them from sales to social media to research and development to shipping. It was very cool to check out the many processes of their businesses and I learned a lot about solar power. Their staff is incredibly fun and I look forward to returning one day with more time. I will be posting a blog in the upcoming week about the happenings at Goal Zero.

Goal Zero and Greenfield Adventures with Rob Greenfield

Rob got to hang out with the Goal Zero crew while in Utah.
Photo by: Brent Martin

Then I was off to REI to give some attention to my bike and pick up a few small items that would make my daily life on the road a little simpler. On the way there I was chatting with Brent and suddenly realized I was on the bus interstate! I pedaled hard and got off at the next exit.

I got bike underwear with a padded butt area and a camelback so I don’t have to go an hour without drinking water if I’m in the groove and don’t feel like stopping. Again I was very impressed by REI’s acts of sustainability, particular with their lack of packaging on their line of gear. Most of it just has a simple tag. Near zero waste with packaging just makes so much sense to me. They fixed the spoke and got the bike working but did not have time for a full tune-up. By now it was already 5:00 and I still wasn’t even in Salt Lake City. I had close to 20 miles to ride to get to Riley’s house down town and the rain stopped me from knocking that all out in one piece. Huge rain clouds came from the eastern mountains and I had to duck inside a restaurant for an hour to let it pass over. It gave me time to catch up online and that is where I posted the last blog.

Next I went on a mission to find locally produced food with minimal success. First I went to Whole Foods where I found cheese, mushrooms, and honey. Then I stopped in at Sprouts and they didn’t have a single local item. I spent an hour in the two stores learning about products and when and what local items they do carry. In the summer time during the growing season it sounds like Whole Foods gets some local produce but overall very tiny percentage of what they sell comes from the state of Utah.

I’ve been in at least a dozen larger grocery stores so far on this trip and my findings have been that many of them carry no food from within the state and the ones that do have a handful of items. If you think about that you might realize that is a bit crazy. Food is one of the only things we need to survive yet for the most part we don’t create it in our communities or even near by. Instead we have it grown thousands of miles away and shipped here. We have the ability to produce and eat local food we have just decided that we want tens of thousands of choices of food that are in packaging that seems to be showing off a prize rather than food. I was not discouraged however and it was a great learning experience.

I finally made it to Riley’s near 10:00 PM after quite the long day. I had a lot to catch up on so I spent much of the night on the computer and stayed up quite late which wasn’t a great idea. Salt Lake City so far has been very beautiful. I have never been here before and never really researched the city or region. It’s very exciting to be in a new region of the USA with so much to learn and experience.

05/08 (Day 19)

The apartment is in the basement and gets almost no natural lighting so when I woke up at 8:30 it was almost pitch black. I went outside and found a beautiful day and when I came back in reached for the light switch remembering just instance short to not turn it on. That was a close one.

Day 19 I have yet to turn on a light switch, have plugged into one outlet, and have not used a drop of water from on the grid. The areas I have used electricity are automatic doors, cash registers, wifi, getting cash at the bank, and automatic lights. I avoid all of these when possible but have used all of them on a few occasions. If an auto light turns on I usually go unscrew it.

It was a beautiful morning and after consolidating my gear to send some back to San Diego and some on to Denver to make my trip over the Rockies a bit easier I was off to the Artesian Well in town to fill up on fresh cold ground water. An Artesian Well is a well that comes from deep under the ground and never stops running. No energy is needed to bring the water up to surface and it is pure and drinkable right out of the ground. It is a beautiful thing and my hometown of Ashland, Wisconsin has one as well.

I was then off to Liberty Heights Fresh where I was told I would be able to find local food, and wow, was it an amazing little market. They had dozens of local products even though it was not the growing season. Beef, lamb, pork, goat, milk, yogurt, eggs, honey, dozens of cheeses, honey, jams, and dried fruits all from the state of Utah, mostly within 100 miles. The other products they had were mostly from California and Colorado and the max range for most products was 500-1000 miles. No fruits and veggies shipped from the other side of the world here.

It was great to see this and I spent an hour there learning about the food produced in Utah. I purchased milk, 2 dozen eggs, goat yogurt, and 32 OZ of honey. All of them in packaging but the best part is all of it will be reused when I bring it back to them tomorrow. The milk jug is a refillable jug that you put a $2 deposit on. The yogurt cup gets used again at the farmers market by the vendor. The egg cartons will get returned to the vendor as well to use at the farmers market and the honey jar I will give to someone to store food in once I have eaten it all.

Zero waste shopping while still buying food in packaging, which is new to me. Janet the “fresh foods wrangler” showed me all around the store and it was such a great learning experience. In a few weeks they will start to have all sorts of local produce. Another great thing about Liberty Heights Fresh is they don’t let anything go to waste. Food that is going to go bad is given to people for free, given to local farmers to feed animals, or composted.

It was great casually biking around town with a much lighter then usual trailer and I cruised through some nice parks. Brent took the afternoon off from documenting and it was cool to be out on my own. I will say though I was hoping to not get on the bike at all on my “rest day.” I stopped at the bank and got cash out for the next leg of the trip, made a quick stop at home to eat some of my fresh food and then headed to Saturday Cycles to get my bike tuned up. They were very busy with the spring season but Mark Kennedy, the owner, managed to squeeze me in.

It was such a wonderful experience spending time at his cool shop. Mark was a very nice guy and he did everything for me for free to help with the cause. His kindness touched my heart. The most exciting part of my experience there is he is going to join 1% for the Planet! For the entire summer my company The Greenfield Group is giving 3 free months of marketing to any business that joins.

1% is a very simple concept. It means your business give 1% of revenue to environmental grass root organizations. There are 2,500 approved organizations in the network that you can donate to from bike advocacy and alternative energy to water conservation and music in the classroom. So if you own a small business and want to join please contact me and I’ll get you in touch with them. It’s a simple easy process and besides the fact that you are giving to great organizations it is an excellent branding and marketing move for nearly any business. A few big name members are Jack Johnson, Clif bar, and New Belgium Brewery and the organization is founded by the people at Patagonia.

I spent a few hours at my sponsors, The PowerPot that afternoon and it was an extremely educational experience. I learned how they use thermoelectric generators to charge USB powered devices like cell phones, lights, and steriPENS from fire and boiling water. It is an absolutely amazing concept. While I cook dinner I can plug my iPhone into the pot and it will charge it using energy that otherwise would have gone unused.

PowerPot and Greenfield Adventures with Rob Greenfield

Rob got to hang out with and meet the great people behind PowerPot while in Utah.
Photo by: Brent Martin

Besides it being an awesome product for camping, and emergency preparedness it is cherished by people in developing countries who they donate to. Many houses do not have a light or use kerosene lamps that are not eco friendly and can be dangerous. Instead of buying this gas people can create light at night with the excess energy given off while cooking their dinner. Or they can charge their phones rather than having to walk to an outlet where they have to pay to charge up. You’re already cooking anyway, might as well harness the excess energy. If you purchase a pot from them at PowerPot and use the promo code Greenfield10, 10% of the purchase will go to my Off the Grid 1% for the Planet fund.They hand make the pots right there in the shop and showed me the process from start to finish. The room was full of tech dudes that really knew what they were doing and had passion in their product.

After that I picked my bike up at Saturday Cycles and headed back to the house for a night of preparing to get back on the road and catching up with the last few weeks of photo and video as well as Facebook, email, and website updates. I was up until 2:00 working away and woke up at 8:30 this morning. It is a bright sunny day and I’ve got a few more hours of stuff to do before I hit the road. Today I’ve got a steep climb right from the start but am excited to get back into the beauty of nature.

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This adventure is now a book! Dude Making a Difference is the exciting and inspirational story of my bike ride across the USA on a bamboo bike. Go to www.RobGreenfield.tv/Dude to get a copy or learn more about it. 100% of my proceeds are donated to environmental grassroots nonprofits!