michellestcyr's Profile

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Our Renewable Energy and Travel Blog

From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Last Signed In: Over a year ago.

Footstops member since: Jul 31st, 2007

Homepage: http://www.footstops.com/michellestcyr/

About Me

Rob and Michelle are mechanical engineers who have been living and working in Calgary Alberta for the past 4 years. Three years ago we decided that we really wanted to do some extended traveling and we have been rigorously saving since.

Rob is a consulting engineer and works most of the time for a small oil and gas consulting company doing Project Management. However, he is very passionate and interested in renewable energy and started RAVIS Sustainable Consulting soon after moving to Calgary. Rob has worked on several renewable projects including a large scale solar-biomass district heating proposal for the town of Vulcan Alberta.

Michelle works for Imperial Oil as a Facilities Engineer. She provides mechanical and process support for oil and gas operations (gas plants, batteries, pipelines, etc) across Alberta and British Columbia.

We met at the University of Alberta in Edmonton while completing our degrees and were married in July 2005. Shortly afterwards we started researching our travel options and destinations. We decided to purchase a Westfalia diesel VW camper van and would use this camper for our travels. The diesel Westfalia is quite rare in North America and therefore we ended up finding one in Ontario and purchased it in February 2006. We set our departure date for the summer of 2007 and decided to travel south from our home town Calgary, down the west coast of the United States, into Mexico, and through Central America.

We consider ourselves to be environmentally conscientious and although keen on travelling, we were not so keen on burning excessive fossil fuels. Therefore, as somewhat of an experiment, Rob decided to convert our van to run on waste vegetable oil. Introduced to the concept through Crude Country Biofuels (a small Calgary based company) Rob became very keen on converting our Westy to do the same. In September 2006 we headed on a two week holiday to British Columbia and drove over 1000 kilometers using waste vegetable oil. The most interesting part of the trip was the look on the restaurant owners faces when we would approach them and request their spent vegetable oil! Everyone we spoke to was happy to give us fuel (often they pay to have it removed) and very curious about our van and the concept. Also, in comparaision to regular diesel fuel, waste oil is free! This drastically reduces our cost of travel.

Through researching vegetable oil conversion on the internet we became acquainted with the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark. The Folkecenter carries out research on many types of renewable energies and had done some very extensive research on burning vegetable oil in diesel engines. Discussions with them led to an offer to participate in their study/research program in Denmark. Although accepting the positions would mean less time to travel through Central America we decided that we couldn't pass up the opportunity and agreed to head to Denmark in August 2007 for four months.

We'll have our weekends to explore Denmark and nearby parts of Europe and plan to take some time in October to visit friends in Germany and take part in Oktoberfest. We also plan to take the month of December to do some travelling through other parts of Europe.

In February 2008 we'll return to Canada, pack up our Westy and start heading south. We haven't finalized our exact route, but we hope to visit a number of interesting renewable energy installations, sustainable communities, alternatives buildings, eco-sites and eco-villages throughout Mexico, the US and Canada.

Therefore, they'll be two parts to our blog page: (i) Our experience in Denmark and (ii) Travels in our vegetable oil burning Westy.

Feel free to browse our blog, add a comment or send us an email (michellestcyr@gmail.com). We hope you enjoy our Tales of Travel.