Brian Brawdy has spent the past few months touring the country in a biodiesel-powered recreational vehicle that draws its electricity from six solar panels and a wind turbine, and he's been drinking rainwater captured as he travels.
Brawdy's Ford Super Duty pickup is connected to a sleeper-camper that includes a fridge, shower and microwave. The camper is outfitted with six solar panels and a wind turbine that allow Brawdy to generate and store electricity for various functions.
Brawdy, 47, grew up near Syracuse, N.Y., where he was a police officer for nine years. After that, he lived in various parts of the country until he moved to Tampa, Fla., last year. Nearly six months ago, after a bout with skin cancer, he embarked on a yearlong tour that will take him to 49 states to teach people the value of time spent exploring the outdoors.
"The more time we spend connected to nature, the happier and healthier and the smarter we are," he said.
He made a stop in Salt Lake City on Friday to coincide with the Outdoor Retailers Summer Market this weekend at the Salt Palace Convention Center and EnergySolutions Arena.
Brawdy's home on the road captures rainwater from the roof and stores it in tanks. The water is then filtered so that he can use it to drink and bathe.
He said that like the idea for his tour itself, the thought of harnessing the sun's energy came about when he was diagnosed with skin cancer in November. After receiving treatment, he started studying what happens to the energy from the sun.
"I wanted to try to turn something good out of getting the skin cancer from overexposure to the sun," he said.
As Brawdy tours around the country, he talks to people about energy conservation.
"The impacts on the environment that we make as individuals don't have to be monumental, but they will be momentous," he said. "The little things that you do to conserve energy, the little things you to do protect the environment, they build, and one day you look back and say, 'Wow, we all pulled this off together."'
Besides sun power, he uses a retractable wind turbine that helps generate energy used to power his camper. The turbine is attached to a pole that telescopes out 25 feet in order to reach the wind that turns the blades, charging four batteries in the camper."I call it off the road and off the grid," Brawdy said.