Great travel books often arise out of journeys that are a little bit odd. Driving an old car right across the United States is not especially odd, but when it’s powered by the leftover fat and grease from fast food restaurants, then it’s certainly a bit unusual. And that’s the premise behind journalist Greg Melville’s new book, Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry Oil Powered Car, and a Cross Country Search for a Greener Future.
Along with his friend Iggy, Greg Melville decides to take his converted 1985 Merecedes station wagon from coast to coast on a trip to prove that you can drive all that way without visiting a gas station. Pretty soon it also turns into a bit of an environmental odyssey with visits to wind farms, a Wal-Mart which has turned a bit environmentally friendly, and even a trip to Al Gore’s mansion which Melville derides as being green but obnoxiously large and therefore, not that green.
Melville’s style is chatty and amusing, and it’s a trip every reader wants them to succeed on. As you’d expect there are a few hairy moments with unreliable mechanics in this thirty-plus year old car, and the difficulties of finding the right kind of used oil to pump into their tank. But – not to spoil the ending – they make it, and the resulting book is funny as well as educational, which I think is a good combination when it comes to green travel.
photo credit: Computer Science Geek