When Brian Brawdy goes camping in his recreational vehicle, he doesn’t have to search for an electrical outlet.
He hauls his own power with him.
Brawdy, a self-described adventurer and explorer, travels the United States in a “green” truck camper – a unit that he developed as a showcase for what humans can do to protect the outdoors, according to the Kansas City Star.
Looking for a way to harness the energy that nature provides, he went to work to fabricate an environmentally friendly RV.
Much sweat, many hours and many dollars later, he came up with a futuristic vehicle that features solar panels, a wind turbine, rain gutters and a water-filtration system, and biodiesel fuel.
The energy that he stores in four 100-amp batteries is enough to power an air conditioner, microwave, refrigerator and television – without hurting the environment.
“This is my mobile base camp,” he said while leaning on his green RV at the recent Outdoor Writers Association of America national conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. “With this, I can camp anywhere.
“To me, it’s a vision of the future. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an astronaut and build my own spaceship.
“This is my spaceship.”
Brawdy started by purchasing a Ford F-350 topped with a Lance camper. Then he went to work to turn them “green.”
His adventure began in 2007, when he was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer. Doctors were able to remove tumors on his lip, but he was unable to speak for a month.
As he recovered, Brawdy did some soul-searching.
“It was a very humbling experience,” he said. “I got to thinking: I am 48 and my gig is half over.
“This was a wake-up call. It was time to go for the things I really wanted to do.
“I had loved the outdoors, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to take adventure to a new level.”
Brawdy, a former police officer in upstate New York and television reporter in Chicago, found that niche in his RV.
He went on an extended road trip, living fulltime in his RV and traveling the country. He hit every one of the lower 48 states, covering more than 60,000 miles.
During his “Conservation Through Exploration” tour, he endured everything from 140-degree heat in Death Valley to camping next to alligators in the Florida Everglades.
“I slept 320 nights in my camper last year,” he said. “This is my home, my new address.
“It’s my mobile base camp. I have gone mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking, backpacking and mountain biking in places I never thought I would be camping.”
Brawdy had developed a passion for the outdoors more than 20 years ago after his dad committed suicide. That experience was hard on Brawdy, but he found peace in the outdoors, off by himself.
Many years later, he drew on that passion when he developed his green RV. He admits that coming up with such a unit wasn’t cheap: He estimates that he put $140,000 into it.
Still, he considers the RV a bargain. He points out that he saves on the cost of campground fees. And he has no utility bills in this home.
“I think there could be a future in this,” he said. “Companies like Lance have shown an interest in manufacturing a green RV.
“For me, this was a way of proving that we can enjoy the outdoors without depending on an outside source. I am concerned about the environment and what we’re doing to it.
“I wanted to do more than just recycle old newspapers. I wanted to do something different.
“We have the sun, the wind, the rain. Why not put it to good use?”