Our NissanLEAF Skips the Vacation Trip to Taliesin- SilverLeaf Chronicles 6

September 3, 2015 at 8:08 pm Leave a comment

Contributed by Dr. Sarah

The SilverLeaf was lonely this year when we went on vacation. Again.

Last year we drove to Ohio from Chicago in a rental. This year we drove to the home and studio of the original “organic” architect, Frank Lloyd Wright— Taliesin East— in Spring Green, Wisconsin. In a rental minivan.

Taliesin East - Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, Spring Green, WI

Taliesin East – Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio, Spring Green, WI

The all–electric NissanLEAF could have made it to our launch point for the visit, charming Mineral Point, Wisconsin. In theory.

Downtown Mineral Point, WI

Downtown Mineral Point, WI

After all, it’s only 168 miles from Chicago to historic arts community of Mineral Point. And NissanLEAFs have been known to take go as far as 120 miles on a charge. And some drivers have taken trips of over 1000 miles–– with stops to charge along the way, of course.

But… with two restless boys in the backseat, I didn’t want to hassle with stopping to charge. And we were four adults— including my mom who is less hardy these days— in addition to those two young men in the back. There’s no way to squeeze that many bodies in the hatchback LEAF. Hence, the rental of the minivan. This is what I call “eco reality.”

My mom had been longing to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin since she was in college. I was delighted to fulfill that dream for her. And thrilled to learn about not just Frank Lloyd Wright’s remarkable design vision, but his pioneering commitment to sustainable design and architecture.

Here we see his creative re-purposing of gas pipes that were no longer needed as pipes once Taliesin had converted to electricity.

Gas pipes repurposed as a trellace and painted in Wright's signature red

Gas pipes repurposed as a trellace and painted in Wright’s signature red

And about two decades before the region had gone electric, Wright brought electricity to his home and studio by creating hydropower from a small dam he created on his property.

How do I feel about the cost of renting a minivan for our vacation? Fine. The rental cost was about what I used to spend on gas in four months. I now have a modest monthly lease payment, no maintenance costs, and I pay about $15 a month for the electricity to run the 100% electric NissanLEAF.

What about the eco footprint of renting that minivan? For the entire trip we emitted about 235 pounds of CO2 (or “global warming pollution”). You can calculate your own car’s “carbon footprint” http://store.shrinkyourfoot.org/carbon-footprint-calculator#driving just as I did.  I can live with emitting a couple hundred pounds of CO2 in order to drive a car the rest of the year that saves over 8000 pounds of emissions a year. Just as I can live with The SilverLeaf being lonely while we go on vacation.

P.S. I loved Mineral Point, WI so much that I went back a couple of weeks later with my sweetie. We loved it so much that we’re going back in the fall for an art tour. And my extended family may gather again there next summer.

This is where my beau and I stayed:

The Miner's Cottage in Mineral Point, WI

The Miner’s Cottage in Mineral Point, WI

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