We spent a long Easter Weekend traveling to our off-grid mountain retreat and visiting our kids in Montreal. Two or more people in a hybrid Prius is still close to being the most carbon efficient means to travel – at least until we get 100% renewable energy charging stations for EVs. A 50 mpg hybrid gets 100 passenger miles per gallon with two people in it, or about .2 pounds CO2 per passenger miles. This is much better than Amtrak (.37 lbs CO2/pm) and comparable to an intercity bus. So the 800 mile round trip only worked out to about 160 pounds CO2 per person for the travel.
We were already planning to drive to our cabin for the weekend, and when we figured out that both our son and daughter would be in Montreal (she is studying physics at McGill, he was visiting from Pennsylvania), we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a family reunion – the first time the four of us were going to be in the same place since November.
The drive from North River to Montreal passes right by the Adirondack high peaks. It has been years since Robin and I have skied the spectacular Avalanche Pass trail together. You never know when you might be missing your last chance. Robin’s ankle has been bothering her, but we had Nara the ski-joring Samoyed with us to help her with the ascent and the 12 mile round trip. Though the conditions were a little sketchy – hard packed boot-holed snow in the shade, slow slush in the sun – the climb was worth it, as always, and the ski back down and out went fast.
In Montreal, we took a walk through the old city. The Old World architecture transported me halfway to France, but the North American road hog automobiled kept my spirit from getting the rest of the way there – the Montreal streets just feel too American that way.
A little over ten years ago the four of us sailed our little boat to the Continent, and spent the winter holiday in Val d’Isere, where we discovered traditional raclette cheese cuisine – melted cheese on thinly sliced meats, potatoes, and vegetables. So naturally, we all went to the Restaurant La Raclette for dinner to reminisce. Though they did not roll out an entire wheel of raclette cheese for the table like they did in the French Alps, there was still a lot of cheese for each person! Since cheese has a pretty high carbon footprint (about 13.5 lbs CO2 per lb of cheese, one half that of beef), the meal was a not insignificant part of the carbon footprint for the trip.
Sunday we took a walk to the top of Mont Royal, then drive back to our cabin in time to make a not-very-traditional open fire Easter Egg paella for our North River friends.
After another Spring backcountry ski adventure on Monday, we drove home early Tuesday morning. We spent a total of 13 hours of the weekend driving – more than I like, but a Quebec murder mystery by Louise Penney made the hours spin by. If you add the two hours of airport travel and connections, we did not spend that much more time traveling by car than our son did traveling by plane to get to Montreal for the weekend!
When we got home, I added up my carbon footprint for March – 356 pounds CO2E for the month, mostly for natural gas (114 lbs) and gas for our drives up north. This brings my total for the first three months of the year to 1240 lbs – well on track for my four ton budget with plenty to spare. Especially since the winter months are the biggest gas CO2 bill!