- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Everyone is going green, and the RV business isn’t far behind. In fact, this summer the first concept hybrid recreational vehicle is on a national tour, of sorts, as travel book author and RV spokesman Brad Herzog and his family are trying out the green, 350-square-foot motorhome during their annual two-month cross-country summer trek.

“It’s incredibly comfortable, while leaving a smaller carbon footprint,” said Mr. Herzog on the phone from a beachside campground in Sugarloaf Key, Fla.

A comparable nonhybrid RV, which has a base price of about $135,000, gets about 8 to 10 miles a gallon. The goal for the hybrid RV is to get up to 13 miles a gallon, said Winnebago Industries spokeswoman Kelli Harris.

“We’d like to see a 14 to 16 percent improvement,” Ms. Harris said. “But this is a concept vehicle and we don’t have a lot of testing on fuel efficiency yet.”

The RV is powered by two independent sources: a diesel engine and an electric motor, whose battery is recharged by the brakes.

Quips Mr. Herzog: “For a home, it gets great gas mileage.”

But jokes aside, Mr. Herzog, who recently wrote a children’s book titled “S Is for Save the Planet: A How-to-Be-Green Alphabet,” said the hybrid RV fits into his overall goal of teaching children, including his own sons — Luke, 8, and Jesse, 7 — about reducing, reusing and recycling.

“We can all do our part to make the planet greener,” he said.

The road trip, which started in Chicago on June 16 and will end there on Aug. 4, is not only about being green. It’s also about seeing America’s treasures — some more obvious than others.

“That’s one of the great things about traveling like this. You find a lot of unexpected treasures,” he said.

Such as when they found a playground in St. Louis made up of old bus and airplane parts or when they spent the Fourth of July in Pearl, Miss., a place full of small-town charm, flag-waving and scrumptious fried catfish.

“We went to a minor league baseball game and then watched the fireworks,” Mr. Herzog recalled. “That’s about as American as it gets.”

Other places they’ve visited along the way include Springfield, Ill.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Memphis, Tenn. Next, they head to the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Fla., and the belles of Southern towns, Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C.

“I feel like I have the luckiest kids in the world,” Mr. Herzog said. “They get all this education disguised as entertainment.”

Later in the month they will be in the District, where they’re facing a time-limitation dilemma. Should they tour Mount Vernon or the White House?

“We might have to trade in Washington’s home for Obama’s home,” said Mr. Herzog.

Even though this is his 10th two-month RV trip and he and wife, Amy, have logged nearly 100,000 RV miles and visited all lower 48 states (the boys have been to 45 of them, only missing Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine), they have no plans of putting an end to the RV trips.

“This is a great, diverse country and you never run out of things to see,” he said.

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