Three Ways to Green Your Family Road Trip

There are a lot of reasons to do less damage to the environment. There are also a lot of ways to do it. Here are three ways to use less gas and support local economies at the same time. After all, the money you put into your tank doesn't really trickle down to the locals does it?

1. Drive fewer miles, spend more time in local places
Often some of the coolest things are right around the corner. The Statue of Liberty and Cape Cod National Seashore are within a day's drive of FamilyRoadtrippers HQ . Even closer to home are Mystic Seaport, Norman Rockwell's museum, and Mark Twain's house. Other people travel half way around the world to visit your corner of the globe, why not get acquainted with it yourself?
Tip: this can help the kids better understand their geographic region, and do better in school.

2. Skip the sushi, eat local favorites.
Maine Lobster, New Orleans gumbo, Cuban sandwiches in Miami, and a Philly Cheese Steak. What could be better? Omaha beef? (Yup). Not a whole lot more to say here. The Barbecue is best anywhere between North Carolina and Texas. New York City has Chinese/Cuban restaurants. New Mexico? Green Chilies! Seattle? Beer and coffee.

3. Be a Hipermiler!
These people are amazing. They get better gas mileage that you and I get from the exact same car. How do they do it? Six steps and a little patience.

How do you green your road trips?

Summer fun in Eugene: SLUG Queen Festival

While the garden slug may not be revered in the garden, they are
beloved out of that context in the lush garden city of Eugene, Oregon.
By Constance Van Flandern

No matter how you feel about slugs there's no denying that they leave a trail of sparkling glitz behind. This year's sparkling trail begins in the Ken Kesey Plaza on August 15 with the annual coronation of Eugene's most beloved counterculture icon—The Slug Queen -- happening sometime soon thereafter (stay tuned). You'll know you are in the right place when you hear the accordion music of Accordions Anonymous and see the feathers and finery of the Queens, contestants and crowd. The music and dancing continue in a carnival like atmosphere long after the new queen is crowned. The Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod (SLUG) Queen Festival runs through Aug 22.

Mosey over to Adam's Grill and see if they'll whip you up some of their Slug Sliders. Yum. Follow the slug trail through town and stop at someof the finest eateries and watering holes in Oregon--each offering up a tasty slug-themed treat -- think gorgeous Kekau Chocolate Slugs, yummyflower and slug decorated Organic cupcakes from Divine Cupcake or Sweet Life, a Royal Banana Slug Queen Ice Cream Sundae with caramel "slime" at Barack Obama's Eugene hang out Prince Puckler's Ice Cream, or a cool "Slugtini" at Davis Bar and Grill).

And be sure to stop by the New Zone Gallery on West Broadway for the Slug Salon--an artist's exhibition of everything Slug Queen. The opening reception will be very family friendly with activities for kids of all ages.

[editor's note: let me repeat that, "very family friendly with plenty of activities for kids of all ages."]

See the full list of trail treats on

Where to stay?
Her Highness is very particular, of course. But what self respecting slug wouldn't adore a quaint bed and breakfast actually called "The Secret Garden"? It's delicious! Another Royal hotspot, "The Excelsior Inn" will treat you like royalty.

If you miss the Slug Queen festival, come for The Eugene Celebration Hit the heart of Eugene's largest annual festival September 12-14. Saturday the 13th will kick off the first full day of music, food and art with a large funky
parade through the center of town. Be sure to get there early as the streets are crowded and the Slug
Queen Float opens the parade!

--Constance Van Flandern is a mom in Eugene, Oregon. Photos by Roger Rix.

Find This Place: Mississippi!

The ongoing Family Road Trippers geographical scavenger hunt!

Find this ruin somewhere in Mississippi. A little off the beaten path, but near the Mississippi River.

As always, if you can identify this place, we'll send you a free barf bag!

An Eye-Opening Drive through Mississippi

How can a state with the richest farm land in the world, in the richest country in the world, be so economically depressed?

I had driven through every state in the US except Hawaii, Mississippi, and Alabama. I drove a little bit of the gulf coast of Mississippi last fall, but that was it. Never really explored the state. We did it last week at the end of a roadtrip from Nashville to New Orleans and back. To avoid some nasty weather, we drove west and then north, and then east rather than driving northeast into the storm.

The eye-opening part was realizing exactly how depressed and downtrodden parts of our country are. After visiting the Windsor Ruins, we continued on into Port Gibson. This is where the eye-opening began. Port Gibson is a living ghost town. The buildings downtown are mostly deserted and decaying. Being overgrown by vines and shrubs and crumbling to the ground. This was once a proud little town, I suspect before the Civil War, but now, it’s being left behind. We bought gas at the local station and were approached (politely) for spare change in the parking lot. From here, it kept up. As we drove through rural Mississippi towns, we saw schools abandoned and overgrown. While the farm land we drove through is some of the richest in the world, downtown areas were derelict and deserted except for a tire store here and there. It was this way up to Memphis, where it continued right on up to Graceland.

It’s easy to think you know what poverty is, but even the hardest-hit towns in our state, Connecticut, are lightyears ahead of these towns in Mississippi. How did it get to be that way? In New England, when you outgrow a school, you don’t abandon it, you convert it into offices or housing, or you tear it down. Buildings don’t rot to the ground, at least not on the scale we saw in between Vicksburg, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee.

Quite a surprising drive.