Disclaimer: These two are typical Aussie larrikins so expect a lot of Australian humour, and some offensive language.
Joel Gregory Hayes and Keegan Taccori are currently embarking on a two-year adventure aptly named Route Del Sol. This two-person team are the first to drive a solar powered, 100% electric camper van from Alaska to Argentina. Keegan with the help of Brett from custom solar electric vehicle company Solarrolla completed the build that will hopefully take the two to the bottom of South America by the summer of 2020.
Through Route Del Sol, the pair aims to raise awareness about the human connection with energy and our addiction to fossil fuels. Given the concerns around global warming, many people from different communities fear for the future of the planet. The planet is changing rapidly, and a lot of it has to do with us humans and out activities.
Where others see doom and gloom, 29-year-old Tweed Heads resident Hayes and 23-year-old Taccori from Woolongong, see positivity and communication as central to changing the course of the future. They hope that their actions create a movement for advocating education and alternatives for a global issue of anthropogenic climate change.
The pair of millennials hadn’t actually met until the day Hayes picked Taccori up from the airport in Alaska.
All was set in motion after Taccori saw an ad on GoodWork.ca (a Canadian job site that focuses on eco and environmental work) and the pair briefly connected via email and phone. Two weeks before the drive started, Taccori decided he was in and booked a flight to Fairbanks, Alaska, something he describes as “an extremely rare encounter and adventure”.
Their story is proof that when chasing your ‘why’ it can lead you to the most unusual places, and the most unusual of projects.
We chat with the pair to get the lowdown of their trip.
EWP: What’s involved in the two years? Is that timeframe including the build or just time on the road?
JH + KT: The build took two months in June, July and August of 2018. The two years is what we will take to traverse the entire way down to Argentina. What it’ll consist of is thousands of conversations, talks and presentations, events, photos, videos, carbon offsetting projects and a lot of surfing, climbing and hiking.
The entire trip is focused on highlighting our world’s movement towards renewable energy, and as journalists, we want to write the stories of the individuals and communities working towards this shift. We want to be able to connect the right people and industries to the communities and individuals that we meet who are asking us questions such as, “How do I get off the grid?” or “Where can I buy an affordable EV?”.
EWP: Mentally what was it like preparing to spend two years of your life on this venture?
KT: Mentally, it wasn’t even a shift. It took literally a 40-minute conversation for me to be like, yes, this is an opportunity I’m not going to miss. I honestly had been visualising a journey like this for years, although of course, I had absolutely no idea it would actualise into something like Route Del Sol. I’ve been living in a van for over 18 months now, and I live to travel longitudinally and throughout the entirety of my life. Route Del Sol is a way we can have a positive impact on the communities that we meet in our travels and dedicate our lives towards the fight for our planet’s future. For both of us, it was a no-brainer and a ridiculously fun idea.
JH: I’ve been working as an ecologist for almost a decade, and have been envisioning this journey for a few years on one too many night shifts at YVR airport. Mentally I’ve been preparing for this for years, I’m almost 30 now and wanted to do something bigger with my time before I hit that age.
EWP: In what ways are you controlling your environmental impact during the trip?
JH + KT: Of course, we’re using renewable energy to get us there. Solar power from the roof and charging from the grid when we know it’s a sustainable source of energy (for example, British Columbia’s hydro grid). This allows us to traverse through communities without having to rely on oil and gas industries for us to power the van. We’re also both vegetarians and almost vegan, and we’re trying to source as much as possible, locally sourced foods. We also try and reduce more and more the amount of plastic and rubbish we use, and the van’s interior has been made from mostly recycled and upcycled materials. We also live by the now standard practice of leave no trace!
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Pretty ridiculously stoked to announce that we've made it to the Arctic Circle!!! We had a fresh shave, did some shots of whiskey and had our first taste of a Fosters "Australian" beer.. Now we're pointing our bums directly North and heading South on our #routedelsol. Although there's a lot of mountains, endless beaches and people to meet before we get to our destination: Tierra Del Fuego in Argentina #alaska #arcticcircle #daltonhighway #northpole #wheressanta #vanlife #vandiaries #solarpower #offthegrid #sustainableliving
EWP: Tell us about Surface Area?
KT: “Surface Area” is the documentary Joel wants to produce throughout this journey. It’s going to be a legacy of this project, and highlight many of the things I mentioned earlier. We both see the power of media and art as having the greatest ability to generate a consciousness shift, and change ideologies about what is required to power our world. That’s one of the most important things that is required for our world to shift faster towards renewables – a change in consciousness!
EWP: Tell me about your process of funding and the importance of your Kickstarter campaign?
JH + KT: Funding for the build has almost entirely come from Joel, with time and expertise being donated from Solarrolla during that phase. At the moment, our entire on-road costs are coming from our personal savings, and that is being drained quite rapidly. Our Kickstarter campaign with its ‘all or nothing’ target of $10k by the 20th of December will release the burden of financial stress. That is the minimum amount of money required to sustain two young professionals who are dedicating their lives for the next two years as activists of the climate crisis. Of course, if we aren’t successful with this campaign, we will continue onwards. But it will be a lot harder and we’ll have to find work in the coming months to earn some savings before we continue South.
EWP: Highlight so far?
KT: We have been to Kluane National Park and the mountains that have surrounded that lake, as well as Liard River Hot Springs which is absolute paradise with its autumn colours. The incredible hospitality of Alaskan and Canadian people, and also their immense excitement and encouragement for what we’re doing has also been real touching too, and definitely needed during those times that we’re stuck in a snowstorm on the side of the Alaska Highway, with no food, no sun and no energy in our batteries.
Watching Joel jump into a freezing lake to surf on some wind swell was absolutely a highlight, as I was on the beach rugged up and behind my camera. Joel was getting real itchy after not being in the water for a few months, and as soon as he joked about putting his wetsuit on it was all over for him… he had to try and catch a wave.
JH: I guess one of the main things is we want people to join in on our journey, join our community of people that are backing our drive for change. We would also love any support or ideas that people may have or any connections that people can get us in contact with. There’s only six degrees of separation right? Who knows, someone who knows someone who knows Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio or Elon Musk? They’re people we would love to get involved with Route Del Sol, but there are many incredible environmental leaders and companies out there.
You can support Route Del Sol on Kickstarter now. Follow them on social media and watch their journey on Youtube. And if you know Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio or Elon Musk please share this article with them!
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All images and videos courtesy of Route Del Sol.