The next time you’re toolin’ down the of Interstate and you
come up behind (or are passed by!) some thing that looks
like a cross between Noah’s Ark, a redwood sauna, and a
vintage Winnebago, consider yourself privileged. ‘Cause
that contraption is Ed Walkinstik’s amazing solar camper and solar workshop. And it, like its owner and operator, is more than a little unusual … and just a little hung up on
the sun and what its energy can do for mankind.
Ed—who’s half Choctaw and grew up on a reservation in
Oklahoma—says that he first became aware of Ol’ Sol’s
power when, as a boy, “I burned my bare feet on a blacktop
road during the summer.”
Apparently that lesson stuck, even through growing up and
the 16 years that Walkinstik spent working with the
Department of Defense. Back in about ’72 or
’73, Ed paid $25 for the chassis of a 1946 Chevrolet
truck (which he had to dig out of a field), got permission
to tear some well-seasoned wood out of an old art studio,
rounded up a bunch of other recycled materials, and
set to work.
Two years later, with shower, toilet, refrigerator and kitchen, dining, and sleeping areas it in place, he was ready to put the Solar
Chariot (his official name for it) on the road. And just not so incidentally:
Walkinstik’s rolling home is also outfitted with a
solar-heated water supply, solar ovens, and a whole gob of
sun-powered parabolic troughs and photovoltaic cells and
other equipment that Ed can use to show people just how
easy it is to harness OI’ Sol’s energy in a number of ways.
And that, of course, is exactly what Walkinstik, his little
dog Hope, and the Amazing Solar Chariot now spend all
their time doing: Racking up 70,000 miles annually simply
going from place to place conducting solar workshops for
schools, colleges, environmental organizations, and other
groups (even individuals!).
Ed has also lobbied in Washington (“a waste of my time”)
and California (Jerry Brown is “Alice in Wonderland”),
but he finds his message is best received by the “salt of
the earth” folks—people like you and us—that he
So: If you or your organization would like to conduct a solar energy workshop or have your sun-powered hardware tested, if Ed is in your area he’ll be happy to oblige.