Take the Train to the Pogo Stick...

Going Green: Boaz Frankel took an airboat across Florida’s Lake Okeechobee.
Going Green: Boaz Frankel took an airboat across Florida’s Lake Okeechobee.

By Eleanor Goldberg

Published May 21, 2009, issue of May 29, 2009.
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Since April 19, 26-year-old filmmaker Boaz Frankel has been traveling across the United States, equipped with all the road-trip essentials — iPhone, camera, backpack and a list of contacts.

All the essentials, that is, except for one: a car.

Frankel is videotaping, Tweeting and blogging each moment of his “Un-Road Trip,” as a way to promote sustainable transportation. He plans to compile the footage of his alternative travels into a documentary film when he has completed the journey. But to Frankel, who is originally from Portland, Ore., “alternative” means exploring every possible non-gas-guzzling option — from pneumatic pogo sticks to camels to amphibious canoes.

The Shmooze caught up with Frankel recently by phone while he was resting on a dock in Labelle, Fla., admiring a lizard. As he does most days, Frankel had trudged through land and water using borrowed vehicles from those eager to contribute to the Un-Road Trip cause. The Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida, just outside Clewiston, lent him a horse for a 9-mile ride down the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, and Uncle Joe’s Fish Shack, in nearby Moore Haven, set him up on a flats boat, normally used for big-fish hunting, to get down the Caloosahatchee River.

But this wasn’t his most rigorous day. While in Los Angeles, Frankel walked 40 miles and biked about 30 over the course of 48 hours. “I’ve always been a walker,” Frankel said, “but it was walking to work and to the supermarket, perhaps a total of 8 miles in a day.”

Whether it’s running in Kangoo Jumps (low-impact, rebound sports shoes); riding a tandem bike with the mayor of Portland, or testing the Pi Mobility, an electric bike, on the Golden Gate Bridge, Frankel can’t anticipate what will transpire from Sunday through Friday on this 10-week trek. Come Friday evening, however, he always knows what to expect: Frankel has mapped out his course so that he’ll end up in Jewish communities like Fort Myers, Fla., where he can cease all traveling and observe the Sabbath. “It’s really nice to have one day a week where I get to unwind a little bit,” he said. For Shavuot, Frankel is headed to a Kehilat Hadar retreat in upstate New York. To get there, he’ll take a train to New York City’s Penn Station from Charlottesville, Va., and travel onward to the town of Wingdale. He’ll then embark on a 5-mile bike ride (assuming he’s able to find a bicycle to borrow).

So what does Frankel hope his followers will learn from the Un-Road Trip? “So many people pop into a car to drive a mile, or 10, because they think, ‘What else can I really do?’ he said. “At this point, I can give you a list of 40 things.”

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