Solar Pit Stops? Road Tripping (Part 3…ish)

by Nancy Hassel,

Imagine it is a beautiful summer day, and you’re off on a fun road trip with your dog, or perhaps you’re heading to an agility competition, dog show, dock diving event – and you have to stop at an upcoming rest stop.  You pull in, while the sun is blazing down and reflecting off the blacktop making it even hotter and there is no shade anywhere in sight.  

You park by a small tree on the side of the lot – hoping that the tiny bit of shade will cover your car.   After you take your pup out of the car and walk him to let him do his business, you put him back in the car, turn the car back on, set the AC on high, make sure your RV PetSafety or PuppTech apps are set to alert if the temperature changes.  You then lock the car and basically high tail it inside all while hoping someone doesn’t think you left your dog in a hot car.  You desperately want that coffee but the line is super long and you are just worried about your dog in the car.  

So you skip the coffee, and quickly walk back to your car – while your dog is curled up sleeping in the AC on the driver’s side of the car – and you hop back in your car and get on your way with no caffeine.  Yawn.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you pulled into a shaded parking lot that also was helping with energy and the environment?  (And a pet concierge?  We’ll get to that.)

While I traveled last month with my dog Cody on a road trip, as we were driving on I believe i95 or one of the interstates in Massachusetts and Maine, there were areas on the side of the road where there was a small army of solar panels soaking up the sun.  Great idea right?   Maybe.  

At a few places in Suffolk County office buildings in NY, they have solar panel covered parking lots or solar carports if you will.  Genius.  So where you park it is shaded, and on top the solar panels are turning that sun into usable renewable energy.  

Like these from Blue Oak Energy:

Photo Credit: Blue Oak Energy
Photo Credit: Blue Oak Energy

So why don’t all rest stops across the country follow suit?  Even airports, malls, anywhere there is a big parking lot.  Why plop solar panels on farmland instead, keep the farmland (protect it for future generations), and put these in parking lots across the county.  I bet with that many solar panels it would supply the electricity needed at each rest stop and a lot more!  It could help with the costs of road improvements and stop the constant increase in tolls if the electricity generated could be sold.  (I know that last part about the tolls is probably a pipe dream – but maybe someone could use that idea!)

Of course, we would not want people to use the covered areas of rest stop areas as an excuse to leave their dog in a car without the AC running – that’s where the Pet Concierge comes in.  

Perhaps people that love pets and want a way to be in the pet industry but not nessecarily have their own business could become Pet Concierges at rest stop areas.  An area where they can keep an eye on the car or RV with a dog or pet inside – while the parents have to run in to use the restroom, grab a bite to eat, get that much-needed coffee.  This in addition to the apps mentioned above would make for a much easier travel pit stop for anyone with a pet.  The Pet Concierge person should be trained in pet first aid and CPR, could sell pet products that a pet parent may not have thought of (like a mini pet retail store), contact the owner inside via text if the pet seems stressed in the car and so on.   I am sure a simple app could be developed for this that as people are pulling into rest stops they can alert a need for a pet conceirge.  

We cater so much to our pets these days on the road, hotels, inns, B&B’s, pet-friendly restaurants, pet events, but when it comes to the rest stop areas – it might as well be 1985.  

Nothing has changed – why not make these necessary pit stops better for everyone?    And safer for our pets, better for the environment.  Cooler when you park – kids and seniors alike who often have to walk across a blazing hot parking lot to get inside, and pets often have to walk on the super-hot blacktop to get to the pet relief area.  

I would love to know what you think about this, and if you know anyone that works at any DOT (Department of Transportation), Highways, Solar Panel Companies, Rest Stop owners – tell them about this.  How can we get these solar panel covered lots popped up at every rest stop area and all large parking lots?

Next summer, I would love to see these changes on our a pet-friendly road trip.  I am sure these projects are expensive – but I think they would benefit us in so many ways in the long run. 

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