Stacy and Duke Rasmusen

Powered by used restaurant cooking oil, Stacy and Duke Rasmusen plan to travel America in a modified diesel truck pulling a camper trailer. Scott Hankins photo 

They’ve lived their whole lives in Napa, but now they’re shaking things up. For months to come, Stacy and Duke Rasmusen will be sleeping in a different place every night.

The Rasmusens sold or gave away all of their possessions, rented out their house and converted their pickup truck to run on whatever cooking oil restaurants will give them.

Burning cooking oil accomplishes two missions, the Rasmusens said. As a restaurant waste product, it can often be obtained at no cost, which will lower their travel expenses.

Just as importantly, their truck will be burning a recycled product that is low-polluting, Duke Rasmusen said. He and Stacy will travel as green ambassadors, their truck plastered with whimsical drawings that carry the message “Fueled by veggies.”

“We’re pretty much vegetarians, and we’re going to go out and change the world,” Stacy Rasmusen said. 

“We decided we were just tired of polluting and just giving in to all the gasoline prices,” said Duke Rasmusen, who has a pump and a 275-gallon tank for storing restaurant oil.

Duke and Stacy are 30 and 27 years old respectively. They have no kids, unless you count, as Stacy does, their French bulldog and Labradoodle. The four of them will be calling a tent trailer home.

“The camper will be like a mansion to me because I’m used to our 1981 Westphalia,” Stacy said, referring to the van they lived in for their first two months of marriage. 

“We really don’t know what the future holds,” said Duke Rasmusen, who had two businesses, Gold Rush Remodel and Golden State Gutters. “We have no road map at all.”

As they travel, they will give updates at StukeyNation.com

The Rasmusens were married last year. They depart with a little money from the sale of their belongings and his businesses, but mostly they plan to get by with a little creativity.

“We might work for barter or find day jobs,” Duke Rasmusen said. “When we’re in Iowa, we’ll just see if we can get some work farming. If you’re nice to people, you can just knock on their door and they will let you into their life.”

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Stacy Rasmusen has her own plans for their adventure. “I like to do stand-up comedy,” she said. “We’re excited to do a lot of hiking or kayaking and meet up with friends we have around the U.S.”

One of her reasons for wanting to leave Napa for a while is personal, she said. “My dad passed away in May, so it’s definitely time to get out of town,” she said. “It’s hard to be around the same stuff.”

The couple spent $1,500 to have the pickup converted to run on vegetable oil. Previously, they converted a car and drove it 2,000 miles, saving an estimated $600 in gas costs, Duke Rasmusen said. 

Duke Rasmusen said he expects to get some strange looks as they travel coast to coast. “I think it will be funny to be in Kentucky or somewhere and ask someone if we can have their oil,” he said. “I hope they look at us cockeyed.”

They plan to go to 48 states in three months, with a swing through Southern states when winter hits.

“We want to be in communities where it’s a lot more tight-knit,” Duke Rasmusen said. “And people don’t live their lives with blinders on. We like to hike and get weird as much as we can. 

“Open mind, open mind,” he said.

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