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July 29, 2008

First leg: Smoky

Posted: 09:49 AM ET

It took much longer than we expected to drive our 30-year-old International Harvester Scout from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park. Because we spent a lot of time looking for a spare tire before we hit the road, we didn't get under way until 3:30 p.m. local time.


The park was shrouded in smoke from a nearby wildfire.

The vehicle, which you may recall we purchased sight unseen online, is getting roughly 22 miles per gallon. Sadly, our attempts to find a biodiesel fueling station located in Big Oak Flat, California, fell short. The station we were looking for was closed. As a result we had to put five gallons of regular fuel in the tank, in hopes that we'll find a biofuel station elsewhere.

It was 8 p.m. and the sun was setting when we finally arrived at Yosemite… the park shrouded in a bit of smoke from a nearby wildfire outside the park that has blackened about 29,000 acres and destroyed 25 homes and 27 other buildings.

Today, Kari Cobb of the National Park Service told us that, surprisingly, attendance at Yosemite is remaining the same this year, despite the slow economy and high gas prices because of an influx of more foreign visitors.

More to come...


Filed under: environment • Road trip

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Franko   July 29th, 2008 11:12 am ET

Forgot the hydraulic press. Peanut butter, avocado, algae just bulging with oil.
Various comparisons, walnuts per mile, roasted or not.

Larryp   July 29th, 2008 1:40 pm ET

Is this the same 'Scout' in your July 26 post? If so, please dear god, don't tell me you put gas in it because you couldn't find biodiesel. Does the engine still run? Diesel engines need the lubrication provided by diesel fuel and gas has absolutely no lubrication value. I am 100% astonished that the entire engine didn't self detonate on gas. I wouldn't push you luck any more.

James in Corona Calif   July 29th, 2008 1:41 pm ET

Well it's great that your making this trip...but it seems like you should of done a little more in preparation...and why did you pick a 30 yr old vehicle that will more than likely break down on the trip? VW has the new 50 State legal 2009 Jetta TDI's out now, 1 per dealership for demo could of borrowed one from a dealership in Northern California (they would of got some free publicity), and you would of been getting 55-60mpg...not 22.
Biodiesel is not a mixture of anything with vegetable oil...
Biodiesel is made from from converting vegetable oil using a methanol/lye mixture as a catalyst.
It's clean, domestic, and renewable.
We have put 40,000 miles over the past two years on two different VW TDI's using B99 BioDiesel...never had a problem. We love it!
BTW, the place your going to in Bakersfield does exist...we were there about a month ago πŸ™‚
Good luck on your trip Cody...hope that vehicle you picked out makes it all the way too πŸ™‚

Larryp   July 29th, 2008 1:48 pm ET

On a side note – I would seriously unconsider the notion of using biodiesel in a vehicle that old. The fuel lines and 'plumbin' is fragile enough as it is, and one thing biodiesel is will known for is it's ability to disolve stuff in a fuel tank, and in your case, disolve old rubber fuel lines, fuel pump diaphrams, etc. If you are firm on your commitment to using biodiesel, I would highly suggest you go to a diesel mechanic and have the fuel system thououghly checked out and and thing even slightly questionable, replaced. I have a 2006 truck with a diesel engine, and even the newer only have a recommendation of 10% biodiesel max due to the characteristics of biodiesel. Best of luck in your travels.

Ubik   July 29th, 2008 2:45 pm ET

That's the kicker for most of these alternate fuel vehicles: finding a placing to fill your tank. If your vehicle is for commuting only then it's no problem. Cross country? Might not even work.

I'm driving from Albuquerque to Tulsa in a few weeks. Just for grins I did a little thought experiment: what it I took the trip with an Ethanol based vehicle? I could gas up easily enough in ABQ but the closest place en route was OKC! 600 miles away! I would need a 25 to 30 gallon tank for the trip!

However with more and more cities using alternate fuels for city vehicles (including buses), I think we'll be seeing a lot more alternate fueling stations. I just hope they will open them up for more than just government vehicles (there's an Ethanol station in Amarillo, for example, but it's for government vehicles only).

James in Corona Calif   July 29th, 2008 3:26 pm ET

We flew to Ohio to purchase my 2005 VW Passat TDI last year...drove it home 2300+ miles on B5, B20, B99 BioDiesel the entire way...didn't have a problem finding BioDiesel...just took a little advance planning...
We had a blast on the trip...very fun πŸ™‚

stan   July 29th, 2008 4:05 pm ET

I say get that gas hog off the road and go back home

S Callahan   July 29th, 2008 5:30 pm ET

Just saw the vd...I'm so jealous....

Melissa Long presents Bio Fuel Roadtrip:
weak dollar helping park traffic, more foreign visitors

Power is out but everything, or most everything, is running on generators

Air quality poor do to local fires in Yosimite..stay away if you have respitory problems!

Could find a bio fuel station...idea....those that have stations could post on the blog where they are located to help Cody out.

Need vote for stop along the way...Go for Roswell, N.M.....maybe confirm Edgar Mitchell's story....maybe even have lunch with him πŸ™‚
Don't forget to keep the camera on at never knows what one may see πŸ™‚

You did a good job watch.

Franko   July 29th, 2008 6:41 pm ET

At the local grocery store, large jugs of canola oil.
Olive oil, extra virgin, in an emergency ?

Oil from pine nuts, maple syrum clog up a diesel ?
Next trip, go real organic, campfire wood, steam boiler, eco-steamer !

josh short   July 29th, 2008 7:47 pm ET

biodiesel is cool and all but i've been back and forth across the country twice now using only vegetable oil in a converted 2005 sprinter and have run into more than a handful of folks doing the same thing. is ther something particularly newsworthy about what you're up to that i'm missing? good luck finding biodiesel in kentucky and west virginia. sorry to be a bit negative, but this sems like it might have been news in 1990,

Golfman   July 29th, 2008 9:11 pm ET

Well, looks like you guys are stirring things up. Be safe and keep up the good reporting. That idea about getting the VW for free seemed like a good one. Not as much fun though, huh?
Keep your wrenches shined up.

Travis Pond   July 30th, 2008 8:39 am ET


You're in my neck of the woods! I run the Energy Resource Foundation, is based in Modesto. One of our projects is renewable bio-fuel (notice I didn't say biodiesel). Contact me on your way back so we can chat.


Mike   July 30th, 2008 8:45 am ET

Well your more than welcome to swing by Dallas and fill up here, Ive got plenty of B-100 to share!

Agreeing with one of the above posts, please have the fuel lines checked... they can not be made of RUBBER!!! B-100 will eat right through em.

Ive got 80K on B-100 on my 05 Jeep Liberty, been making it for 3 years now.

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