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August 1, 2008

Cody at the Canyon Skywalk

Posted: 12:27 PM ET

I just got off the Grand Canyon West Skywalk and I have to tell you that it's breathtaking and amazing. It's difficult to put into words but it's truly a unique experience. I plan to post a photo later to give you an idea what it's like to walk out on a see-through glass platform that extends 65 feet over a 4,000-plus-foot drop to the canyon floor! Yikes!


The Skywalk hangs out about 65 feet off the canyon rim.

Our 1978 Scout truck is giving us mechanical problems for the first time since we began our journey five days ago. It appears to be a problem with a clogged fuel filter, which is a common glitch when running on biofuel - especially in an older vehicle - as we're doing. Kind maintenance people here at the Skywalk have offered their expertise on the problem.

I wanna give a shout out to a previous poster, Nic "Scoutman" Hawker, who offered us advice on keeping Scout engines cool. Please send us some contact info, Nic. We'll be in touch.

And last night, in another challenging development, we followed some dubious directions en route to the Skywalk. Those directions took us on a two-hour unintentional detour down a 56-mile dirt road. We made it here OK, but as you can imagine, that was, um, fairly interesting.

So far, we've trucked some 1,200 miles and purchased about 40 gallons of biofuel since departing San Francisco toward our final destination in Atlanta.

Internet access via cell is very spotty here. Hope to send more info/pics soon.

Thanks for followin' along with us!

- Cody

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Filed under: environment • Road trip

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Nic "Scoutman" Hawker   August 1st, 2008 12:39 pm ET

Thanks for the shout out, Cody. What's the best way to get you contact info safely? Should I send it through Becky?

Ham   August 1st, 2008 12:54 pm ET

Hey Cody...
We've had serious problems with clogging. The enzimes in the fuel are cleaning everything out which builds up a lot of sludge. I would suggest carrying several extra filters until this process is over. It can get bad fast and will continue for some time. The bottom of your fuel tank will be full of it. Another issue is if it sits. The fuel begins to seperate over time and will go bad.

Good Luck

Nic "Scoutman" Hawker   August 1st, 2008 1:12 pm ET

Hey Cody,
You can e-mail me at
I just set it up as a temporary account and I will shut it down at 4:00 CST today. Verify that it's you by telling me what's written on the valve cover of your engine. I'll respond with more direct contact info.

CJ   August 1st, 2008 1:21 pm ET

THe Skywalk is an abomination and environmentally insensitive intrusion on the Grand Canyon. Plus, at $75 to go on it, it's a rip off. What else would you like to see? A boat ride on Yellowstone's Great Prismatic Spring? A bungee jump on Yosemite's Half Dome? A climbing wall up the Washington Monument?

Sandra, Wadley Georgia   August 1st, 2008 1:36 pm ET

Cody and Brian:

We look forward to your Canyon Skywalk pics. Looks like Mr. Nic has you covered, mechanically.

Franko   August 1st, 2008 2:13 pm ET

Satellite phone at $10 a minute.
CNN bean counters missing the watermelon for the lentils ?
Anolog dollars eating into digital cents !

Have Brian the eco-mechanic moonlight as telecommuting expert.
Fail and endlessly wait for the next surfing wave in hurricane reporting.

Gene   August 1st, 2008 2:42 pm ET

Test the watermelon=libido theory.

Gus   August 1st, 2008 3:24 pm ET

KATRINA, RITA, WILMA and most tornadoes may have been prevented if existing technologies had been implemented.

Our dedicated public officials are aware of this and NONE CARE, they do want your vote and contributions.

The fact is, the governors of affected states, the White House, Fema, NOAA and others aware of this and NONE CARE TO PREVENT.

Nic "Scoutman" Hawker   August 1st, 2008 3:30 pm ET

Got Becky convinced that I'm legit and she's forwarding you some info. Call anytime.
One more thing to check out on the Cornbinder... the fuel cap on the diesel engines has to be a vented cap because the tanks were not vented. If it does not have a vented cap, or the vent gets stuck from debris, then a vacuum will build up in the fuel tank. The fuel pump won't be able to pump the fuel to the engine if the vacuum gets over 4 inches of mercury. You can check the vent in the cap by sucking on the inside of the cap. It will taste like the back end of a Grand Canyon burro, but it's the easiest way. You should feel a little resistance and then you'll be able to suck air through it. If you can't, then try cleaning it out. (WD-40 works good), buying a new one, or leaving the cap loose until you can get a new one. The main objective is to allow air to take the place of fuel in the tank as the engine uses it.
Happy Scouting,

Casey Sumpter-Yahn   August 1st, 2008 3:37 pm ET

Cody-I just found out about your trip from Kathy's website! It has been a couple of years since I have seen you but I hope you are doing well and that you have a safe and fun trip! Good luck...looks like quite the adventure! Take care, Casey Sumpter-Yahn

Nic "Scoutman" Hawker   August 1st, 2008 3:50 pm ET

If ya'll want to take a little side trip to Oklahoma, there are two wind farms near Anadarko. It shouldn't bee too far off of your route. It's in the "Wind Corridor" where the billionaire Boone Pickens wants to put the world's largest wind farm. They're named Blue Canyon and Blue Canyon II. Pretty close to Meers, where they make the world famous Buffalo Burger. Buffalo are supposedly more eco-friendly than cows.

Barbecue Steve   August 1st, 2008 3:59 pm ET

Nice one guys!! When you get to Atlanta, look around EAV for a big black suburban with a flamejob - also running biodiesel!!

Also check out .

Awesome! Good luck!

S Callahan   August 1st, 2008 8:24 pm ET

Hi Cody....I missed a few days...but I'm
Guess everything is covered so I'll handle the prayer dept to conver your path so you make it safely to a knowlegeable mechanic each time you need one (if you need one).

My stomach would have turned on that't do the bungee jumping though....we want to see you in N.M. 😉

Jason Burroughs   August 2nd, 2008 11:45 am ET

If you'd like a story about the difficulty biodiesel business owners face, please stop through Austin, TX. We have a number of challenges, some unique to Texas, some common to all:

Even though biodiesel is nontoxic and biodegradable, the local fire department treats us as a bulk refueling terminal, requiring the same kind of protection used for diesel or gasoline. The flash point of biodiesel is about double that of diesel, but regulators want to treat it as "HazMat", which can have severe consequences with zoning, insurance, and other areas.

To get a permit to haul biodiesel in Texas, you must get a $30,000 – $200,000 bond each year. This permit is to ensure we pay state road taxes regularly – but in Texas, biodiesel is exempt, so we don't have any taxes to pay! (We pay federal road taxes, but this bond is not for that)

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has decided that biodiesel is bad for the environment, and have therefore banned all but the weakest blends (B5 is allowed, and B20 with a toxic additive that is so flammable, we can't even store it). Apparently, a possible 2% NOx increase in certain old vehicles trumps the 80% lower emissions on other parts of the exhaust. Can you say Big Oil?

Congress authorized a substantial financial incentive for biodiesel producers to compete with diesel. However, they don't pay that credit for up to 2 months, so biodiesel companies must pay $5 – $6 per gallon, sell it at a loss, then wait 30-60 days to get the subsidy. We must run at a huge loss while floating the cash until the IRS writes the check. To make matters worse, the companies supplying the oil to the biodiesel industry (slaughterhouses, rendering plants, and megafarms) mark their price up to the biodiesel producers so that this subsidy actually goes to them instead of the biodiesel industry.

Facing these challenges are dozens of community-scale businesses across the country. Without the resources of large petroleum distribution networks, we have laid the foundation for the return of independent fueling companies from the ground up. Our story has yet to be told in the mainstream media, and I hope your tour will get more eyes on biodiesel, and more minds on finding solutions to these problems.

Let's foster a culture of innovation that does not require $100 million in seed money. Allow small-scale innovators to flourish and produce new markets that bring communities together while transforming the relationship Americans have with fuel.


Jason Burroughs
DieselGreen Fuels

Glad Doggett   August 2nd, 2008 3:03 pm ET

Envy-envy-envy! I wish my job was as exciting, interesting and important!! In your spare time (ha!), you might want to check out

Doug Fine, author of "Farewell, My Subaru" talked in his book about driving a converted vehicle around using alternative fuel.

Ed   August 2nd, 2008 3:36 pm ET

You guys are missing out on a valuable International Scout Resource:
Binder Bulletin. Go to

It has tech pages that can help when you break down on the road and there are many friendly folks that have "been there and done that" and can tell you how to fix it fast.

I also think you should talk more about the technology of biofuels and a little about the vehicle. The tour that I saw didn't mention anything about the engine or the technical aspects of the vehicle.

Gene   August 3rd, 2008 8:29 am ET

Jason, I appreciate your difficulties, and some of it sounds purely political.

But. A lack of standardization in energy supplies, and associated infrastructure, which is what we are beginning to see with the proliferation of alternatives such as biodiesel, ethanol, electric, etc. has enormous negative consequences for the economy the Nation, and the world as a whole. If you think about it, the one who suffers from a lack of widespread standardization, such as is provided by the fossil fuels industry, is the ordinary consumer. You and me. There is still no single alternative that will provide adequate energy supplies that will yield an equivalent level of National and Global standardization to that which we enjoy today.

Standardization, as a concept, is as fundamental to civilization as is farming. The Pyramids could not have been built without it. Take it away and the future becomes very murky.

That said, we may not have a choice at some point in the not so distant future, as oil, coal, natgas are depleted and become more and more expensive.

Standardization is the single most important aspect of this that MUST be addressed and solved.

Franko   August 3rd, 2008 9:05 am ET

Mission to explore new alternatives, save humanity from comformity.
Boldly into the future, mapping unknown possible fuel resources.
A Nobel Prize, save US from fossilized.

At least an Oscar Prrize, But only if good canmerawork.
Emotional appeal, Cody sitting on a rock, as the Thinker before a solution.

Nick   August 3rd, 2008 12:01 pm ET

What's all the fuss about? I would have just taken the Hummer.

Oh, and by the way, man made Global Warming is a lie, and gas prices are falling and set to continue to fall.

Your whole report is a sad reflection of an alarmist society who believes everything they hear on TV.

Jason Burroughs   August 5th, 2008 1:19 am ET

Gene – you are correct about standardization; the big oil companies have deep pockets and have been on top for a very long time, so of course they have this covered. However, you can't have second generation biofuels without first generation biofuels. And you can't do anything related to fuels without the government's permission, due to possible health effects. So this is a case where we simply must have the government's help, at federal, state, and local levels. They need to recognize that what we are doing is 'a good thing', and work with us in the early stages of the technology – assess the risk, allow it at a small scale, and require timelines for standardization, etc at which point we need to be subject to the letter of the law.

In other words, it's so incredibly difficult to break into the energy market, only big companies will ever do it – unless regulators work with us to make it possible to compete. I do believe this is a case where government support, of one kind or another, is the only way to move forward. Failing that, only a complete withdrawal of support, subsidies, etc for petroleum oil may put us on level ground in the long run.

Thanks for the comments,


Franko   August 5th, 2008 3:19 am ET

"Gene – you are correct about standardization"

International standards for weights and measures. In this case au contraire !

With, no fuel at the station, government imposed standards, Just truth.
Car companies, competing for maxumum flexibility, is the key to saleability.

Government interference eliminating adaptation, efficiency and progress.
Delaying the future. Good enough for government work is backward we got.
Unable to optimize financially, laughed are those who try and try.

The one mandate, $50 Zubrin solution, not expensive enough to tax.
Kill the International Tapeworm, not this administration.

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