Captain’s Blog – Stardate 03.06.06 – Day 1

Cindy Zimmerman

Here is the first of the blog updates from the Cross Country E85 trip. The update was written by Bradley Westrum and emailed to us by Alex Lundgren, who decided to go home when they arrived in Des Moines Tuesday. The rest of the crew, which includes students Ashley Heflin and Tami Davis and teacher/chaperone Jim Richardson, are continuing on their journey to Los Angeles.

March-06-06 Starting our day off waking up around 7, we met in Jim’s room at 8, where we left to go to eat breakfast at a diner on the corner a block away from our hotel. Getting our food faster than expected, we had time to attempt to go fill the Avalanche with E85 before Senator Grassley arrived at the hotel. Unfortunately our attempt to find E85 failed, when we could not find the gas station that sells the fuel. With the driving time consumed trying to find E85- our time was running short, so we decided to head back to the hotel to meet Sen. Grassley. Sen. Grassley arrived with his staff a few minutes after we got back to the hotel parking lot. When Sen. Grassley pulled into the parking lot, he got out and jumped in the Avalanche and Jim got in the car with his staff. Sen. Grassley rode with the students, and directed them the easiest way to the Capital. Upon arrival we went through security, and pulled right up to the steps of the Capital building, then were interviewed by WHO radio, and our picture was taken numerous times in front of the car with the Capitol in the back ground. After complaining enough about not being able to find the station that E85 is available, Bob Dinneen who is the President of the Renewable Fuels Association rode with use to the station, filled up the Avalanche, and paid for it. Mr. Dinneen pointed out that the Pentagon which was just behind the station that we filled up at, faced the area where on 9-11 the terrorist drove the plane into the outer wall. After navigating our way under the instruction of Mr. Dinneen back to the Capitol, we dropped him off, and headed on our way. Just so all you know, navigating Washington D.C. is a daunting task, especially with 5, farm raised Iowans at the helm. Although we found out that Mr. Dinneen who has lived in D.C for more than 30 years can slip up and make a wrong turn. After collecting our things and checking out of our hotel, we started on our way with a full tank of E-85. When leaving D.C we were flagged down by a woman driving a 2001 Pontiac Montana. She waved at us, we rolled down our window, and she asked, “Where can I get that,” of course referring to the huge Ethanol signs and decals on the side of our Avalanche. So we explained to her that she will need to update, and get herself a new Chevrolet. The second fill stop on the trip was in Morgantown, West Virginia. We decided to bypass the town, hopefully cutting out an opportunity to get lost. We went the long way around the town and then back tracked. The map that we followed, lead us down a small, dilapidated dirt road, in hick town. Seeing that there probably wasn’t a gas station that offered E-85 we flagged down what we will call a close relative to Jed Clampet… (Beverly Hillbillies)… We asked him if there was a gas station that has 85% Ethanol, and he proceeded to answer use with, “WHO?” So seeing that this wasn’t going to make much progress we thanked him and turned back towards Morgantown. After finding the right road, we were lucky that there was a person working at this stop. We stopped at Delaney Oil Company, were we dealt with a pioneer in renewable recourses, and a real gem of a guy named Michael L. Kelly. After this stop, we were able to calculate and crunch the first numbers of the trip. We found that this vehicle will bring use no problems when we stretch the stops out when we continue to the west coast. More coverage tomorrow when we continue on the second day of the trip, when we continue through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. “Piddidle!!!”

“See the USA in your Flex Fuel Chevrolet…

Ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicles