Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Wet Launch

You’ve heard of a dry fire? Well, this was a wet launch. Very different from a hot lunch, the wet launch. It felt like being fired from a water cannon. So the wheels of “BioCoach One” hit the ground with a satisfying ‘shhhhplat!”

It’s only fitting that the Oregon portion of the bioTrekker campaign should start off in the rain, and some true Oregonians came out and stood in it for a few hours on Sunday to take a peek at the veggie-powered love macheen — a 34-foot yellow and orange submarine that will be home for the next year (or two or three or five, just depending on just how much fun this is.)

After a B20 fill up at the SeQuential station off I-5 just south of Eugene, it was off to Armitage Park. The gold, yellow and orange leaves carpeting the parking lot even matched the “paint job,” although, at first, I was the only idiot in the park at 11 am on a rainy Sunday to admire the beauty.

Setting this bus down is like landing a spaceship. Slides pop out … leveling jacks down … awning out … generator on … all systems go. “This is Major Ty to Ground Control, I’m stepping through the door.”

Out came the keg and the portable fire pit, the propane grill, the steaming stew, the warm cider, and a table full of other goodness. Thanks to all my amazing friends who helped with set up. That’s a true friend right there, somebody who gets out of bed early on a blustery Sunday to brave the rain and help you out. There is no way I could have done it without them.

For the rest of the afternoon, I was honored to give tours of the house on wheels and hang around in the company of some extremely cool individuals. We shared interesting discussion about biofuels and sustainability, ate good food from biodegradable plates and bowls made from sugar cane and were entertained by “the gingerbread boy.”

The kids in attendance enjoyed some puddle stomping, plus, every thirty or forty minutes the awning provided a Disney-like feature: whenever it filled with enough water and reached critical mass, it poured down on the pavement or whoever happened to be standing in the wrong spot. Okay, that’s only Disney-like if you’re two years old, but I enjoyed it.

Ian Hill and Alan Twigg (and their loved ones) came out to “co-chill” (literally) and represent SQ Biofuels. I can’t say enough good things about this home-grown Oregon-based organization. They ARE biofuels in Oregon, and I’m fortunate to have a connection to them. If the biofuels distributors I find in other regions are like these folks, then the future of fuel in this country is in good hands. The fueling station they just built here in Eugene is exceptional. It’s seriously the coolest fueling station I’ve ever seen, and I’d say that even if they weren’t a co-sponsor. I'll be starting off with a B20 blend, tracking fuel mileage and performance, and down the road, I'll research blends of 30 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent, and 100 percent (which is really 99.9 percent).

So the campaign is now officially underway, and after I wring myself out over the holiday, I’ll be taking part in a bit of local press coverage. Plus — and I’m really excited about this — I’ll be giving tours and talking biodiesel basics with some classes at Hamlin Middle School. The website is a work in progress, and soon we’ll be adding photo galleries, a map with destinations, a daily blog, a discussion forum and other mind-blowing content. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

No comments: