Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Redding, California... Veggie Conversion Time!

Well, I finally made it to Redding!

It was a fairly uneventful drive -- a little traffic in Reno -- but other than that, it was gorgeous. The majority of the drive took place in Lassen National Forest on Hwy 44. Hundreds of acres of trees, streams, and fields -- picture postcard landscapes everywhere you looked.

After coming out of the forest, and winding my way down some quaint country roads, I pulled in to the Rover Hybrids lot in Redding to meet with owner Shane Ballensky just in time for lunch. And after a huge burrito from Burrito Bandito down the road, Shane and I went back to the shop and, well, talked shop.

He showed me everything he's been working on for my project... from the vehicle all the way down to the individual components that filter the used vegetable oil that I'll be using as fuel. We're actually converting not only the RV to run on veggie oil, but we're converting a 1994 Land Rover Defender 90 series as well. And, since you can only run veggie oil through a properly converted diesel engine, Shane has replaced the stock Land Rover V8 gas engine with a Cummins diesel engine. Not a small task, but definitely a necessary one.

Now, all of this actually does have a purpose: I'll be towing the Defender behind the RV so I can have access to all those wonderful places that the RV can't get to. And, I can't very well protect the environment in a gas guzzling V8 now, can I?

While Shane is working on the conversions, I'll be trekking through Northern California, Oregon, and possibly Washington to get some images and video footage for the project. (Washington, and in particular, Walla Walla, is where my friend, Lisa Curtis goes to school. Lisa has been working on a fantastic presentation about how climate change affects California's Mono Lake. You'll be able to see her PowerPoint slideshow on the Vanishing America website once it goes live.)

And, of course, I'll keep you all posted on my progress... stay tuned!

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