Thursday, January 17, 2008

Picking up oil...

Leaving San Diego, on my way to Atlanta...

I'm on a tight schedule. If I had kept to my original itinerary, I would have been in Atlanta by Christmas, having seen Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, etc. before Winter hit. However, due to the delays in getting the veggie conversions completed, I am only just now on my way to my home state. And, since I'm so far behind, I've chosen not to stop and shoot en route (which would put me even further behind), but rather make a bee-line to Georgia to try and get back on track. It's unfortunate, but I'll have to postpone the western states until some time in 2009.

So... I left San Diego on Wednesday, running on veggie oil and loving every minute of it! It's a great feeling to know that you don't have to pay for fuel and you're helping to reduce toxic emissions. (And, the smell of french fries from my exhaust just makes me chuckle.)

However, as the miles began racking up, my veggie tanks started to get low, and I had to switch to diesel until I could find a place to get more grease.

Unfortunately, getting used veggie oil from restaurants on or near southern California has been much more difficult than I expected. There are three main reasons that used oil is hard to find:
  1. Some places already have contracts with renderers who come collect their oil on a regular basis.
  2. Others claim liability concerns.
  3. And, the rest simply didn't have enough to give me.

But, I did stop at several places to try my luck. Let's go down the list of oil collection opportunities, shall we...?

  1. The first place I stopped, a casino east of San Diego, would have liked to give me their oil, but the general manager couldn't allow it due to a contract they already have with a renderer.
  2. The next place I stopped, a privately-owned restaurant in the tiny town of Tacna, AZ, disposes of their oil in a hole in the ground, which essentially makes the oil unusable. They did, however, try to help me out by directing me to the town of Dateland, AZ, about 25 miles east.
  3. The restaurant in Dateland wouldn't give me their oil due to a contract they have with a renderer. (I say "wouldn't" as opposed to "couldn't" because the woman who ran the site was quite condescending when I asked.)
  4. The fourth place I stopped was an Arby's east of Tucson, AZ. They wouldn't give me any oil due to what they called liability concerns. They told me I needed a license to collect oil. That may be true, but I got the feeling that they simply didn't want to be bothered with something they didn't understand. They did, however, refer me to a restaurant across the street.
  5. Jackpot! Well, sort of... This restaurant was very helpful, but didn't have much oil. I was only able to get about 4 gallons from their receptacle.
  6. The last place I stopped was a Cracker Barrel just outside of Tucson. The manager, Angie, was very helpful and even escorted me out to the outside oil dumpster. Unfortunately, it was empty, having just been collected a couple of days prior.
As you can see, getting oil out west is tough. Word seems to have gotten around that used oil is a valuable commodity, and it is getting scarce. However, I expect that to change as I make my way east.

Next stop... El Paso. You know how us southern folk like to fry things. Let's hope there are some restaurants willing to help me fill up my tanks.

Keep your fingers crossed!


Brian said...

Rollin', rollin', rollin', keep them wagons rollin'. RAW HIDE! Good luck finding that crude oil, maybe you need to look in the Hills, Beverly Hills that is. See ya back in the ATL. Peace.

Anonymous said...

When you get back to Atlanta - try this little place called the Varsity. They will give you enough oil to drive that bus to Pluto. Pick me up a sack of onion rings while you are there.

Mayeeeewww. said...

Hate to break it to you, but out here in Floriduh, it's just as challenging to find places that are willing to surrender their grease.

The trick is to collect first, at night, and ask forgiveness later, if they even notice.