(Follow veteran MTSU News and Media Relations staffer Randy Weiler’s daily blog as he travels March 9-14 with alternative fuels researcher Dr. Cliff Ricketts and his team on their coast-to-coast trip using no gas.)
NEEDLES, Calif. — The 10-member group traveling with Dr. Cliff Ricketts on his coast-to-coast journey (driving with no gas) weren’t exactly experiencing “California Dreamin’” when they awakened to a 25-degree temperature in Santa Rosa, N.M., Wednesday, March 13.
Or maybe they were.
California happens today for Ricketts and the crewmembers. Long Beach is the final destination. More precisely, a parking lot behind the Long Beach Museum of Art, 2300 Ocean Blvd., is where the crew plans to finish their 2,600-mile journey before Los Angeles and Long Beach rush-hour traffic have their daily snarl.
Rewinding 24 hours earlier to Day 4 of the expedition found many bumpy miles of Interstate 40 highway pavement. There are some 584 miles, far too many to count for road-weary travelers.
Before we even could shove off from Santa Rosa, the group encounters a mechanical bump in the road, so to speak. In refueling the 2005 Toyota Prius and 1994 Toyota Tercel before the day began, pressure from the hydrogen tanks making the trip made the valves ice over. Solution: Very slowly let the hydrogen seep into the holding tanks.
The mesas and mountains along Interstate 40 that parallel Historic Route 66 in New Mexico and Arizona seem to grow as we cross into Arizona, heading toward dinner for three of us in Flagstaff.
In Albuquerque, before a media interview with KOB Eyewitness News4, Ricketts goes down memory lane at the Kit Carson Park. “I used to watch Kit Carson when I was a kid,” he said.
We barely touched the surface of Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona. Some very large petrified wood caught our attention at a tourist spot called Geronimo.
Hats off to a solid group of volunteers — engineers and mechanics — who not only are talented but also give their all for Ricketts. The crew includes Terry Young, Mike Sims, Travis Owen, Paul Ricketts, Aras Alexander, Duane Griffin and Rick Presley. Alexander is the lone MTSU student making the trip. Owen, a former MTSU student, now attends the Tennessee Technology Center at Murfreesboro. They all contribute to a safer trip, and, with Ricketts, it’s “safety first.”
Well, this story continues to take twists and turns.
It’s midnight PDT. We just passed Kingman, Ariz., where the group was supposed to spend the night and was to be the dateline for this blog post. Ricketts made an executive decision — with 100 percent support of the crew — to push on to Needles, a little more than an hour away.
Ricketts and his crew have hydrogen on board. They know they have to pass through an inspection station after they enter California. He feels there is a better chance of being cleared to go through at night than early in the day. Success: The truck with tanks is waved on through. All breathe a sigh of relief.
Ricketts still sweats the small stuff, such as worrying about having enough hydrogen to finish the journey. We will find out later today.
On deck for Thursday and Day 5: Long Beach.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu and on Twitter @WeilerRandy)