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California Fuel Cell Partnership

June 23rd, 2006

WEDNESDAY JUNE 21, 2006 – SACRAMENTO, CA The heat is downright oppressive, and it’s only in the upper 90’s. I’ve been tooling around Sacramento working with the California Fuel Cell Partnership, essentially an educational, outreach, and standard-establishing organization for several vehicle manufacturers working on fuel cell vehicles. (Journalist Shoaa Alquati of Kuwait)

An entourage of middle eastern journalists, nine in all, were here on a State Department visit. Some of the countries I remember: Jordan, Palestine, Kuwait. Engaging and polite, I wished they had more time to talk but the schedule was tight; they had a nightlife to experience in San Francisco.

(9 year-old Adam) The next day, Tuesday, I met the executive director at her home as she was taking her boys to baseball camp. The Partnership has a Daimler-Chrysler fleet vehicle employees can take home as part of a real-world test and as an outreach program. Later, we went out for a drive with a Toyota F-Cell.

(Toyota F-Cell) I found Sacramento to have some nice neighborhoods and plenty of trees (I think it’s called the City of the Trees), but it was exceedingly flat. However, I had a pleasant conversation with a hostess at a brew pub about her struggle with depression and the lack of motivation which she experienced (she seems to have figured it out for the most part), got lost somewhere on Arden Way in the north part only to wind up at an REI where a cashier gave me a screaming deal on a daisy chain, and had an excellent cup of coffee from a random cafe with a punked-out barista. Oh, and I watched a really bad Milla Jovovich movie about zombies in my luxurious Motel 6 accommodations. TV. Bad. (fuel cell exhaust: steam and water)

After my highway tour with the Toyota F-Cell I made the 1.5 hr run up to Chico to see the Sierra Nevada brewery. Run like so few businesses are (as sustainable and environmentally conscious as possible) they power the entire brewery operation on hydrogen fuel cells. Yes, they use natural gas to get their hydrogen, but they are modifying their waste water treatment plant to harvest the methane produced. Soon they’ll be covering their parking lots with solar panels. (At the Brewery: fuel cells in the foreground quietly generating one megawatt of power)

(mmm…beer) I’m not really sure how this is going to fit, visually, into the alternative energy story but it was a cool visit. I took the long way on the way back, driving down I-5, and to try to keep awake I stopped in the random town of Williams for a run. In mid-nineties after sunset heat. With lots of bugs. But it was nice to see a sleepy pit-stop town with a large hispanic population doing the simple things; visiting, taking out the trash, watering the lawn. Anyplace, America.

(the foothills) Today I leave this flat, orchard-covered valley smothered in the haze of industry, and wind my way into the rolling hills and mountains on my way to Yosemite. Even though I’m a climber, I haven’t been there since I was something like 12. Exciting.

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