Driving halfway across the U.S., using only one-half gallon of gasoline you pay for at the pump, MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts is more than halfway toward his 2012 goal of motoring coast to coast on 10 gallons of gas or less.
Ricketts, 63, who is in his 36th year as an School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member and 30th year as an alternative-fuels researcher, stands amazed that his years of study and compiling calculations and data are revealing the reality that his stated goal is about to come to fruition.
“I’ve told my students (with me on the trip, ‘It’s an expedition,’” Ricketts said today by cell phone, riding between Oklahoma City and Amarillo.
Earlier, Ricketts was interviewed by KWTV News9 reporter Jennifer Pierce, for a story that will air later today in the Oklahoma City region. It is one of numerous media requests Ricketts has fielded during and following the weekend when he and his support team successfully completed the initial leg of the trip from Tybee Island, Ga., to Murfreesboro.
Ned Potter, science correspondent for ABC News, interviewed Ricketts Monday afternoon. (Visit http://abcnews.go.com/Author/Ned_Potter to find the story online.)
In Oklahoma City, Ricketts chuckled when the two-vehicle team passed Garth Brooks Boulevard, named in honor of the country music superstar who is from Oklahoma. He then brought up about 40 mph winds.
“It’s awful,” he said of the winds. “It’s three times worse than the winds we encountered coming back from Macon (Georgia).”
Now utilizing a 2007 Toyota Prius hybrid as the lone alternative-fuel vehicle left to complete the drive from Tybee Island, Ga., to Long Beach, Calif., the team has a number of miles remaining before it passes Amarillo, Texas, on the way to Santa Cruz, N.M.
They will travel Wednesday through Albuquerque, N.M., on the way to Kingman, Ariz., where they will spend the night. On Thursday, they will enter California and pass Barstow, Victorville, reach the edge of San Bernardino, Ontario and swing around Los Angeles and heavy traffic before arriving at approximately at 3 p.m. in Long Beach.
On Monday, just before the nine-member group left the Alternative Fuel Lab next to the Horticulture Building on campus, Ricketts held a team meeting with one thing in mind.
“Safety is the number one objective,” he said. “It’s all about safety.”
So far, it has been a safe trip. And that’s an answer to his and others’ prayers.