Tuesday, May 02, 2006

$3 a gallon

Date: May 2
Mileage: 26
May mileage: 26
Temperature upon departure: 46

Because of all the bicycle riding I do and the small town that I live in, I don't buy much gas anymore. Maybe one tank a month currently, but summer travel season is about to begin. While I was driving around town today, looking for an auto shop that could squeeze me in for a tire change, I noticed that gas prices have officially hit the $3/gallon mark. Wha?

In three days I leave for a trip to Utah, so I have to catch a plane in Anchorage - about 215 miles from here. I went online and did a little research, and realized that driving my car to Anchorage, parking it for 9 days in the Dimond Parking Lot, and then driving it home will actually be more expensive than simply flying between Homer and Anchorage. So I bought another plane ticket. Now, instead of slogging down the Kenai Peninsula in the middle of the night upon my return, I'm going to be napping through a not-even-long-enough-to-reach-cruising-altitude flight on a turboprop plane.

I don't know if I should be horrified that it's actually cheaper to fly than drive - or relieved. When you think about it, there are a lot of pluses to the skyrocketing gas prices. Those gas prices have motivated me to get my lazy morning butt in gear and start bicycle commuting to work. They've convinced a lot of other people to ride a bicycle, period ... something many haven't tried since they were kids. My hope is that people will soon discover that they don't have to wait for technology and politicians to sort out any impending "energy crisis." They will discover that they are their own alternative energy source. They'll reunite themselves with all those once-vilified-but-so-missed carbohydrates. They'll trade in their high blood pressure medications and diet pills for natural, old-fashioned shots of dopamine and adrenaline. The suck up some of that sweet clean air, and they'll get themselves to their destinations, with their own power ... be it 20, 200 or 2,000 miles away. The economy will make room for this slowed-down lifestyle, because demand will push it that way. All economy is, after all, is a well-organized way of life.

And people will forget what they ever saw in oil. They'll realize that they had possession of the most valuable commodity all along ... freedom.