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Gasoholics Should Stay on the Wagon

Springerville AZ, the White Mountains. James Howard Kunstler must be furious. American gasoholics (virtually all of us) feel that 'happy days are here again,' now that regular gasoline has plummeted to $3.50 per gallon. Let's hope they are still making money on snacks, cigs, or the 40 ounce buckets of fructose fizz they are known for. Gee maybe it's time to bring back the Hummer?

Has Kunstler ever written an essay about the RV industry? It would be amusing to read it, if you could handle his goose quill, dipped in venom. For my part I think that RVers have their work cut out for them if they want their lifestyle to continue long into the future in a way that is recognizable. Sure, they could camp in one place forever and drive around town in a tiny "towed", but too much of that would represent a completely different lifestyle. 

Despite the recent -- and no doubt temporary -- relief at the fuel pump I continue to press against promiscuous driving, that is, the sort of driving you do mindlessly out of habit, or just for the sake of entertainment. More concretely, my driving is limited to one shopping trip per week. At first this seems like punitive abstemiousness -- a self-imposed guilt trip. But, as with any form of abstemiousness, it is best to consciously dwell on the positive program instead of on 'thou shalt not,' since that just provokes rebellion against the discipline.

And indeed there are pleasant surprises when taking one trip per week. I want to keep pushing on finding more benefits of this project. 

It's a project that can't help but have some nostalgia wafting in the background. Our rural ancestors only a generation or two ago looked forward to "market day", Saturday. They usually took a full-body bath only one day per week, and then went to town for a movie or a dance.

It's surprising how much fun it is to go to town and see everything from the perspective of a wide-eyed hillbilly who is astonished by it all. For instance the dogs and I were in McDonald's loading up on 99 cent, plain McDoubles. The lad who waited on me was so well-spoken and intelligent that I couldn't believe it. He spoke quickly and in complete sentences, and with wit; almost too much wit for a young whippersnapper. I normally expect nothing more from such workers than a perfunctory, corporate-programmed greeting. Occasionally they might venture an 'uh-huh' or 'OK'. But they are barely sentient hominids, raised on mental junk food such as MTV rap videos.

One of the advantages of a Mencken or a Kunstler is that they can get away saying things that many people think, but are afraid to say out loud. One of these troubling thoughts is that miscegenation is taking place in America, and on a vast scale. If it isn't literally biological it's at least cultural.

And yet, this particular lad belied the general trend. Is it because northern Arizona is greater Utah, and he is at least affected by Mormon culture, even if he isn't part of the church? Whoever would have thought that a perfect stranger could evoke such a pleasant and hopeful feeling in another person?

At any rate it was great fun to watch my 17.1-year-old miniature poodle dance up and down on the passenger seat as I dispensed tripes of the fast food industry to him. We drove back to our campsite in the high country, thoroughly pleased with our weekly bacchanal in the big city.


Anonymous said…
Given years of experience, gas prices, aging vehicles, etc., have you figured out what your perfect RV set up would be yet?
Sondra said…
oh, BUT LOOKIE HERE gas at my pump is currently $2.84 per gal. That means I can buy a full tank instead of $30 worth, which is the equal to not so long ago's five dollars worth...I even recall getting a dollar's worth and it being enough to do me for a while...back in the day...guess I could go to horse n buggy!
Ed said…
I have been a reader of James Howard Kunstler for a number of years and do not remember him taking shots at RV drivers. He has just lumped all drivers together in his condemnation of their wasteful ways and his discussion of Peak Oil.

I have also adopted the once a week driving habit. It is mostly to get groceries but if I can arrange it I will do all my necessary errands during that one trip. Then once a month I move to a new camp with the hope of finding either warmth or coolness depending on the season.

My gas milage is terrible when compared to a car but I'm only slightly more wasteful than the average American driver. The annual average in the US is 15,000 miles at 25 mpg or 600 gallons. During the past 12 months I have bought 640 gallons.
Ed, since the average driver drives much of those 15,000 miles in stop-and-go traffic, they aren't likely to get 25 mpg. So your 640 gallons are probably below their real average.
Anonymous said…
cost? The Total "Cost" footprint of an RV'er who is set up with solar and has learned water efficiency is a fraction of the "Static" apartment/house" dweller.

If you're going to rip on people for consuming a few gallons of petrol think about the TRUE and HIDDEN environmental costs of your constant patronization of Mickey D's and other such "institutions"

focusing on one small part of a picture to the prejudiced exclusion of the rest is a recipe for normal human foolishness.
Anonymous, I might agree with your comparison of RVs versus stick-and-brick houses, but that is a different comparison than the one I was making.

I was comparing driving to town one day per week with driving to town every day or two.
Anonymous said…
:( don't I feel sheepish. I guess that's what I get for seeing demons hiding behind every tree and in every trip to town; and in every bite of an egg McMuffin I enjoy :) I suppose the willful stupidity of a population mired in another cycle of political obscenity just has me grumpy