Return to North to Alaska

The Cost of Avoiding Business

29 September 2005

Cape Blanco State Park, Oregon

I've been fooling around with Quicken. Ooops. Just paid my credit card bill for August. Ouch. Some of you may be interested in my gas expenses to Alaska and back. Some of you may rather not hear about it, if you're headed that way anyhow.

Please cover your screen. What follows may scare the kids.

I left on May 20th. For the 3 month period, May 20- August 19, my gas bill was $2513, an average of 837 bucks a month. This got me to Alaska, and down the Kenai Peninsula to Ninilchik, where I spent a couple of weeks doing very little, as slowly as possible.

Highest gas I bought in Alaska was $3.50/gal, highest gas in Canada was $1.28/litre (currently translates to about $3.90/US gallon, in US currency). Airline tickets are starting to look pretty good.

I won't know the whole story until about a month after I get back to TX. But I'll bet I'm looking at a total of 15K miles, and 5 or 6 Grand. Just for gas. No meals, campground fees, trinkets, or psychiatric assistance included. Just gas.

Gulp. Thank God for credit cards.

Same period in 2004, traveling in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, -- $993, an average of $331/ mo. Less linear distance covered daily, lots more running around in circles.

Go back another year. Same period in 2003, constant travel up through BC and down the left coast, -- $1112, average of $312/mo. That trip was quite similar to this year's trip, in terms of movement.

Note the consistency 2003-2004. Staying put in the SW didn't seem to slow me down any. But I'm spending nearly 3 times as much this year.

Whatcha gonna do?

My baseline average at home, Jan-Mar, 2005, was $145/mo. In the past I have gotten about 8 miles a gallon pulling the trailer, in all conditions. From these figures you may be able to extrapolate your own likely figures. Poor things.

Make what you will of all this. Lots of variables. But any way you look at it, RV travel is getting to be a sight more spendy. And in a dingdang hurry, too.

You could call it the cost of doing business. But durn it, I'm supposed to be avoiding business. I'm retired.

The time is creeping up on us when "full-timing" may involve turning into semi-permanent site-bound trailer park trash. Well. It might not take much turning. But it was easier to maintain my clever disguise when I moved right along every day.


My brother wrote to say he was planning to take his wife someplace really expensive for their anniversary. He was considering the Phillips station.

Ba-dump bump.


I am seriously considering truly downsizing my next RV. I will at least put off the decision to upgrade for a while. This one's paid for, which makes it a something of a pearl beyond price.

My philosophy about this RV stuff has always been to identify the essence of it, get in cheap, and spend as little as possible on extraneous stuff. I think the main thing is to know your own mind about what you want to do. That's what I mean by "the essence of it." I've seen some very specialized RVs on this trip. There's a picture of one of them to the right.

But, but, but... moving around and using gas IS the essence of it, or near enough, and it's getting to where there is no 'cheap' way to do that.

And (whine) to make a real difference means DRASTIC downsizing, like a Casita or a Scamp hauled by a little pickup. Or even, God help us all, a minivan and a tent trailer. That might triple my mileage. Double it anyway.

Might put me almost back to where I was last year. Just in time for the next round of price hikes.

Problems, problems. For me to fit in a Casita may require amputation at the knee. Or the neck. Ah. That's the answer. I don't need a big ole clunky RV. I just need to stunt my growth a bit. Or maybe I could live fast and die young. No, wait... it's too late for that, too, darn it.

I'll think of something.

But could you really call the emerging prospect RVing? Am I back to camping? Would that be all bad? Or just commuting? Bob, the weekend wonder, pedaling out to Lake Georgetown to set up a tent?

Sic transit gloria mundi. At 8 miles to the gallon.

What I really need is a suitcase trailer. All of us do, at least those of us who are not already movie stars, or wealthy real estate maggots. I think I saw a trailer like that in a Porky Pig cartoon once. Take the bulging suitcase out of the back seat. Lay it on the ground. Stutter a little, and whistle a happy tune. Unlatch, doc. Just lift that lid a bit, and Sproinnng! Aaahhh. Jacuzzi. Roaring fireplace. Easy chair. Home Sweet Home.

Quicken be damned. Man cannot bear too much reality.

So merry melodies, y'all. And maybe th-th-that's all, f-f-folks!


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