Hi. My name is Adam.

And they keep climbing.

Posted in Uncategorized by adambsullivan on July 8, 2008

I don’t know why gas prices are so high.

Every magazine columnist, network pundit, and average Joe has his or her own answer: Greedy Exxon executives. George Bush’s personal reserve. Ethanol demand. Each explanation sounds just as reasonable as the next. I don’t know that anyone really knows.

I do have some ideas, however, pertaining to what $4 gas is doing.

1. People are driving less. That means they’re biking, walking, carpooling, and utilizing public transportation more. Long term, this could mean lower carbon emissions and a more active population. Ergo, we have a healthier environment as well as healthier bodies.

2. The necessity for alternative fuels is growing. Obviously, this too is an environmental plus. Additionally, it also could supply Americans with a less-dependent economy; an economy fueled by something besides foreign-drilled oil.

3. People are staying closer to home. Staying within your community means you’re spending money in your own community, supporting the local economy. While this could be bad for Florida resort towns, it’s good for most of us.

I’ll be the first to admit to this being an overly-optimistic evaluation of the consequences of high gas prices. Nobody is a fan of $70 fill-ups, high food prices, or having to trade in the family SUV for an Asian sedan. However, those are things that I can live with.

Here’s what scares me: the death of road trips.

State DOT’s across the country are seeing record declines in interstate travel. Even summer holidays — traditionally some of the busiest weekends on U.S. roadways — are seeing fewer drivers.

For the last two or three years, I’ve used the summer to take at least a short trip or two. Madison, Waterloo, Des Moines. Nothing fancy, just opportunities to get away for a few hours or for a few days.

Radio static. Bathroom pit stops in sticky-floored convenience stores. Pushing 90 in a 65 to get around what seem like miles and miles of semi trucks. There’s just something charming about hitting the open road.

But now, record gas prices paired with not having a real job leave me hardly being able to afford a trip to Cedar Rapids or Coralville.

I know what I’m missing. But what about the next round of driver’s ed. graduates? Millions of teenagers might never know the joy that can be found in one’s first parenentless interstate venture.

We may end up skinner, smarter, and more economically endowed than our parents. But will any of it have been worth it without the freedom a road trip have to offer?


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