Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Double Impact

I am now in Breckenridge, the fourth stop on the current trip, and a have a little time to stop and think. Travel this year has been hit by a double-whammy; a lower travel budget, and much higher gas prices. In previous years, we might have done this trip in the RV, but my first calculations showed I'd have to spend at least an extra thousand dollars just for the gas if we took the RV, so instead we're in the Trailblazer.

I've thought about getting a high gas mileage vehicle to make things easier, but it's just not that simple. Yes, they make plug-in hybrids and such with really wonderful numbers, but those are commuter cars. For Mary Ann and I, a commuter car would just be a toy. She's a nature photographer with multiple cameras, huge lenses, several tripods, not to mention her computer and crate of external hard drives and DVD burner to collect, process and archive her images. We're just lucky we didn't bring her large-format printer that had accompanied us on other trips. I have to take my computer gear, plus an ever growing collection of books for making my visits to all the local book stores. Add in luggage for a trip this long and the Trailblazer is none too large for the job.

One more thing. We require four wheel drive and decent ground clearance. We do take the mountain jeep roads and the wild animals aren't likely to line up next to the smoothly paved roads for our convenience.

So whenever I read about someone proclaiming the "Death of the SUV", I have to chuckle. Utility vehicles have been here as along as there's been roads and just because some New York Editor doesn't like his neighbors driving them around town, doesn't mean there won't be a market for them for a long time to come.

Sadly, the commuter cars are the ones getting first crack at the new technologies, so I'll have to live with 20 miles per gallon for many years. The only thing I can do is make those miles count. I have to double up the activities. This trip is a case in point. I can't help the thousands of miles I'll travel, but within in this route, I'll visit my aging mother a couple of times, Mary Ann has attended her NANPA event and taken a zillion photos of wild animals on Mt. Evans. I am visiting bookstores to make contacts and show my books. We're in Breckenridge to take care of property maintenance and give Mary Ann the chance to take pictures of the bark beetle infestation. And we haven't yet decided what additional areas we'll visit in this part of the world.

There will even be trips where the RV, with it's 6 mpg will be the logical vehicle to take. If there's a vehicle I'd love to retrofit with a baby nuclear power plant, that would be the one. Ah, someday.

No comments: