Yes, gas is expensive. Starting in my home state of Iowa two weeks ago and driving west through Nebraska and Wyoming to Utah, I saw prices rise from about $4.50 to over $5.00 per gallon. However, even with the increased cost of fuel, now is a great time to go on a road trip, and here’s why:
1. The drive gives you time to think and talk.
When you are sitting behind the wheel watching the miles roll by, eventually the radio cuts out, your hit list gets boring, and a little peace and quiet sounds very appealing. When you are driving, you can be alone with your thoughts. If you go far enough to see the landscape shift from one climate zone to another, the fresh sights serve to trigger things you haven’t thought of before, for example: Forget terraforming Mars, what would it take to terraform Wyoming?
Otherwise, if you have companions in the car, you can have a real, extended conversation, the kind that twists and turns like the road beneath your wheels. You are both facing forward, watching the same scenery roll by, so the conversation is naturally less confrontational than a true “face to face” discussion. You can easily lapse into silence for a while as one or the other of you digests a particular point. I haven’t run a statistical analysis, but I would say it is easier to find common ground if you discuss when you drive.
If you have a creative project, the drive is a great time to brainstorm and verbally sketch out ideas. I like to use a recording app to capture those ideas for later review.
I recently had the opportunity to make two trips west. The first was unexpected, a trip to visit my grandmother’s funeral, and I drove with my siblings and parents. The second was planned, and I drove with my children. For both trips, the drive itself was a significant portion of the time away from “normal life.” In both cases, I had conversations on the drive that I can still remember in detail weeks later. The drive wasn’t wasted time, it was focused time.
2. You get to see people in person, not over a video call.
At my grandmother’s funeral, I got to see most of my extended family on my dad’s side. I spent time and talked with cousins, aunts, and uncles I hadn’t seen in years. On my recent planned vacation, I spent a lot of time with just a few friends I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. Of course, when I say I hadn’t seen them, I mean I hadn’t seen them in person.
When you are in person, you can hug, shake hands, share food, and see and notice the same things in your environment. When you are there in person, the things that would normally end the video call (I need to go eat, I have to go outside and get some work done) instead become opportunities to continue interacting. People eat on video calls all the time, but it takes some serious planning to be eating the same meal on both sides of the call. It’s even harder to cut a tree down together over Zoom, and it is flat impossible to maneuver a 300 lb cast iron tub into position for use as a worm bin via Facetime.
In person, we could go for a walk, sit and play a game, work side by side, share meals, go shopping, sing songs, and never have to worry about the call dropping. The results were soul-expanding.
3. Driving across the physical landscape of our world breaks you out of the matrix for a while.
Speaking of getting away from screens. We get so much of our news and entertainment through electronic devices that it can be hard sometimes to tell what is real and what is fake. Traveling across the country can give you a sense of what people think about and feel in other places. Politics: How do the gas station attendants feel about the current regime in Washington? Where do you see Trump signs still up from 2020, and where do you see banners proclaiming support for leftist ideals? What do people talk about in your friend’s Sunday School class, or sitting around a campfire watching the coals burn?
I’ll never forget the sticker I saw at one rest stop, sitting on the back of the porcelain throne. “Deposit messages for Joe Biden here.” Or the gas station attendant who told me she is the one who puts up stickers on the pump at her gas station, a picture of Biden pointing to the price of gas with a word bubble that says “I did that!” only to have customers pull them off again.
A significant difference between these interactions and a Facebook post is that these people are saying and doing something in the real world where everyone—not just their friends or connections—can see.
Logistics: Seeing all the trucks on the road, and noticing the diesel prices hovering around $5.60 per gallon, it is easier to see why the prices of everything they carry are going up, too. On the road, maybe at a rest stop or gas station, you can actually have a conversation with a truck driver who will tell you they spend about $1,000 to fill up their tank with fuel and DEF. That’s one truck driver, and you’re seeing dozens and dozens of trucks as you roll down the road. Each of those trucks, even if it only rolls 4 days a week, could easily cost something like $200,000 a year in fuel alone. That’s like buying a decent house (in some places) paid for in cash in a single year. That’s reality.
4. Right now, you get the added thrill of being a contrarian.
Maybe you believe (as I do) that unscrupulous people form secret teams and pursue secret agendas for the strategic advantage that secrecy provides. Maybe you even agree that it sure seems like people are colluding at high levels in our government to obtain and maintain control of the population of these United States—of us.
If you think so, (or if you think not, for that matter) I would point out that inflated gas prices have the natural effect of causing people not to travel. Prices affect behavior. The higher the price, the more reasons a person has not to do something.
In an unregulated market, without interference by dishonest people with too much power, a high price could be seen as an artifact of the market; a loss of supply, or an unusual increase of demand.
In our current clown world, rising prices, like everything else, deserve a little critical thinking. Who benefits from this unusual rise in prices? Who has the ability and the intent to manipulate the markets to score some kind of political or cultural victory? Who gains by disrupting the flow of goods, putting the squeeze on people’s pocketbooks, and keeping America dependent on foreign oil? This isn’t a conspiracy post, though, so I’ll get to my final point:
If you are a libertarian, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you are by nature somewhat contrarian. You like to do what people say you can’t. Now is a good time to flex those contrarian muscles and go for a drive, if only because our would-be rulers are trying to tell you you should just stay home.
Now is a great time for a road trip. Get out and see this amazing land we live in while you still can.