We took a brief vacation over the holiday to San Juan Island up near the watery boarder between the US and Canada. We were really looking forward to getting away for a couple of days, bike riding and hiking our way through the Thanksgiving holiday.
We managed to reserve a perfect little cabin at Lonesome Cove Resort, an old (1947) and tucked away collection of cabins on the north end of the island. Highly recommend this place to stay as its truly welcoming and down to earth, not very “resort-like,” but awfully sweet and cozy.
The first day out, we drove to the opposite end of the island for a loop bicycle ride up and down and up and down and up and down the hilly west coast of the island–what a beautiful and exhilarating ride! But first! What happens when you don’t drive your car very much….
- The price of gas!!! When did the price of gas go crazy? I haven’t bought any in a while, I guess, and I was blown away that it was $3.25 a gallon! I’m so happy I don’t drive much.
- Cars need oil!! I really don’t remember when I changed the oil on my car last. It’s maybe been 8 months–too long. I know. So, we’re driving along and the “check engine” light comes on–yipes!! What does this mean? Cars are so stressful. We find a sweet garage in Friday Harbor that’s actually open and the guys are more than happy to check the car out. “You’re out of oil,” the guy says sweetly, looking at me like I must be out of my mind. “You ever check the oil?” I mumble that I don’t drive the car very much….He adds oil and suggests that we have the car checked out when we get back to town, the catalytic converter sounds bad and may need to be replaced which is why the “check engine” light went on. We’re good to go for now so we head out.
- Cruise Control: it’s a great thing to use whenever you can. Why? Because it makes life in the fast lane a lot less stressful and uses significantly less gas. Here’s what I figured out: if you have your car set at cruise control at the speed limit, the inevitable clumps of traffic move around you. Because of this, you are sometimes at the back of the herd and sometimes in the lead, but you’re cruising down the highway with less stress and using less gas in the process.
- Double Occupancy lanes: These lanes mean go as fast as you can. They’re not about optimizing car usage. They’re not about traffic congestion. They are about an unwritten rule that says if I have another person in the car, I can ride in a multi-occupancy lane and go as fast as possible, and anyone in my lane should get out of the way, whether they also have another person in their car or not. I’m not sure this makes sense, but it did seem to be a consistent experience.
- Drive early: We found the trip up and the trip back to be just about as relaxed a drive as you can have in Puget Sound region on a holiday, and that impacted gas usage as well, since we had next to no stop-and-go tie-ups. All in all, an efficient drive.
So, those are the things I noticed about the big blow-out 325 mile drive this weekend. I appreciated having a car because we got to go up to one of our favorite places on the planet and play for 2.5 solid days and enjoy fabulous vistas everywhere we looked. But I also got slapped up the side of the head that even if you don’t drive your car, you still have to tend to it. It’s not magic. And it’s expensive.
La Marguerite has gotten me to start thinking about other things along with driving and car usage and I’m happy to say that by and large, we didn’t create a lot of extra garbage in the process of our holiday. We took all our food and cooked there, took our bags and containers home to recycle. We did have some coffees to go a couple of times and that was a little bit of a drag. This morning we got a breakfast wrap to take on the early ferry home with us and when it was ready, the server started to put it in a plastic box but we asked to just have it in a bag with napkins. She asked if we were sure, like maybe we’d made a mistake, and we said yes and thus there is one less take-out box in the garbage today.
It’s great to get away and see the world differently for a few days…clear your mind. And for that, it’s great to have a car. Our national (and growing global) problem is we also think it’s great to have a car to go to the video store or the post office or to the park or downtown where dozens of buses go all day and all night or a party where you could ride with friends or….on and on. Our default setting is Car. When the price of gas is $7 a gallon, maybe we’ll be a little more discerning in our use of the little gas guzzling wonders.
Daily Stats (Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun)
Car: 325 exactly.
Bike: 18 miles
Ped: approx 9 miles