Most of you who visit this blog know me, or of me. As a way of introduction, let me offer that I'm a strict pragmatist, a believer in the power of common folks to achieve big things when the ugly faces of certain truths come home to haunt our daily routines.
Let's talk about fuel prices. This is a dynamic argument, as politicos, journalists and the most brilliant economists in the world have chimed in on the reasons fuel prices are through the roof in 2008. The high prices at our pumps threaten to realy put a dent in our collective summer plans, as we outdoorspersons are prone to long fits of wanderlust. Let me offer a couple of ideas.
I'm quickly learning to really dig into the detail of the territory right here in my backyard. I've found backpacking routes on East Bay Regional Park land, places to hike in, enjoy an evening, weekend or 5 days out in the Diablo Range. The contiguous acreage of Mt. Diablo and all the interconnected surrounding parkland is staggering, as is the giant Henry Coe State Park, now threatened by the state as a closure target. But we're talking only a few miles to each of these spots, each bringing a unique beauty to us, an opportunity for seclusion and bonding with nature, a close - to - home getaway for the harassed urban legends who haunt the business districts of every city and town in the Bay Area.
There are others, too. Many others. There's no need to travel to the exotic locales in the Sierra or beyond, to fight summer crowds and the European hordes. Save your gas money. Stay close to home and enjoy what we have right here.
The second piece is even simpler. Fuel pricing has many components, such as scarcity of the resource being offered for sale, unstable markets which drive prices higher, and the most obvious factor - if you'll buy it, we'll charge you. Fuel prices this time of year go through a variety of market manipulations to keep prices high - usually it's just about now that we hear of a refinery shut down for repairs or maintenence which limits the capacity to turn out the goods. Scarcity. If it's not readily available, they can charge more per gallon to the retail consumer. That's the case in all commodities, be they fuel, corn, soy, or hog bellies.
So what's that answer? What will make the prices of gas at the pump drop more quickly than any other market force?
It's called "demand." If we don't buy it, the price will drop. It's not a hypothesis, it's fact. I guarantee prices will mysteriously start to drop after Labor Day and until Thanksgiving. Mark your calendars if you don't believe me. When summer driving stops, it's funny how the market softens. The trick is to practice fuel saving techniques NOW to ensure the prices come down no matter the hysteria in the wholesale markets. Drive shorter distances. If you're going camping or backpacking, drive as many people in as few cars as possible. Plan your routes for the shortest distance, and avoid the roundabout scenic drives, or at least limit them. Use more fuel efficient vehicles.
The short list I provided only scratches the surface of things you can do to ease wallet pains this year. It takes some creative thinking, but this American society needs to start using some innovation in its thought processes anyway. Get started now. Walk more around town - you might not only save fuel, you'll be in better shape! Fancy that!
Let me know if you have some ideas others can use. Share them everywhere you can. Make it a point to plan wisely, drive slowly, save fuel where possible. If this nation can collectively tighten the clamps on consumption, we can keep the pain of $4 fuel at bay!