Due to the generosity of my in-laws, recent years have seen my family bound for a week of vacation somewhere along the Atlantic Ocean. During the long, two-day trips there were always opportunities to talk about what we’d like to do when we arrived and, for me, to think about where and what I’d like to photograph. The excursions through an assortment of states also provided me with the chance to compare gasoline prices first-hand.
Admittedly, I’m one of those who complains when gasoline in Palmyra is two cents a gallon cheaper than in Hannibal, or a dime or more less expensive in Kingdom City or St. Louis. But the nice thing about a long trip through multiple states is that one really gets to see if there truly is cause to complain.
I must report seeing no significant difference in the price of gasoline when making the trip to Charleston, S.C., in early July. The price of fuel in Hannibal when we left was just under $3.20 a gallon and that’s roughly, give or take a few pennies here and there, what we paid going out.
One of the highlights of my trip was finding gasoline for just under $3 a gallon on the main drag of Mount Pleasant, S.C., located just east of Charleston.
My oldest son, Caleb, and wife, Nancy, both encouraged me to buy some of the “cheap” gasoline early in the week before it had a chance to go up, but of course I waited until the day before we were to depart for home. Fortunately, I was able to cap off an early-morning photo excursion to the beautiful Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge with the purchase of $2.99 a gallon gasoline. I was so pleased with myself that I almost pulled out a camera and took a photo of the sign listing the price for a memory shot from the trip.
On the return trip it was hard not to notice that prices were creeping up the further west we came. By the time we reached America’s Hometown the price was maybe a dime a gallon more expensive than when we left.
Jump with me to early August, when Nancy had a family reunion to attend up in southeast Iowa. Because of schedule conflicts, Anna, my 16-year-old daughter, and I were not able to accompany Nancy on Friday.
Whereas in Mount Pleasant my procrastination was not punished, my waiting to buy fuel before going to Iowa was frowned upon by the “gas gods,” as the price jumped significantly on the eve of our trip.
Because we still had a little over half a tank in our Buick, I decided to gamble on finding something cheaper up the road on that Saturday.
Page 2 of 2 - As we approached the Clark County community of Wayland, I asked Anna to pull off at one of the convenience stores along the highway. To my delight, we discovered the price increase we’d seen in Hannibal had not found its way to that corner of the state.
As I stood pumping fuel, Anna remarked, “I’m sure glad we were able to find cheap gas.”
I thought about her comment for a moment and then responded, “Honey, this isn’t cheap gas. It’s just less expensive gas.”
I didn’t mean to nit-pick my daughter’s words. We just view the world from different perspectives.
I’m old enough to remember buying gasoline when I was Anna’s age for a little over a buck a gallon. I also must admit being old enough to recall hearing my dad break out his sailor vocabulary when the price of gas approached 50 cents a gallon.
When my 16 year old is my age, she will likely recall gasoline being “cheap” when it was under $3.20 a gallon and having had a father who would complain ceaselessly the higher the price inched.