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Vacationing on a Tank of Gas

April 26, 2008
By WAYNE SHEETS, Contributing Business Writer
Last weekend, Sue decided it was time to discuss our vacation plans, and I listened. The price of gasoline came up, as it does in nearly every conversation these days, and we talked about how it would affect our (her) plans. I got to thinking about it and here’s what I (she) discovered.

The high price of gas could be a boon to our local and state economy this summer by keeping us closer to home. Here’s how: The manufacturer is required to show the estimated miles per gallon on all new vehicle price tags. We know it’s an estimate because none of them ever get what it says it will — mine never did anyway.

Say the sticker reads that the vehicle will get “an estimated 24 MPG.” Translate that into real-life numbers and it means it will probably get about 20 MPG at the most. Our car’s gas tank will hold 18 gallons. That means that we can go 360 miles before running out of petrol. I trimmed that to 300 miles so Sue (I) wouldn’t have to push the car to the nearest filling station if we (I) stretched the mileage too far. I rounded up a map of the eastern United States, took a compass (you know, the kind we used in geometry class in high school) and measured 300 miles from a distance scale on the map then stuck the point of the compass in the map at Elkins and drew a circle. Then I took a good close look at all the places and attractions inside that circle that we haven’t visited or seen. What a surprise.

Now I realize that if we used the entire tank of gas reaching our vacation destination, she’d (I’d) have to buy another tank of gas to get home, plus any that would be used to get around at the destination — assuming we didn’t rent bicycles or walk. Considering this possibility, we (she) narrowed the scope to 150 miles. That would give us enough “liquid energy” in the tank to get home if we coasted down hill every chance we had, used bicycles or walked during our stay.

That still left quite a lot of places to visit, but then we (she) got to thinking. What if we just stayed home, turned off the telephones, kept the lights turned out at night so no one would know we were home and “vacationed in place”? What could we do to fill our time with pleasure and relaxation? After all, thousands of people from all over the country come to our town to visit. There must be something here that’s exciting to see and do.

What would be the advantages of “vacationing in place”? First, we’d (I’d) have a fully furnished and stocked kitchen in which to prepare our meals. She’d (I’d) get wild and use the dishwasher like we would if we were in a motel in Scenicsville, Way-off-Yonder, USA. If we chose to dine out, there are plenty of good restaurants within a few miles of scenic driving. Both of us love to read so we could choose a book from our own library that we haven’t read — and not have to worry about losing it in the mess in the back seat of the car and having to mail it back to the library in Way-off-Yonder after we got home. Above all, we’d know who slept in the bed the night before and not have to worry about when was the last time the bedspread and blanket were changed — maybe even the sheets. (Can’t afford the Waldorf-Astoria you know. We take our own just in case.)

After some discussion, we (she) decided that if so many people from all across our nation come to visit us, there must be something for us to see and enjoy, too. We (she) mentioned a few of those attractions. First was the excursion trains in our community and those a little more than an hour or two away. The Cass Scenic Railroad, The New Tygart Flyer and the Potomac Eagle all traverse some of the most beautiful and remote regions in eastern America. There is any number of historic landmarks and mansions close by that transport their visitors back to yesteryear — if that’s one’s fancy. We have lakes, rivers, campgrounds; just about everything one needs to have a good time and relax, too.

We have (Sue has) decided that we will stay close to home this year, or to use home as we would a motel in Way-off-Yonder — the place to come back to at night. In the meantime, we would be saving some of those hard-earned dollars while at the same time denying the big oil companies a few of them, helping America “go green” with less carbon emissions and have a great time, too.

I bet at the end of our vacation, regardless of how long or short Sue decides it will be, we’ll be better rested and refreshed and won’t have to go back to work to rest up.

Think for a moment about all the things “in our backyard” that we haven’t done or seen. Try some of them — bet you’ll like ’em. We are.


Allow me to take you back in time for a brief moment by way of the many uses of the apron. Most of our children and grandchildren don’t know what an apron is, but here is a bit of nostalgia for those who do.

The principle use of grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. When the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow bent over the hot stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner (not lunch).

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that old-time apron that served so many purposes. Keep this in mind, too: Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the windowsill to cool; her granddaughters set theirs on the window still to thaw.



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