We are back in the US, and lately, our whole family is driving halfway across the United States to attend a conference.
As we watch the miles pass by, we wake up each morning in the hotel or motel we paid for with help from a coupon we found in a magazine at a welcome center. After getting dressed, we head to the lobby of the hotel for cold cereal, packaged muffins or toast. After watching the Weather Channel or Fox News in the lobby, we pack the car and head to our next destination.
We have been especially grateful for our relatives and friends who have broken up this monotony by graciously welcoming us into their home. You have been SUCH a blessing to us, and we do not take your gift of hospitality for granted.
Part of our daily routine each evening is to log on to the household or the hotel’s wifi, and check online for the gas prices ahead of us. Which website do we log on to? Well, that depends on which state we are travelling through when we will next need gas. Just go to www “dot” (name of state, all one word) gasprices “dot” com. For example, if we need to gas up in New Mexico, the website address is “www.newmexicogasprices.com”.
We especially appreciate the “Gas Price Heat Map”-s on the websites, where each county is colored in a certain color according to the gas price there. Typically, a high gas price-county is dark orange, and a low gas price-county is deep green. Everything in between is a yellowish or brighter orange or green.
By using the “fuel econ” button in the van we can find out what the “DTE” is (distance till empty). From the DTE, we try to guess how far we can go before we run out of gas. We then look for the best gas price colored county that is between where we are now and where we will run out of gas, then zoom in on the Gas Price Heat Map, and voilà! The gas prices at each station in that county are highlighed!
What a thrill it is to find a dark green county, surrounded by orange, especially when it’s on the way to where we are going! We quickly write down the name of the treasured find, and its street address on our clipboard, and load it into the GPS for tomorrow’s trip.
The first such “Gas Price Oasis” we found was in Irving, New York. For some strange reason, there are no signs along Highway 90 to warn you that one of the best fuel prices are up ahead… And you’ll need the help of your GPS to know where to get on and off the highway, ’cause you won’t see any signs pointing to Irving until you’re almost there.
Because these half dozen gas stations are on a Native American Reservation, this noble community is free to set their own taxes and are exempt from the Federal Fuel Taxes. A visit to the town of Irving is a quick lesson on how much of what we pay at the pump is actually a federal, state or municipal gas tax. We paid 25 to 50 cents less per gallon than the prices we had seen all day.
We found another great gas-saving price along the way in Toledo, Ohio: Gas & Go, 1530 Cherry Street. While the gas prices all around her were $3.59 per gallon, we paid $3.39 per gallon!
Gas & Go (aka “Clark’s”) is a small gas station along a three-lane street. The dumpster reeks of beer and other spirits. The guys were whistlin’ at the pretty girls who were trying to fill up their compact vehicles and get out of there. At Clark’s, you pay first, then you fill up.
I brought in my bank card to pay; the one-man show behind the counter wanted to see my Driver’s License. When other customers went in to pay, I noticed that they locked their car doors first.
We saw a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant across the street. It was lunchtime, so we decided to fill our stomachs after having filled our gas tank. The parking lot was quiet…too quiet. Most of their customers were using the drive-through; it was lunchtime, but we were the only ones eating in.
When it comes to being aware of my surroundings, I’m a little slow at times… but when I finally noticed that the cashier and cooks were behind bullet-proof glass, I realized that this was perhaps a dangerous neighborhood.
But we stayed anyway, and ordered our meal. We spoke clearly into the microphone, then slid our card under the glass. The meal was given to us on a turntable of the same bulletproof glass, just as if we were at a bank. The staff was very nice to us, and gave us an extra soda for free.
Eventually the manager, a burly man, came out to sit out in the dining area with us to make sure everything was ok.
While looking for the best gas prices in America, we found ourselves in an unfamiliar situation. But there, as has been true for us in our visits all over the world, we found nice people who helped us find our way.
Ironically, the best gas price we found didn’t come by way of careful research. We stayed overnight in Salem, VA, and while looking for a quick meal in the area, we saw a station selling gas for $3.20/gal. What a find! Before leaving town, we quickly filled the tank, whether we needed to or not.