Almost there...

Thursday, August 15, 2002

One more thing: Who would've known that gas is so different across the country? Sure, I knew the Bay Area had the highest prices around, but the reasons are more interesting than I'd suspected. The absolute lowest price I saw was $1.34 a gallon, which isn't that much better than the $1.49 across the street from my house, and which doesn't accurately reflect the range of prices we saw on the road. What was more interesting was that most places didn't even have the same grades as California. If you pull into any gas station here, the lowest fuel grade will always be 87, usually followed by 2 other pumps distributing 89 and 91 (or 92). Out in the middle of nowhere, we routinely saw two grades at most stations: 85 and 87. Sure, the 85 octane was cheaper than what we'd pay here in California, but is it really good for your car? We'll never know because we never quite trusted it. We figured maybe it was for tractors or something. And we did actually see farm equipment pulled up to the pumps (in Wisconsin).

So, I guess I feel a bit better about what we pay for gas here. I never buy better than 87 since my owner's manual says that's what my car is designed to run on, but I'm glad I don't have to watch out for lesser fuel grades, and I'm quite glad not to have to pay for toll roads, because pitching 40 cents into the basket every few miles in Illinois was a major nuisance (and one that utterly wrecks fuel economy).

Buying a gallon of gas is still cheaper than buying a gallon of bottled water. I'd actually be willing to see gas prices go up a bit more to encourage the production of more fuel efficient vehicles and less SUVs. But that's another story...

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