Driving my SUV at 150 kilometres per hour on the autobahn of the north, the James Bay Highway, I watched my gas level go down steadily. Not to worry, I reassured my white knuckled passengers, we’ll have enough fuel to get to our destination. True to my word, we reached kilometre 381, safely within the reach of the gas nozzle. I casually beckoned the gas station attendant to fill ’er up. What I didn’t realize however, is that my wallet would be emptied in record time. “What? A buck-twenty per litre? This is real highway robbery!” The gas station minion shrugged with unconcern and squeezed the nozzle for all its worth.
The second leg of the trip was a little boring, due to my gas sipping driving techniques. In Matagami, the wallet sighed in relief and I smiled to the cashier. Under 30 bucks! I was getting a deal. Amos lights loomed and the search for a hotel with a room ensued. Luck with me again, I scored a decent room and slept in relative comfort. Val d’Or slipped by in the morning and I was on my way to the big city of Montreal, where SUVs are king of the streets and no-one would argue with the big eight-cylinder monster. A brief but expensive trip took me two km away from the American border, where I rode an elephant for the second time in my life and for the first time in North America. Forty years earlier, I rode an elephant in London, England, at a circus and to this day, clowns continue to haunt my adult dreams.
What became a comfortable drive back north became a mad rush to the gas stations, where in a blink of an eye, literally, gas prices climbed and dropped, several times a day. I spied the 96-cent sign and by the time I weaved out of the traffic to the station, it climbed to a buck o’ six. Ouch. Somehow, the rate I claimed for the mileage didn’t seem to be enough.
Up north, where gas prices are naturally high, it was disconcerting to see that the rates were lower than the south for once! Wow, are we getting our justice now or are we not able to keep up with the fluctuating at our own simple pumps where digital financiering is not our forte. Back in the day, the hand pump worked in all conditions and the price was the same year round, somewhere near a quarter for a gallon, and we still winced at the pump. Since inflation boosted everything sky high, including the price of furs, the sticker at the pump didn’t matter for a decade. Then came the big boom, high interest rates and higher gas prices, forcing everyone to look seriously at the Austin Mini.
Meanwhile, after the death of all working dogs, gasoline became a staple and everyone forgot how to walk. Today, the time of the high speed dash to the south, or back to the north, will make everyone reconsider the costs of doing business or pleasure.
Now, how can some country out across the Atlantic affect us so dearly and close to home? Because we always paid the premium for everything, and now that premium is starting to smell a lot like regular to me. High octane or no, I still say we can get around under our own power and shed a few pounds and regulate blood and sugar levels. Get off that four-wheeler and Skidoo, and take up the paddle and wear your cast-off runners for at least a day a week and see how much you will lose and gain. As for me, well, I bought some walkers.