Fuelish decisions

The price of gas is going up, up, up again, and I'm starting to wonder if it's going to be worse (more expensive) than it was a few years ago. So I'm starting to devise ways to use less gasoline in the coming months.

The obvious first step is to get the repairs on the cars that might affect fuel economy. The Outback needs a new catalytic converter and new tires -- those two things should save gas. Our 14-year-old Corolla still runs well and gets great mileage, but will need a new clutch soon (it's still on its original), and not having that hung up in the shop will help.

The next step is to find alternate wheels. Eldest is riding his bike quite well, and Littlest is probably just a few hours of instruction away from riding without training wheels. Wife and I owned two bikes that were somewhat damaged, but last year, we managed to get one working bicycle from the two. If we get that tuned up and buy another bike -- one that's not so expensive, a $200 Schwinn should do -- we'll be a four-bicycle family and can at least get to close places (not on busy streets) without having to get into the car.

Our family has never shied away from walking to places, and I think this spring and summer, we'll be hoofin' it all over the neighborhood. Littlest still fits in one of the running strollers, the boys like riding their scooters (and actually, never complain walking far distances), and we do own a wagon. Enough walkable businesses and parks are nearby or even a little further out if we want to make a minor event of it. We walked plenty before 2011; I foresee us walking even more this year.

Finally, I'm going to try staying closer by than in other summers. This is going to be tricky, because I love driving up the canyons when it's nice out. Those drives just use a few gallons of potentially expensive gas. But plenty of good mountain hikes exist with five miles -- they may not be quite as picturesque, but they can still be worthwhile.

In the meantime, I'll keep hoping gas spikes then comes back under $3 a gallon, as well as hope that airfare doesn't get too crazy, because we're not driving to Wisconsin or Texas this year.


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