To keep rolling, pay the price

We haven’t burned diesel in five weeks. Since planting here we’ve done almost all of our running around (about 700 miles of it) in Mercy, our ten-year-old Jeep Wrangler. That means we’ve bought a few tanks of gas.

The national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline stands today at $3.415. Arkansas is among a cluster of nine states in the south-central US with considerably cheaper gas — the average here is $3.056, second-lowest in the country.

Back in Ohio right now, we’d be paying $3.295 locally.

A year ago gas was $1.974 there, $1.830 here. That trip down Memory Lane illustrates the painful difference a year can make, as our country lurches from energy independence to a punitive scheme promoting a misbegotten “green” agenda.

Thanks to runaway inflation, virtually everything costs more now than it did last November. We’re fortunate to be situated in a state and a region with a relatively low cost of living — so even though prices are way up, the sting isn’t quite as bad as it’d be elsewhere.

Becoming more familiar with this area has helped us save a buck or two on fuel, at least. There’s a Harps grocery with gas pumps on our way to Deb’s cousin’s place, and for the last few weeks we’ve paid $2.989. Still, that’s a per-gallon increase of 51% over what we were paying a year ago.

Now if we were buying diesel, which eventually we will again, we’d be contending with a national average price of $3.646 per gallon ($3.411 in Arkansas). That’s up from $2.386 and $2.126, respectively, a year ago.

The price to keep Ernie rolling from August through mid-October, as we trekked from Arkansas to Montana and back, was $3.379 a gallon — and that was using three discount programs. The most we paid was $3.759 (Wyoming), the lowest $3.108 (Montana).

Since it’s always useful to keep things in perspective, consider that in the People’s Republic of California the average price of regular gas is a staggering $4.682, with Mono County (east of Yosemite) checking in at $5.514. The statewide diesel average is $4.809.

So yeah, it could be worse. Have I mentioned that we have precisely zero interest in visiting California?

All is well back at Second Chance Ranch, best we can tell. We pull up the security cameras every day and look around. Friends keep an eye on the place. The neighbors will take care of fallen leaves for us this week, and we’re grateful for that.

Yesterday the cameras picked up a respectable whitetail buck trotting up the driveway. Later we watched central Ohio get the season’s first real snowfall.

I have to admit that I’m having trouble figuring out exactly how Second Chance Ranch fits into our American Life these days. We lived there for over ten years before rolling away in May, but it’s not “home” right now — home is where we are, wherever we are.

Looking at our house today, even just thinking about it, I can’t place the place. It feels distant.

Undertaking this journey, while we like to talk about it in terms of adventure and joy, fundamentally has been about risk. We left the familiar and the comfortable for The Great Unknown, pushing past boundaries into places we’d never been — not only geographically, but personally as well.

In short, we got ahead of ourselves. That’s a very good thing, by the way.

John Masters was a geologist with the soul of a gambler, a legend in the realm of energy and minerals. Decades ago I became inspired by his philosophy and tried to apply it to my own professional pursuits. He said this about risk:

“You have to recognize that every ‘out-front’ maneuver is going to be lonely. But if you feel entirely comfortable, then you’re not far enough ahead to do any good. That warm sense of everything going well is usually the body temperature at the center of the herd. Only if you’re far enough ahead to be at risk do you have a chance for large rewards.”

For the most part we humans manage our lives. We measure our success in the most ordinary ways — comfort, rightness, stability or, as Masters put it, “that warm sense of everything going well.” I’m reminded of a TV and radio host who ends his broadcasts with, “Stay within yourself.”

We tend to assume that risk is reckless, so we retreat into comfort. We sacrifice opportunity.

We miss out.

When Deb and I committed to our journey we had to bust out of our comfort zone. We got ahead of ourselves — way ahead, and in every way you can think of. We took chances, accepting the risks that come with no longer being comfortable.

And the rewards? You can read about them here. Just realize that my posts don’t come close to conveying the richness of what we’ve seen and done.

There’s more of this American Life to live, of course. We’re already “out front,” writing the next chapter of our story.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB