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Gas prices
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - Did you get to take advantage of the recent low gas prices? They went down to 99 cents a gallon there for a while and are inching back up now. The irony of the situation is that the prices are still relatively low, but people aren’t going anywhere.  

It’s not wise to store gasoline for any length of time, even if we could somehow hoard it in quantity. Gas needs to be fresh and recently refined; as it ages it becomes ‘varnishy’ pretty fast. Plus, gas is blended here in the northern climes, seasonally, for winter or summer use. So we need to keep filling the tank as needed, regardless of current price, with the correct fuel.

One silver lining of the effect of pandemic procedures, like less driving and flying, has been that air pollution has been greatly diminished. Even with all the pollution control regulations that have gradually come into being over the years we can still see a marked recent improvement in air quality. We don’t notice that change much here, but it is quite evident in and around cities.  

Our ‘new’ car is a 2009 Chevrolet HHR. One of the bells and whistles of the car is a dashboard report of the gas mileage. With a fresh tank of gas, I can reset the feature and find what my gas mileage is for that fill up. I also learned, by accident, that I can tell what mileage the car is getting, on the move. I may be getting 28 mpg on a flat stretch and see it drop to 16 or 18 mpg going up a hill or soar to 60 plus mpg on the downhill. It’s become sort of a game to see how good I can do on a tank of gas.

Which reminds me of a story. Shortly after I got my driver’s license, I borrowed my dad’s car and took three of my pals to the beach for the day. The car was a 1953 Buick, a big old boat with a straight 8 under its long hood. I kid you not, the valve cover on the engine looked like it could have been used as a hog trough.  I knew it probably didn’t get very good mileage so I told the guys that we would split the cost of gas for the trip. Fair enough.

I filled the tank before we left and we took off for the beach, about 30 miles away. When we got to the beach, I filled the tank again and was shocked to see that it only took about a gallon of gas. Gas was about 30 cents a gallon at the time so I magnanimously announced that our deal was off. I would cover the cost of the gas. It seemed a little miserly to collect 15 cents from each kid for the round trip, big spender that I was.

The moral of the story is: when checking your gas mileage, always fill up at the same pump where you started from. After I dropped the guys off and refilled at the station where I first filled, it took almost six gallons of gas. I was too embarrassed to go back and collect from my friends.