Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Riding

How 'bout those gas prices, huh? I don't know about the rest of you, but here in Alaska, at the cheapest station, we are paying $4.60 a gallon - it hurts just to type that! I remember when Zman and I were newlyweds and we were paying $.99 a gallon. Oh how things change!

Even back then, Zman was an alternative energy nut. Not long after we were married he talked me into purchasing a 1960 something VW Bug that had been converted to electric. Yup, the kind where when you opened the gas cover there was a giant plug. She would go up to 50 MPH and would go for about 30 miles before we had to plug her in again. (Yes, I said HER… her name was Reba – she came with it) At the time, I worked as a bank teller 2 miles from our tiny rental house and Zman worked at the State of Alaska, about 2 miles from our tiny rental house. I drove Reba and he rode his bike. We did have a gas car, a Nissan Sentra that got 30 MPG, that we used for longer trips but 90% of the time we consumed NO gas at all. Ah, good times!

When we moved to Bellevue Washington, our house was on a huge hill that was too much for our little Reba, and she sat in the garage most of the time. Zman’s passion for alternative energy wasn’t abated though. About this time, he heard about a little car Toyota was thinking about marketing in the US called the Prius. What! You’ve heard of it? Go figure. It seemed that Toyota was looking for some families in the Seattle area to try out the car for a month and do some focus groups and such to tell them if the car would be marketable. Of course, Zman applied to participate in the program.

I will never forget the day he called to tell me that we were finalist in this program… it was the first I ever heard of it! He was out of town on business and couldn’t make it to the interview with the Toyota big wigs so I had to go all by myself. Yeah! That was an experience. Picture the swankest hotel in Bellevue and a very lush conference room. Add in 7 people around a table and a video camera pointed at you amd your hubby’s voice coming from a teleconference box on the table. Now, picture yourself as a self conscious 22 year old. Yeah, that was FUN!

They must have seen something they liked though because out of hundreds of applicants, we were chosen as one of the five “Seattle Prius Families.” We were given training on all aspects of the car, how it worked and all of its functions. We were given driving lessons by retired race car drivers. We had our pictures and bios done for press releases. We were given a Prius to drive, for free, for a month… a right hand drive Prius straight from Japan! I’ll never forget the looks on people’s faces as I would drive by on the wrong side of the car. I was always hitting the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals!

The up side of all of this is that we LOVED the car! We wanted to keep the car. I was very sad when they took the car away. The one other bonus of being a “Prius family” was that we had the option to be first on the list for a brand new Prius when there were released if we wanted to buy one. We did!

When we moved to Alaska we sold Reba because she wasn’t a good family car and bought the Prius. When baby number 2 arrived, we bought a minivan too. Those are our current vehicles and while the Prius gets EXCELLENT gas mileage, the minivan sucks gas; I’m lucky if I get 18 MPG. With gas prices so high, it now costs me $75 a week to drive my van to and from work every day, with assorted errands thrown in. OUCH!

So, in an effort to save some money to buy non-essentials like food, Zman and I have parked the van and are now carpooling to work in the morning and I ride the public bus home in the afternoon. While this is not too much of an inconvenience now, except to poor Princess who gets jammed in between the other kids’ car seats in the backseat of the Prius in the mornings, but I’m not looking forward to braving the nasty weather that fall and winter are sure to bring. Oh wait! The weather has sucked so badly here this summer that it won’t be much different, just a little colder.

Here’s a group of people waiting for the bus yesterday…


Looks like fun right? RIGHT? Wish me luck!




1 comments:

Debbie B said...

I love the new look!

I'm so sorry your gas is still so high. I was thinking about posting a celebration that our gas is close to $3.50 here, now I feel bad. But we live in a great state for gas evidently, we're always lower then the average.

Glad you're finding ways to work around it. I worry about the day we have 2 car seats in the back and have to start looking at vans. I've wondered about the gas milage.