Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The motor home fades into the sunset

By Garrison Keillor

June 18, 2008 | Eighty-six percent of the American people believe the price of gasoline will climb to five bucks a gallon this year, a big shift in public opinion from a year ago when most people felt that oil prices were spiking high and would soon return to normal -- which is 35 cents a gallon, same as a pack of smokes -- and we'd be able to head west in our Winnebagos for a nice summer vacation.

The fantasy of comfortable vagabondage lies deep within each one of us, though, and once, 30 years ago, driving a GMC motor home around western Minnesota, I fell under the spell. To have the freedom of the road and the comforts of home -- your own books on the shelf, your clothes in a drawer, your brand of beer in the fridge -- is an aristocratic privilege.

Five-dollar gasoline is pushing that fantasy to the wall, and it's also showing most of us that we live in communities whose design is based on the assumption of cheap gasoline -- big lots with backyard privacy make for a long drive to the grocery store. In the big old-fashioned city neighborhood, if you're bored in the evening you just stroll out the door and there, within five or 10 minutes, are a newsstand, a diner, a movie theater, a palm reader, a tavern with a bartender named Joe, whatever you're looking for.
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