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By Logan Hawkes

Nostrodamas missed one when he didn't call the great gas crunch of 2008. Or maybe he did and it's still hidden in those deep words of his somewhere, maybe coded well like a Dan Brown puzzle. But one thing is for sure,  the cost of fuel has all thinking about the family summer vacation.

There's a family in Arlington that told me the gas prices have them so spooked that they have already resolved to park the RV in the backyard and spend a week away from the telephone. Alright, that's not really true. But it could be. And it seems the problem is going to get worse.

Remember when Memorial Day marked the time you cranked up the buggy, cleaned her inside and out, and provisioned her for a family outing to the beach or park or lake or hills or forests? Not to lean on the side of nostalgia here, but honestly, you put 80 gallons of fuel in the tank for less than $150 and oil was a $1 a quart. Six hundred bucks worth of petro and you could spend a week in Las Vegas. Alright - that is nostalgic.

But the point is, with the unruly price of fuel and the vacation season dawning, what should a fellow do about the RV in his life. Is it time to 'suck it up' and cancel the family outing for the sake of the economy, both yours and the nations? Or is it time to scrimp in other areas and maintain a degree of civilized sensibility that dictates you must have time away from the drudgery of everyday life to open the doors of true healing of the mind and spirit.

Or something like that.

Well Bucko, ultimately the decision is yours to make based upon your own financial limitations. But for my money, I figure a run down the road for a little surf and turf is my best bet. And not without, you understand, due research and deliberation. Let's see, I'm thinking of heading out from South Padre Island on a week long excursion to, let's say, San Antonio. I'm thinking of landing at a well known RV park near Fiesta Texas, on the Northwest side. From here I can explore the River Walk, the best diners and attractions in the Alamo City, and still manage to head up in the Hill Country for a little rafting on the Guadalupe.

Now the trip mileage for the RV should range around 800 miles roundtrip. At around eight miles per gallon and considering fuel costs at $4 a gallon, that puts the fuel budget somewhere around  $400. Okay - this is not my first parade, so let's call it $500 at tops. Six nights in the park eating at least one meal a day there, that's - including park fees - another $300. I can stop right there. Because no matter else we might do on this trip, we would do anyway, whether we traveled in the buggy, hopped a plane or drove the car. We're still going to eat out. We're still going to pay fees at the amusement park, the cavern, SeaWorld, and so forth. So we need not look any further than fuel and lodging. Right?

Good - we agree. So now let's take a look at the same getaway for the same period of time except this time we travel in the car. Since I get better mileage in the SUV than the RV, though not much, I can still cut my fuel costs by nearly fifty percent. So let's call it an even $200. Now, I don't have park fees, but I need a room for the night. Assuming I can fit the wife and I and all the kids in one room, and get away with it, I am still looking at $90-$140 a night for a modest but comfortable motor inn. For six nights that's an additional $630-$840. Now, add in breakfast, or lunch, or at least one meal a day, be it Denny's or someplace else, and there's another $200-$400. Oops. Stop right there. We have already exceeded the cost of the RV vacation.

Rewind. Let's figure this another way. If we hopped a plane in Harlingen or Brownsville, to San Antonio and back, plus a rental car for a week and rooms. Oops again. Forget it. Not even a family four pack of tickets on the bus, plus rooms and meals, and local transportation could do it. So, according to that reckoning, the best economic getaway is still the RV way. Even at $5 a gallon and only five miles gallon, I could still make the trip cheaper in the RV than any other method, and the bonus amenities of having your home on wheels beneath you is a plus you can't get with any other mode of travel.

So - are high gas prices going to stop me from taking the RV on the road this year? Not. But I may drive a little slower and a little more direct, and I may scrimp a bit on breakfast a head down to the Whataburger instead of Tiffany's. But you get the picture. They say good things come in small boxes. But sometimes big vacations come in big boxes - like the motor coach. So whether you're pulling or pushing down the highway this summer - Happy RVing. You're still beating the economic stretch by spending less on your vacation by taking the RV. Bon Voyage!

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