Painful Reality

We had planned a big Memorial Day vacation trip to Shenandoah National Park and Washington, D.C., but we simply cannot justify spending so much money on gas and other expenses at this time of high inflation. So we’ll enjoy a “staycation” at Loyd Park, close to home, instead. After all, the capital’s monuments, memorials, and museums will still be waiting for us when prices stabilize. But it means that, for the first time in eight years, we likely will not get to visit one of our national parks. And that saddens us.

The painful reality is that gas prices have risen, on average, about $1.50/gal since we first planned our trip, which would have added an additional $500 to the trip. Canceling our reservations cost about $200, so we’re still saving $300 by postponing. And because the price of everything has also gone up, we’ll be saving hundreds more.

We made this difficult decision while weekending at Loyd Park, realizing that the journey isn’t as important as the experience. Whether we’re camping at our own “backyard” park or traveling to a distant destination, the objective is to spend time together away. Away from home. Away from work. Away from our daily routines. Getting away, even if only 15 miles away, is a million miles from Monday.

And so we’ll spend our vacation at a familiar spot near Joe Pool Lake. Maybe we’ll watch our favorite “Washington” movie, The American President, with its visual postcard of the capital. Or perhaps we’ll take a virtual tour (there are so many online). We’ll undoubtedly spend time enjoying great meals and crackling campfires and long walks under starlit skies.

The one thing we won’t be doing is contributing to the problem by driving long distances and paying high gas prices that only contribute to Big Oil’s bottom line.

Memorial Day weekend is expected to bring 37.9 million Americans to the road, more than traveled by car over the same holiday weekend before the pandemic hit and an increase of 8.5 percent over last year, when gas prices were considerably lower. We won’t be among them. The painful reality at the pump is simply prohibitive.

One bonus, however, is we’ll be able to visit Cliff’s colleague and her husband who live near the lake. They’ve promised a chicken-fried steak experience like no other. So we’ll add it to our list of “must haves” during our staycation.

After all, something has to take the place of our much-anticipated visit to the International Spy Museum!