On the Road: Classic road trip | AspenTimes.com

On the Road: Classic road trip

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Blue Highways of the West ” Who says the days of the Great American Road Trip are over?

My family was determined we wouldn’t let $4 per gallon gasoline foil our plan to tour a good share of the western states this month. As soon as school ended, we headed to Jackson, Wyo., and Yellowstone National Park for four days to play in the land where the buffalo roam. From there we took a circuitous route on lonely highways that rolled over the hills of Montana, through the dark timber of Idaho and into the farmland of Washington before shooting through the Columbia River Gorge to our destination of Portland. Puddletown didn’t live up to its rainy reputation ” it was sunny and above 70 degrees for five straight days and made for a particularly swell time.

After crossing the Cascades on the return trip, we blasted through the vast emptiness of south-central and southeastern Oregon before hitting increasing levels of desolation in the Nevada and Utah deserts.

We experienced everything from 28 degrees and a snowstorm at Yellowstone to 100 degrees and glaring sun near the San Rafel Swell in Utah.

All told, we covered about 2,750 miles, sacrificing some time by avoiding interstate highways as much as practical. Thankfully, we didn’t need to take out a second mortgage to pay for the journey. Our Toyota Prius got gas mileage that ranged from 43 miles per gallon to 60 mpg between fill-ups, depending on driving conditions. My wife and I estimated that we averaged 47 mpg for the trip. That means we used nearly 60 gallons of gas. At an estimated cost of $4.30 per gallon, we figure we spent $258 or so for fuel. (We encountered the highest gas price of the trip at Elko, Nev., where the pump was an Aspen-like $4.69 per gallon for regular unleaded.)

The Prius was a personal choice for us a few years ago and I’m not keen on preaching to other people about what to drive. I just saying hallelujah because a fella needs a good road trip without breaking the bank every now and then.