After living here for over 18 months, I’ve solidified my conclusion that the only ways to travel in the USA are via air or road. Air is the easiest way to get across country fast, but the effect on the environment is awful. Unfortunately I have to travel for work a lot and I cringe every time I imagine how badly those miles are affecting my carbon footprint. I console myself with the fact that if I weren’t doing the travelling, someone else would, and at least I am aware of the impact and am trying to offset the damage in other areas of my life.
The second way to travel is via car. I really have tried to find alternate ways to travel, but the US is such a vast country and very little infrastructure has been set up to allow for travel via any other medium. While in Switzerland we loved using the train system. We could hop off at one point, hike until we were weary and then jump onto another train. It was perfect. Unfortunately, the USA left the rail system to rot after WWII while money was pumped into the highway system. I can understand the history of it, but now that we are staring down the barrel of a future with less oil, an energy intensive highway system makes little sense. Australia is facing the same problem.
Recently, Brendan and I travelled through Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming visiting a number of places I really wanted to see while we were here. It was a big trip…over 2000 miles in a week. The car we rented was a Toyota Prius. We were really glad we had the opportunity to test out this car on a big trip. For the first few days we were averaging about 45 miles to the gallon (5.2Litres/100km), but after we started to work out how to drive it more efficiently, we were getting about 51MPG (4.6Litres/100km). One day we travelled for nearly 10 hours (including stops) and we didn’t fill up the tank all day. The car was worth it for that if nothing else.
Ideally, the government’s of big countries like the USA and Australia would be using some of that stimulus money to improve infrastructure like our railroads, but unfortunately it seems like we’ll continue with the status quo of building more roads. *sigh* Given that I can’t change the system, and can only adapt as best I can, high mileage cars are going to be essential in our energy-depleted future. When we move back to Australia, we’ll be investigating what second-hand, fuel efficient vehicles are on the market. Any suggestions?
P.S. This little guy hitchhiked with us for a number of miles across Colorado. Hope he found his way home again.