Sunday, August 8, 2010

On the Road (and Maybe Not Again)

Last weekend the girls and I headed down south a ways to visit family. This would be the first time we saw these particular family members since January and this trip was planned nearly two months in advance (scheduling around the new job and kids' activities gets a little tricky).
We almost didn't make it.

Not because of time conflicts or mechanical problems (knock on wood), but because we almost didn't haven enough surplus miles in our ration to make the trip.

Each week we have a ration of 193 miles allowed between the two vehicles. Any unused miles go towards our mileage surplus, up to a maximum surplus of 530 miles.

The trip down to see family would, according to online map sources, require 300 miles round-trip.

Now, for most of the rationing year we've kept the mileage surplus right around (or above) the 300 mile mark (the benefit of not having a real summer vacation, sigh). But a busy summer of swim lessons, out-of-town swim meets and plenty of errands had chipped away at that surplus - even when we were being careful about combining errands and such.

Five weeks before the trip our mileage surplus was at 256 miles - not enough to make it there and back but not so low as to make us nervous since we still had plenty of time to save up miles. The following week our surplus bumped up to 273 miles and, after another week of miserly driving we had a surplus of 357 miles three weeks prior to the scheduled jaunt. Things were looking good.

But then two very busy weeks of shopping and running errands and chasing down home repair parts took the surplus down to a total of 291 miles just one week before the trip.

I started to get anxious about the trip - would we have enough miles? I let TMOTH know of my concerns - this trip was important and it was crucial that we have enough miles. He suggested that maybe we could (theoretically) trade some coffee rations for extra miles on the (imaginary) black market. I didn't like this idea since, ultimately, I like to follow the rules.

So for the next week we did very little driving. Unless it was desperately needed, all shopping was limited to one trip to the grocery store just a few miles away. When we went out to dinner one night we chose the mediocre neighborhood option over one of our house favorites that would have consumed an extra 10 or so miles. Swimming practice was over, so that would help, too.

By the end of the week we had saved up a total of 383 surplus miles. Whew!

So off we went to visit family (and even managed to sneak in an extra few miles to drop supplies off which saved some friends their own 300 mile business trip).

And how did the surplus fare?

A week after the trip our surplus is now only 104 miles, which doesn't get us too far. But, it's still a cushion which (hopefully) we can get back up to its maximum before the holiday season rolls around.

Otherwise, we'll definitely be home for Christmas.

--Rational Mama


  1. Wait, there's a black market? I think you ought to invent a black market randomizer. (risks: getting caught, mobsters knowing where you live, social stigma, potential for wildly indulgent fun)

  2. Not a bad idea, but I plan to NOT use the black market if I can help it - specifically for those reasons you mentioned (except wildly indulgent fun, I could always go for that!).