How you, too, can (utterly fail to) get great gas mileage

Good Wife Norma and I arranged to meet brother Jim and wife Mary for some fishing at Hershey in Nebraska’s western hemisphere last Sunday and Monday.

Why Hershey of all places? Because (1) fishing is good in the small interstate lake at that interchange and (2) Jim and Mary live in Scottsbluff, so Hershey is roughly equidistant between them and us.

I offered up our boat which we dragged out there behind the (not at all) new ’99 Suburban. For those familiar with my semi-ill-fated restoration a note; the project is complete. Some unmitigated rust remains because a couple grand would be silly money spent for cosmetic reasons only. Structurally, the thing is sound as a dollar. I would take the thing to either coast without doubt or hesitation.

We set off with our 25-year-old boat/Burb menagerie at 5 a.m. Sunday and arrived at the dock near Hershey along about 8. No wait, there is no dock on that lake, just an unadorned concrete boat ramp. It proved adequate to the task, and we proceeded to catch something more than 50 largemouth bass between us. We accomplished this feat (stop reading for a moment Josh Miller) by trolling crankbaits in 10 to 18 feet of water. This technique, one my buddy Josh cannot abide, is simple. You mindlessly drag wobbling, fake minnows behind the boat round and round and round. In this case we came to learn only 1.3 to 1.7 mph would do.

A horde of healthy but just a smidge short of legal keepers lustily slammed our deep diving Flicker Minnows (mostly Good Wife Norma’s if you must know the truth). It was great fun. Bass this size are known to tournament anglers as ditch pickles. While not a compliment, there’s no doubt they gifted us a wonderful, even if scorching hot, day on the water.

The following day, Monday, still felt like Sunday to we former working stiffs. But we had nowhere to be so decided to take a spin around Lake Maloney south of North Platte. Now for a meaningless aside, I was born in North Platte where my younger brothers and I spent many of the best days of youth in our tiny cabin or aboard my father’s leaky wooden boat. We’re talking north of 60 years ago and the ‘Fat Lady’, as Dad and his equally politically incorrect running buddy Dick dubbed it, was already ancient.

Monday the four of us spent three hours or so catching nothing at all, mostly for old time’s sake, then parted ways at 11 so we could head east while they turned sharply west.

We miss our dear friends Kathy and Doug Larson who live on the shore of Johnson Lake south of Lexington, so we made way there for the day’s second boat ride. My folks owned a home on the lake for 10 years so this, too, was a watery stroll down memory lane.

The day’s highlight was visiting Kathy and Doug (thanks for the splendid root beer floats) in the mid-afternoon followed by a nice meal together at the highly recommended (by us) Nautical Rose restaurant.

A great time was had by all even though GWN was nearly done in by the relentless, blazing sun and blistering heat both days.

So, Steve, I hear you asking, “What in the h-e-double-toothpicks does any of this have to do with gas mileage?”

I thought perhaps you would be interested in the old Burb’s final accounting tale of the tape: 467.4 miles round trip during which The Beast gulped 38.35 gallons of gas (it has a pocket-draining 40-gallon tank) that yielded pay-up-or-whine-and-leave-it-home mileage of 12.1877445.

Would fuel have been cheaper in the truck? Yes, absolutely.

Will we take the truck next time? Probably not. There aren’t many vehicles out there as outrageously roomy and comfortable as a Suburban; even one that’s old as dirt.



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