Fear and Usury in Moab

There’s a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 70 between Grand Junction, Colorado, and Green River, Utah. If you enter that stretch of highway and haven’t gassed up, this is where you might find yourself at the mercy of Papa Joe.

Papa Joe’s Stop & Go
Location. Location. Location.

Papa Joe’s Stop & Go is a gas station in Crescent Junction, Utah. It’s the point where you would turn south if you were heading to Moab. It’s what I was doing last Sunday with my family. And we were rather low on gas.

I probably could have made it the 30 miles to Moab, but just to be sure I thought I’d visit Papa Joe. And besides, we wanted to spend a couple of hours in Arches National Park before going into town. We would have been pushing our luck.

Papa Joe was selling gas for $4.799 US per gallon.

Other parts of the US are already seeing prices this high. You folks in Great Britain and elsewhere are already used to paying upwards of $8 per gallon. Understand that this is our precious subsidized American gas, and I’m certain it’s the most I’ve ever paid.

Out in front of Papa Joe’s is this replica of The Scooby Gang’s Mystery Machine, which is not relevant to this story except for the fact that the windows are painted over and the rear tire is flat. It looks like this van hasn’t moved in years.

Papa Joe's Mystery Machine
Rut Ro

This is a part of the country where life-sized concrete dinosaurs are typically used to lure tourists off the highways to see roadside attractions. Papa Joe knows what are the next dinosaurs.

With a couple gallons of gouge-and-go gas, we visited Arches, went on a short hike, and then headed into Moab. Sadly, it was not our destination. We were just passing through. We didn’t even have bikes.

We topped off the tank at a gas station in town for a full dollar less per gallon — right next to Poison Spider Bicycles, which has this amazing mural:

Poison Spider Bicycles Mural
Click for the full effect

With Moab’s Mars-like landscape as the setting, a giant spider is chasing terrified cyclists past sandstone spires.

And perhaps it was my recent transaction with Papa Joe that made me almost immediately re-imagine this mural with a different monster. In my version the cyclist has nothing to fear.

Gas Tank Monster vs. Cyclist

Yes, I doodled that. You want the original? Make an offer.

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12 thoughts on “Fear and Usury in Moab”

  1. Kevin says:

    Is that legal? Sounds like price gouging to me.

  2. Chuck says:

    Love it! More doodles. Seriously. With the weather warming up it’s a good time to walk away from the car as much as possible anyway.

  3. Tom Bowden says:

    And such neat handwriting!

  4. Kevin Love says:

    Wow! What insanely cheap gasoline. That’s only about $1.25/L. No wonder Americans waste so much gasoline if it is so cheap.

    Also, in most of the rest of the world, regular gasoline has been banned and only unleaded is available. Due to the harmful effects of lead upon human health.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Kevin: Leaded gasoline has been banned for on-road vehicles in the US since 1996, and no car manufactured for the US has been compatible with leaded gas since 1975. So nowadays “Regular” means regular octane.

      But you are right that the artificially low price of gas in the US does encourage overuse, and discourages alternative technologies.

  5. sean says:

    Could be worse…..ever had to return a rental car without refueling and having not taken the “prepaid” refueling option. Now THAT is gouging

  6. BluesCat says:

    Gosh, Ted, I just heard — on CNN — one of the Republican’t talking heads sayin’ the REAL villain for high gas prices isn’t speculation at all, but GUVMENT REGULATION!

    I don’t know what that is, but evidently because of it those poor oil company C-folks (CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, etc.) need to keep gas prices high enough to avoid having to wear threadbare Brooks Bros suits!! Maybe we should set up collection jars for ’em at all the local bike shops since us bike commuters are DEFINITELY to blame!

  7. BillR says:

    I thought that regular gas was 87 octane, not 85.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Utah’s regular is 85.

      To get a higher octane, you need to go to a state-run gasoline store.

      (That second part was a joke that Utah beer drinkers will find hilarious. Right, Utah beer drinkers?)

  8. Kevin Love says:

    Yes, I’ve also heard about those politicians who seem to be blissfully ignorant that oil prices are set on international markets. Either that or they are deliberately lying.

    If you really want to blame a government for high gas prices, blame the government of China. They really ARE communists.

  9. Kevin says:

    Here in Taiwan the 3 octanes available are 92, 95, 97. And gas is about $4.30 /gallon.

  10. Mem Remzi says:

    Fellows, Gas in the US is not really artificially low. Gas in the rest of the world is taxed at a very high rate. Thus gas in the rest of the world is artificially high.

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