Avoiding The Pump

And the price at the pump is…going up! Ugh. Getting around the island just got more expensive for people who rely on gasoline. Ouch. And for folks who rely on diesel, double ouch. The good news is that there are options. Let’s play with online maps and directions to play with some possibilities.

Google Maps

Whidbey is a long island, but the main portals are the bridge and the two ferries. The longest drive between portals is from the Pass to the Clinton ferry. It isn’t the longest drive; that would mean driving to the end of Franklin Road and Possession Point State Park. According to the mapping sites, the drive is almost exactly one hour (1 hour 2 minutes). Considering the price of gas the mileage may be more important (47.5 miles). Check your mileage and the price of gas at your normal supplier. There and back can cost about the same as a reasonable lunch. Your gas mileage, driving style, and culinary tastes may vary.

Good news! You can take the bus. Thanks to Island Transit the ride is free! (for now). Catch the right bus and cut your costs in half with only a doubling of your travel time (2 hours 9 minutes). OK, so there are some limitations. While the buses travel to most of the island they don’t go everywhere. Miss a bus and you might have to wait an hour, or more, depending on the route. And if it is a Sunday, well, evidently that’s a day for resting. The other good news is that there are Park & Rides which make parking and riding easier. On some routes the bus stops are very negotiable. Check with your driver or with Dispatch for details.

There are other options for those willing to pay their way. Taxes and shuttles fill in to cover special needs or custom plans. No surprise that prices vary considerably. 

Whidbey is also known among bicyclists for its scenery (and its hills). While it may seem slow for many, with a bit of stamina it is possible to ride at a moderate pace and make the trip in about twice the bus’ time (4 hours 11 minutes). Exercise! An excuse to work off calories, or to load up on calories! Despite what many cyclists claim, the fuel costs aren’t zero; but each rider has to find their own measurement; e.g. miles per doughnut. 

Bonus fact: The buses have bike racks and so do some taxis. Rode too far or the weather’s too bad or whatever? Call in the cavalry. Also, check with AAA or your insurance company. They might have some roadside assistance for you and your bike.

Really want to get some exercise and have a lot of time? Try walking it. And the computer says…about four times as long to walk as to bike (16 hours 7 minutes). Congratulations to anyone who can walk 47.5 miles in a day (like those folks who hike the Pacific Crest Trail) or people who run ultra-marathons. Doable, but also understandable why few try it. Keep in mind though that among some groups on the island there are rumors of a tradition of walking the coastline around the island – almost. Plan on a few days, at least. Tides, the Federal Government lands, and a bit of geology at the Pass mean some accommodations must be made.

But hey, Whidbey is an island. Why not just use the water? Hoist the sails and skip the twists and hills and traffic on land. Just don’t be too surprised if the winds and tides aren’t heading your way, and you get passed by a whale. Nice view, though.

At this point some readers are ready to comment that cars don’t have to rely on gas, and they’re right. There are several charging stations on the island so electric vehicles have options that ignore visiting gas pumps. There are advantages to keeping up with the times – for those who can afford it. 

Islanders know that if you need to fill up with gas or diesel, where you buy makes a big difference. In general, Oak Harbor usually has the best prices. Shopping closer to the main roads helps. Some places even discount if you join their frequent buyer plans. Ask a local for your locale. They’ll know.

In the meantime, keep those buses in mind. Whidbey’s scenery is free. The ride is free. Some people pay money for scenic tours. And the bus is probably going close to where you want or need to be. Just check the schedules, first. (Personal experience: It is a long walk from the Clinton Ferry to downtown Langley; a fact that was apparent when taking a short weekend in Seattle that started on a Friday, bus-ferry-bus; and returning on a Monday that happened to be a holiday, bus-ferry-oops. At least the weather was nice.)

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