We are safely back home again after our trip down east – we were away 20 days, although just nine days were ‘travel’ days and we covered a total of 9,574 kilometres. The average fuel consumption over the entire distance with the Volvo while hauling a trailer, turned out to be 10.6 l/100 km or about 26.7 miles per Imperial gallon and we averaged 84 km/hour over the whole trip. I improved on the fuel consumption from what I was able to get last year, by just lowering the rear tail gate on the trailer to reduce its wind resistance – doing so basically paid for about three tanks of gas and so was well worth it. We had good visits with both my brothers, a few friends and also relatives on my wife’s side of the family, and best of all spent some time with our two son’s. The high point was the graduation of our younger son Derek at York University. All in all, a very successful trip.
We took the trailer so we could deliver a load of items to our sons in Ontario, and rather than come home ’empty’ we dragged back a 1973 Suzuki GT750 basket case seen in the photo to the right (just ‘click’ to see a larger image) which is in a very sorry state, but which does have a few parts and pieces I can use elsewhere if I don’t actually try and restore it. As well, tucked away in one of the boxes, was a possibly rare Clymer repair manual – it is a third printing covering only the 1972 380cc through 750cc Suzuki triples, is dated 1974, and appears to have not been used so I’ll add it to the collection in my library. I need to clear away a few of my other projects before I decide what I’m going to do with the basket case, so it will probably just sit in a heap in a corner of the garage till next year at which point I will include it on my project web site.
While travelling we usually try to use Shell fuel stations as they are after all the folks paying my pension, but after having travelled to both the east and west coasts of North America a couple of times in the past year I can say with some authority that Shell really doesn’t always make it easy for expressway and turnpike travellers to buy their products. We several times fuelled up at Esso/Exxon or some other brand simply because they had advertised ahead on the highway so we knew they were there when we needed fuel – while a Shell station may have also been available, we many times didn’t find out about it till we had passed it. The other thing was being able to easily get to a station that you knew existed. Many years ago, a fellow I worked with by the name of Jerry Beneteau told me that the secret of a successful service station was ‘good dirt’ – it appears that this useful insight has been lost by Shell retail in the USA and Canada, as in a few cases, having confirmed that a Shell station existed, getting to it was not convenient from the perspective of a highway traveller wanting to just fill and go with the least fuss and time investment.
The other thing I really started to find annoying was in the USA being sometimes asked to enter a zip code at the pumps when paying by credit card – of course, being from Canada I don’t have a #$%@ zip code so I then had to go into the office and negotiate with the sales clerk which sort of defeats the whole idea of speed and convenience in today’s self serve world. In one case (not a Shell station) , I actually had to prepay and then go back and get a refund for the amount I didn’t put into the tank ! I can accept the idea of doing something to reduce fraud, but modern credit cards have PIN numbers so rather than creating a new, non-standard method I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just use what already exists ? It seemed to me to be a slightly stupid, non-customer focused process.
When I was working at Shell, I recall regular discussions amongst the retail folks about how to boast sales – I think one easy way would be to stick a few senior executives in a couple of cars for a few weeks, and have them do some actual ‘on the ground’, coast to coast highway learning to see what it looks like from the customer side, rather than from the inside of their offices. I’m pretty sure there would be a few changes made really quickly if they did !