Dale McFeatters, whose column appears regularly on my political news web site, Capitol Hill Blue, waxed whimsical today with a lament to how high gas prices threaten the long-honored tradition of cruising:

High gas prices are threatening an almost sacred American tradition — driving around aimlessly, cruising, if you will.

Driving around aimlessly is such a part of our culture that it has its own signature film, "American Graffiti," in which a group of teen-agers spend the night driving aimlessly around Modesto, California.

There is even a female version of driving around aimlessly, ‘"Thelma & Louise," in which two women drive distractedly and aimlessly toward Mexico. The trip ends badly, but as any small-town kid who spends summer evenings driving up and down Main Street could tell you, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

America’s roadside culture grew out of driving around aimlessly. Drive-in malt shops and drive-in movies sprang up to give some sense of purpose to just driving around. There is a whole genre of music, largely but not totally from the 1950s, to drive aimlessly by. The music is sold in boxed sets by public television and on late-night infomercials.

I cruised a lot in the 60s in my ’57 Ford and the Blue Ridge Parkway offered a lot of opportunities for driving around with, as Chuck Berry sang, "no particular place to go."

Ridin’ along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin’ wild

Cruisin’ and playin’ the radio
With no particular place to go.

Ridin’ along in my automobile
I’m anxious to tell her the way I feel,
So I told her softly and sincere,
And she leaned and whispered in my ear
Cuddlin’ more and drivin’ slow,
With no particular place to go.

With gas prices more than a buck higher than a year ago, it doesn’t make much sense to cruise in a Jeep Wrangler that gets about 15 miles per gallon but my Harley cruises along at 50 mpg on the open road so it has become the cruiser of choice on the Parkway — not just for me but apparently for many others. On an 83 mile cruise down the Parkway towards North Carolina and back the other day, I saw dozens of bikes but only a handful of cars. RVs? Not a one in sight.

When the going gets tough, the tough adapt.