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Travelers absorbing prices

5/24/2013

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Travelers getting a jump start on the Memorial Day weekend are coming to grips with an all-too-familiar bump in the road: high fuel prices.

For some travelers, filling up at gasoline stations Thursday along Vine Street, the $3.89 and $3.99 per gallon fuel prices were unwelcome, but not a deterrent to travel.

"It's pricey, no question about it," said Bob Stover, Boulder, Colo., as he glanced at his $52.86 charge on the pump at the 24/7 Store on north Vine Street. "I guess we'll just cut back some other place.

"Maybe we give up lunch ... I don't know. It couldn't hurt me, for sure."

Gas prices dropped in some locations to $3.79 late Thursday.

Looking around the fuel station while travelers zipped in and out of parking spots in Humvees and large sport utilities, Stover, who drives a "decent gas mileage" Nissan Maxima said it appeared the increased fuel prices weren't visibly effecting travel.

"It doesn't seem to slow people down a bit," he said. "You expect to pay more. ... It's Memorial Weekend. It always goes up."

Prices in Hays, Stover said, are higher than Colorado, a fact echoed by another Colorado traveler who was filling the tank of his Chevy Suburban nearby.

Gale Nelson, Greeley, Colo., who was headed to Stillwell, Okla., said he hadn't been paying much attention to fuel prices before he hit the road this week, and was taken aback by prices in Hays.

"I got out here and the sign said $3.99. ... What in the world?" he said.

"I could have sworn unleaded back home was in the $3.50 range," Nelson said.

The price increase, which coincided with the Memorial Day weekend was "suspicious," to Nelson.

"They've jacked it up for Memorial Day," he said. "It's like clockwork."

Kansas prices averaged $3.91 per gallon Thursday for regular grade gasoline, with the national average $3.65 per gallon, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report. Despite the price increase the past week, this year's national average is 2 cents less than 2012's national average of $3.67.

National averages have risen steadily the last month, compared to a year ago when prices were tumbling. AAA's daily fuel gauge report cited higher crude oil prices as a possible reason for the increase.

"But tight regional supplies and refinery maintenance, both planned and unplanned, are the reason for dramatically higher pump prices in the Midwest and West Coast," the report from Monday said. "In particular, the average price paid by motorists in Minnesota and North Dakota has spiked more than 60 cents during this period, propelling both state averages to new all-time highs."

Down the road, at the Dillon's Fuel Center on Vine Street, Doug Storer, Hays, said rising fuel costs were a "fact of life," and not a reason to change travel plans.

"We're still doing everything that we did before," he said. "Still heading to the lake.

"You just kind of sacrifice in other areas so you can still go do what you want to do."

He said he is frustrated domestic resources haven't been developed, which potentially could make the U.S. less reliant on foreign oil. But overall, that's a frustration he has learned to live with.

"I don't like it, but it is what it is," he said, shaking his head. "Still have to live.

"Still gotta go to the lake."