Americans Bemoan Skyrocketing Gas Prices

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WASHINGTON - Some people look at today's gas prices and only see despair in the days ahead.

"I think this is only the beginning. We could easily see $4.50 gasoline with these same oil prices," said Jeffrey Rubin, managing director of CIBC World Markets.

One gas consumer said, "You hate to say you can't afford it, but it's kind of the truth."

Could this start to sour America's love affair with the open road during the summer?

"I was going to go sightseeing on the coast, but I didn't want to pay that much for the gas," Oregon resident Terri Rickman said.

One group of would-be tourists all decided to be home-bodies instead. 

"Normally we would go down to the coast for the weekend. We said 'Nah', so tomorrow we're just gonna hang around Portland," said Oregon resident Rob Cappa.

In November, Americans' miles driven per month actually started to drop and they've kept dropping.

But if Americans could trim just five miles a day off their driving, that would drive the price of a barrel way down Texas economist Ken Medlock of the Baker Institute says.

"That could be sort of the pin that pops the bubble. If we could actually cut that much consumption this summer, price would be back about $65," he said. That would be down by about half.

But prices have soared so fast for so many weeks, people might think it's just going to keep soaring.

The rise in gas prices ripples through the economy, driving up what it costs for the daily essentials such as food.

That's making it hard for some food banks to keep going, even as the numbers of people needing them increase.

"It's like a double whammy effect where this increase in food prices is hitting families hard and it's also leading to less supply coming into food banks," said Michael Flood of the L.A. County Food Bank.

The good news? The rise pretty much slowed to a halt over the Memorial Day weekend.

A USA Today analyst points out prices have peaked around the end of May in 23 of the last 26 years. Then they usually go down some 20 percent. American drivers no doubt hope that proves to be the case again this year.

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