updated 9/1/2005 6:31:48 PM ET 2005-09-01T22:31:48

Droves of drivers who had looked forward to end-of-summer road trips to the mountains, beach or elsewhere this Labor Day weekend were scrapping their plans in response to soaring gas prices and lengthening lines at the pump.

The governors of several states, including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, asked residents to curb discretionary driving and instead stay home with friends and family this weekend to conserve gasoline as some gas retailers have temporarily run out.

President Bush on Thursday asked Americans to be prudent in their consumption of energy, but said supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina were temporary, adding: “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it.”

Panicked buying was blamed for some of the gas stations running dry in states that ranged from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia to Wisconsin.

“We don’t want to get caught out there trying to get gas,” said Lucius Monroe, who had planned for weeks to leave this weekend with his wife on a monthlong, cross-country trip to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and the Hoover Dam.

The retired couple postponed the trip this week after they saw gas lines stretching into the streets and prices hovering around $4 per gallon in their suburban Atlanta neighborhood.

“People are on the edge. They just want to be reassured there’s going to be gas wherever they’re going,” said Garrett Townsend, manager of a AAA office in Atlanta, which was being deluged with calls from members inquiring about gas availability.

While it will be weeks before all eight of the Gulf refineries that shut down are back in action, some key pipelines had resumed partial service by Thursday. However, analysts said it would take days, if not longer, for the supply constraints to be worked out of the system.

Hotels were bracing for a hit. The Westin Hotel in popular Hilton Head, S.C., is getting peppered with cancellation calls, said front desk agent Jennifer Hussey. In nearby Myrtle Beach, S.C., a clerk at a Holiday Inn Express said a dozen people called to scrap their stays, many of them citing gas concerns.

For those opting to fly this weekend, airlines were assuring customers that their jets will have enough fuel even though daily jet fuel production has been cut more than 10 percent because of hurricane damage to Gulf Coast refineries.

An AAA nationwide survey conducted before Hurricane Katrina indicated a slight increase in Labor Day weekend travel despite what were then record-high gas prices. The disruptions caused by the hurricane have pushed gas prices above $3 per gallon across much of the country, creating even greater uncertainty about motorists’ holiday driving plans.

Neelam Chopra had hoped to drive her Lexus on a 500-mile round trip from Plainsboro, N.J. to Boston over the holiday. “We’re changing our minds because of the gas prices,” she said. “It used to cost about $20 to fill it up, now it costs $50.”

In West Palm Beach, Fla., Maria Ortega canceled a trip to visit family in Miami this weekend because of the rising prices. “It’s getting so expensive. You can’t just keep driving without thinking about it,” Ortega said.

For Jim Watson, who pays $100 to fill up his Silverado, driving up to Virginia from Georgia for a half-marathon this weekend just didn’t make sense anymore. Instead, he said, he and five friends “are all piling into a Toyota.”

The rising prices and reports of gas outages in the Milwaukee area hadn’t deterred Monica Potempa from planning to drive with her family to their vacation home in Lake Geneva, Wis., about 70 miles north of her Chicago home. However, a 2,900-mile road trip that Potempa’s family took earlier this summer to Niagara Falls would seem out of the question now.

“I don’t see us doing that again. It was a nice trip, but with gas prices now, it would be ridiculous,” she said.

At a busy gas station in Atlanta, gas station clerk Keturah Jackson offered some frank advice for would-be vacationers. “Just put up a BBQ grill and stay home,” she said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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