7 a.m., April 23: NBC producer Joo Lee and I head south out of Raleigh in the fog. We hit Interstate 95. Destination — Orlando.
With only a half tank of gas and a long trip ahead of us, we fill up. $2.89 a gallon in Dunn, N.C. It takes eight gallons to top us off — $24.75.
Across the street at the No Name Diner, we meet James Godwin and his buddies.
“It just doesn't seem right,” Godwin says, “that the fuel prices are going up at the rate that they are and these companies are having record profits.”
11:20 a.m.: We make it to South Carolina and stop at South of the Border. Travelers there are paying $3.05 a gallon.
One of the things we find as we travel is that people have this sense they're being gouged. One example? Less than a mile from South of the Border, gas is selling 16 cents cheaper.
2:17 p.m.: We meet the Davis family on their way back to New Jersey after vacationing in Orlando. A week ago, it cost them $40 to fill up. Now it's $48.
“Live yellow, go green or live green, go yellow,” says Jill Davis.
She's talking about fuel from corn, but she doesn't know where to find it.
We do — in Orangeburg, S.C. The good news? It's only $2.35 a gallon. The bad news? It's all sold out.
Heading from Maryland to north Florida, long-haul trucker Wesley Cameron says he's forced to pass the cost on.
“I'm not going to swallow the cost of fuel,” he says.
6:15 p.m.: Just outside Savannah, Ga., 14 gallons for $40.75. Ouch.
Maybe Harold Bass, riding his bike here, has the right idea.
“If people would learn to ride a bicycle,” Bass says, “the gas prices would come down.’
It might be a little hard to follow the route we took by bike.
Our total trip: 667 miles. The total cost for fuel? $102.50. A year ago it would have cost about $76.