I just drove up the coast of California last week to pick up my daughter from college. Although I would have preferred to take the more scenic route (Highway 1), from Morro Bay to Monterey Bay, I knew it would add a few extra hours to my trip and thus burn more gas. The price of gas here in L.A. is averaging $4.65 a gallon, that was the norm from here to my destination, Santa Cruz, CA.
Last spring when we made the trip north to check out the campus, we took the PCH and enjoyed the long winding road that travels past the Hearst Castle and on into Big Sur and Carmel. That was long before oil prices surged over $150 a barrel, and when we stopped for gas in Big Sur I was astounded to pay about $4.50 a gallon. I put in just enough to get us into Monterey, where I assumed the prices were lower. The gas station attendent had informed me the price was so high because they are so remote.
NPR has a piece today on a “tiny town” on Highway 1, located about “70 winding miles south of Monterey.” Gorda, California is “not much of a town,” it has “one restaurant, a hotel, a number of tourists looking at the ocean view — and a gas station.” But if you ask, “all of the locals can tell you: “Gorda” is Spanish for “really high gas prices.””
According to AAA spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough, California has the highest gas prices in the nation at $4.60, about 50 cents more than the national average. She says the free market is what keeps gasoline prices competitive, so Gorda’s remoteness does translate into even higher prices.
In fact, gas in Gorda hit $5 just a couple of months ago, and went to $6 last week. And both here and across the country, Fairclough says, prices may jump more over the next month or two.
The view above from the gas station in Gorda, CA maybe lovely, but for most folks these days, the price of gas is too steep to take that trip. For the record, the trip to Santa Cruz burned about 2 1/2 tanks.