High Gas Prices Hit Little League

jim axelrod
Gasoline: Is there any other commodity we use every day that's jumped in price so much in so little time?

An Energy Department survey out Monday finds gas is up six cents in the past week, to a nationwide average of $2.61 a gallon.

Gas began the year at a $1.78. Since then, the price has been rising two-and-a-half cents a week, on average. And now, 83 cents later, Americans are paying the highest price we have ever paid.

With gas prices, on average, almost 50 percent more than where they were at the beginning of the year, CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod is measuring the nationwide impact in a two-week series, the CBS News Cross-Country Price Patrol.

The trip across America began Monday morning at a Mobil station in midtown Manhattan. We put a little more than 19 gallons into our Dodge Caravan. At $2.79 per gallon, it came out to $54.01.

We got out of New York as fast as we could, west on Interstate 80. First stop: Williamsport, Pa., home of the Little League World Series. Each summer, fans of teams from all over the country drive here to lend their support. But this year, it's an expensive trip.

"A Suburban, which is a 48-gallon tank, and it was $125 dollars to fill it up," said Russ Curran, of Lakeville, Mass.

And gasoline is cutting into cotton candy, slushies and souvenirs.

"I just told the kids they had to get one less item, and we'd be able to make it back home without cashing in cans on the way back," Curran said.

Debbie Johnson is here from Owensboro, Ky., to watch her son play. She crammed seven into her van and spent 200 bucks just in gas, before a single hotel room or meal. So her daughter's going to have to wait a bit longer for new sneakers.

"We haven't done as much back-to-school shopping as some others in the family would like. Those tennis shoes can last a little longer, you know," Johnson said.

The moms from Owensboro are at the Holiday Inn, dorm room style.

Rather than a hotel, their rivals from Louisiana are staying at a friend's cabin 20 miles from the stadium. Why? It's free, and something else has spoken for their money.

"Astronomical gas cost," Dimet Conrad said.

From Manhattan to Williamsport: 199 miles. It cost us about 13 cents a mile in gas. We'll compare that to the next 11 legs of our trip as we move west.

Only On CBSNews.com: Read Jim Axelrod's Road Log