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Gas Pump Sticker Shock Sends Chill Into California Weekend Travel; 'Weeks Ahead Could Be Rather Ugly'

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- After two years of pandemic-induced slumber, weekend travel within California was facing a new chill as prices at the gas pump continue to rise at record levels.

While air travel is rebounding across the state, it's the regional day trips, the journeys to a popular staycation spot, that were being impacted most by the rising prices.

With the unsettled situation in Ukraine and time of the year, prices could go even higher.

"We're also just a few weeks away from the traditional start of the spring surge in gasoline prices, brought on by the change to summer gasoline, seasonal maintenance at refineries and rising demand," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "The weeks ahead could be rather ugly with rising prices, especially if Russia pursues a strong-arm invasion of Ukraine."

According to AAA, the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas was an all-time high of $4.741 -- up $1.30 from this time a year ago. But in some areas the state, prices have soared above $5.00.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey says the San Francisco Bay Area has the highest average prices in the nation at $4.75 per gallon while the lowest average is in Houston at $3.05 per gallon.

Megan Hayes had hoped to be spending the long Presidents Day weekend in Lake Tahoe, but was forced to cancel those plans.

"I wanted to go to Lake Tahoe, but that's just too far a drive from me and I ain't got gas for that," she said.

Eva Oropeza-Lee said her family has been making alternates plans.

"We have been home as much as we can, to try and save because of these prices," she said. "We've been taking a lot of family walks that's for sure, bike rides, but not a lot of traveling going on right now." crowdsources its website with the cheapest gas prices. In the Bay Area, the website said the current average price is $4.874.

Meanwhile, the website said the cheapest gas was $4.07 a gallon at the Grand station on San Pablo Ave. in Pinole, $4.19 a gallon at Costco in Richmond and San Ramon, $4.25 a gallon at Marin Gas in Larkspur and $4.29 a gallon at the Valero in San Leandro.

In San Francisco, the cost per gallon was $4.90 and higher.

Gasbuddy said if you are searching for bargains, their research shows the best time to fill up is on Sunday and the worst day is Wednesday.

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