The Great American Road Trip from @abcnewsradio and @astoneabcnews
Today: Flagstaff, Arizona
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ABC News Radio’s Alex Stone explores gas prices, the economy, and culture across the America.
ABC News Radio Correspondent Alex Stone is hitting the road. Starting on Sunday, May 8th, Alex will begin a Flagstaff, Arizona, to Chicago, Illinois, road trip along historic Route 66. During the five day, 1600 mile journey, Alex will speak with Americans about gas prices, food prices and how their lives are being touched daily by the economy. Stone will find out how people are changing their day-to-day life to cope with the many challenges they face.
Ride along with ABC News Radio Correspondent Alex Stone on his Great American Road Trip.
Short link to the blog: http://abcn.ws/isWhnE
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Hello from Flagstaff, Arizona!
(FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.) — It is cool here compared to Phoenix, where it’s been hovering around 100 degrees for the last few days. Here, at 7,000 feet above sea level, it’s been in the 70s with nights in the 30s. Monday’s high is supposed to be only 49 degrees!
Thanks for joining me on this trek along Route 66. This is going to be an amazing week, and we’ll hear some amazing stories. I’ve never driven the old Route 66 so seeing some of the small towns and some of the tourist spots along the way will be fun.
We got to Flagstaff Sunday just as the sun was starting to go down. Already, we’ve met some memorable people. I’m focused mainly on gas prices here because despite the decline that the country is expecting, there is no relief yet from gas prices here in Northern Arizona. Flagstaff historically has the state’s highest gas prices because the fuel has to be trucked up to this elevation. Right now gas is around $3.80 a gallon — far cheaper than what I’m used to in California — but expensive for Arizonans. Some gas stations are closer to $4.
Among the people we’ve met here is Rayetta, who sells jerky products on the side of the road in downtown Flagstaff. She’s had to fight just to get a permit to sell her meats. She told me some amazing stories about how she is struggling to survive because in this economy with the high gas prices, tourists aren’t stopping anymore to buy jerky. And with gas prices at $3.80, her son can’t afford to take his child to school, so Rayetta is now driving her grandchild to school so her son doesn’t have to pay for gas.
We also stopped by a bar where we ran into some characters — and yes, some of them probably had had too much to drink. One woman who runs a gas station told me even she bikes to work because she can’t afford her own gas prices. She says she’s yelled at daily by angry customers but that she can’t bring down the prices until the big gas companies, like Shell, reduce their prices. Right now her gas station is only making a few pennies off each gallon of gas that’s sold.
Finally, while walking down the main downtown street here, I stepped into a gift shop that also sells tours. I bought a Route 66 sticker while I talked to Ricardo at the counter, who told me just a few days ago they raised the prices for their tours by $15 to $20 per person to make up for higher gas prices. Most tourists who walk in and book a chopper or driving tour don’t know they’re paying more but the tour company says if it wants to survive, it has to up the prices.
We’re about to hit the road to head east along Route 66. Monday night, we’ll be spending the night in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, which is about halfway between Albuquerque and Amarillo, Texas. We’ll be stopping at rest stops and in small towns talking to folks along the way, focusing on all things economy on our drive — from gas prices, to food prices, to daily economic lives. It will be interesting to see if gas prices do, in fact, drop this week while we’re on the road.
If you live along Route 66, shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook and tell me about how you’re dealing with this tough economy.
Tuesday’s focus will be on businesses and how they’re struggling through the tough times.