Suffering through high gas prices? So are these North Country drivers

Don Deneault tops off his vehicle at the Stewart’s Shop pump in Saranac Lake on Friday, June 3. Deneault was visiting from Kansas, where gas was around $4.47 per gallon when he left, so, even after New York’s gas tax moratorium, which started taking around 16 cents off the state gas tax that week, $4.95 still felt high to him. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

On a warm, summer day in the Adirondack community of Tupper Lake, Julie Cascio stops into the local Stewart’s gas station for a cup of ice cream. Cascio grew up here but now lives in Boston. She drives back often to see family and has watched gas prices soar in recent months.

“I come up once a month to visit my dad and each month I come up it’s getting just a little bit more expensive,” says Cascio.

Many drivers across New York and around the nation are facing gas prices above $5 a gallon, forcing many to change their daily habits to deal with the high prices.

Cascio considers herself lucky, since she can afford the rising prices. She blames the record-high gas prices, in large part, on the war in Ukraine.

“It’s kind of like a perfect storm, almost,” says Cascio. “In my view, a lot of it stems back to the war. If it wasn’t for that, I think we’d still be seeing rising gas prices, I just don’t think they’d be quite as steep.”

Steep is one word to describe gas prices. Alexander Cameron, who’s on a fixed income from social security, describes them another way.

“The gas prices are killer,” says Cameron, standing alongside his older SUV that gets 15 miles per gallon.

Cameron says he needs this kind of car to pull the camper he lives out of. And if he didn’t have to tow a camper? “I would get a Prius or something small again because I don’t need all this vehicle,” says Cameron.

Until a few months ago, Jennifer Ette was also driving around an old, inefficient car. That is until the price of repairs really started piling up.

Ette is from Tupper Lake and she tries to be thrifty, so instead of sinking money into her old car, she bought a newer, used car a few months ago. But she did when the cost of used cars was high and gas prices were rising.

“So for having even a used vehicle, you know this isn’t brand new, it still was expensive,” says Ette, “a lot more than I would have anticipated.”

She’s juggling a lot of different bills lately, including a car payment, and now high gas prices. “I’m a single-income, single parent, so it hurts a lot more,” says Ette.

She and her 13-year-old son are loading groceries into the back of her car in Saranac Lake. The 20-mile drive from Tupper Lake is about as far as the two of them have been going lately.

“We don’t do the extra stuff that we used to do on my days off — going to Plattsburgh and trying to find fun stuff to do, go to Syracuse, go to Watertown,” explains Ette. “All the extra stuff, the exploring, I guess, just all the fun stuff.”

For other folks, higher gas prices haven’t put on a hold their holiday travel. Back in Tupper Lake, folks are lining up at a gas station, filling up their motor boats and RVs.

Paul Franz is visiting the Adirondacks from Marcy, New York near Utica. He’s hauling a large camper behind his truck and is in Tupper Lake getting gas on his way to Fish Creek Ponds campground for the week.

“It really comes down to one tank of gas we’re going to spend for the truck for the week, so it’s painful,” says Franz, “but it’s not a couple of tanks or three or four tanks. It’s one tank.”

For Franz, the steep price of gas is worth it for a week in the Adirondacks. And it’s the price a lot of people are having to pay, whether they like it or not, just to go about their daily lives in the North Country.


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