Record high prices at the pumps are giving residents of North Central Ohio a new opportunity to explore nearby attractions this summer rather than drive to a faraway vacation.
The cost of fuel has more than doubled in the past two years, according to data provided by AAA.
As of Friday afternoon, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $4.593, which set a new record.
The record national average price for a gallon of diesel was set Wednesday at at $5.577.
Ohio drivers Friday were paying an average of $4.469 for regular unleaded gas and $5.248 for diesel.
Gasoline price averages Friday were $4.472 in Crawford County, $4.474 in Richland County and $4.479 in Ashland County.
The price on Memorial Day of 2020 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline averaged $1.989 in Ohio, according to AAA, and the national average then was $1.959.
Local attractions all summer
Residents became accustomed to keeping their vacations short and local during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to Miranda Jones, executive director of the Galion-Crestline Area Chamber of Commerce.
Fortunately for residents of North Central Ohio, the region has a lot of attractions to offer.
Every month she looks forward to the first Friday event in Bucyrus and the third Friday event in Galion.
"And then fireworks across multiple municipalities," Jones said.
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She's also a fan of the Crawford Park District as well as the region's various golf courses and Frisbee-disc courses.
"There's some hidden gems," Jones said. "There's always outdoor activities."
Camping and canoeing are popular
The high gas prices have already increased the popularity of camping and canoe trips this summer, according to Jenny Wobbecke, whose family owns Mohican Wilderness Campground just outside of Loudonville.
"We've seen a tremendous increase in the number of sites booked," Wobbecke said. "They are booked earlier and they are booked for longer periods of time."
Mohican Wilderness has been attracting campers from across Ohio since the 1960s.
Generations of loyal vacationers have made the camp their summer getaway, but the last few years have been busier than ever, thanks first to the pandemic and now to increased transportation costs.
"People come to the Mohican area because of what we offer here," Wobbecke said.
It's less than a two-hour drive from the inner city areas of Cleveland and Columbus to the peaceful banks of the Mohican River.
The Wilderness offers camping, canoeing, horseback riding, zip lining, miniature golfing and more.
"If they just want to make a day trip, we completely understand," Wobbecke said. "We’re feeling the effects of the increased gas prices just as everybody else is."
Farm costs will be felt at dinner
Although consumers can watch their spending when it comes to things like taking vacations, they won't be able to avoid increased food costs.
The higher cost of fuel used in food production will inevitably be passed along to everyone, according to Jason Hartschuh, Ohio State University Extension agent for Crawford County.
"Fuel prices are definitely on everybody's minds," Hartschuh said. "It's going to raise the cost of growing an acre of crops."
After tilling, planting, spraying and harvesting, about four gallons of diesel is used per acre of farmland.
"That's going to add up when you think that last year we were under $2 a gallon for diesel," Hartschuh said.
It's just another blow to farmers who have already seen higher prices in seed, fertilizer and herbicides.
'Definitely not going to help' farmers
"If they were already struggling, it's definitely not going to help," Hartschuh said. "I don't know that it would be the final straw for anybody. It won't make it any easier, that's for sure."
And the farmers are only the first step in the process of food production. Once the crops are harvested, they have to be taken to a factory for packaging, then to the stores where they are sold.
"You're just about guaranteed to see higher food prices," Hartschuh said. "You think about a truck driving that produce down the road, they're going to do whatever they can to pass that cost along to the consumer. I would expect to see some higher grocery store prices moving forward."
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Record gas prices affecting everything from vacations to dinner costs