With the recreation season in full swing, many Mainers and tourists are determined to do whatever it takes to enjoy the great outdoors.
But this year, some just can’t.
Hikers, anglers, four-wheel drive drivers, campers, boaters and other recreational enthusiasts enjoy the trails and waterways, but not everyone can afford the higher costs associated with gas and travel. Some recreation seekers have given up their activities altogether, while others are making concessions to save money.
“Stay at home. Enjoy our backyard. Refuse to pay these prices,” said Kim Goodrow from Lebanon.
“I’m really more worried about heating my house this winter than I am about gas prices today,” said Steve Yenco of Lisbon Falls. “I can and have reduced my travel to save gas. I can’t really save on heating my house.”
According to AAA.com, the average price for regular gasoline in Maine on Thursday was $4.99 a gallon. That’s 13 cents more than the national average of $4.86.
While gasoline is 5 cents a gallon cheaper than last week, it remains almost $2 a gallon more than the $3.09 it cost Mainers just a year ago.
In response, the Mainers are changing their outdoor plans so they can still have meaningful recreation.
For hikers, that means getting creative.
“We went closer to places or had multiple experiences together instead of just one a day to save on travel costs,” said Kristen McQuesten of Charleston.
Others share travel expenses by carpooling and driving to destinations closer to home.
Anglers, on the other hand, are thinking about reducing their energy needs on the water.
“Only with the kicker motor, about 2.5 gallons a weekend. The big engine is just a backup this year,” said Michael Helfrich, who took some unexpected advantages from the situation.
“I like the lack of speedboats [and] Jet skis on Sebago. It’s almost as if the lake is mine now,” added Helfrich.
Lincoln’s Jesse Dicker is still hitting the water, but in a mode of transportation that doesn’t rely on gas.
“I’ve used my kayak a lot more this year and haven’t traveled way too much like I usually do,” Dicker said.
Not only Mainer are determined to use the summer vacation time.
“We don’t care how much more it costs to leave Connecticut and get to our warehouse in Maine,” said Mark Liljedahl. “‘You can’t take your money with you’ is our philosophy and we’re not going to let a few hundred bucks more in the summer ruin that.”
Brian Dickerson has a similar determination to do whatever it takes.
“We travel to Maine from upstate New York twice a year, and I’ll eat ramen noodles for a month to save if I have to,” he said.
Timothy Maddocks said sometimes sacrifices have to be made, including financial ones.
“Yes, fuel prices hurt us, but for those who are really passionate about this form of recreation, the adage ‘You have to pay to play’ is worth the fun and memories,” he said.
Ultimately, for some, the benefits of being outdoors outweigh the money it will have to spend this summer.
“Gas is still cheaper than a therapist, and I prefer to get my therapy on the trails,” said Bingham’s Crystal Adams.
Then there are those who just avoid the problem altogether, like Earl Gary Jr., who took a proactive step to mitigate his long-term fuel costs.
“I sold the Silverado and ordered the Prius! Hiking comes first!” he said.