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Staff Photo by Jay Greeson / Rochelle Parker
Rochelle Parker, of Brainerd: "I pretty much don't go out or do anything any more than work and go home."
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Staff Photo by Jay Greeson / Tricia Blair
Tricia Blair, of Ringgold, Georgia: "Our gas (spending) has doubled, so we are only using two cars for three drivers in our household." 
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Staff Photo by Jay Greeson / Andrew Walker
Andrew Walker, of Chattanooga: "There's not any one thing, but I have less disposable income right now, for sure."

No matter where you go or whom you speak to, you can't get around the heat these days.

Could be the red-hot temperatures that make the devil's minions roaming Earth look for shade and long for home.

Could be the red-hot Atlanta Braves, who are unbeaten in June.

Or it could be soaring gas prices that are making all of us red-hot under the collar.

Motorists tanking up at five gas stations in five parts of Hamilton County said this week the pain at the pump is all too real. And that makes them really hot.

"This is outrageous," Rochelle Parker said as she was pumping unleaded at $4.29 a gallon at the Circle K on East Brainerd Road.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Business Editor Dave Flessner recently reported that average fuel prices in Chattanooga have jumped by 15.8 cents a gallon for regular gas, rising to a record high of $4.55 a gallon. Local gas prices are up by nearly 45 cents a gallon in the past month and are now $1.80 a gallon above where they were at the start of the summer travel season a year ago, he wrote.

Parker said she drives to her mother's house each morning to get her car to go to work at McKee Foods because Parker's car runs on premium, which is north of $5 a gallon these days.

She was one of a few area residents who said they are managing fuel costs with car swaps or carpooling.

"We have three drivers and are only using two cars," Tricia Blair, of Ringgold, said as she pumped gas at The Market in Ooltewah, where unleaded was $4.45 a gallon. "We can't afford to keep three cars on the road. I work in home health care, so I have to drive. My son (Carson) and his buddies take turns driving, and my husband has been carpooling to work when he can."

Andrew Walker, who works at Mark Spain Realty, normally drives his truck. Not now. He's been driving his girlfriend's Hyundai because it gets much better gas mileage than the truck.

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"Yeah, I'm grateful she lets me borrow it," he said as he was filling up at Weigel's on Highway 153, where you could buy unleaded for the lowest number I saw at $4.19 a gallon — and $4.09 with a Weigel's club card. "I have not really changed any trips (this summer), but I didn't have any planned."

For Terry Smith, who got a smidge more than 3 gallons for $15 at the Speedway on Highway 58 — where unleaded was $4.57 — the prices are eye-popping. But she's taking the steep increases in stride and is keeping the budget squeeze in perspective.

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"I'm just trying to go with the flow," Smith, who lives in Collegedale, said. "We all have to have gas. So I'm not going to stress about it.

Now that's an easygoing approach. Maybe Terry's a big Braves fan.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6273. Follow him on Twitter @jgreesontfp.

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Jay Greeson
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