PHOENIX &

Joyce Parducci says the weather had always been the most popular topic of conversation at the recreational vehicle park she owns off Interstate 5 in Phoenix.




But now, she says, everybody's talking about the price of gasoline.




Gas prices have shot to record highs, sending shock waves through RV parks as snowbirds return to Oregon for the start of the summer driving season.




At $3.47, the price of regular hit an all-time high in the Medford-Ashland area this week, up about 44 cents over a month ago and double the price compared to Feb. 17, 2004, according to AAA.




Diesel fuel, which is used in many motor homes, is $3 on average, down almost 50 cents from its historic peak last August. It's still too high for Cliff Wade, 59, who considers Medford his hometown but winters in Yuma, Ariz. Wade said he and other motor home operators constantly scan the Internet to find the best prices on fuel as they drive the interstates.




Wade said he gets about 7.8 miles per gallon on a tank of diesel that costs almost $400 to fill up.




"I think it sucks, especially when oil companies are making $39 billion in profits on us working people," said Wade, making a rough estimate of oil company profits. "At some point it's going to slow down people from driving."




But Parducci said she hasn't noticed any reduction in the number of people using her RV park, which is in an area that has the highest gas prices in Oregon.




Wes Hutto drove up from Arizona with his wife, Judy. He said the price of gas in the Medford area seems to be the highest he's seen in his travels. Hutto said he'll likely fill up in Portland, where fuel prices are usually cheaper than in Medford, but he still estimated it would cost him about $400.




Hutto said he and his wife will cut back on the number of meals they eat out so they have enough budgeted for fuel. He's heard from other motor home owners who are already altering their travel plans. As for him, Hutto said: "If we want to do it, we've got to pay the price."