PASCO -- Months ago, Jim Self could pull his semitruck into a truck stop and put in about 230 gallons of gas for about $620.
But when he topped off his tank Saturday in Missoula, Mont., he paid more than $800 for the same amount of gas.
He and other long-haul truckers are feeling the pinch of rising gas prices. They also are making adjustments to deal with the rising cost of fuel.
According to the website WashingtonGasPrices.com, gas prices averaged $3.60 per gallon in the state Monday, up 14.5 cents per gallon from the previous week.
In the Tri-Cities, prices averaged $3.42, while diesel averaged $3.98, according to the fuel gauge AAA report.
Nationwide, gas prices averaged $3.47 per gallon, up 12.6 cents per gallon over the week before, the website reported.
The turmoil in the Middle East is driving up the costs, said Dave Overstreet, a spokesman for AAA Washington.
Crude oil is traded internationally, he said. Although the United States has an adequate supply of crude oil and gasoline, traders are worried Mideast instability could make oil less readily available in the future.
So they are buying as many oil shares now as they can, which is driving up the price, Overstreet said.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil futures ended Monday at $105.44 a barrel, the highest levels since September 2008, Reuters reported.
Truck drivers are seeing the effects on a day-to-day basis.
"Starting a week or two weeks ago, every time you drove by a truck stop, you saw gas (prices) going up a significant amount," said truck driver John Jardine of Victoria, British Columbia.
Jardine spoke as he refueled at King City Truck Stop off Highway 395 north of Pasco on Monday afternoon.
"At every truck stop, everybody's talking about it," he said.
Jardine doesn't own the truck he drives, so he doesn't feel the pinch directly because his company pays the gas bill.
Despite that, every week his company gives him a sheet listing gas prices at destinations through which he drives. Jardine said he plans where to refuel his truck accordingly.
Self of Rathdrum, Idaho, said he started noticing gas prices rising about the beginning of the year. He is an independent trucker, meaning he owns his truck and trailer and leases his hauling services to companies.
"Everything we do is costing more due to the price of fuel," he said, from the price of an oil change to the price of parts and tires, which are higher because of higher shipping costs.
"The price of everything is going up but our income doesn't really go up," said Self, referring to himself and his wife, Rebecca, who accompanies him on the road.
Rebecca Self said her husband usually trades his truck in for a newer model every three years. But last year, because of rising operating costs, he didn't.
But Jim Self thinks he's one of the lucky independent truckers, as he has paid off his truck and trailer.
He said others who still are making payments on their rig might be less lucky, and less safe.
"The tires they're running on may be less than acceptable," Self said. "Their brakes may not be getting repaired."
Joe Gomez, an independent trucker from Texas, said the rising gas prices have added an extra $400, one-way, to his cross-country hauls.
In response, instead of making two round-trip hauls a month, he tries to do two and a half. "I get one day off every other week," he said.
Gomez tries to spend less on food when he is on the road. He also saves gas by not idling his truck when he makes a stop, even if that means it's colder in the cab.
Several truck drivers had theories linking the rise in gas prices to events happening on the other side of the world.
"We need to drill for oil (more in this country)," Self said. "We need to refine it and get out of the Middle East."
"It's just politics," Gomez said. "We end up paying the bottom line. It's always the working man who has to pull the heaviest load."
* Kathy Korengel: 509-582-1541; email@example.com