Master Sgt. Ed Hugo said his friends teased him for buying a four-cylinder Mazda Protégé two years ago instead of a faster vehicle.
But as gas prices soared, he said the 37 miles a gallon he gets from his car was a blessing.
Like other Clovis and Portales drivers, Hugo said he was delighted to receive a break from seeing gas prices nearing $4 a gallon.
“I’m glad to see it go down,” said Hugo, who is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base and lives in Clovis. “It’s a good feeling, just to make you feel you can get around.”
The average national gas prices fell to $3.35 Friday, according to the Associated Press.
The average price for regular unleaded gas Saturday was $3.19 in Clovis and $3.08 in Portales. It was $2.99 across the border in Texas.
Area residents said they were hopeful the prices would continue to decline.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputy Gary Ford wants the price of gas to keep heading south.
“I think it’s great. I hope it drops a whole lot more,” Ford said. “That’s a big chunk that you have to plan for — just to pay for fuel.”
Industry analysts said the average national gas prices could fall as low as $2.50 to $2.75 a gallon before rising again.
Dr. Richard McKinney said while he thinks gas prices need to go lower, he believes they will level at $3 a gallon.
McKinney, a Clovis dentist, said high gas prices haven’t changed his driving routine.
“Americans love their cars and they’re going to drive them,” he said.
For many Americans, the big car is too ingrained as a way of life to let go, said Kit Yarrow, a Golden Gate University psychologist who researches the effects of oil prices on consumer behavior.
“Driving is just so central to their lives, their feelings of freedom and so on, that they’re to going to do what they’re going to do,” she said.
But for most other drivers, that way of thinking has been abandoned.
“People kind of understand now what their foot on the pedal means in terms of money,” she said.
Hugo said his family plans their routes when they run errands.
“We don’t waste time running around (town),” he said.
Nara Visa resident Renee Rinestine said the gas prices in Portales were the cheapest she’d seen recently.
To save on fuel, Rinestine said she combines as many errands as possible with one trip.
She said buying a fuel-efficient car isn’t an option for her.
“We live out in the country, some of the smaller cars won’t hold up on the roads.” said Rinestine, who spent $77 filling up her Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck Saturday. “In the country, you need a pickup like this.”