Gas prices: Regular is $3.89, premium $4.45. These are the highest prices I have ever paid. When did the gap between the two blends of gas get so wide?
Bumper stickers: The only bumper stickers I see as I drive north are Obama 2008 and one or two Romney stickers. I see hardly any Obama 2012 stickers, strange for blue states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
Political Ads: I'm shocked at the large number of Obama ads that appear on Boston TV. I would have assumed Massachusetts is a slam dunk for Obama and he wouldn't run any commercials. Very few, if any, Romney ads.
Traffic: NO traffic on the road. The traffic used to be backed up for miles right before the bridge to enter the Cape on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. This year, NO TRAFFIC AT ALL.
Road Construction: Very little construction is going on in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts this year compared with what I saw a couple of years ago. I wonder if most of the construction is in swing states this year? How long do signs that say "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" actually stay up? A small overpass that was repaved in 2010 still has the sign that was put up two years ago. I have a feeling the expense to make the sign cost more than the road work!
License Plates: Most of the license plates are from Massachusetts and neighboring states like Connecticut and Rhode Island. In past years, I saw many cars from New York and New Jersey. Fewer travelers from further away suggests that the price of gas as well as the rough economy might be a factor in family vacations.
Cars: I can't believe how many Kia cars I see on the road. I wonder if I should be buying Kia stock (KIMTF)? I have yet to see a GM Volt on the road. I wonder if it's too late to short GM?
Cell Phones: Lots of people are texting and talking on cell phones while driving. Seems like every time I pass a bad driver I see a phone in their hand.
Rental Properties: It's shocking to see so many "For Rent" signs on lawns and so many rental properties sitting empty.
Home Prices: Housing prices continue to fall. The expensive properties are holding up better than middle-market homes, which are down once again with no end in sight. I wonder how badly the real estate market will get whacked when interest rates go back up?
Restaurants: Many of the expensive and better restaurants have no lines while the cheaper restaurants and the "order your own food" places are busy.
Stores: Many stores are vacant as they were in previous years as well as some new ones. It's hard to stay in business when the number of vacationers keeps decreasing.
I'm sorry to say the picture doesn't look any better than it did two years ago. How does it look in your hometown?