Looking northeast to downtown San Francisco.
I've traveled much of the Western United States and here are my observations on some outright overpriced places ...
1. Lodging in the greater San Francisco area.
I found prices on two-star motels in San Francisco for $220 a night (double occupancy) and upward in the summer of 2016 -- and that featured a SHARED bathroom with other rooms.
That's unacceptable to me and is why I found that staying in Gilroy (80 miles south of S.F.), or Fairfield (40 miles northeast) is just outside of the "ripoff zone" of lodging in the San Francisco area and features much more reasonable prices, of $100 a night or less.
San Francisco is also a city that RAISES motel costs substantially when there's a big outdoor concert, or event in town on a certain weekend.
2. Gasoline prices in Reno, Nevada.
If there's any city in the western U.S. that needs to be investigated for collusion in high gasoline prices, it is Reno.
Just over the border from California, Reno's gas prices mirror what most of California charges, even though the taxes on gasoline in Nevada are less than in California.
During an August of 2015 drive through Reno, I noticed gasoline prices there were about 30 cents a gallon more than anywhere else along I-80 in Nevada.
In an August 2016 trip through Reno it was even more dramatic -- I saw gasoline signs stating anywhere from $2.49 to $2.59 a gallon.
AND, just 30 miles east in Fernley, I saw a gas sign for regular unleaded that stated $2.15 a gallon.
DO NOT purchase gas in Reno, unless you don't care about being ripped off.
ALSO, with its RESORT TAX, Reno is an extra expensive destination to stay in a motel or hotel, beyond anywhere else in Nevada.
3. Some gasoline prices in Barstow, California.
During an August 2016 drive through Barstow along I-15, I noticed a sign for gasoline that said $2.49 a gallon. That seemed fair enough. I exited the freeway, but the first gasoline station I drove into, the price was actually $3.49 a gallon! The station with $2.49 a gallon was a few hundred yards away and down a hill. That overpriced station was gouging unwary travelers by an extra $1 a gallon. Barstow is also a city where gasoline prices can vary a lot, so buyer beware there....
4. Sales tax in Seattle, Washington is sky high.
Do not purchase big ticket items in Seattle, or even Washington State, if possible.
Seattle has a 9.6 percent sales tax (and the State of Washington's average sales tax is 8.9 percent).
Thus, in Seattle, buy any electronics or souvenirs, etc., and you will pay almost 10 percent extra in taxes.