Expect choked roadways, plenty of crackling fireworks and a heaping load of sunshine as many Inland Northwest residents head out for extended weekends.
If traveling, count on busy highways, say travel experts. According to this year’s travel survey of 1,500 people by the American Automobile Association, more people are going to get in their cars and drive 100 miles or more than at any time in the last nine years.
Gas prices, announced to be the highest in 10 years nationally, actually are unchanged in most respects in the region. Self-serve unleaded gas sold for $1.24 a gallon last Fourth of July, and the price is the same this year.
Higher gas prices won’t deter travelers from hitting the road elsewhere around the country, said Dave Carlson, spokesman for AAA in Boise.
That means more work for Capt. Jim LaMunyon of the Washington State Patrol in Spokane. Administrative officers will take to the highways to increase the patrol’s presence during what he calls one of the “critical weekends” for traffic accidents and fatalities.
For tourism and recreation-based businesses, the Fourth represents the unofficial start of the summer tourism season. For Spokane hotels and motels, it isn’t exactly a holiday that they circle on their calendars.
“It’s more of a family holiday where people travel but end up staying at a relative’s home,” said Ray Thieman, who owns the Red Top Motel in Spokane.
At Splash-Down waterslide park off Interstate 90, park manager Ruth Bleasner isn’t expecting a drop-dead weekend, even if the weather continues its sunny ways.
“People like to go out of town, and our corporate clients who do picnics and meetings usually don’t schedule during this weekend,” she said. “But, we’ve been incredibly busy today, and it looks pretty good for us if the weather stays good.”
, DataTimes MEMO: Changed from the Idaho edition.
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