Higher gas prices not stopping travelers

A recreational vehicle and a pickup truck towing a boat fill up on gas at the Sinclair gas station in North Lewiston on Thursday. Lots of Americans are expected to hit the road this Fourth of July weekend.August Frank Daily News

A record number of travelers are expected to hit America’s highways, byways and skies this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July despite higher fuel prices.

According to analysis by AAA, 47.7 million of us will leave our homes for at least part of the three-day weekend, including nearly 44 million who will do so by driving. The average price of gas in the country was $3.12 per gallon Thursday. A year ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic was keeping people at home and producing severe economic impacts, the price of gasoline dropped to $2.17 per gallon.

The rise in prices is doing little to stifle travel as Americans itching to stretch their horizons following a year of largely staying home seem more than willing to pay.

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue the trips they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Kelly Just, public relations manager, AAA Washington. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow.”

Both Idaho and Washington residents will pay more at the pump than the national average but far less than is charged in some states. The average price per gallon in the Gem State is $3.44, compared to $3.76 in the Evergreen State, which has higher fuel taxes. Last year at this time, Idahoans were paying an average of $2.34 per gallon and Washington residents were paying $2.72 per gallon.

California has the highest average price per gallon at $4.28. The cheapest fuel can be found in Mississippi where drivers are paying $2.74 per gallon.

According to AAA, the average price per gallon at Clarkston’s gas stations was $3.30 Thursday. That compares to $2.41 last year.

Lewiston’s average gas price was $3.34 Thursday, up $1 per gallon compared to a year ago.

Car rental and hotel prices are also up from a year ago, reflecting the much higher demand following the sunsetting of COVID-19 restrictions.

It may seem cooler compared to earlier this week but temperatures in Lewiston are still forecasted to exceed 100 degrees through the weekend.

While skies will largely be free of clouds, north central Idaho and eastern Washington are slated to be visited by what has become a common summer nuisance. Wildfire smoke from British Columbia, Canada, could lead to hazy horizons for those hitting the road and staying at home, according to the National Weather Service at Spokane.

Barker may be contacted at ebarker@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.

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