Originally created 05/26/05

Holiday drives people to road



In lieu of battling the predicted crowds at Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, Justin and Amber Flynn will spend the long weekend in a lesser-known spot next to Fripp Island.

The Grovetown couple are planning to camp at a state park on Hunting Island from Friday afternoon until Monday night.

"We'll do some fishing, playing out on the beach, pontooning, touring the city, visiting the lighthouse," Mr. Flynn said. "I love the beach in particular because it's noncommercial."

Although their destination is slightly off the beaten path, the Flynns' mode of transportation will be the same as most Memorial Day vacationers' - their vehicle.

Krispen McGee, of AAA Augusta, said more than 900,000 Georgians are expected to venture away from home this holiday weekend, and of those, 800,000 will be going by car.

"They've got that extended day in Monday, so they figure they might as well drive," she said.

Al Steward, a sales representative at Augusta Travel Agency, said his clients' vacations will "basically be to the beaches."

"It's just a weekend, so they want to drive within four or five hours from home," he said. "That's about the distance people are willing to go."

Gasoline prices, which in April were well above $2 a gallon, have dropped in the past month, and are currently at or slightly below the $2 mark, Ms. McGee said.

However, people might want to gas up early. As the weekend nears, she predicts, prices will increase because of the holiday.

Mr. and Mrs. Flynn said they won't let gas prices prevent their trip.

"They're not going to keep me from doing something like this," he said. "Augusta is in a central location, so a tankful can get you there and back."

Nationwide, more than 37 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA statistics.

Ms. McGee said a host of AAA Augusta clients have booked trips to such locations as Chicago and Detroit.

"People are going all over the place," she said. "Distance doesn't seem to matter."

During last year's four-day Memorial Day weekend, which began Friday, the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety says 18 people were killed and 707 injured in 2,654 crashes.

This year the DMVS estimates there will be 2,550 accidents throughout the state resulting in 17 deaths.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.

Gasoline Prices around the area

A sampling of per-gallon prices for regular gas Wednesday:

Circle K, 226 Georgia Ave. (North Augusta): $1.89

Sunoco, 1901 Gordon Highway (Augusta): $1.95

Racetrac Petroleum Inc., 3309 Peach Orchard Road (Augusta): $1.86

Smith's Chevron, 3600 Walton Way Extension (Augusta): $1.89

Pump 'N Shop, 1045 Furys Ferry Road (Martinez): $1.86

Pump 'N Shop, 2574 Tobacco Road (Hephzibah): $1.89

Pumping Station Inc., 4318 Evans to Locks Road (Evans): $1.89

Circle K, 1501 Laney-Walker Blvd. (Augusta): $1.98

Gas Plus, 1610 Richland Ave. (Aiken): $1.84

Shell, 1556 Whiskey Road (Aiken): $1.86



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