Gas prices high, not stopping those getting away from Dickinson for weekendThe dog days of summer are numbered and families, like Shirley and Jerry Binstock of Dickinson are making the best of the last unofficial weekend of the summer, regardless of the price of fuel.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
The dog days of summer are numbered and families, like Shirley and Jerry Binstock of Dickinson are making the best of the last unofficial weekend of the summer, regardless of the price of fuel.
In Dickinson, that was $3.94 per gallon of regular unleaded on Saturday.
Sherry Binstock said Thursday that she and her husband planned to take their children out of school early Friday and head out with their camper on a two-hour drive toward Watford City, where the Binstocks will have planned an entire weekend excursion camping at Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina, where Binstock’s brother lives.
“We’re business owners, so we don’t get to take vacations because there simply isn’t time for us to do that. It’s just hard to get away when you own a business,” she said. “It’s one of those things. We go camping every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. No matter what, we are out of here both holidays every year. Gas prices, yes, they do suck, but we’ll get out of here regardless of how high the gas prices may go.”
But AAA South Dakota spokesperson in Sioux Falls, S.D., Marilyn Buskohl said travel in the north central Midwest is up 3 percent from 2011.
“Even with higher gas prices, there is no indication that that number will fall this Labor Day,” she said. “I think people have become accustomed to higher gas prices, and have decided that seeing family and friends over Labor Day is a priority.”
Tara Jones, AAA MountainWest spokesperson, which covers Montana, said she didn’t have statistics on the number of North Dakotans who come to Montana over Labor Day weekend.
But she said national parks, like Yellowstone, make Montana a popular destination on long holiday weekends.
Travel in Montana is expected to follow the national trend and be one of busiest in last decades.
The AAA Fuel Price Finder indicates that the Dickinson area’s current average price of gasoline is $3.97 per gallon.
That is up 12 cents from last week and 22 cents higher than a month ago. According to AAA, gasoline prices in the Dickinson area last year were about $3.83 per gallon.
Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com in Tampa, Fla., which operates NorthDakotaGasPrices.com, said it is a myth that gas prices rise during the holidays.
“Ten of the last 11 Labor Day weekends, Friday to Monday, gas prices have actually gone down,” Laskoski said. “Right now, we believe that consumers will see a moderation in gas prices, meaning flatten out and start coming down, staring in about a week to 10 days.”
In October, Laskoski said refineries will switch to producing cheaper winter-blend fuel, which should save consumers money, barring troubles in the Middle East or weather-related disasters that may shutdown refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.
“It’s important for people to understand that getting a refinery up and running is not simple,” Laskoski said. “These are sprawling operations with many buildings and miles and miles of pipeline. It’s an extensive process to get them running and to get them ramped back up after they’ve been taken offline.”
Gasoline prices may not keep the Binstock’s at home, but the one thing that may throw a tiny wrench into the family’s long-weekend getaway is road construction projects they’re sure to encounter along the way.
“There may be some roads we’ll drive on that are a mess because of road construction, so I guess we’ll have to look into that and figure out what route we should take up to Tobacco Gardens.”
Binstock said her family has only been able to squeeze in one other mini-vacation in this summer to South Dakota, where they went four-wheeling.
“We stay pretty close to home on our vacations, but we still get in a full weekend of fun no matter what,” she said. “That’s pretty much the extent of our family’s summer vacations.”
She added that the family won’t let fuel costs get in the way of letting their family enjoy time on the water in a boat this Labor Day weekend.
“My husband and I work hard all year long, so when we make time to go play, we get out of here,” Binstock said. “I just hope that when we get this boat out on the water this week end, we do not get lost while we’re on the water.”
Gene LaDoucer, public and government officer for AAA North Dakota in Fargo, was unavailable for comment Friday.