Maryland Campgrounds Still Busy

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July 14, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

Last month, when Marylanders David and Micky Steves bought a big Winnebago Outlook recreational vehicle that gets just eight miles per gallon, they knew what they were doing.
“It’s expensive,” Micky, 47, said about the mileage. “But we’d been planning to do this. And we decided even though the economy was going to take a downturn, our kids are at the age we wanted to be with them and we want them to experience this way of camping and seeing the country.”
This might not be the answer you would expect as the nation’s fuel prices continue their upward run, the economy shows signs of weakness and the news is full of stories about Americans cutting back, according to the Hagerstown (Md.) Morning Herald.
Over at Greenbrier State Park east of Hagerstown, campers in trailer and tent continue to flock in, seemingly not dissuaded by the cost of travel.
“So far this year, up through June, we have 15,386 campers vs. in the year-ago same time period, we had 13,071,” administrative officer Mary Jo Bartles said.
Given the price of gas, how could that be?
“I don’t know,” Bartles said. “Obviously, the gas prices are not hurting the camping.”
At Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort near Williamsport, which offers 220 camping and cabin sites amid a rainbow of water park and other activities, visitation is “down a little bit, but not much,” Operations Director Carrie Cirrito said.
Many of its campers lug in big RVs, but most haven’t traveled far.
“Most of our customers are within 200 miles” of home, and more than 60% of them have been to the resort previously, Cirrito said.
Nonetheless, there is some concern.
“I think anytime the economy is stressing people out, it’s a worry,” she said.
Cirrito needn’t worry at all if every customer were like Fred Brown.
Brown, 53, who left nearby Smithsburg two years ago and moved to St. Augustine, Fla., was back in Maryland this past week. Together with his wife, Leigh, their daughter Elizabeth, her boyfriend and the family’s two dogs, they drove 700 miles north to Jellystone Park in their 39-foot-long 2000 Dutch Star RV, towing a small car.
Brown figures they got 7.5 miles per gallon, even with running a generator the whole way to keep the RV air conditioned. He’s proud of that, pointing out he managed to save a mile per gallon by cutting his top speed to 61 mph from 65.
“Sure did,” he said. “I was quite surprised.”
If ever gas prices rise so much that it “gets to the point of a choice between fuel and food, then, yeah, I’ll park this thing,” he said. “But I’ll find a nice place to park it on and take my Honda CRV on drives.”

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