Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hard Road Ahead for Michigan Campers

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — When gas hit $3 a gallon in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, most Americans took a wait-and-see attitude before re-thinking their driving habits.

Now that it appears the $3 gallon is here to stay, many of those same people are making lasting changes. And nowhere is that more apparent than in northern Michigan, which saw some of the highest gasoline prices in the country.

“There has been a shift in business,” said Janice Peppo, owner of Sleepy Bear Campground in Empire with her husband, Jim. “Before, we’d get oodles of reservations in May, way ahead. Now they’re going week by week to make sure they can come. They’re scared to make it ahead of time, with the fluctuation in gas prices. And the people who used to come for a weekend now stay a week.”

Peppo said the steady rise in gas prices has also affected staffing at the 200-site family campground, which hires “work campers” from places like Texas, Arizona and Florida.

“People are (usually) begging to come to Michigan, and this year it’s been hard to find help,” she said. “And all the reasons were from the gas prices.”
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