Johnny Appleseed Park & Municipal Campground in Fort Wayne, Ind., has long been a popular spot for recreational vehicle owners.
It doesn’t take reservations, but usually gets calls from RV owners checking its occupancy weeks before they plan to camp there.
According to a report in the Fort Wayne New-Sentinel, the park’s pre-Labor Day call volume is down this year, and with 20 RVs, Paul Welch, a campground host, estimates its summer occupancy rate is down about 25%.
With regular unleaded and diesel selling for more than $2.60 per gallon in Fort Wayne last week, prices were high enough to affect some plans for Labor Day two weeks from now. It’s still unclear how much of the rest of the state and nation plan to hit the road for the long weekend.
Welch attributes the empty campground spaces to high fuel prices. Boat owners and RV drivers will surely pay for the privilege of having gas-guzzling toys.
However, Cheryle Stump, district manager of AAA Chicago motor club’s Northcrest Shopping Center office, said she doesn’t expect to see a drop in northeast Indiana traveling during the holiday weekend.
“Our business is as busy this year as ever. The road travel, believe it or not, has been up,” she said. “I don’t think anyone wants to give up their vacations.”
But even if people still hit the road, travelers aren’t happy with fuel prices and are making some adjustments. At Johnny Appleseed, “just about everybody who comes in here, when you strike up a conversation about the price of diesel fuel, they’re just flabbergasted,” said Welch.
Many owners accustomed to spending every other day on the road now spend several days at each RV park they visit to reduce their monthly fuel expenses, he said.
Daryl Westphal, who pulled into Johnny Appleseed this past weekend, had driven 113 miles from and averaged 12 miles per gallon in his Class C motorhome. To maximize fuel economy, he and his wife sometimes traveled 50 miles per hour and “took our time coming here today,” he said.
With the higher gas prices, “it’s a kick in the pants … when you pull in there and take 30 gallons,” he said.
The Westphals brought the camper to Fort Wayne because they calculated that even with the higher gas prices, staying in it was less expensive than staying in a hotel and boarding their two dogs and cat, he said.