SpiwakBy Bob Spiwak

It is Labor Day and the biennial West Boesel Car Count has concluded. Methow Valley News subscribers around the world will be awaiting the results of the count. Non-subscribers, some of whom regard this issue as equal to a Sports Illustrated swimsuit magazine issue, will scramble to get a copy. We suggest you subscribe.

The count has been in operation since the last century, on Memorial and Labor days, to determine how many vehicles go to the west during a non-peak traffic hour, from 10 to 11 a.m. This interval was determined after living a couple of hundred feet from Highway 20 for 33 years.

We have gone high tech this time in calibrating our thumb-activated counters. With computer technology in the fore, we used our thumb to tap the number “1,” 10 times on the keyboard. We then, using only the thumb, click each of our two counters 10 times. If the computer and counter numbers all add up to number 10, we know the calibration is right on.

At 59 degrees Fahrenheit with a southeast breeze and sunshine, a total of 344 vehicles other than motorcycles went west past our hidden official counting station. Eastbound there were 82 vehicles. By the quarter-hour, from 10 to 10:15 a.m., 97 four- or more-wheeled vehicles rolled past us toward the Cascades. These intervals were followed by 80, 80 and finally 87 vehicles in each respective 15-minute span.

Thirty-one motorcycles roared west with eight going east. Westward, there were two bicycles, with probably nervous pedalers. No bikes appeared going the opposite direction. It should be added here that for those not in the know, West Boesel is the mile between mileposts 185 and 186.

Years ago we established a formula for determining various statistics based on averages gleaned from the car count, which results we used to tally this up and supply the information. Not now. If you care, the formula is as follows. First and foremost, make the numbers aside from the actual car count very conservative. To this end, we determined the average motor trip per vehicle to be 400 miles. Very conservatively, we granted miles per gallon to be 20 mpg. (A friend, pulling a three-horse trailer up to Washington Pass, said his mpg gauge showed three!) As the prices rise, for this count we allotted $4 per gallon.

From these figures, with the Methow being smaller than a microcosm of any larger economy, one can get an idea of just how much money is spent on transportation costs alone, not including tires, maintenance and GPS mistakes.

Last Memorial Day there were 384 vehicles westbound, 40 more than today. Eastbound there were 79, compared to 82 today. Memorial Day was cold, windy and cloudy, today was a bluebird day. Schools were in session then, they are about to start in most places tomorrow. These contrasts have far less effect than we would have guessed.