Off-the-wallBy Bob Spiwak

Time for the semi-annual count of vehicles coming into and leaving the upper valley on a busy holiday weekend. We hired Ms. Gloria to make a special count of motorcycles, east- and westbound, because of rising concern about their safety on state roads, notably Highway 20, the North Cascades Highway.

Here, 7 miles east of Winthrop on Highway 20, there are usually many motor bikes coming and going, but today, Labor Day there was a pittance: nine motorcycles and, just to keep busy, seven bicycles.

Armed with our “thumb-puters,” we counted the cars at the usual 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. interval. This has been determined as a non-heavy traffic time, and we base our findings with conservative times and numbers. It gives an idea, based on vehicles leaving Winthrop, how much money was invested for the holiday weekend. We have in the past taken arbitrary guesstimates for costs of passengers, fuel, food, lodging and shopping and multiplied these by the number of vehicles counted westbound times a full eight-hour day.

The highest reading (as we recall) was Memorial Day last spring, when during the hour of the count 385 vehicles left the valley. This year the Labor Day total going toward the coast was 338. A “vehicle” in our vernacular is anything with more than three wheels.

We are considering locating the next car count exodus east of the Mazama turnoff, to include motorists from Edelweiss, Mazama, the Harts Pass area and other sources of automotive fodder.

We’ll let you know next Easter or Memorial Day.