llwaco, with a population of fewer than 1,000, encountered an unusual problem during last week’s heat wave: traffic jams.
“Usually you can be the only person at the stop light. Now we have to wait for the cars,” Nancy Beesley, administrative assistant at the Port of Ilwaco, said with a laugh.
Last week, thousands of visitors headed to the Long Beach Peninsula to escape inland temperatures that hit triple digits. For the coast, it was a welcome boost for a tourist season that has been lukewarm because of high gas prices and the drooping economy. And business leaders hope the action stays hot for the remainder of the summer.
Tourists “are finding the good value. What you get for what you pay (in Long Beach) is fabulous,” said Carol Zahorsky, spokeswoman for the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau.
At The Breakers resort in Long Beach, 124 of the 144 rooms were rented out Thursday night — more than double a typical weekday, general manager Mike Litawa said.
The Fourth of July holiday fell on a weekday this year, which limited overnight stays at the coast. Litawa said business at The Breakers this summer was down slightly from last year, but he still thinks tourism to the area overall did well. A newly refurbished resort in town, Adrift Hotel, also attracted more travelers, he said.
Litawa added that he expects to be full next week for the Washington State International Kite Festival, which starts Monday.
“We’ve certainly seen better fishing years, but it hasn’t been so bad. Overall, it’s been all right,” he said, adding that the coho are about average size and king salmon are a bit smaller than usual.
Coho Charters is running four boats a day, seven days a week, and Smith said he expects brisk business for the next month.
“Hurry up before it ends. It’s a good time to go,” he said.
Nearby on the port docks, Pacific Salmon Charters is operating eight boats, fishing for both salmon and tuna, owner Milt Gudgell said. Customers have been coming in from Eastern Oregon, Idaho, Montana and other dry regions where the heat has been the worst, he said.
“The nicest thing is, we have a pretty cool breeze here,” said Gudgell, who opened the charter service in 1985.
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