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Weekend No Holiday for CHP, Park Officials : Travel: Patrols are bolstered for an onslaught of tourists. Recreation sites are filling up. Warm weather is expected.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Ventura County park and law enforcement officials are gearing up for an onslaught of holiday tourists, beefing up patrols on area freeways and highways as the busiest travel weekend of the year approaches.

“We’ll have 75% of all available officers working,” California Highway Patrol Officer Rob Romo said. “There’s a substantial increase over normal traffic this time of year.”

A maximum enforcement period began at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will run through midnight Sunday, Romo said.

“We’ll be looking for your typical goodies: drunk drivers, speeders and reckless drivers,” he said.

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During the same four-day weekend last year, officials arrested 21 people on suspicion of drunk driving, a dozen fewer than in 1993.

Temperatures could reach into the low 80s this afternoon and Friday, National Weather Service forecasters said, with onshore breezes contributing to an unseasonable climate that is 10 degrees above normal in some spots.

“We finally got rid of this fog,” said David Gomberg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “We’ve got a nice warming trend starting.”

Steve White, the head lifeguard at San Buenaventura State Beach, said the warm weather will attract a lot more people to the beach than a typical Thanksgiving Day.

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Ocean waters also are a few degrees higher than usual for this time of year, White said, hovering around 60 degrees.

“It’s going to be nice beach weather,” he said. “People will have a nice time if they come down.”

Campgrounds and state parks throughout Ventura County began filling up Wednesday, as those who traditionally spend holidays on the road prepared for a long weekend of rest and relaxation.

Dozens of campers lined the Pacific Coast Highway on Wednesday, staking out spaces only a few yards from the beach.

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At the Lake Casitas Recreation Area, all 140 of the recreational vehicle hook-up sites have been sold out for weeks, Ranger Brent Doan said. “We have some great weather ahead of us,” he said.

Officials at other area campgrounds also were expecting full crowds through the weekend.

Park aide Gindora Russell, who will be staffing the front gate at McGrath State Beach for most of today, said campers come to the state parks to get away from the city.

“We get a lot of families, and a lot of older couples,” she said, while working the front booth at Emma Wood State Beach on Wednesday. “They just want to get away from their houses and spend some free time.”

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Most of the state and private campgrounds that take reservations are booked through the weekend, although by late Wednesday there were still some sites available at Emma Wood State Beach, which operates on a first-come, first-served basis, Russell said.

“I’ve always loved the ocean,” said Marion Farrell, who traded a long weekend at her two-acre ranch in the small Tuolumne County community of Chinese Camp for a few days at Emma Wood State Beach.

“When I was little, I used to surf it,” she said, unfurling a scrap of artificial turf in front of her camper.

Rod and Patti Bobb of Van Nuys were unloading items nearby, preparing for three days of nothing but long beach walks, football and sumptuous dining.

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“It’s close to home and it’s fun to be by the ocean,” said Rod, nibbling from a plate of cheese and crackers. “We used to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with all of the family, but now we like to get away.”


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