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Weekenders Go Forth for the Holiday

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ventura County’s already crowded highways and beaches are expected to get busier today as thousands of Southern Californians begin a three-day holiday weekend.

With forecasters calling for warm, breezy weather through the Fourth of July weekend, campers and beachcombers should be out in full force.

Along Rincon Highway north of Ventura, miles of motor homes began filling up the 112 available spaces Tuesday morning. By Wednesday, it was tough to find an empty spot.

“I lucked out. There were two spaces available,” said David Guzman of Palmdale, who arrived Wednesday morning with his family.

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Guzman and his wife, Alice, didn’t mind taking a few days off work for the holiday to ensure a weekend view of the Pacific. “We love it here. We’ve got beachfront property,” Alice Guzman said. “You’ve got your own private little site.”

Today, most government offices and private companies closed their doors in honor of the Saturday holiday, but post offices and most banks are open. Trash collection in Ventura County will not be affected by the holiday.

Freeways are expected to be jammed, and every available California Highway Patrol officer is scheduled to be on duty. They will be on the lookout for speeders, drunk drivers and those not wearing seat belts, said Officer Steven Reid, a CHP spokesman.

Last year’s Fourth of July weekend resulted in about 60 deaths statewide, including two on Ventura County roads.

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“Give yourself plenty of time and make sure you’re well-rested as a driver,” Reid advised.

Those planning to consume alcohol while celebrating are advised to decide how they will get home before heading out to a party, Reid said.

Ventura County’s weather is expected to be idyllic, with highs in the upper 70s in the valleys and upper 60s at the beach. No rain is expected. But that won’t be the only reason most California beaches will be full this weekend.

In Oxnard alone, 20,000 to 40,000 people are expected to participate in the Independence Day festivities at Channel Islands Harbor.

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Parking is limited, but a shuttle will be available from the Oxnard Government Center and the Financial Plaza on Vineyard Avenue near the Ventura Freeway.

Increased law enforcement will also be on hand to make sure no personal fireworks or open containers of alcohol are brought in.

With 500 boats expected in the harbor, water enthusiasts are being asked to stay in their slips for dockside celebrating to reduce traffic.

“We want everyone to come down and have a good time, but we want them to be safe as well,” Oxnard Harbor Master Jack Peveler said.

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At Los Padres National Forest, campgrounds are just about full, according to spokeswoman Kathy Good.

Campers are advised, as usual, to be careful with fire. And most visitors will need to purchase an Adventure Pass, which costs $5 a day or $30 a year.

“People seem to be stretching their vacations out more and more these days,” Good said. “I think a lot more people are vacationing locally.”

Although Mark Hansen and his family were planning to take their RV all the way to Northern California, the beautiful view along Rincon Highway compelled the Oceanside residents to stop and grab a strip of pavement early Tuesday morning.

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“For the average guy to sit and watch this for a few days, it’s not available to him,” Hansen said as he sat in the shade with his 3-year-old daughter, Morgan, while his wife, Rose, worked on her tan.

Although the San Diego County family lives near the beach, this simple vacation is welcome.

“This is the first time we decided to do nothing,” Rose Hansen said.

Yorba Linda resident Richard Burdick agreed. He spent part of Thursday afternoon polishing the chrome wheels on his motor home, but said he plans to take it easy this weekend.

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Burdick outlined his strategy as: “Bicycling, cooking, eating and gaining more weight.”


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