It could be taken as bad news that the Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday this year, bringing an end to three consecutive years of three-day weekends created by the paid federal holiday falling on a Friday (2014), a Saturday (2015) and a Monday (2016).
But don't take my word for it — no less than AAA, historically known as the American Automobile Association, has decreed that "the Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Friday, June 30, to Tuesday, July 4." That's only five days, but add on Thirsty Thursday Night and Crawl Back to Work a Little Late Wednesday Morning, and we're in the ballpark of a six-day weekend.
"A historic 44.2 million Americans will travel to celebrate our nation's freedom this year, adding to an already bustling summer travel season." Anyway, we might take it for granted that we can flee to Wisconsin or Michiana without being interrogated by jack-booted stormtroopers, but we certainly don't neglect the opportunity — according to officials at the Illinois Tollway, 7.7 million vehicles are expected to make use of the tollways over what it calls "the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend." The Tollway statement added that the heaviest travel was expected on Friday, with nearly 2.1 million vehicles forecast to be on the road — a cool 500,000 more than on an average Friday — and we can assume not all of them are flocking to Hometown Fest in Palatine (June 30-July 4) or to the Lisle Eyes to the Skies Hot Air Balloon Festival (June 30-July 2).
Hopefully, everyone who hits the road will do so without mishap, though AAA estimated that its roadside-assistance squad "expects to rescue more than 338,000 motorists this Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues." With this in mind, a risk-avoidance motorist might assume that the safest bet is to keep it close to home this holiday — but even that plan can be foiled by the local road closures planned for the estimated 1.5 million community parades scheduled in Lake County over the next four days (note: that estimate is more of a guesstimate).
But almost anywhere else, prices jumped from the $2.15 range midweek to more than $2.35 overnight Thursday, so if you didn't fill up ahead of time for the holiday weekend, you're busted.