Snow-packed and icy conditions didn't stop some drivers from hitting the road Thursday evening to beat the holiday travel rush this weekend.
Cindy Thompson, a clerk at Shorty's Corner in Sandy, said business had picked up as travelers heading to Bend hit Highway 26.
"We've got a lot of people that travel back and forth across the mountain because people have family in Bend or they have family over here," she said.
But conditions on the highway were slick Thursday evening. Drivers who don't have studded tires were required to put on chains.
"I don't want to get a ticket," said Javier Galindo, who is moving his family to Bend.
He pulled over to put chains on his rental truck.
"It seems like clear roads but you don't know what to expect up there, especially with me pulling a trailer."
According to AAA, the holiday travel begins this Saturday and ends on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
"More than one-quarter of Americans are hitting the road for the holidays. The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as people will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays," says AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds. "Primary economic indicators all show modest improvement from last year and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations."
At the Ice Axe Grill in Government Camp Thursday evening, the Sullivan family was having dinner on their way to Bend. It's a trip they take every Christmas and they wanted to get a head start to beat the weekend rush.
"We have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle so we feel pretty confident that we have a vehicle that can make it easily," said Nancy Sullivan.
Police briefly closed westbound lanes of Highway 26 Thursday evening because of a crash near Welches.
It wasn't clear if anyone was injured.
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