WITH SWARMS OF tourists assaulting the North Olympic Peninsula this summer, it might be a good time to answer some of the frequently asked questions about this recreational wonderland in the backwoods corner of the Evergreen State.
Whether their idea of vacation fun is tailgating a trucker around Lake Crescent, throwing beer bottles at traffic signs or building campfires you can see from outer space, our tourist visitors come with a lot of questions that need answering.
It is our duty as ambassadors of the tourist industry to help these confused visitors empty their wallets and go back home as quickly as possible.
Tourists come in all shapes and sizes, from the cheapskate bicycle tourists who survive on granola bars to the mega-motor homes cruising in the endless search for yet another dump station before the holding tank explodes.
The fact is, all of these tourists need our help.
Often, just simply giving directions or offering a nature tip can make a real difference between a tourist’s vacation nightmare and a quality recreational experience.
The most frequently asked question that I as a guide have answered on a regular basis would be this: Where can I dump my garbage?
Imagine for a moment this wilderness gossip columnist driving up to a stately home in some evil city to the east, knocking on the door to demand a place to dump my garbage.
Or imagine me forgoing that formality and simply leaving it in the driveway for the native inhabitants to enjoy.
Garbage dumping facilities are limited in this particular recreational wonderland.
Garbage dumping has become a form of recreation for some of the locals.
The world is their landfill.
Many of our scenic country roads feature festering masses of domestic trash that could threaten to pollute an entire watershed.
We heartily encourage all our visitors to hang on to their trash.
Perhaps they could take advantage of the latest word in camping convenience, the new designer-model-camper trash compacter.
It can be installed in the trunk of your vehicle as a precaution against garbage overload.
Upon returning to one of our many fine urban centers like Seattle, simply dump your trash amid the mountains of garbage already piling up there on the streets, and chances are no one will notice it. When in Rome …
Helping tourists avert a garbage crisis is only a small part of the assistance we offer our visitors.
The second most popular tourist question has to be this: Where is the bathroom?
This is frequently an urgent request from a tourist visitor unused to the vicissitudes of life on the last frontier.
Scientists have somehow determined that early man stopped soiling his cave approximately 40,000 years ago.
In 1899, the German Oriental Society expedition under the direction of archaeologist Robert Koldewey discovered that the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” had indoor plumbing.
These hygienic revolutions have yet to be found consistently on the North Olympic Peninsula.
While some of our restroom facilities serve as temporary housing for budget-minded travelers with substance abuse issues, others are so overloaded and unmaintained that there are few people who can manage to enter these hellholes for anything short of an emergency.
During the so-called offseason, some of our wilderness restrooms are locked up.
Unfortunately, the human digestive season had no offseason, leaving our tourists to deal with the problem au naturel.
Perhaps the uninhabitable restrooms serve a purpose, though: to keep the tourists moving and searching for a clean one.
We sincerely hope the tourists enjoy their visit, drive over the traffic counter, get an informative brochure printed on recycled paper and go home.
Pat Neal is a fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.
He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal [email protected]