PAT NEAL: Making the rain more palatable

THIS PAST WEEKEND saw a chain reaction of tragic events that might have marred the image of the North Olympic Peninsula as a vacation wonderland for our tourist visitors to enjoy.

In recent years, it has become common knowledge that tourists have become a vital part of the tourist industry that keep the traffic counters humming.

Selling the tourists myriad passes to be on state, federal, tribal and private land has allowed government agencies a cash flow to employ additional law enforcement to ticket the tourists who don’t have the right passes.

Anything that would interfere with the tourist gravy train is deeply disturbing to those engaged in the tourist industry.

To the huddled masses in the evil cities to the east, the North Olympic Peninsula represents God’s country.

Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world.

God let the people in.

Predictably, the problems started shortly after man’s arrival.

While there is no reason to mention to our tourist friends the environmental degradation, species extinction and crime waves that plague our beloved home, it is often difficult to sugarcoat the fact that it sometimes rains here.

A recent weekend was a prime example of the destructive pattern of a poorly timed weather system and its impact on our tourist friends.

It began with the appearance of large gray-colored masses of water vapor gathering in the western sky.

My fancy friends asked repeatedly, “Is it going to rain?” in an anxious tone that belied a visceral dislike toward any form of precipitation.

“Of course not,” I reassured them.

“This is the rain forest. It never rains here.”

This seemed to satisfy their apprehension for the moment.

As a fishing guide, it is my job as an ambassador of the tourism industry to tell our visitors what they want to hear.

It is a task made more difficult by continued use of discarded stereotypes that would label an area that receives 150 inches of rain or more in a year as a rain forest.

The very name engenders a phobia of an atmospheric condition that of course may be necessary for the continued existence of the so-called rain forest, but it should in no way be allowed to disturb the enjoyment of that great American institution: the family vacation.

Maybe if we could just eliminate continued references to precipitation in any form and call the rain forest something more marketable, like the moss forest, we could attract more tourists by targeting our marketing to the largest demographic: people who are allergic to rain.

The very name, “rain,” implies a negative connotation that involves dampness, moisture and misery.

Often by referring to the current climactic conditions in a more positive light, it is possible to help our tourist visitors rid themselves of the negative connotation and the idea that it rains here.

It is said that the Eskimo language contains more than 50 words for snow.

The locals here probably have more than 50 words for rain including everything from sprinkles to gully-washers, but unfortunately, many of these words describing rain are unprintable in a family newspaper.

Often what seems to the unpracticed eye of the tourist as rain is not rain at all but a fine spritzer-mist that people would pay big money for at a spa.

That’s not rain.

You need more than just a few shiftless showers that come and go in a few minutes to qualify as rain.

Real rain is not something you can stand in without having severe difficulty breathing.

Just remember. When a tourist asks you if it ever rains here, tell them no, but add that sometimes the sky leaks.


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]

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