PAT NEAL: Does it always rain here?

With the blustery weather we have been experiencing lately, it seems like either the mildest January or the coldest June we’ve ever had.

Rainfall events are not a bad thing. We need periodic gully washers to hatch the slugs, sprout the mushrooms and make the skunk cabbage bloom. Where do you think the rivers and lakes come from?

I think it’s time we all developed a more positive attitude toward our wet weather.

While scientists and health care experts have warned us for years about the effects of the sun’s harmful rays, no one ever developed a malignant skin tumor while lying out in the rain, fog-bathing.

Prolonged exposure to excessive sunlight will make the woods tinder dry. One little spark could turn the Olympic Peninsula into a fiery holocaust.

Sunshine can bring another threat to our health, safety and emotional well-being — tourists. All we need is one day of sunshine for the tourist migration to hatch.

As with any natural disaster, it’s best to have a plan to cope with the tourists. Leave.

What if you’re too broke and ignorant to go anywhere? Maybe you can learn from my wealth of experience in dealing with the problem. Lie.

This last Memorial Day weekend was a good example. It was a perfect storm where a westerly Pacific frontal system met an easterly outflow of tourists in a soggy monsoon of misery. Once the tourists show up, it’s easy to remember why we put a season on them.

People come here from all over the country to complain about the weather and ask the craziest questions like, “Does it always rain here?”

As a general policy, it is a good idea to assure the tourists that a lot of the time it rains much harder. All of which could go a long way to keep the tourists from moving here.

The Olympic Peninsula has been a magnet for tourists since the Bering Land Bridge, when groups of stone-age hunters crossed from Siberia to Sequim, a paradise of big game ripe for the slaughter.

We’re talking Pleistocene mega-fauna, the mastodon and woolly mammoth. You could feed your clan for weeks on a mastodon and make a tent from the bones and hide, and heat it with the creatures’ fat — until the mastodon were gone.

A dozen millennia later, a vast armada of European tourists visited our fair shores seeking souls for their churches, treasure for their banks and the bogus Northwest Passage.

These tourists all had one thing in common: No one believed them when they got home.

Juan de Fuca said he found gold, silver and pearls in the straits that bear his name back in 1592, but he was flat broke by the time he got back home.

All he had left was a bogus map of his mythical strait that took another 200 years for others to discover.

When they did, the Spanish Captain Manuel Quimper blabbed about buying some 100-pound salmon. This set off an invasion of tourists that have been coming here looking for these mythical fish ever since.

It’s always been a proud pioneer tradition to bait tourists with tall tales about the great mineral wealth that was waiting to be discovered in the Olympics. Mountains, lakes and streams were named after the precious metals that were waiting to be found. Promotions like these put Oil City on the map.

Ever since then, it’s been a good idea to say whatever works to keep the tourists from moving here.

Just remember, the Peninsula you save could be your own.

Does it always rain here? Yes!

_________

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via [email protected]

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