WHETHER IT’S AN effect of climate change, the economy or the internet it has become apparent that we are in the middle of one of the heaviest tourist seasons in recorded history.
The crowds have gotten so bad we remember why we put a season on tourists in the first place.
Despite the desperate nature of the tourist problem, each of us has a duty to be ambassadors of Olympic Peninsula hospitality by answering tourist questions in a manner that helps them enjoy this recreational wonderland.
To be fair, it should be noted that many of the tourists asking these questions are confused and stressed out, having reached the end of their rope in a human pipeline, stuck in a godforsaken wilderness with no phone reception while suffering the combined effects of jet-lag, dehydration, sleep deprivation, mixed medications, self-medication and a food-borne illness commonly known as picnic poisoning.
Fortunately, there are coping skills that allow us to deal with the tourist threat while nurturing and preserving our welcoming tradition for which the Olympic Peninsula is renowned, by sharing our precious local knowledge in a manner that celebrates the diversity of our rich heritage and the promise of our vibrant future.
Remember, it is illegal to bait the bears in Washington but it’s still legal to bait the tourists.
Maybe you have heard the phrase, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.”
That is simply not true.
Asking, “What is the elevation here?” while standing on the beach is a stupid question.
Here are some of more of the most frequently asked tourist questions asked by real tourists about the Olympic Peninsula this summer with some suggested answers you may feel free to use.
Q. Where is the rainforest?
A. You’re standing in it.
Q. Why do loggers wear suspenders?
A. To keep their pants up.
Q. Is the weather always like this?
A. This tourist question can be asked when it’s raining cats and pitchforks or as hot and dry as a bone.
It’s best to reassure the tourist that yes, they are always right. The weather is always like this: just perfect.
Q. When do the deer turn into elk?
A. The night before deer hunting season. The problem is getting the elk to turn back into deer.
Q. Does the Hoh River come from Alaska?
A. This was a serious question posed by a confused traveler who thought our Hoh River must come from Alaska because it is the same color as the rivers in Alaska.
It was an erroneous assumption I tried to clarify by saying no, the Hoh River flows out of Lake Crescent through an intricate underground tunnel system that modern science has chosen to ignore because of a government conspiracy.
Q. Why is the water blue?
A. This is a common question that tourists often ask about the Hoh River.
You could tell them the color of the water is determined by what type of dye the park rangers dump in the river each morning when they get to work. Dyeing the river makes it more colorful. It’s a real aid to the photographer trying to capture a colorful nature shot that captures the mood of the river and the surrounding rain forest.
Q. Is there any gold to be found in the Olympic Mountains?
A. Of course there is.
There is plenty of gold lying around just waiting to be found.
All you need is my map to the secret gold mine for $5 plus service and handling charges.
Q. How can I find Bigfoot?
A. You can’t. Bigfoot has to find you.
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 patnealwild [email protected].