PAT NEAL: Olympic tourist troubles

WHETHER IT IS an effect of climate change, the economy or the Fourth of July, it’s become apparent that we are in the middle of one of the worst tourist seasons in recorded history.

The crowds have gotten so bad we remember why we put a season on tourists in the first place.

Fortunately, there are coping skills that can allow us to deal with the tourist threat while preserving the heritage of hospitality for which the Olympic Peninsula is renowned.

In this day and age of the over-regulation of our recreational activities by the myriad government agencies, it is illegal to bait bears and park rangers but it’s still legal to bait the tourists.

They deserve it.

Maybe you have heard the phrase, “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”

That’s a lie.

Asking “what is the elevation here?” while at the beach is a stupid question.

That’s okay.

There is a simple yet effective way for the locals to get their revenge.

Telling tall tales to tourists is a tradition that goes back to the golden age of exploration when the first Europeans poked their noses along our coast looking for the Northwest Passage, a shortcut to somewhere else.

Juan de Fuca himself, who claimed he sailed 20 days in the waters that bear his name, said the land was “rich of gold, silver, pearle and other things.”

He may have been right about the other things but the booty Juan described has yet to be found.

Later, European visitors were assured by the Native Americans that they never went into the mountains because of their fear of the Thunderbird, a ferocious giant bird that caught whales and flew them up to the glaciers and the Skookums, cannibal giants that every nation of indigenous people swore up and down lived up there.

The Thunderbird and the Skookum did their best to resist the European invasion but they failed.

Our pioneer forefathers continued the tall tale tradition telling the Press Expedition of 1890 all they had to do was buy some lumber from their local mill to make a boat to float their way up the Elwha to a lake where the buffalo roamed.

Pioneer industrialists did their best to extoll the wealth of the Olympic Peninsula’s hidden treasures lying just beneath the surface by naming creeks, lakes and mountains after the gold, silver and iron that were sure to be found there.

Promotions like that put Tull City on the map.

Baiting the tourists is part of a proud pioneer tradition.

It’s not that we are actually lying it’s more like telling them what they want to hear.

I can think of no better time than our nation’s birthday to celebrate our rich heritage of fabrications and fables for which we are famous.

Today’s tourists do not come here seeking gold, silver or pearls.

Tourists these days are looking for another type of treasure.

They are desperately seeking a clean public restroom.

This is a rare treasure on the Olympic Peninsula.

At a time when our nation debates whether any gender should be allowed to use any bathroom, it is questionable if any gender can use a public restroom on the Peninsula without fear of subsequent revulsion.

Inevitably, the tourists are forced to ask yet another stupid question like, “why doesn’t someone clean the restrooms?”

Then, we can tell the tourists the restrooms are scrupulously cleaned at least once a year whether they need it or not.

I think it’s the least we can do to welcome our tourists and ensure they return home soon.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River 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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