PAT NEAL: Real questions from real tourists

THIS MUST BE one of the busiest tourist seasons ever. It has the locals hoping that school will hurry up and start so everyone will go back where they came from.

Schools in Texas and Arizona have already started, but that has not slowed the tourist invasion.

That’s because the beginning of school can cause a whole new wave of tourists to hatch out of somewhere and hit the road.

Those are the people who waited for school to start so they could go on vacation without being stuck somewhere with a bunch of kids.

In a continuing effort to provide accurate information to the tourist hordes, allow me to take this opportunity to share some real questions asked by real tourists about the Olympic Peninsula in this past summer.

As a fishing and rafting guide, I’ve had the opportunity to act as an ambassador to the tourist industry by providing helpful, accurate information to visitors to our area in a manner that helps them enjoy this recreational wonderland by answering real tourist questions such as:

“How long does it take for a deer to turn into an elk?”

This may seem ridiculous, but to be fair, it should be noted that many of the tourists asking these questions are suffering the combined effects of jet lag, dehydration, sleep deprivation, mixed medications, self-medication and a diet of chips, gas station sushi and energy drinks.

Try it sometime.

In all probability, it will eventually have you asking how long it takes for the marmots to turn into bears.

While there could be a smidgen of alternative evolutionary theories in these inquiries, please remember to be gentle with our tourists.

Consider, but for the grace of God, we might all be a tourist someday.

“Does the Hoh River come from Alaska?”

Yes. The Hoh River flows underground thousands of miles from the Arctic Circle to bubble out of the Earth’s crust way up on Mount Olympus.

Efforts to trace the actual path the river takes from Alaska to the Olympic Peninsula have been unsuccessful, due to a lack of funding and the resistance by modern science to the theory that the Earth is actually hollow.

“Why is the water blue?”

This is a common question that tourists often ask about Lake Crescent and the Hoh River — one that should be answered with the knowledge gained from the best available science, which can be pretty boring.

There’s no reason we can’t have a little fun with tourists to make their vacation more memorable.

In the state of Washington, it’s against the law to bait bears — but there’s no law against baiting tourists.

Let your conscience be your guide.

I like to tell the tourists that the color of the water is determined by what type of dye the Park Rangers dump in the water each morning when they get to work.

Water by itself can be clear and boring. Dyeing the lakes and rivers makes them more colorful and scenic.

It’s a real aid to the photographer trying to shoot a dramatic nature scene that captures the ephemeral beauty of the lakes and rivers amid the surrounding forest of majestic trees.

“Is there any gold to be found in the Olympics?”

With the increasing price of this precious metal, inquiries on where to find it are becoming more frequent.

I tell the tourists that, of course, there’s tons of gold here. The government just doesn’t want you to find it.

Good thing I’ve got a secret map to a number of lost gold mines, for $5.

“How can I find Bigfoot?”

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 [email protected]

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