The annual summer invasion of the Rock has begun. There are creepy, curious, voracious creatures everywhere, and I’m not talking about tented caterpillars littering our footsteps. Squish, squish, squish.
No, I refer to the tourist armada, only some of whom are tented. Crowding our parks and roads, filling every parking space, eating everything in sight, asking stupid questions.
Rock tourists, known to entomologists as turisticae Rockii, take many forms. Some are cocooned in $90,000 RVs equipped with satellite dish TV, a sun porch and broad-band internet. Others sweat along the highway on overloaded bicycles.
Some come in swarms on roaring motorcycles, disturbing our bliss in a manner that never happens when the Rock turns cold and wet. Still others come just for a day to “experience” us and “get away from (fill in the blank).”
That last variety makes up the vast majority of those who stand in long lines holding tiny, impatient hands outside Kapaw’s Ice Cream Parlour on a weekend afternoon.
Then there is the bed-and-breakfast strain. I think of them as our beautiful butterflies, romantic creatures who spend their time slowly strolling, slowly eating, slowly sipping wine, slowly gazing into each other’s eyes. They’re the most fun to watch.
And we mustn’t forget the campers without RVs, those who just spent a bundle on sleeping bags, propane stoves, stainless steel marshmallow roasting sticks and ice chests (not to mention $10 for a bundle of firewood), only to discover how damp, cold and rainy it may become in a state park on the Rock. They’re the ones you see lined up to take the 10 a.m. ferry home on Sunday morning.
Last, and probably least, is the just-passin’-through variety, on their way to Anacortes, Victoria, Port Townsend or (gasp) back home to California or Canada.
The Rock’s many charms are often lost on them. They will tend to ride your bumper impatiently if you drive the speed limit while they’re racing to make one ferry or another.
Every variety of Rock tourist is known to ask many of same questions, and we Rock dwellers have learned to rehearse our answers.
(1) How much do houses cost here? (Answer: Less than you’d think but we wish it were more! May I give you my broker’s name?)
(2) Is there a supermarket nearby? (Answer: Depends on what you consider a supermarket!)
(3) Is there a gas station nearby? (Answer: Depends on how much you want to spend!)
(4) Where’s a good place to have dinner? (Answer: Umm, well. We usually like [fill the blank]. But you won’t find a table between 5 and 7, and it’ll be closed before 8. And whatever you do avoid [fill in the blank].
And, of course, there is:
(5) Don’t you just love living here? (Answer: Yes! Especially after Labor Day!)
Oh, I know I sound like an elitist crank. Next thing you know, the Chamber of Commerce will print up a bunch of Tourists=Jobs! yard signs, and the letters to editor will start pouring in. You blockhead! Love the tourists or get out!
Okay, okay. I get that. So to all you tourists who just picked up this copy of the Whidbey Examiner as a souvenir, please know that I really do care about you. Have fun! Spend lots of money! Then go home!