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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fisherman's revenge, or plunking for Picasso

It was daylight on the water when I noticed a potato floating in the river.
One look told me this was spud debris from the recent Snoopy Rod Fishing Tournament conducted on the Bogachiel River.
It's a charity event held every year about this time where grown men pay money to fish for steelhead with miniature fishing rods that are decorated with Snoopy, Barbie and other kid's themes while shooting potato guns at each other.
Fishermen travel to Forks from all over to compete in this contest.
Forks is a fishing town. Steelhead fishing helps keep the lights on.
Still, the Snoopy rod tourney can make the locals a little restless.
People tend to take their steelhead fishing seriously out in the West End of the Olympic Peninsula.
Steelhead fishing may not be a matter of life and death. It's much more important than that.  This can lead to friction at a predawn boat launch. Especially if the first guy at the launch finds his boat, trailer and every bit of fishing gear he owns tangled together with hundreds of plastic zip ties by his practical joker friends.
Each of these zip ties have to be painstakingly cut out in the dark as scores of other anglers wait in a growing line for their turn to launch.
Tempers flare. There are uncharitable remarks about tourists in general like, “Why don't they all go back to where they came from?”
Maybe it was a twisted sense of revenge that had me driving to Seattle on the day of the Snoopy Rod Tourney, but it was payback time. I was going to show those city slickers a thing or two about being a lost tourist.
Driving in Seattle can be a challenge.
The first thing you want to remember is to stay off the freeway because once you get on, you might never get off.
If you are lost while driving on a Seattle freeway and you see a big white arch, turn around. That's the Canadian border. If you drive over a wide river, that's the Columbia. You're in Oregon. Turn around.
If for whatever reason you find yourself driving in high snowy mountains when you're lost in Seattle, get a clue. You're on a pass to Eastern Washington.
Turn around again.
It took several hours of circling before finally reaching my tourist destination, the Seattle Art Museum. I was there to see the Picasso exhibit.
I thought it would revive my failing career as an arts reviewer, but I had to find a place to park first. Finding a parking spot in Seattle was as tough as catching a 20-pound steelhead in the Bogachiel.
So I just double parked instead. That's when I noticed the truck was smoking a bit. Must have overheated on the pass.
Meanwhile, it was leaking enough fluids to be a toxic waste site on wheels but I thought it would help keep the dust down on the city streets, my way of giving back.
The museum was jam-packed with art lovers, which can make it a real hassle to see anything. Just lucky I was wearing a fishing vest with some rotting sand shrimp in the pockets. It's an old art reviewer trick. It keeps the crowd moving for a clear view of the work.
While I pestered the locals with tourist questions like, “What is the elevation?” “Does it always rain here?” And “what is that smell?”
The Picasso exhibit was spectacular.
I drove back to the Olympic Peninsula and kissed the ground.
It was good to be alive.  

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