The Drizzling World of Hairy Potheads
By DAVE KIFFER
November 16, 2015
Ketchikan, Alaska - Well, we've all survived another "Argh-tober" in Our Fair Salmon City.
Yes, this one was a little on the wet side with 30 inches of liquid sunshine lightly cascading down upon us.
Still, that pales in comparison to the 42 inches that drizzled down in October of 1974. Yecch!
But 30 inches was still about 10 inches wetter than a normal Soptober. And it featured three days in which we had all-time record water dumps, led by the 7.21 inches that careened down on us on October 8, one of the top five wettest days in Ketchikan.
Speaking of which, our friends up in The People's Republic of Juneau just suffered through an October in which they got - drum roll please - a total of 7.21 inches. Yes, that was for the entire month. We got that in one day. Go figure.
The easy thing would be to feel sorry for ourselves and sit around crying over spilt rainwater. But we Ketchikandians are nothing if not resourceful, especially in the direction of attempting to make a buck off our troubles.
Decades ago, some friends and I were pondering how to capture and transmit our excess rainwater (which would be just about all of it) down south to those areas where they really need it (which would be the entire Western United States). We talked about tankers, we talked about pipelines, we even pondered whether or not you could send water in those nifty Star Trek transporters.
Natch, a more learned Trekkie than I opined "you can't teleport liquid" in a transporter. Which caused me to retort that then how come all of people arrive in a transporter if they are 50 percent water." Which led us down and endless space-time, mind-bending rathole of irrelevance.
Eventually, we got back to the point which was to use our excess rain to :"live long and prosper" and the best we came up with was just letting it drip back into the ocean so the Japanese Current could take it to California where it could be desalinated. Unfortunately, that did nothing to line our pockets.
But now, there may be some light at the end of the (rain and wind) tunnel.
We've trying since forever to expand our tourism season, but it keeps running up against those nasty, cold and rainy months of April and October. Try as we might, we just can't become that "year-round visitor destination" because visitors just haven't shown an interest in being "wet, cold and miserable."
Heckfire, they even get cheesed off when it rains in August, which is only "wet, luke-warm and miserable."
You see them huddling underneath awnings, peering out like bedraggled cats, wondering if the rain will stop in time for them to slink back to their ships.
But I digress.
It seems there may be a sea change occurring in the minds of the Outside world. Maybe it is all this "drought-a-palooza" going on. Everywhere you look it's drought, drought and more drought. It seems to be the latest fad to stand on the roof of your carport and shout "we haven't seen rain since the Carter Administration." All that unmitigated sun beating down on folks' heads' is causing some serious warp-age.
Now, there is an odd nostalgia popping up for "rain."
For example, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has just installed a "Rain Room."
Yeah, yeah, I know that that leak in your living room ceiling is causing your own "rain room."
But think positive. The realtor can call it an indoor "water feature."
Anyhoo, on November 1, the "Rain Room" opened to folks wanting to shell out $30 to step into a room where it - wait for it - rains!
Okay, that is a simplification. It's not just a room where it rains.
Heck, we would only charge $5 a ticket if anyone wanted to step into Ketchikan's community wide rain room in October.
No, this rain room - which follows on the heels of similar exhibitions in New York and London - is a room in which it rains on you and you - wait for it - don't get wet.
Basically, there are these high tech sensor doohickies that track you and they turn off the rain right where you are. So it rains all around you as you walk through the exhibit but you don't actually get wet. Talk about the Force being with you (oops, that was Star Wars not Star Trek, my bad).
One caveat, you can't move very fast through the Rain Room because if you do you outrun the censors and - shock and horror - you actually get wet.
Of course, when was the last time you saw any tourist moving fast in Ketchikan?
They don't saunter through the town as much as they ooze up and down the sidewalks in a giant amorphous curio-sucking blob. I am still in therapy for the time a couple of old ladies in wheel chairs flipped me the bird when I had the temerity to lightly address my car horn when their wheel chairs blocked Stedman Street for more than two minutes as they (apparently) sat discussing the relative merits of Ammolite versus Tanzanite one afternoon.
Fortunately, it was not raining THAT day otherwise they would have frozen in place like tourist tin woodspersons.
Which reminds me, a friend the other day mentioned she was thinking about sending her child away to an "immersion program."
Last time I checked, we were pretty "immersed" right here. Especially on October 8.
Anyway, this near-wet experience, this Rain Room, is so popular that people waited hours in line in London and New York to experience it, which is why Los Angeles (where there are children under the age of 10 who have never seen rain) makes you sign up for tickets - and your entry time - weeks in advance.
Who knew that a Rain Room would be popular enough for Fast Pass?
All this, of course, gets the wheels spinning. Could we install similar sensors all over our dear little flooded fishing village?
At a time when the state is thinking about spending 500 badzoogadillion dollars on a pipeline to bring natural gas - that maybe no one wants to buy - from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, maybe we could get a billion or two to install some of those sensors and create "The Drizzling World of Hairy Potheads" (yeah, yeah, it's a stretch, but some folks thing that marijuana tourism is gonna be a smoking economic engine for our little town).
I'm telling you, you combine bigfoot, marijuana and this new desire for "rain tourism" and it could be really, really, big.
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Dave Kiffer is a freelance
writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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