"Is it just me, or are there a lot more tourists this summer?" That was the question I asked the ticket agent at the Anacortes ferry kiosk.
"Oh, ever since Memorial Day, the numbers have been through the roof," said the ticket agent. "But I suppose that's good ... probably means the economy is doing better."
"I'd rather have half the tourists and twice the number of year-round jobs," I said.
"Yeah ... I guess that makes sense," said the agent.It makes sense to me anyway.
No matter what island you live on, the tourist hordes seem to be overwhelming recently. In Friday Harbor, it's even harder to find parking spaces than previous summers, and the jets flying into the airport seem to be ... well ... just a bit much. The lines to leave Lopez for Anacortes on a Saturday are now as long as they used to be on Sunday afternoon.
When asked about the lines, one Lopez ferry worker (a long-time resident) voiced her frustration, "There are just too many people. There are just TOO MANY! We need to decide if we want to be Friday Harbor because this is just too much! It's busy all the time. No let-up."
In the midst of the onslaught, our little businesses can't find enough seasonal workers to handle the crush. In Friday Harbor, some restaurants are closed two days a week during the high season simply because they can't find enough workers. Same is true for Orcas, I hear. On Lopez, one restaurant has put out want-ads that amount to begging for seasonal help ... even willing to take people on for just a day or two during their visit to the islands.
Welcome to the economy of "protection" ... the economy of the National Monument ... the Scenic Byway ... tourist board ... the "one of the places to see before you die" economy. This is the Friends economy. It's the one they always wanted, but it's still just a transitional stage ... because there's more to do.
For the rest of this story, continue reading on the new Trojan Heron Blog