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August 11, 2011 8:54 am

SPORTS GUY: From the road

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Geological hazards, convicts and vampires

The Sports Guy is out in Washington, so this week’s column is coming to you penned from the road. There’s two ways to think of this.

One, I’m on vacation resting up for the start of the school year. Or, two, I’m in pre-season training for the 2,254 round trip miles that it’ll take to simply follow Panther football this fall, not counting playoff games.

Don’t think I won’t be sending the Wyoming High School Activities Association a thank you card of that one come November.

When one thinks of vacations, one usually harbors thoughts of relaxation. Then reality comes crashing down.

Case in point, the campground at Mt. Rainier National Park has the following sign as a greeting: “Warning camp at your own risk. This area is subject to sudden and severe geological hazards such as flooding, mud flows, debris flows and rock fall.” Combine this with the literature they hand you advising that you climb at least 160 feet up the canyon wall if you hear a noise that sounds like a freight train and you have all the trappings of a nice relaxing night surrounded by the sounds of nature.

And, believe me, you hear every … single … sound.

I really had intended today’s column to be solely about that experience. That was, until we continued our trek to the Pacific Ocean. We were on approach to the sandy beaches of Olympic National Park when we passed a standard traffic sign that had a yellow advisory notice pulled down to reveal “Escapee in area. Do not pick up hitchhikers.”

Naturally, this news troubled us on multiple levels. The first thought was what I believe to be the somewhat natural reaction of, oh my goodness, there’s an escaped convict running loose.

Only after a pause for thought did this give way to a slightly more troubling thought. Apparently this happens often enough that the state of Washington decided it would be cost-effective to have the highway signs pre-made and ready for deployment.

Now, for those of you who have never been to Olympic National Park, allow me to set the stage for you. It rains here. A lot. The park is home to one of the largest temperate zone rain forests in the world.

To say the foliage here is thick is an understatement. You could hide an elephant 15 feet off the highway and in most places nobody would be any the wiser. The densest forests in Yellowstone have nothing on this.

This, of all places, is where they chose to build a prison?

But, it gets even better. Our base camp for this leg of the excursion is Forks, Wash. Forks, as most anyone under the age of 18 can tell you, is the backdrop for the popular Twilight series of vampire novels.

I, being well over that age, had nary a clue when booking a motel here.

So here I am, huddled at a desk in a room in a community known for vampires and werewolves, scrutinizing every face I pass for fangs, extreme 5 o’clock shadow or a resemblance to the escapee’s image from the local news.

Yep, it’s going to be another peaceful night of sleep. Sports season can’t get here soon enough.

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