Washington – Olympic Peninsula: Water Rules

Text: Uwe Krauss • Photography: Uwe Krauss

The Olympic Peninsula is not only surrounded by water on three sides—it is ruled by the wet elements, which forms a unique place in the Pacific Northwest.

Whack! This could go so wrong, I think to myself. Just before the salmon hits the faces of the surprised customers, the salesman catches the big fish. The crowd is cheering. Whack! With a slick swing, the fish is flying back to the colleague behind the counter. As safe as a quarterback, he also catches the sailing seafood and immediately sends it back. Six pounds of fish aim toward the crowd but no harm is done—these guys have been doing this for many years. You can read about their flying fish performance in any Seattle guidebook.

The story started in 1986. Pike Place, Seattle’s fish market, was almost bankrupt. They had to do something to attract visitors hence “flying fish” was born. The salesman in front of the counter threw a fish chosen by a customer to the guy behind the counter. It was then packed and thrown back. They did it with a lot of cheering and noise so more and more people became curious. Finally TV stations came and Pike Place became famous. Now the market sees about 10 million visitors from around the world per year. No wonder, it seems all of Seattle rocks. Some of America’s most famous bands (Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam) got their start here. For me, the town is only the hub to the complete opposite of a bustling city: the Olympic Peninsula, known for its outstanding nature.

Come As You Are

Due to the infamous traffic of the Seattle area there is no smarter—or more beautiful—way to leave the city than by ferry. The ship not only provides a relaxed escape from the city, but I also get a postcard view of the Seattle skyline with snow-covered Mount Rainier in the background. The cruise across the Puget Sound to the peninsula takes one hour. When I arrive, it’s like I’m in a different world. This piece of land in the far northwestern corner of the United States is a land of extremes, as I shall find out during my journey. But first, I ride through a rather unspectacular mixture of flora and farmland before approaching Aberdeen, where things start to get busier.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2015 back issue.