March 14, 2008 in Features

The Slice: For some, it’s a long-drive contest

Paul Turner The Spokesman-Review
 

A story in The New York Times recently suggested that the popularity of golf is in decline nationally.

Apparently one of the problems is that the game takes a long time to play. Fewer busy people are willing to give up the requisite hours.

Now I don’t play golf. So I didn’t react emotionally to this report.

But it did make me wonder. Is the Inland Northwest different when it comes to the amount of time people are willing to devote to recreation?

Forget golf. Just consider the amount of time many people here are happy to spend driving to and from area lakes, Mariners games, concerts at The Gorge, et cetera.

Think about it. If you are in Spokane, even trips to, say, Pullman or Sandpoint can eat up a decent chunk of the day.

So are we apt to wake up one morning and discover that Inland Northwesterners are no longer willing to put in that much time on the road?

Probably not, gas prices notwithstanding. For one thing, lots of these regional trips are family outings. And one rap against golf has always been that it often entails guys essentially abandoning their families for a lion’s share of the day.

Yes, yes, women and children play golf. But you get the point.

Still, there’s another reason I suspect people here are not likely to start begrudging the amount of time it takes to get to Priest Lake, a ski hill or a camp site 75 miles away.

People here like to drive.

Those who can afford it anyway.

I think this is partly attributable to the presence in our midst of so many transplanted Montanans. These people see signs saying “Tick Head Park 920 miles” and they just snort. They are born with numb butts, distended bladders and a trucker’s realization that we’ll get there when we get there.

Then there is the simple reality that remote Spokane is in a part of the country where the attractions and destinations are spread out. It’s a geographic fact of life.

Lastly, there is the happy circumstance that road trips around here almost invariably mean decent scenery.

Getting from here to there isn’t wearisome when you like what you see along the way.

“Friday Slice quiz: What was the name of the Air Force base just outside Moses Lake? (It closed in the 1960s.)

One reader submitting the correct answer will win a coveted reporter’s notebook.

“Warm-up question: How much vice could you buy in Spokane for $5,000?

“Today’s Slice question: So why aren’t people in the Inland Northwest communities that do use fluoride dropping like flies?


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