Being a transplant from the east coast, I get asked all the time if I like living in Washington and the answer is always a resounding YES! And it's for a lot of reasons, really, but here's one from today:
I went into Winthrop today for lunch. Much of the town was shuddered on account of it being "between seasons", not to mention the town having, as of the 2000 census, just a paltry 349 residents. I strolled along the wooden sidewalk to Three Finger Jacks, the oldest saloon in the state. They're open today till 7pm.
I'm nearly four hours from Seattle, clear across the North Cascades and closer to Canada and Idaho than my home. The radio in the bar is playing country music, there's a half-dozen rough-looking locals at the bar, an older couple at one of the tables, and me. I walked through batwing doors to enter.
Everyone is fixated on the monster truck racing on the television. And I mean fixated. They're hooting at the spills, hollering at the massive jumps, and, I'm serious now, actually critiquing the driver's skills. Monster trucks. Seriously.
I overhear the guy with the cowboy hat explain to his friend that almonds have a shell and a skin, to which his friend responded with a rather timeless soliloquy about learning new things every day. They appeared to be about 45 years old.
The bartender, clearly someone's grandmother, wore a relatively short skirt with dark black nylons and a loose-fitting top, and she wore it with a swagger. The phone rings. She answers it, "Hey dear, whazzzzuuuuuup?"
Yes, just like in the commercials from, oh, about 6 years ago.
The cheesesteak I ordered left a lot to be desired. The fries, not too bad.
So, with all of these strikes going against it, how could having lunch in this place possibly give me another reason to be glad to live in Washington, you ask?
No matter how far you are from "civilization" in Washington, no matter how low-brow the establishment, no matter how awful the food, and how sketchy the clientele appears, you can always, ALWAYS, count on a better selection of beers on tap than any urban hot spot anywhere else in the country. Good, full-bodied, northwest-brewed beer. No fizzy yellow beer. No mass-produced gimmick beer with novelty containers. Just fresh, locally-brewed, hoppy, goodness.
I mulled over my choices and settled on Deschutes Brewery's Obsidian Stout, on nitro. It's from Oregon (pronounced Or-e-gun, not Or-e-gone).
And as I sipped my pint and ate my sandwich, I too took an interest in the monster trucks on the television. And when one of them flipped and caught fire, I joined the gang in the hurling of mockery and insults at the television.
And when the guy in the cowboy hat complained of his head hurting from learning too many new things today, I nodded along in agreement. I hear you pardna', learnin' can be pretty hard work. Best to ease the pain with another fresh pint, perhaps I'll try the Boundary Bay next...