Wilderness beyond the Green Lantern parking lot.
  • Wilderness beyond the Green Lantern parking lot.

There’s only one place to drink in Copalis Beach. The river winds through a short slough to the ocean and, just south (as "just south" as it could be), sits Green Lantern Tavern.

The nondescript bar is empty but for two patrons.

“San Diego!” exclaims Bob, a rotund country man perched with his apologetic but not surprised blonde wife or girlfriend at the end of the bar. “Well, all I got to say is that it’s nice to meet some folks from San Diego who ain’t queer.”

It becomes Bob’s mantra for the evening: “You San Diego folks are welcome here as long as you ain’t queer,” cheerily, even long after the bartender suggests that perhaps it's San Francisco he's thinking of, the queers and all.

Bob orders us two shots of a rather Yuletide-ly liqueur and, drunk now, says, “y'all throw your bikes in the back of my truck now and you can camp out on my property.”

He offers it several times throughout the night, and when we eventually decline, he erupts, blurting out, “you turn down old Billy Bob’s hospitality, hey? Weeeeelll! That’s on YOU now! That’s YOUR karma now. And that’s BAD karma!”

“Are you doing hoojoo on us?” Z asks with her adorably amused grin. “Yes I am!” he declares, beaming with self-satisfaction. “That’s YOUR bad karma now!”

We entertain the validity of ole Billy Bob’s voodoo, briefly, but soon take up Pebbles’ offer to stay in her trailer just a block away at a campground.

Pebbles is a beautiful, nervous, open-hearted woman who dearly wants to take us out of the rain for the night. So we sip wine in her RV listening to a Luke Redfield album as she tells us about the abusive alcoholic man she is on the run from. He’s hit her for the last time. If she sees him, she’ll kill him. If he comes tonight, we’ll help.

A few days later, we bike over the great Columbia River via the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which is supposed to be terrifying, except it’s been undergoing a four-year painting process since March, so we breeze over with no cars in sight for much of the four-mile stretch, feeling immense gratitude for the fates and a warm ambivalence to the natural laws of physics, the hard rules of reality, and even Billy Bob’s well-meaning, cross-eyed, dumbass back-country hoodoo.

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