The Bigfoot Bar
Every year, friends and family suggest that I get out of town during the summer months to avoid the choking traffic and tourist onslaught that engulfs us. I tell them, with apologies to John Milton, “Better to suffer in Laguna than relax anywhere else.”
But this year, I decided to get away for a few days and visit one of my sons who left the bright lights of Burbank for life in rural Washington, specifically Roy, Wash., population 800. Monday through Friday, he cuts down trees. On the weekends, he gives guitar lessons. Chainsaws to guitar pics, the Renaissance Man of Roy.
He and his wife picked me up at the Seattle airport. Our journey to their home went from freeway to four-lane highway to two-lane highway to finally a small paved road with no white line down the middle. I have never seen so many trees. The forests were so dense that Bigfoot and his entire family could have been 10 feet off the road and I would have never seen them.
Money goes a long way in rural America. Their two story house sits on an acre of land, with its own well, a cherry and apple tree and other trees this city boy cannot name. Mt. Rainier, still covered in snow, is visible from their property. Roaming the grounds are a magnificent Newfoundland lab mix, two pooped out pugs, and one vicious cat who managed to kill a bird and a rabbit during my stay. He did this not because he was hungry, but because, like most cats, he is a serial killer.
One day during my stay, my son took me to a classic car show in the small town of Eatonville, which is close to Rainier. His wife did mention that the mountain is still an active volcano and if it blows Eatonville would be destroyed. But Rainier remained quiet and I got to see some great old cars and visit with their friendly owners. They told me about their car’s special parts and ways they had customized them. I nodded my head knowingly, but understood practically nothing they were talking about. A car guy, I am not.
No visit to Eatonville would be complete without a visit to The Bigfoot Bar. So, after viewing the cars, in we went. I instantly realized I should not have packed like someone who lives in a Southern California beach town. There I stood in a Tommy Bahama shirt and shorts with Sperry topsiders on my feet. I was surrounded by loggers, motor heads, and people who actually shoot animals for food. They were dressed, ah, differently. They had calluses on their hands and no one was drinking a Corona with a lime stuck in it. I must admit I felt a warmer vibe there than in the bar at Javier’s in Crystal Cove.
My son’s neighbors have horses, pigs, sheep and goats. This Laguna resident was in the country now, but not so far into the country as to be out of Walmart range. Confession: I had never been in a Walmart before. I can now cross that one off my bucket list. In size it rivaled St. Peter’s Basilica. We were there to buy a small wading pool for a cookout to be given in my honor, the night before my departure from Roy. There would be some small children in attendance, thus the need for the pool.
Alright, key rule at a party where you don’t know most of the people: Do not talk politics or religion. This is especially true in “Make America Great Again” territory. I obeyed this dictum and even refrained from correcting double negatives, which seemed to increase as the beer flowed. I did, however, step in it, so to speak, in two other unrelated areas. I made a wise guy crack about country music, something to the effect that “country music” was a contradiction in terms. And, more dangerously, I degraded the Seattle Seahawks. This is blasphemy in Washington and I had to beat a hasty retreat.
To visit my son and his wife was joyous. To see new places and meet people who have been shaped by different experiences is something of great value, especially for someone born and raised behind The Orange Curtain. There will be a return to Roy in the future, this time with clothes more befitting the area. But, as I sat in the Seattle airport waiting for my flight home, I must confess I was not humming “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” but rather “Take Me to Laguna Beach, Alaska Airlines.”
During the cookout, someone pushed the murderous cat into the wading pool. James Utt swears he did not do it.