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In my experience, Tillamook's Dutch Mill, on 101 in the deteriorating heart of the city's downtown core, is the James Brown of North Oregon Coast bars--meaning the hardest drinking place in business. I've been there about a half dozen times over the years and invariably there's wet or crusted vomit in the parking lot. I remember one weekday winter night as especially raucous: the joint was packed, booze flowed like the Columbia River used to, and a mix of 80s hair metal hits blared incredibly loud, pushing the envelope of acceptable public social drinking. On this visit, and others, it seemed in no way did I fit into the tight-knit friendly atmosphere prevailing at the Dutch Mill. Once I stopped in after playing tennis wearing sweats and carrying a racket and I might as well been from another solar system. From the camaraderie, it was obvious everyone knew each other, got along well and had about as much notion to play tennis as having one drink on a Friday night. Despite my alien status, on every occasion I've taken up residence at the Dutch Mill, patrons and employees have welcomed me with open arms, made me feel a part of the scene, freely answered my questions, and listened to my comments. I guess since I too am at the Dutch Mill, the thinking must be--"he is okay." The Dutch Mill is windowless square bar in back of a restaurant that serves dishes like chicken fried steak and meat loaf sandwiches chased with Travis Bickel's favorite snack of coffee and pie. To find the bar, walk down the main and only aisle and punch through the swinging wood saloon doors--just like in Gunsmoke. Inside the bar, the decorations are strictly sports and seasonal promotions from brewing and distilling conglomerates. One of the weirder touches is draft beer served in Budweiser glasses with the late Dale Earnhard't signature on them. I believe Mr. Earnhardt might have liked that every beer I've ordered at the Dutch Mill comes spilling over the top, a refreshing contrast to corporate brewpubs where a pint is typically 12 ounces of beer, four inches of foam, and served amidst bawling babies who just shit their diapers. There are the obligatory video poker machines, darts, a pool table, and a very small stage where bands with names like Beaver Daddy and Luminescent Toadstools sometimes rock on the weekends. Most of the action in the Dutch Mill centers around the bar. Not too long ago after the terrorist attacks I was with a sultry friend, standing there to hail down the waitress. The talk of course, amounted to payback, but it was surprisingly measured considering this was Tillamook County and it was 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. I overheard one woman say how she was now afraid to fly and thus compelled to cancel her long-awaited, once-in-lifetime dream trip--to Graceland! This means war.
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