Ocian in view. O! the joy.
William ClarkWell, my fine dyslexic imperialist friend, I now know it was actually Gray's Bay you saw so many years ago. After nearly 4000 miles on the road, youíre forgiven for the mistake. We were exhausted and wet. But at least you had your slave and that thing going with Sacagawea, an affair so transparent in your journal entries that it amazes me today how scholars from the Lewis and Clark priesthood refuse to acknowledge it. Whatís the big deal? She was very hot, multi-lingual, wore leather and knew how to gather native plants for food, aphrodisiac and psychedelic purposes.Not all was joy back in the winter of 1805 on the Oregon Coast. There were 1000-year old conifer trees back then that produced a drenching micro climate and a dampness of earth and spirit (in the invaders) that took us all to the brink of insanity.Worse, there was no alcohol!That's right, no alcohol at all! We floated, rode, walked and crawled to the Pacific and had nothing to party with when we reached the prize. Despite leaving St. Louis in 1804 with 500 gallons of spirits, (and my own private stash) we ran out of booze a little over half way through the trip! Some leadership by me. I couldnít keep the men out of the stuff. I think a lot of people forget that the average American male in the 19th century drank three times as much alcohol as he does today. And it was more potent too. So we made it to the North Oregon Coast, it rained almost every fucking day for five fucking months, and we hated it here, especially me. For the record, I suffered a nervous breakdown at Ft. Clatsop. I really lost it there. It was the beginning of my depressive boozy spiral that eventually led to suicide, about which I recently read online that one expert rated as ìthe most ignominious one in American history.î Bullshit. I peaked at seeing the Great Falls for the first time. There was nothing more in me.I do think however it could have turned out better for me that winter of 1805 if I had experienced the comforts of the Twin Spruce Tavern, where I write this now. Had it existed, it would have vastly improved my, Clarkís and my menís opinion of Oregon.
Located in Warrenton on Alternative 101, only a few miles where we wintered at Ft. Clatsop, the Twin Spruce is a well-lit, snug cabin-like structure that is the antithesis of dank, dreary Ft. Clatsop. We could have hung out here, stayed dry, discussed the beaver trade (furs that is), salved our exploding venereal sores, winced from the treatment by something called a "pewter penis syringe," popped Dr Rush's pills, worked on our journals, and even ducked out to play horseshoes We also could have downed enough beer to ride out the rainy season like obviously many of the locals do now.It's all so obvious in the journals what we needed. I wrote: "It continued to rain and blow so violently that there was no movement of the party today." Yes, if only the Twin Spruce Tavern had been in service. No movement in there it what it's all about.Upon my recent first visit, when I saw the draft beer selection, I felt like Clark when he exclaimed, "I beheld the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed." He referred to a specific coastal view from Tillamook Head. I refer to the fact Twin Spruce has Henry's Dark on tap. I love this beer in bottle and previously didnít know it was available on tap.And there's even more goodness to Twin Spruce: Van Halen's debut, Sticky Fingers, and Back and Black on the CD jukebox, a funky Formica countertop, a Skill Crane, framed crabs and nicely mounted packaging from once-bustling nearby salmon canneries, the best selection of boat photos on the Oregon Coast, a beer garden with immaculate horseshoe pits, and a gleaming sheet metal sculpture of an absolutely knock-out mermaid that frankly reminded me a woman who jilted me back in D.C. upon my return. She said I was ìtoo intense.îSpeaking of women, I still wince at my decision to deny the boys their carnal fun with the native ladies that winter (not that they didnít carry on with each other). To avoid problems with the locals, I made them take a celibacy pledge! If that isnít proof I was out of my mind then what is?I will say I wrote a lot in Ft. Clatsop. God did I crank out the misspelled natural history prose non-stop! I just wish upon my return to civilization President Jefferson had put me up at Monticello, assigned me a couple of female slaves to tend to my every need, steered me to a reliable tavern like the Twin Spruce, and given me a direct order to write and prepare the journals for publication. I still would have killed myself, but at least I would have finished the book. Every aspiring writer wants to say that.