Copalis Beach, Washington (25 miles north of Aberdeen, population: 489), is known for two things: shipwrecks and razor clams. The most recent shipwreck, thought to be a steamer that had foundered in 1852, was discovered in 1987 where the Copalis River meets the ocean. The wreck has since disappeared and reappeared again several times, swallowed back up and regurgitated by the waters. The most recent razor-clam dig was about a week ago, in late April. The dig began before low tide in the dark around 5:30 a.m., with dawn bringing a highly unseasonable brief snowfall. Those out digging in the cold sand—mothers with toddlers in small-scale galoshes, old men of the sea with crabby expressions, out-of-towners carrying oversize buckets, one tweaker whose feet were bare but whose mind wore a protective coating of meth—took little notice of the snow.
The night before, the only bar for miles—the Green Lantern on Highway 109—was packed. The out-of-towners there were easily spotted: happy that the place was so welcoming, younger than the salt-and-pepper average age, and in need of money. The Green Lantern is cash only. A guy asked about an ATM. "Well, it's not very far," said the server. She waited a second—letting him ask where, letting him mentally prepare to get back in his car, drive somewhere, come back, and finally have a beer—and then she pointed at the cash machine in the corner of the room. It's funny every time, clearly, but everything was extra festive that night.
The Green Lantern plus car racing equals love. Beer-branded NASCAR banners and flags hang all over the place, with a few razor clams carved out of wood marooned among them. The door of the women's room features a life-size photo of a handsome young male race-car driver, while the men's has a miscellaneous beer-branded blonde. (In the men's room on a chalkboard: a drawing of the anatomy of a razor clam next to a drawing of the inevitable human anatomical analogue.) Also nestled in the race-car decorations: a carved sign reading "Save a tree—wipe with an owl."
At the bar, people peeled pull-tabs, and a guy dropped a shot into a pint and downed it boilermaker-style. Four men drank schooners of beer while playing shuffleboard. Oyster shooters, three for $4, tasted mainly like their very thick lid of jarred cocktail sauce; seafood was of the breaded-and-frozen, deep-fried variety. Incompletely overheard: two couples laughing at a story of a man who got a part of his anatomy caught in some kind of machinery. Right outside the window, next to a minivan, a couple lightly, lovingly mauled each other in between drags of cigarette. Beyond the parking lot, the Copalis River met the ocean.
Green Lantern, 3119 SR 109, Copalis Beach, Washington, 360-289-2297.