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Gas guzzler, guitar and guidelessness

Thu., June 10, 2010

(Today’s column is the first of a two-part* road trip adventure.)

(*Presuming I survive the adventure, that is.)

When Jim Milner sent me an e-mail inviting me to be in the Republic, Wash., Prospectors’ Days parade this weekend, I remember thinking …

“Wow! Republic has e-mail? That’s freaking amazing.”

Then I wrote Milner back. I told him I’d be happier than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a nuclear arsenal to drive my cherry red 1967 Vista Guzzler in his town’s big annual event.

Hey, it’s nice to be wanted anywhere. After all, those stuffed shirts in Spokane’s Lilac Mafia have never asked me to be in their snooty torchlight parade.

Milner also wanted to know if I would perform some music during the event. So I conned my bandmate and buddy Joe Brasch into joining me on this northerly expedition to rugged Ferry County.

On Friday we plan to pack our guitars into my station wagon and motor off into the Great Unknown.

And by Great Unknown I mean I don’t have a clue as to how much gas it will take to get my vintage Oldsmobile all the way to Republic and back.

Republic, I’m told, is about 125 miles. So based on my usual 5 or 6 miles to the gallon of premium, I figure I’ll need …

One of Obama’s “too big to fail” bailout loans.

But I won’t let a little thing like fiscal irresponsibility or concern for the ozone layer stop my fun.

This country never would have been settled if our rugged pioneers of yore wimped out every time gas prices shot up.

True, many of those rugged pioneers wound up having to eat their traveling companions in order to survive. But why do you think I invited Brasch?

Milner, 43, told me he moved his family to this outpost (pop. 1,000) about six years ago from Portland. Milner is the IT assistant and webmaster for the local hospital.

He said his wife, Lori, actually found Republic on the Internet. Captivated by the town’s beautiful surroundings and affordable real estate, they soon made Republic their home.

Hearing me retell this charming story prompted Brasch to wonder if the Milners might be hiding out in the Witness Protection Program.

Naw. Milner seems genuinely smitten with his life in the slow lane.

During a phone call Tuesday, Milner boasted that there is not one traffic light in all of Ferry County and that the hospital is the only building with an elevator.

The telephone reception is a little primitive, too.

The first time I dialed Milner’s home number I heard a “click” followed by a horrific noise that sounded like someone was feeding a live goat into a wood chipper.


But my second call got through.

Milner told me he had booked us to play a set or so of music Friday night in a place called the Sportsman Roost.

(Something tells me I better run through my Hank Williams repertoire.)

The parade takes place Saturday morning. After that we’ll play another set outdoors.

I’m jacked. Republic sounds more happening than a Rush Limbaugh wedding.

Milner added that he had invited me to Prospectors’ Days because he enjoys my sarcasm, although he’s not sure if anybody else in Republic has ever read my column.

That’s okay, Jim. The way the newspaper biz has been going of late, we consider one reader per town to be a circulation bonanza.

(Will Doug, Joe and the Vista Guzzler make it to Republic? And if they do, will Republicrats greet them with open arms? Or locked-and-loaded arms? Stay tuned Sunday for the conclusion of our road-trip adventure.)

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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