July 3, 2012 in City

Winning Clarkation entry was doggone sweet

By The Spokesman-Review

I offered one lucky reader the opportunity of a lifetime last week: a chance to join yours truly on a whirlwind Clarkation vacation to North Idaho in my ’67 Oldsmobile Vista Guzzler.

This dream ride will include a free box of phosphate-laden Cascade dish soap from Stateline, a no-host stop in a Post Falls liquor store and meatwiches on me at Coeur d’Alene’s one and only Hudson’s Hamburgers.

Rules were simple.

Convince me you’re worthy – that’s all.

Well, I’m pleased to report that our most-worthy winner has been selected.

Big Reveal in a moment, however. First I want to tell you about the amazing number of responses my humble offer generated.

“All those people want to go with you to Idaho for soap and a burger?” one of my editors marveled with a dubious look.

If only I had the budget to rent two party buses.

One bus would be packed with all the fun-lovers who want to go to Idaho with me.

The second bus would be aimed in the opposite direction, toting all the killjoy eco-whiners who saw my contest as their chance to nag.

• “I don’t put phosphates down my drain … nor do I eat beef,” wrote Valerie Wahl.

(Fantastic. I’ll buy an extra box of soap and two burgers in Val’s honor.)

• “Do you really think that this is something to take lightly?” pondered Susan Melka .

(Lightly? You obviously have never picked up an 85-ounce box of Cascade. Hefty is the word.)

• “For you to encourage people to use products containing this crap is poor taste, even for you,” scolded Kathi Shirley.

(You have no idea, Kathi. My taste is so low that I once got drummed out of “Hell’s Kitchen” just for watching the show.)

• Mike Petersen, however, tried to con me with reverse psychology.

“The last thing you want is someone along who agrees with you – boring!” wrote the executive director of The Lands Council.

Nice try.

“Taking you on my trip sounds like a real blast,” I wrote in my reply to Petersen. “I think I’d rather chew on aluminum foil.”

The good news is that Clarkation hopefuls far outnumbered the nannies.

• “I think it would be a blast to go with you on a short vacation in your land yacht,” wrote Steve Wilson, who wanted to assure me that he had “no felonies due to I’m too clever to get caught.”

• “Thanks to you,” wrote Hal Mola, “I am now polluting the rivers with phosphates and have been known to indulge at Hudson’s.”

(I get misty knowing I’m a role model.)

• “If I don’t go, you will never see another drop of Guinness, mister!” threatened local barman Tim O’Doherty.

(This beer bully can’t push me around.)

• After saying he’d love to go on Clarkation, Jerry Dormaier went into a lengthy pitch trying to get me to be grand marshal of Hartline Community Days.

(Note to Jerry: Weird way to do it, but I’ll think it over.)

• “Doug, pick me,” wrote Rodney Johnson. “I love side-stepping Washington’s stupid laws.”

(Sniff. I’m tearing up again.)

• “First off, ignore all the haters. I think you are the best columnist on the S-R staff,” wrote Jim Markley, who added: “And yes, I have said the EXACT SAME THING to Dave Oliveria and Paul Turner.”

(Insincerity will get you nowhere, Jim.)

• Gene E. Bobeck didn’t actually enter. The U of I “Professor Emeritless of Metallurgy” instead sent me a brief dissertation on why “hooch,” my term for booze, actually refers to “the chemical formula of formic acid …”

(I’ve seen “Silence of the Lambs” five times. There’s no way I’m going on a road trip with this guy.)

• “… I believe I’m your biggest fan,” wrote Mary Enders. “I feel mentally abused on Monday, Wednesday and Friday because I don’t get to read your hilarious column.”

(If Mary had only mentioned Clarkless Saturday she’d be sitting in the shotgun seat.)

• “I meet all the requirements,” wrote Paul Resberg, who “would even be willing to spring for a car wash of the Cruiser at the end, if it’s not raining.”

• “I have no felonies,” wrote Tom Peacock, “just a misdemeanor from a trip to the Gorge in 1997 when an ex and a leaking jacket … ended up with me being searched and a small pipe with medicinal herbage in it was discovered.”

• “I’m writing on behalf of my 91-year-old father (Henry) who will be 92 in July,” wrote Ken Cruz.

(As much as I’d love to meet this fine old gentleman, I haven’t had CPR training since I took first aid in college and wound up skipping half the classes.)

• One of the best entries came from Ron Mensch, who confused me with outdoors columnist Rich Landers.

“Mr. Landers,” he wrote, “you have put me in a very difficult predicament. The offer in yesterday’s paper is very tempting, but in order to participate I must ride to Coeur d’Alene and back with a green weenie tree hugger.”

(Actual reply to Mensch: “Wow. Is Landers going on the trip, too? … Yours with great regards, Thomas Dewey.”)

In the end, however, no entry captured my heart like the email that arrived from our Clarkation winner, Steve Saad.

Was it Steve’s love of real-deal Cascade?


Was it the fact that he once worked across the street from Hudson’s Hamburgers?


Was it that the Saads are moving back to Spokane after seven “long dark years” of being in “corporate-imposed exile in Seattle”?


The game was won in the final paragraph of Saad’s email.

“My wife (Sally) wants to get a dog after we move,” he wrote. “I’ve agreed as long as I get naming privileges for the pooch. If I win the North Idaho trip with you, the dog’s name will be …



I’ve given up on ever seeing my name on something meaningful, like a bridge or a street or fancy bordello.

But this is even sweeter. In my book there’s no finer accomplishment than having your name attached to one of man’s best friends.

I can hear Sally now, calling to her husband:

“Steve, get in here. Doug just peed on the carpet again.”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@spokesman.com.

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