I have officially been to the greatest bar in all the land. Of course, this is a personal opinion, as it is void some elements that a lot of you look for in a great bar such as titties. Despite lacking that one element, this bar has everything else you could ever want and more. So much more.
After my adventure to this bar in the middle of absolute nowhere, I debated with myself whether or not this was worth writing about. After looking at the pictures, I decided it was a pretty fucking epic place. I suppose I’ll let you guys decide .
As every great adventure here in Portland, this one began with Jed. Jed is a friend of mine who has lived in this town for a very long time and knows every place that is here, used to be here, and sometimes will soon be here. He’s the one that sent me on my adventure to Roosters, so you know he’s legit. He told me about this bar that he likes to go to a lot called The Safari Club, that is a few towns east of Portland. He said that it had taxedermied animals as part of its decor and that it was one of his favorite spots. One day I had really nothing better to do, so I decided to go check it out.
It was no easy sell to get Ross to go here. The bar is located in Estacada, OR which is about an hour’s drive. Its not near anything else awesome, so literally the drive was just to go to this bar.
During the long drive, I looked at the map to see if there would be any other points of interest along the way. I noticed a cemetery on the outskirts of Estacada called The independant order of odd fellows Cemetery. I got really excited, thinking it was some sort of bizarre cult’s burial ground and a brand new adventure was forming. After some internet research, I realized it was disappointingly not. I mean, why would a bizarre cult’s cemetery come up on Google Maps? Not sure what I was thinking.
Ross was incredibly put out by the distance we were driving, and he was definitely letting me know that this bar had better be worth it. Damn. No pressure or anything. I was really hoping this wouldn’t turn into a “Geraldo and Al Capone’s vault” situation. When we finally arrived after getting lost once and driving on a few back-wood winding dirt roads, the bar was unassuming from the outside. I could feel Ross’ glare.
We walked in to a mostly deserted space. The bartender was friendly and liked that we were there to check it out and take pictures. He let us know that all but 3 of the animals are real. At first, the bar looked quite small with just a few taxedermied heads dotting the walls. Shit, what a bummer. I went to find the restroom and discovered the place was absolutely huge with display cases similar to a museum filled with animals staged in various scenes and battles. Holy. Crap. Out came the camera.
I mean, this is a bar people. It feels like you’re having a cocktail at the Natural Museum or something. We ordered mini-tacos and looked at all the animals. Each one had a plaque below it stating the date, country, and specifics on the expedition on which it was acquired. I soon noticed that all of these animals were hunted by the same man. One guy.
Almost immediately after arriving, a man sitting at the bar approached us. He sat down next to me in the booth so close he was somewhat sitting on my lap. About two inches from my face he asked me if I’d like the tour. Everyone in the bar seemed to know him. He told me he had been here 30 years. Was this one of the owners? He was clearly very intoxicated. Not the kind of intoxicated you get from drinking too much one night, nay the kind of intoxicated one gets from being drunk for years. I couldn’t help but think of the first time we went to Astoria and found ourselves checking out Mary Todd’s Workers Bar in which Mary Todd herself stumbled up to us, fell into my lap and asked us for a ride across town. He asked me again if I wanted the tour. I didn’t want to offend him in what could be his own bar, so I said sure and drug Ross with me.
He walks us to the first of the large cases, points to certain animals and proceeds to tell us what they are. Around the time he labeled a caribou as a California deer, we knew this guy wasn’t the owner of anything except possibly a rusty shopping cart full of cans. We kept trying to shake him, but then he would reappear. There wasn’t really anyone else in the bar, and he wasn’t going anywhere. He also kept touching me. He asked me if I wanted to come take pictures of him “dropping trees”, also of a piece of property owned by a lady he knew with coyotes running loose on it. Tempting…
He told us that the bar was built specifically to house the owner’s collection. Mr. Park would go on hunting expeditions all over the world in the 60’s and 70’s and have his trophies stuffed. Obviously this man had an obsession. When he passed away, the family sold the bar, animals and all and it became a chinese restaurant. During this time, the place fell into disrepair. He said that most of the restaurant was closed off and became filled with trash. He also described some shady shit occurring in the back rooms of which I interpreted as a possible brothel. Recently, the bar was purchased by a local who absolutely loved the place. She cleaned it up, restored the animals as best she could, and re-opened it. Hooray.
He also told me that the bar can be quite spooky at night when he’s closing up and there, alone in the dark. He said that this animal in particular gave him the creeps the most at those times. He said it gave him the willies that this little guy wasn’t full-grown. Indeed.
while I was hearing stories from the bartender, “Tour-ey McGee” was regaling Ross with tales of his illustrious military career. He said that he didn’t want to offend us, but it is a fact that he was born to kill the world. He said that at 16, he was the youngest man in military history to drop a nuclear bomb. He went on to explain the eerie coincidence that his social security number and his military ID number are the exact same, only switched around. He seemed surprised that we didn’t recognize him, as he’s been on the news 6 times for homeless advocacy . They must have a lot of slow news days in Estacada.
After our guided tour, The derelict sat at our table and asked us if any of us were writers. I said that I was, and he said that he would allow me to write his story. I politely declined, and he laughed at me. He let me know I was making an epic mistake, and he’s been getting offers from famous writers his entire life. I was passing up a grand opportunity. As he moved on to tell us that the VA hospital was going to remove his shoulder in two days, a silver-haired woman in a Budweiser sweatshirt appeared at our table as well. “Get a load of this! This girl doesn’t want to write my life story” he says to her. She looked at him and laughed. She then turned to me and shook her head, with an apologetic look. She took a long sip off of her Rainier and told him to shut the fuck up and leave us alone. Lady, you are boss.
(The elephant head was fake)