Cousins’ and mythical beasts

The allure of the stumpy cow statue was too great. We wanted a hot meal, and it was coming from a restaurant named Cousins’.

Marcie, Cody, Garrett and I were heading back to Portland from the Sasquatch music fest in George, Washington. It was the year before Sasquatch turned into a four day fest, when it was just a standard festival show with two stages and lots of bands. Six years later, I’m still trying to figure out why Coldplay headlined over Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips or Jurassic 5. The venue is called the Gorge, and it’s completely worth the five to six hour drive from Portland.

As much as the town “George, Washington” screams “booming metropolis,” The Gorge is surrounded by absolutely nothing. You have to spend the money to camp at in the official venue campground, which is just a field with banks of port-o-potties. There aren’t even old logging roads to park on or a terrible state campground. The only thing around except the venue are farms where Jethro’s wife comes out to tell you not to park on her property to eat cold pizza out of the cooler that’s jamming into your side while you’re shoved into the back of a Volkswagen.

We drove up the night before Sasquatch and the four of us crammed into a two-person tent that Marcie’s parents got as a wedding present. (Garrett only made it into the tent for a night and a half–he fell asleep face down in the grass in front of the tent for part of the second night). When we were about to crash the first night, we stared in disbelief at the tent door flopping over. I dug through the trunk and found my duct tape, wrapped a piece around the front pole, pulled off a long strip, slapped the tape down to the hood of my mom’s Golf, and said “Everybody in.”

On the way home, we stopped to frolic around the concrete Stonehenge replica at the Maryhill Museum.

About a half hour after crossing the bridge back into Oregon, we were in The Dalles, where the gas station bathrooms sell Love Kits for a quarter. We noticed Cousins’ on the way up to Sasquatch, and on the way back, we couldn’t deny the towering roadside sign or the livestock statues.

The hostess said, “Howdy Cousins!”

When our waiter came to the table, he said, “How are you cousins doing today?”

The menu told a convoluted story about the restaurant’s origins: There was a group of cousins who were close and opened Cousins’ together to serve up homestyle food and make everyone who came there feel like they were one of the cousins too…I hoped the wait staff didn’t cheat at board games like my actual cousins. I let the story of the founding slide, but I had a pressing question when the waiter came back to get our order.

“Random question: Why is the word “halibut” in quotation marks on the “Real ‘halibut’ fish and chips?,” I asked and pointed to my menu.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But yeah, that’s weird. I promise it’s real fish.”

We ordered veggie burgers and salads.