Once bitten …

It’s one of those places you cannot really remember, except for the name.

It faces onto the Snake River (that’s the literary device called foreshadowing). Clarkston, and its twin across the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers are named for the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805. Apparently the expedition never quite made it to this precise location, which became a community only during the Civil War (when it had the more intriguing name of Jawbone Flats). Today this where one heads towards for Hells Canyon, and that is spectacular.

About the only other detail about the place that springs to Malcolm’s mind is that, thanks to dams and locks, the Snake is navigable for sea-going vessels these three hundred and more miles from the ocean.

Perhaps we can forgive Malcolm’s lack of recollection: Clarkston claims a population of just over seven thousand, and so lives under the shadow of its larger neighbour, Lewiston (About which his memory is equally bereft). Inevitably, being a late construct, the town has that typically American, logical but boring grid pattern, with a difference: a mathematical southwest-to-northeast divisor, called — wait for it — Diagonal Street. original, huh? The north-south streets are numbered from east to west. The east-west streets are named for trees. As one heads north, they ran out of trees, so we find Bridge Street — which, obviously, leads to the bridge, and Fair Street — which …. errr

North of that again, just short of the Snake River, is an industrial area, which (this being modern America) seems mainly warehousing and box-shops. There’s one spot of interest down here: the Riverport Brewing Company. Malcolm can thoroughly recommend their version of an IPA (left). Obviously not as photogenic as the less-appealing take (and a distant one) on a wheat-beer (right): a moment is about as long as you’ll take on it.

Close by, and right opposite the riverside campsite,  is, inevitably, a Walmart, one of those ginormous block structures visible from earth orbit.

And here is the location of today’s morality, courtesy of the BBC web-site:

A Wal-Mart customer is recovering after he was bitten by a rattlesnake in a garden department of the store chain.

Mica Craig said the reptile pounced as he was shopping at the store in the north-western US state of Washington.

The 47-year-old stamped on the serpent and was later treated at hospital with anti-venom, after his hand suffered serious swelling.

Wal-Mart apologised, and said it was investigating how the snake had entered the store in the city of Clarkston.

Kayla Whaling, a spokeswoman for the chain, said: “At this point, it appears to be an isolated incident.

“We are working with a pest management team, which is conducting a sweep of the property to ensure there is no additional rattlesnake activity.”

Another customer, Maria Geffre, told Reuters news agency the snake was at least 1ft (30cm) long with four rattles.

Mr Craig said the serpent attacked as he reached down to brush away what he thought was a stick from a bag of mulch.

The purchase was intended for his marijuana plants, which Mr Craig said he was licensed to grow for medical reasons.

Unfitting as it may be, Malcolm found that amusing for all sorts of reasons, not least the final sentence. Ms Whaling appears to have a perfect grasp of CorpSpeak: “a pest management team”, “a sweep of the property”, “no additional rattlesnake activity”. What that means, in plain English, is:

“We’ve sent for the rat-catcher. He’s looking around. There’d better be no more of the little buggers.”

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Filed under BBC, Beer, health, History, leisure travel, reading, United States

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