Tuesday 19th August 1:00 a.m Portland, Oregon, USA
Ron works for a truck building company in Portland. He looked a little peaked when he woke up this morning. He said he didn't feel too well, and promptly phoned in sick. As he hung up the phone, the colour seemed to return to his face and he said he felt well enough to take the boat out. Man, that was a quick recovery! Karen fixed us a big breakfast of sausages, bacon and eggs with beer pancakes, and we hitched up the boat. Their latest toy is a twenty-two foot catamaran with twin ninety horsepower motors. Karen had fallen in love with the boat when they first took it out on a test. For the next month, she nagged Ron to buy it. What do you think of that boys? Wouldn't you like a wife like that?

We launched at the local Ridgefield boat ramp, into a muddy looking river. That river branched into the much more pleasant Columbia River, where we slowed to watch some kitesurfers, and passed a nude beach full of old men and fat women. *made me wish Ron hadn't given me the binoculars* It was another glorious day- hot and sunny. In spite of that, the river was quite choppy. We sped down the river at forty knots, the catamaran's sleek hulls slicing smoothly through the waves. Ron even let me take charge of the vessel on the return leg. It was pretty easy, until I hit the wake from a car carrying ship!

Karen and Ron enjoying their catamaran. Kitesurfer on the Columbia River.

Funny how being on the water makes you hungry. Back at home, Karen heated up some delicious homemade Italian style soup, and I phoned Melanie, my host for tonight across the border in Portland. Remember I said all my stays were quite close to each other? Well, Portland is only twenty miles or so away and Karen and Ron said they could drop me off. I arranged to meet Melanie at a shopping centre, and not long after Karen and Ron dropped me there, Melanie drove in and pickd me up.

Melanie is a fire fighter and works a twenty four hour shift, then has two days off. Her husband Steve works for child welfare. They live in a gorgeous old 1920's home in the outer suburbs of Portland. It's unusual to see such an old house in it's original condition. It's obviously been well cared for but never ruined by 'renovation'. The loungeroom reminded me of my childhood visits to my Mum's aunt's home. Melanie and Steve have tastefully redesigned the bathroom though, and plan to tidy up the rest of the house without altering it's style. I commented that the old style furniture suits the house so perfectly, I almost wondered if it came with the house. "No, Melanie built all of it!" Steve said proudly. Wow! If you know a little about me, you'll remember that I have built quite a lot of furniture at home over the last couple of years, but this stuff was perfect. Melanie is apparently quite a talented carpenter and cabinetmaker. Even my bed downstairs in the basement, was hand made by Melanie.

Melanie, Jennifer, Ben, Steve and myself washing down some barbecued salmon with a cold Oregon beer.

Their friends Ben and Jennifer came over for dinner. Fresh salmon barbecued with a variety of herbs and spices and loads of garlic. Delicious, and not as rich as some of the salmon I've had earlier on this trip. The five of us sat up quite late talking, and now I'm settling down to sleep in the basement. There's a small headheight window looking out to the front yard, and the air is still warm even at this late hour. I'm not quite sure what it is, but as I sit here on the big soft bed with the warm night air drifting through the open window, I feel like I'm back in Queensland. Strange feeling.

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