Mahmoud Ahmed show, Portland, OR, January 1, 2011

As if it wasn’t enough to start out the new year by whitewater kayaking and catching a steelhead, my day wasn’t over yesterday when I posted the previous blog entry. After writing that post, I hopped in the car and drove back over to Astoria and picked up Shannon, and we were off to Portland for dinner and a music show.

We had Lebanese food for dinner at Nicholas’ Restaurant on SE Grand, one of my very favorite Portland restaurants for close to 20 years, dropped the car off at a friend’s house and took a cab down to a performance room near the Convention Center to see Ethiopian swing legend Mahmoud Ahmed.

Mahmoud Ahmed show, Portland, OR, January 1, 2011

At nearly 70 years old, Mahmoud Ahmed pretty much rocked the house. A large portion of the audience was Ethiopian and sang along with the lyrics which we non-Ethiopian fans didn’t understand a word of. But it was still a really fun show, and really rewarding to see someone like that still putting on a long and high energy performance, and a crowd of people absolutely loving it. There were happy people everywhere, on stage and off. I don’t want to forget to mention the fantastic opening act, Tezeta Band, either. If you have a chance to see them sometime, it will be worth it.

I also got introduced to a couple of new beers that I had never encountered before, St. George and Meta, both from Ethiopia.

Mahmoud Ahmed show, Portland, OR, January 1, 2011

This was a late show, starting at 10 PM, and I didn’t get to bed until after 3:30 AM, nearly 22 hours after I woke up in Nehalem to go fishing. We slept in today, and had a fantastic late breakfast at Pambiche, a Cuban restaurant that is fast becoming a new favorite for me. I’m finally home again, snacking on leftover falafels and hummus. If the rest of 2011 goes like January 1st did, I’ll be well satisfied…

Pambiche, Portland, OR

Yesterday was a long day!

I started out the day in Astoria, at Shannon’s house, having been there the night before to see Opal’s first band concert at school. She is learning the snare drum right now.

My plans involved going to see my friend Don Beale, in Manning, OR. Our task was to make a few Greenlandic harpoons, for practicing and competing at the annual SSTIKS event. Then I was going to go on to Portland that evening for the OOPS kayaking club meeting where I was asked to come and promote the kayaking business at their annual enticement event.

What I didn’t realize though, is how snowy the coast range actually was.

rear view mirror

My 20 year old VW Jetta was not really the ideal vehicle for this kind of driving, with its old, balding tires and lack of all wheel drive. But I just kept poking along, rarely getting out of second gear, and I made it all the way through the snow without incident. It must have been twenty miles or so of snow covered roads! What a well placed sign this one was. Slippery indeed!

slippery road - no kidding!

But when I turned off the highway, I suddenly was in deeper, softer snow, on a steep winding road. The car started slipping and then, there I was, stuck in the middle of the road. A couple of more tries, and suddenly my transmission was finished. No warning, no reason to believe that there had been anything wrong. It just stopped transmitting power to the wheels, and started instead making an unpleasant grinding noise. I think the ring and pinion actually broke. My $700 car, after 271,000 miles, came to a halt. Bummer!

What wasn’t a bummer though, is that I was actually only about 100 feet from Don’s house, and the driveway I was stuck in front of was his in-laws’ house. He came down and helped me roll the car into their driveway, where it is sitting right now. We went ahead and spent a couple of hours carving harpoon shafts and visiting and then headed into the city to the kayak club meeting. Did I mention that he was also going to the same meeting? What luck!

Don took me out to lunch at Sushi Town, my first experience with one of those conveyor belt style sushi joints. There is a little conveyor belt with different sushi and desserts and so forth that goes all around the restaurant, and when something you like comes by, you pick it off the track. The plates are color coded for pricing, and when you are done, the lady comes by and counts up your colored plates and gives you the bill. It was fun to watch the sushi going around and around. I wish I had thought to take some pictures!

Anyway, we made it to the meeting on time, and afterwards, Don was kind enough to drive me up to Longview, and Shannon was kind enough to come over from Astoria and drive me back home. Tomorrow I head back to Don’s house with the truck and flatbed trailer to haul the poor car home. Whew!

What a day!