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The lower reaches of the Columbia - we cannot call it a delta - is a maze of islands but is well marked. Almost every marker is host to an osprey nest containing a nestling. We run at our normal speed of 9. We spot Mount St. Helens on the horizon and are reminded that the Columbia River was also affected by the eruption on May 18th Silt carried into the Columbia from the Cowlitz River reduced the depth of the Columbia from 40' to 14' trapping deep draft vessels at Portland and Vancouver.

We notice many gravel banks deposited by massive floods, once a regular occurrence before the river was tamed by a succession of dams. We tie up at the city dock in St Helens at 2pm. The current is sufficiently strong to keep both port and starboard props turning at the end of their free-running Seatorque shafts. I photograph a small row boat containing two dogs - one serving as a figurehead and the other barking furiously at a red rubber ducky being towed behind.

We turn off the Columbia River into the Willamette and pass through numerous bridges. Only one - named Steel Bridge - requires we call for an opening and we only need the lowest level to be lifted. This has a clearance of 26' closed and 71' open. We arrive at River Place marina at and, as the guy in charge with whom we have booked a space does not respond to phone or radio calls, we tie up on the City docks outer float.

We then learn that the berth we had been allocated is no longer available so we are stuck without power or water, on the outer float which is subject to wave action. Wednesday June 1st until June 5th. We remain anchored at the City dock until the morning of June 5th. I find out from Louisa in Taiwan that Portland is twinned with the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung and, since , an annual Dragon boat competition - using Taiwan style boats - has been organized by the Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Association with up to 96 teams taking part.

Streams of people of all ages and shapes troop past the Venture on their way to and from the colorful and authentic dragon boats parked further along the dock. We visit the Rose Gardens for which Portland is famous and spend a couple of hours wandering among the wonderful array of roses in air perfumed with their scent. We cross the street to the Japanese Garden which opens at ten o'clock to the general public and is soon thronged with too many people to be ideal for photography.

It is best to visit both these places as early in the day as possible. The temperatures during our stay in Portland have been unseasonably hot - reaching more than degrees F over the weekend. This is at least 25 degrees above normal for this time of year. On June 5th we leave the Willamette River and return to the Columbia to relocate to the Columbia Yacht Club who have invited us to stay. From there we will resume our journey inland.

Fleming Venture at Anacortes. Strait of Juan de Fuca. Venture at Astorai. Venture at St Helens. Menage a trois St Helens. Mt St Helens. Osprey nest. Venture at Portland Marina. Venture in Willamette River Portland.

Tony and Joe

Dragon boat ar Portland. Dragon boats in Portland. Rose garden Portland. Japanese Garden. The sun had just set, and the sky still displayed a riotous profusion of colours from the crimson bordering of the horizon through odd patches of pale green and pink, fading up into the deep purple evening overhead. The last of the light cast mysterious shadows across the carefully hoarded stacks of junk. I took a sip of my beer and considered my first sunset in this strange new country. Man, it was an ugly sight.

It seemed a perfectly logical alternative. World Fame would be replaced by World Exploration; either way I was sure to find excitement. Visions of parties on the Riviera and mega-yachts filled with swimsuit models dominated my dreams. France would be a staging post from where I would unleash myself on the world; unstoppable, insatiable, inevitable! Or… not, as it turned out. After three months of picking prunes on a baking hot plantation south of Bordeaux, having lost the ability to walk normally due to spending sixty hours a week on my knees, I decided to give up. That made up my mind.

By daybreak his entire workforce had evaporated. All in all it had been a bit of a shitter. But all that was in the past! This time I was determined to do it right. This time I had a plan. All of them had been rescued from cruelty; chained up in market places, kept illegally as pets or destined for the black market. The job of the volunteers was to accompany the police on raids, rescue the animals, look after them and release them into the Amazon jungle! Now, years later, I was still dreaming about it. Which is a little worrying. The fantasy came a step closer to reality on the day that Toby, the English co-ordinator of the refuge, approved my application despite me having absolutely no relevant experience.

I convinced myself that this was the shadowy hand of Fate, rather than a blanket policy of employing every idiot that sent them an email. The closer I got to my destination, the more I realised quite how unprepared I really was. She was like the anti-me; in her smart black trouser suit she exuded confidence and power. I fidgeted nervously with my mp3 player and tried to arrange my jeans so the holes in the knees were less obvious. As she twisted slightly in her seat I caught a waft of perfume. Not yet. And you? You have to, really, going to Ecuador.

Rather lamely. In an animal refuge. I just… like animals. At this point I realised there was no way to salvage the conversation and surreptitiously slipped my earphone back in. Perhaps I should have put a little more thought into my motivations. I was a twenty-four year old bloke; meeting a hot woman had been my number one priority for as long as I could remember. But there was definitely more to it than that. Mostly, I just wanted to see if I could do it.

Cope with the language. Survive in a totally foreign country. Break free of my boring little life, of the very ordinary and somewhat insecure person I was in danger of becoming, and forge myself anew in the fires of experience. Return home a strong, confident adventurer with a fistful of stories to impress my mates. And possibly a pet tiger.

And if the local girls felt the need to throw themselves at me, well, what could I do? Everywhere I looked, strange people were doing incomprehensible things with peculiar foodstuffs. Weirdness was on sale in the kiosks, and floating through the air disguised as conversation, and written on posters fastened to the brightly lit walls. I think that was the most disturbing thing. It looked exactly like any other airport. It was just full of crazy shit. The urge to shriek and run away was building strongly within me. Only, there was nowhere to run to. It was one of those moments when I realised I might have made a slight mistake.

And I saw that it was good. So I shuffled towards it. Beneath the sign was a desk, and behind that was a woman — my first female contact in the country. She was pretty, in that cheerful-yet-severe style effected by airport staff the world over. Dark hair, dark skin, dark eyes that twinkled as she smiled up at me.

And the top of her head just about came up to my nipples. And then I lost it. Because to be honest, that was the only word I could remember.

I took a deep breath. And did nothing with it. And stood there. Probably better than I spoke English. In French. I mean… oh, bollocks to it. Because I was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most clueless person to have crossed her path that day. She came around the front of the desk — climbing down off her box and losing another six inches of height in the process — and with the expression of someone rescuing a bird with a broken wing, led me carefully through the confusion of the arrivals hall. It was touching and demoralising in equal measure, to be an object of sympathy for a bilingual midget.

I followed her out through the main doors, into the heat and the smell of exhaust fumes and around the corner to the taxi rank. And that was where she introduced me to the equally diminutive man that had spent the next forty minutes trying to kill me. After all, I was still alive… And Roberto? But I think he meant well.

How little I knew! But my survival against the odds comforted me, and reinvigorated my sense of purpose. I was here in search of adventure after all! Surely, I was a stronger person already? If there were more challenges to come, I would rise to meet them. And with that thought, I could finally relax a little. I spent a pleasant night safe and sound in a tiny yellow room at the Secret Garden. I hope you all enjoyed that! Some bits still make me chuckle though! So, the dust has settled on my latest incident of outright stupidity. Am I wiser? Permanently cocooned in bubble-wrap?

No — not yet, at least! Note the metal plates, which fixed the split down the middle of my jaw. This has caused some loss of sensation in that area, presumably due to nerves they had to cut, so a few of my more exaggerated facial expressions are now off the cards. The two matching fractures on either side of my jaw, just below the hinges, they decided to let heal themselves — wiring my jaw shut just to be on the safe side!

It did mean that my daily dish-washing chores were dramatically reduced though…. A total weight loss of almost 6kg or 13lb from a starting weight of 75kg or lb has left me in dire need of a new wardrobe. Luckily, Roo has set herself the task of fattening me up again — presumably to slaughter in time for Christmas…. My first eating experience after getting my jaws unwired was a bit of an anti-climax. It probably serves me right for having it at McDonalds. So, I settled into my plastic chair and eyed the fresh burger hungrily.

In fact, every mouthful was such a mission — and the act of eating itself felt so unpleasant, so different with all the missing and broken teeth, not to mention painful — that I pretty much resigned myself to a liquid diet again. A liquid diet has its compensations….

Luckily, it did get better — most notably after my first appointment with my incredible dentist Dr. Laura Hall.

Pacific Coast to Idaho - Part One

All that remains is to keep on eating… Roo is super happy to accommodate this, and is on the hunt for softer options in the surrounding restaurants. I will give you a fiver if you try the Pork Bung. I managed though, and it was nice to be out in the sun. It was gorgeous though:. Throughout this whole ordeal, I can honestly say that two things have really made the difference, keeping me going when I started to get despondent.

Turns out it was a tad past its use-by date…. Sorry love! This week, along with celebrating my return to a solid-food diet, Roo and I also celebrated our anniversary. This was the anniversary of that magical moment, twelve years ago, when we first got together.

Just another fringe benefit of being married to a professional idiot! Guess what? As the legendary Douglas Adams would have said. Amazon is pretty much SkyNet. Then it throws that stuff in your face as often as possible, like the worst kind of enabler. What happens when a huge bunch of memoir readers buys a sci-fi book is, Amazon starts recommending that book to other memoir readers. But for anyone who does have at least a passing interest in exploding spaceships and the like, the book is here:. Earth Warden on Amazon. Book getting boring? Roll out a car chase! Need more explosions?

Instead of having to live through a whole bunch of incredibly harrowing life experiences, survive them, and then spend a year re-living them whilst desperately trying to scour my failing memory for every detail… oh, and at least TRYING to make them funny! But… sigh!

My nose really IS too big for that. It was either this, or a pic of her dressed head to toe in My Little Pony gear…. At which point, I feel another crazy memoir is kind of inevitable…. And I do feel bad about it.

Broadway's 'Frozen' cast performs 'For the First Time in Forever'

Oh yes… this happened! So, my plan over the coming months is to get a whole lot more active with this blog. I reckon I should be able to squeeze something out roughly once every two weeks still talking about blog posts here. For some reason.

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Because for some reason, I seem incapable of writing a first draft under , words…. A few to be going on with…. So, my plan is to tweak those chapters one at a time to make them readable, and publish them on the blog as I go. And who knows? Heavy machinery and me do not mix well. So thank-you, once again, for everything! For your emails and Facebook messages, for blog comments and book reviews, and most of all, thank-you so much for reading my books.

And that officially makes me an International Author. I reckon. And you did that! You lovely, lovely people. This… also happened.

Christine Everhart

Feel free to answer it in the Comments though! Yup, you guessed it! This is a progress update on Life, the Universe and Everything — specifically as it pertains to one particular idiot living in Perth, Australia. Alas, never one to settle for convention, I did it around 8pm, after just one drink. Amazingly, Roo had been away for less than 12 hours at this point!

I also fell over in the garden — which is what makes the damage so impressive…. How hard was that grass? Yes, that IS bone you can see in there! The hole went all the way through you see, and whilst the bleeding stopped after a couple of hours, saliva from inside my mouth kept dripping out through the hole in my chin. DAMN that grass…. We spent our second night moored alongside the idyllic Blackmere Lake, which Roo had been looking forward to photographing.

They were also falling into the canal by the bucketload, fouling our propeller and slowing our already agonising crawl to the speed at which dinosaur turds fossilize. Having reached the southernmost point of our journey, we now had to turn the boat around. This one was a semi-circular bite out of the opposite bank, into which we guided our nose. We spent a total of four nights on board the Henley.

In hindsight we probably set ourselves way too big a journey, because we wanted to go all the way from the hire place in Trevor to the picturesque Black Mere, and then return back past Trevor and go all the way to Llangollen in the other direction. At one point we were overtaken by a mother and daughter, out for a casual stroll along the towpath. They moseyed past us, and disappeared into the distance, leaving us in the dust. I think on our biggest day, we managed a staggering 12 miles….

Putting all that together, you might gain an insight into the first few minutes and hours of our boat stewardship. Powered by Flexibility Theme for WordPress. Comments 7.

Tony and Joe

Tony Share this: Tweet. Sleeping like an Eskimo! Friday, March 8th, at pm.

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