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Mt. Hood rises above the Columbia River

Entering the US after driving in remote Canada/Alaska gives us an initial traffic shock.  As we drive the Portland Freeways, long lines, construction, and mean drivers pull us back in to the mode. We make it to Waldport, where I am preparing for the Willamette Writers Conference, and Mare is enjoying the company of her sister. Delicious crab, oysters and clams climb back into our lives.

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The Columbia River Gorge

At the Portland Airport Sheraton, I join 850 attendees and presenters at The Willamette Writers Conference, while my wife and dog hang out in the city and surrounding area. Mare rediscovers the beauty of her home town and goes to an all-year High School reunion, while I freak out about meeting with a literary agent, in-between attending workshops and learning a lot of good information. I love meeting so many writers, screenwriters, producers and agents. I pitch my novel to an agent, and he wants to see my first three chapters. Another agent that I met in a workshop wants to see my first fifty pages. Great news, but realistically it is still a long-shot. Agents receive 1200 to 1500 queries monthly in their mail. They may ask to read about 100 of the manuscripts, and take about 4 of the 100 as a project. Hey, you can’t win if you don’t play!

Mare stumbles into the room early morning after her big evening, where she and her friends had to leave the reunion to find a good time at a local pub. We drive out to Corbet, in the Columbia River Gorge, where her brothers have made arrangements with a friend for us to stay practically free in a friend’s house.

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Ron skiing in the Columbia River

We hang with Mare’s brother Frank most mornings for breakfast and with her brother John and his conservative friends at the local tavern at 3:45 p.m. daily. In between I polish my first three chapters, while Mare catches up with old friends. A couple of dinners with family, a little hiking in the gorge, some water skiing on the Columbia River and it’s time to head back up to Vancouver to spend time with our friend during his last week there.

                    We love the city of Vancouver, where you can walk along the seawall on trails with space dedicated for bicyclists, roller bladders, joggers and walkers. The diversity, the food and the temperatures make us never want to leave. Alas, I am a slob, my dog stinks, and my wife goes to bed too early (tell me something I don’t know!). Sometimes living for a week with a friend does not go as well as planned. Time to move on.
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Diablo Lake

Totally free again, with no specific deadline or date, we are riding in our truck through the spectacular scenery of Route 20 through the North Cascades National Park and across the top of Washington State. We pick blackberries, blueberries and apples along the way, before stopping to spend the night in the funky town of Winthrop, Washington. Sipping a few cold ones on a balcony overlooking a river we call a few friends and family just to feel some love. We like this town and may be back for the annual Blues Festival next July.

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Ron and Jack enjoying The North Cascades National Park

So, we have been traveling since June 8th.  We have spent 21 nights in motel rooms, 44 nights with friends and/or relatives, and have camped 15 nights. When staying with friends and relatives, we try to buy dinner for them every night, as that is the least that guests can do. But, even at that we can afford to continue traveling this way for awhile; however, looks like we’ll be sleeping in the truck tonight!