Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Last week I traveled to to Oregon for the 2009 Starboard Dealer meeting. I saw some old friends, and met some new ones. I saw some places I have not seen in a long time, and I saw some places I have never seen before. I didn't want to leave, and I couldn't wait to get home.

A week ago Monday I flew into Portland. I met up with Kevin Thornton ( a former employee and old friend) for a quick lunch. I have not seen KT in 10 years. He looks great. Must be something about the Oregon life style. Unfortunately, he had to get back to work and I had to get on the road, so our time together was much too short.

I arrived in the little town of Netarts Oregon late in the afternoon. I checked into my cabin and headed down to the beach for a quick sail. After a short session on the 2009 Starboard Futura, I grabbed an SUP and promptly sliced the end off one of my toes with the paddle blade. The water in Oregon is freezing and my feet were numb, so it wasn't until I got back ashore that I noticed blood pouring out of my toe. Not good. I bandaged myself up, stopped the bleeding and managed to hobble around the rest of the week.

The week went by fast. We had a couple of early morning Stand Up sessions including a clinic with pro Ekolu Kalama. The mornings were spent with product presentations, and the afternoons with demos. The evenings were spent dining, enjoying sunsets and just hanging out.

In addition to catching up with other dealers I have known for years, I had the pleasure of meeting Jane and Rebecca, the owners of Boardsports School in San Francisco . Two very special ladies, and great dinner companions. With their sidekick, Kipps, meals were always entertaining. Thanks for your company.

Friday morning, I bid goodbye to my new friends, and after a short sightseeing drive along the Oregon Coast, I headed east to Hood River. For those that don't know, the Hood River Gorge is one of the top windsurfing meccas in the world. Unfortunately, they were in the middle of a heat wave and there was no wind. Story of my life.

Saturday morning I woke up at 5 and drove up to Mount Hood to go snowboarding at Timberline. There is something really bizarre and fun about going boarding in August. The mountain is open from 7 until 1. The snow started out soft and got softer every run. I rode hard and by noon my legs were noodles so I called it a day.

I cruised around the mountain and the lodge for a bit taking pictures and then headed back to Hood River. Still hot, and no wind!

Keeping with my tradition of let's play then eat, I ended up at a little Italian restaurant called Abruzzo. I had a Scallop , Pancetta, Artichoke, and Leek pasta dish that was to die for. The sign over the bar said "Good Friends, Fine Wine, Mellow Music, and Something With Garlic". I was by myself, and I don't drink, but two out of four was still pretty damn good.

Sunday Morning, I had planned on meeting up with some friends for a mountain bike ride on the Washington side of the river. Unfortunately, some last minutes things came up and they had to bail. I ended up renting a road bike and had a nice ride from Hood River to Rowena and back. I rode out to the Hook and met up with Andy Brandt, (owner of ABK windsurfing schools). It looked like it might get windy, and Andy graciously set a board and a pile of sails aside for my use. I returned the bike to the shop and drove back to the Hook.

By the time I got back the wind had filled in, and I rigged up a 4.5 and a 100 liter board. The board was too big, but "sometimes you just have to dance with who you brung." The wind kept building, and I sailed until I couldn't hold on any more. After I had de-rigged and put my gear away, I climbed down to the inside of the Hook to check out the windsurfing lessons. Much to my suprise, a young lady walking by called out my name. The young lady turned out to be Emily Kao the daughter of one of my old customers and windurfing friends, Dave Kao who had moved from Annapolis to Hood River several years ago. Dave and Emily are both teaching for Big Winds. She told me that her dad was sailing at the Event Site, so I headed over to find Dave. He invited me over to thier home for dinner. He and his wife Tamara have rebuilt a beautiful home in Hood River that overlooks the river. The only thing better than the view of Mt. Adams from the dinning room table was the food. Tamara is a excellent cook, and I dined on Salmon with some sort of a ginger coating, eggplant, and sesame noodles. Outstanding! It was great to see them, and they seem very happy living in Hood River. I hated to leave, but I had plans to get up early and head back up to Mt Hood.

Monday morning, 5:15 (oh my god it is early) the alarm goes off. Quick shower to wash away the cobwebs, grab my snowboards and gear and head off to Mt. Hood. 6:45, climb into my snowboard pants and start to put my boots on. 6:48, bolt of lightning shoots out of the clouds. 6:49, haul ass to the lodge. 6:51, downpour. I ended up hanging out a the lodge for over an hour and 1/2, while the rain continued. It is pretty funny to see a bunch of skiers and boarders hanging out in their snow gear and wearing flips flops. At 8:45 the mountain was still on stand-by, with no word on when and if they were going to open. I changed back into shorts and drove back to Hood River. Mountain wins again!

I packed up my gear and met Tim (from Ezzy Sails) for lunch. I headed to the Hook and met up with Dave and Emily. Dave hooked me up with a Naish 95 ATV, a 130 something and a 5.5 sail from the Big Winds rental fleet. It looked like the wind as building, and after being over boarded the day before , I opted for the ATV. Bad Move! I blasted off the beach, slogged out from behind Wells Island, drifted out to the middle of the river to where the wind completely died and the board did a U-Boat imatation and DIVED.....deep. Wind, gone, done, nada. Long swim home. River wins again. Mother nature- 2, Mark- 0.

My flight didn't leave Portland until 10:30, so I wasn't really in a hurry to get back. I took the senic highway and checked out some of the waterfalls. Pretty cool.

As I said at the beginning, I didn't want to leave, and at the same time I was ready to go home.

Sarah picked me up at the airport Tuesady morning. I wish she could have been with me, seen the cool places, done the fun things, and met my new friends. It would have made what was a great trip even better.
Turns out she had done a "superwomen" over the handle bars of her road bike on Sunday after she locked up the brakes to avoid a car that ran a stop sign. She is a little banged up and has some road rash on her shoulder and face. Lucky she wasn't hurt worse. Maybe some mellow music, and something with garlic will make her feel better.


PICS (FROM TOP) Netarts, Sunset,Kipps Jane & Rebecca, Mt. Hood Helmet Head, Mt Hood, Ride to Rowena, Emily Kao, Mt. Hood Storm, Falls.

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