Tuesday, August 8, 2017

40 Goats and a Tesla

When Jeff suggested Ali and I tag along with him on a trip to Oregon to visit the much-lauded-but-never-met Sami Khawaja, we kind of rolled our eyes.
  1. We don't know this Sami guy.
  2. Oregon is a long way away.
  3. And all Jeff could talk about was the craft beer this far-off state had to offer, not really the kind of thing that requires, or allows in Ali's case, our participation.
So we sort of bided our time and waited to see if this trip would actually come to pass. Jeff and Sami met through work and Jeff would always go out to some nice dinner with him and other utility colleagues when he was in town. Jeff would come home raving about the dinner, the conversation and how much fun this Sami guy is.

Sure. Fine. Ali and I have fun when we're out with our friends, too.
But a trip across the country to stay with a stranger? Seemed like a long-shot to the women of Team Reed Indiana. But we'd never been to Oregon. And I'm involved in a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Indianapolis that will focus on wines of the Pacific Northwest, and Sami is a wine guy. So, sure, we agreed to go.

It just so happened that we had a chance to meet this Sami guy just before the trip. And once we met him, we had an inkling of why Jeff liked him so much. Suddenly the idea of a trip to spend some time with him didn't seem so bad.

We got there, just before midnight Wednesday their time, 3 a.m. our time. Not usually my finest hour, but I managed to stay upright for a little while. Thursday began a whirlwind of activities that made us all fall in love with Oregon -- and maybe even with Sami.

Sami was born in Jerusalem, was raised in Jordan and has spent the past 35 years or so as Oregon's best ambassador. Someone should tell the governor. He's amazing. He's also super smart, has his doctorate in statistics, is an expert in energy efficiency, which is how he came to know the Captain. Did I already say he loves wine?

He's so smart he has a super cool girlfriend, Miriam, who spent a large part of her life in Alaska and takes no grief from anyone, least of all Sami.

Fed by tales of Alison over the years, Sami had decided a while ago that if she were to be offered up in marriage, she'd be worth at least 40 goats.

Then he met her and created a goat index to track her worth. Within 12 hours, he had upped her value to 56 goats. Then she got comfortable with him and her value dropped to 26 goats.

Much of her drop had to do with her confusing his Model S P90D Tesla with a Toyota Corolla of a similar color. Goats dropped like flies at that and it was tough climbing back.

 In between, we:
  • Met his sons, Jake and Joe, who were delightful, 
  • Drove to see and hike among amazing waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge
  • Drove to Mount Hood, which is awesome
  • Took an Alpine Slide that resulted in Jeff getting an elbow abrasion that looks disturbingly like a penis (He got little sympathy because he violated the rules and was shooting video when he nearly wiped out and left a fair amount of DNA behind
  • Visited some fun wineries, including the Hip Chicks, which is run by one highly assertive woman named Renee who had a high goat index for Ali and me but no so much for Jeff and Sami.
  • Listened to some amazing jazz at Vino Veritas (Sami and a partner own it) courtesy of the Jake Khawaja Trio
  • Drove along the coast and stopped to let Ali have a dip while the older folks strolled on the sand
  • Had amazing dinners and beers and wines and breakfasts and lunches in between
  • Visited Powell's, the world's largest bookstore where I would still be had it not been for that annoying flight home already planned
  • Were having breakfast when a woman overheard our conversation and turned out to be an expat Hoosier who had a lot to say about where we should go next. She even followed us out to the car because she'd remembered something else we needed to know
  • Wandered around downtown Portland while Jeff visited every craft beer site he could find and
  • Saw the Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum -- it's really there, along with a bunch of other airplanes.
At one point during our drive along the coast, Miriam was playing around with music and four of us ended up belting out bad 1970s music, including "Muskrat Love" which was determined to be the worst song ever. Ali had tried to tune us out with her own headphones after awhile and perhaps because of the Captain and Tennille. Neil Diamond's "You'll be a Woman Soon" was a contender as well.

On the way back from Mount Hood, Ali picked lunch and we were searching for sushi, which led us to Happy Valley and a quick hello to my cousin Christopher Lehman, who just happened to be on duty at the Peet's Coffee Shop near the sushi place we found thru Nikki (the Tesla's voice) and Ali's Googling. Fate led us there, I'm sure, though Nikki was good for the assist.

It was an amazing trip with incredible vistas, but the most fun was hanging out with this guy Sami who was every bit as fun and amazing as billed.

By the end of our trip, Ali's final value was back at 40 goats, though I'm not sure how. Personally, I think she's worth a lot of goats. But it's nice to have an expert opinion on it.

My advice to you if you want to visit Portland, OR (and you do...): make friends with Sami.

Ali takes on the Pacific

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