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IWhat a difference a few hours can make; it was sunny and windy as I left my hotel this morning but in the now Portland has been essentially closed by snow and ice. As I lay here this evening watching the closures scroll across the bottom of the TV screen, I'm wondering if anything at all will be open tomorrow.

At least I managed to do a few things today. I had decided to spend some time at Powell's City of Books first. On my walk north, I happened upon a camera shop so I transferred the photos I took yesterday from my memory card to a couple of CD's. At Powell's, I sought out a Czech phrase book so I could learn a bit of the language before I see Daniela and her mother again; just from a casual look at the book, it seems to me that Czech is very similar to Russian and I recognized several phrases. I also found a much better (easier) Thai language book than the ones I already owned so I added that to my basket as well. My final purchase was a World War II-themed guidebook to London which I wish I'd had for this last visit but will come in useful for the next.

Lunch was at a place downtown called Island Joe's; I had a grilled Kons need sandwich with potato salad. This was followed by seeing the new "King Kong" movie at Pioneer Place (I loved it!). When I exited the shopping center, I was pleased to see the world covered with a blanket of white. The atmosphere was extremely festive with the city sidewalks lined with light-strewn trees and many Portlanders outside enjoying the snow. I made my way to Pioneer Courthouse Square where I had fun taking holiday photos. The weather really put me into a Christmas mood; I can't believe it's only one week away and that soon I'll be laying on the beach on Phuket.

On the way south back to the hotel, I noticed the busses were having an increasingly difficult time climbing the hills because of ice underneath the snow. It was only a little after 5:00 but already dark; I passed up a Carl's Jr. (one of the few eateries that I saw that was open. I had already decided to have dinner in my hotel's restaurant. However, when I arrived I was disappointed to find it closed because of the weather. Room service was closed as well and I couldn't find a single place that would brave the icy streets in order to deliver a meal.

I decided to brave the weather once again and asked for a recommendation from the desk clerk. She steered to Higgin's, a two-block walk, which turned out to be fairly pricy. I knew I was in "trouble" when I was handed a ten-page wine menu and the least expensive glass was $13.00. In spite of this, I decided to splurge and ate a very good steak, along with a Czech beer (Rebel Pils). I had a nice view of the cars sliding back down the hill after they became stuck at the ice-slick intersection. It was a very good dinner and I did manage to spend under $50 after tip. I'll skip eating dinner tomorrow to make up for it.

Good news: I just happened to glance up at the television screen in time to see this message - "Monday night's U2 concert will go on as scheduled." I was getting worried as it seems as if every other event and business imagineable has been cancelled or will be closed tomorrow. It looks like many busses won't be running regular schedules but the MAX will be running every 10 minutes to keep the tracks clear. What really worries me now is news that the airport is cancelling a number of flights and these conditions could persist until midweek. I just hope my Wednesday morning flight to Vancouver isn't delayed because I wouldn't want to miss my connections to Tokyo and Bangkok.

I'll just have to wait and see what the next couple of days brings. I can't exactly control the weather so I should just not worry about it so much. Whatever happens, happens.

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