May 31st, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Last night I went to bed at a decent time hoping to catch up on some sleep. I am staying in my trailer with my dog so we have our own world and Meghan and her family can have theirs.

I was awakened from my slumbers in the wee hours by what could easily be classified as gale force winds. Some of the plants on the porch were even blown over and hay and horse turds were scattered about the yard this morning when I took the dog out for a walk (speaking of scattering turds around! 🤣🤣). It wasn’t the noise that woke me as much as the shaking of the trailer. Even with the four outrigger stands deployed for stability the shaking was pretty intense. I laid there listening and thinking about the situation, flashing back to the similarities between that wind hitting my trailer and the memories of a truck I was in back in the 80’s being driven by someone way too fast and we rolled – it was just like a ride in a clothes dryer at the laundromat; I just flipped back over and soon went back to sleep since I couldn’t do anything about it.

After finally getting the stuff in the trailer whittled down to the necessities I decided to do some Spring cleaning – wiping out the window frames, cleaning the glass, etc. – and start looking at maintenance stuff. Now that I am able to spend more time in the trailer and looking things over I am finding many things that need to be fixed and a few upgrades I want to do to make life better during my travels. I had started doing a few things the last three years but my shoulder injury/surgery last year put a stop to doing anything more. Now I gotta get back at it to keep things from getting worse.

The trailer sat at the house in KS for about four years before I brought it home with me to Washington in 2017. On top of it being 12 years old now, things tend to deteriorate and break over time, and sitting through the seasonal extremes in KS did not help the condition (not really the extremes in Washington where I had it). The sun destroys plastics and fades paint and the decals. I replaced some plastic bumper caps yesterday that keep the sewer hose from falling out (the hoses are stored in the trailer bumper). The water leak I had in 2017 (due to the sealant putty melting in the hot sun and running down into wiring holes, basically unsealing the clearance lights on the roof) caused some damage to some of the wood inside the walls so I will have to take it in at some point for what will probably end up being some pretty costly repairs. The re-sealing I did around the clearance lights seems to be fine if not cosmetically pretty but I want to reseal them. Add to that the other things I replaced (cookstove vent, water inlet, taillights, carbon monoxide detector) I have actually done quite a bit already. I still have some more to do though.

Yesterday I did an upgrade to the ceiling vent fan in the main part of the trailer and today I replaced the one in the bathroom. The upgrade is a retrofit that goes into the existing fan housing so there is no worry about breaking the roof seal, hence no worry about roof leaks. It is a MUCH better 3-speed reversible fan that has a shroud so it moves much more air more efficiently, plus when run in reverse it can bring air in for a cool breeze from above – a very functional ceiling fan. Another added bonus is that with the shrouding around the fan it helps block out light; that can be helpful if staying in a commercial RV park (which I generally try to avoid but do stay on occasion to empty the sewer, get water, and charge up the batteries). Those places are lit up like the Las Vegas Strip and sometimes it is simply just the moon is shining bright.

I have a few more things on order I am waiting on and those should show up this week. I still need to pull the windows and reseal them with caulking instead of that problematic putty but that will be a big job. I even noticed the putty running out of the new water inlet I put in so that will need to come out and be resealed too. The microwave gave out but the space it was in makes for great storage so I may buy a new one and just leave it on the bed while traveling. The air conditioner (it’s a small window unit for a house) I am not sure about – it seems to be hit or miss, but it is at least 12 years old.

I also need to find a table for the rear dinette (the trailer has two that fold into beds). Unfortunately the old one got broken accidentally years ago. Currently I am using the makeshift setup my dad made which is basically five 1″x4″ pieces of oak to lay in the slot between the benches to make the bed. I could make one out of those pieces of oak to get by but I would really like to find a replacement similar to the original. That oak would look good finished though! As you can tell, though, I have plenty of other more important trailer projects to do for now.

I am trying to get to Colorado to meet up with some friends but I think we may have to wait a bit. The ‘rona is definitely affecting those plans since they do the hotel thing. In the meantime I have my eye on some new places I am anxious to explore here in Montana that I discovered on the map yesterday.

It is finally starting to feel like a real retirement!

May 25th, 2020 – Washington in the Rearview Mirror…

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

I left Washington nearly two weeks ago. It was a beautiful drive over and I did it in two days for a leisurely trip through northeastern Washington to see a few areas that I had not been to before.

Along US 2 east of Skykomish, WA
Rider posing for a picture along the Wenatchee River just east of Leavenworth, WA along US 2
Along the Wenatchee River just east of Leavenworth, WA along US 2
West of Republic, WA on eastbound SR20

As I drove through some of the areas I saw a few places I had, indeed, been to after all in all the miles and years of past travel. It was still a beautiful drive; slower but much more scenic than I-90.

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North of Spokane, WA along highway 395

I had hoped to find a Forest Service road to camp along since I had the trailer with me but I found no roads to do so (it is called “dispersed camping” and is free; be sure to check local regulations, as each forest – even within a state – is different). That meant I would be driving further than I wanted to so I could find a spot. It also cut back on my sightseeing since I was forced to go on. Ironically, that spot ended up being the same KOA in Spokane I just happened to stay at on my way to Washington.

I got up the next day and went on to my destination in Montana to get settled in. With restrictions and closures in place that I was unsure of it was really the best thing to do. I was only a half-day drive away anyhoo and I will get plenty of chances to explore soon. I have been around Montana in the past but am anxious to explore more of the mountains and forests while I am here. Having the trailer I can keep to myself and avoid crowds. The big tourist areas I have already been to and don’t need really to do much more than drive through them.

Traveling with the ‘rona has its challenges, but luckily I have my trailer to travel with and all the comforts of home are with me. Traveling here…that was the easy part. Gas pumps and gloves and stops to rest on the on-ramps to the highway. Montana has had one of the lowest infection rates reported, and from my trips to get supplies it looks like nothing has ever changed here. Crowded stores with people walking the wrong way down one-way aisles, and very few wearing masks. I cannot get the hell out of the stores fast enough and a few I will not go in again because of the lack of concern selfish people have for others and safety. I’ll be going to either the local market or food co-op to shop from now on.

Honestly, it has been very difficult for me to adjust after not only dodging the ‘rona on our Europe trip, but also while living in Washington where infections were high and I was quarantined for the best part of the last three months and cooked all my meals at home – no dining out since I got back to Washington. With all of that happening I have had an extremely hard time letting go of my newly-acquired covid-inflicted OCD. I am in a high-risk group so I take this very seriously, but at the same time I am trying to do better and temper some of that behavior now that I am in an area with lower risk.

I did get out for a much-needed mental health drive through the forest a few days ago and it did wonders for helping to clear my head. I saw some places I had not been before and drove about 40 miles on Forest Service roads. It was a pretty healing day I must say, and it was so good to be in the forest again.

Cabin in Helena National Forest
Stream in Helena National Forest
Old homestead cabin

I’ll be getting out more soon. I have to get new tires on the truck this week before I do any further exploring and I will definitely be getting the trailer out quite a bit this year. It has been an exciting year in many ways so far but I am really looking forward to more excitement and travels. I am really ready to start to finally enjoy this retirement thing.

That’s all for this update. Stay safe!

April 29th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

While doing the various things one does when getting ready to move a lot goes on in your mind – that constantly-changing mental checklist of things like shutting off your utilities, thinking about the logistics of getting from A to B, and changing insurance agents just to name a few. And then there are the other things like the insomnia. Most of you have moved at one point or another in your lives so you probably understand. I don’t stress about it much these days; this will be my 15th address change since 2012. It’s just another move to me.

However, one thing currently stands out well above the rest while getting ready to leave – the inability to see family and the friends I have made here the last 7 ½ years in person before I leave. And that’s the part that really sucks. With the ‘rona quarantine there will be no hugs, handshakes or tears; the tears will still be there, but it’s more out of frustration than from leaving. We all know that once we are able to do so we will be seeing each other again. I still plan on traveling as much as I can when I can and when it is safe to do so. With the internet it is easy to keep in touch several different ways so we will still keep in contact with each other.

Sometimes it is not easy to move away no matter how badly you want (or need) to leave, and other times it’s no big deal. I was numb and emotionless leaving Colorado that cool, dark, rainy morning. Heading off into a new life had me preoccupied and I was not thinking about leaving a place that made me fall in love with the outdoors and the awe-inspiring beauty of the mountains.

There is the excitement and “that new car smell” of going to a new place with new people and experiences, be it for work or just because you want a change in your life. Some people deal with the uncertainties, and even embrace them. There are the others who dread it and decide to stay in their safe place and that is fine. Me, personally, I thrive on that unknown. I want and crave those new experiences and it is only one reason why I love travel so much.

I have certainly had more new, different and amazing experiences than I ever dreamed I would have in my life living in the Midwest, and I have had even more after moving to Colorado and then Washington. I won’t list them here as they are already written about, starting with the first blog entry I posted in 2012 (so by all means go back to Day 1 and have a look!). And the stories in these posts are just since 2012…there are countless other stories from a lot of other experiences before that and some of those are probably best left on a dusty shelf.

Some may look at these experiences and say “Boy, you’re so lucky”, while others say “WTF are you doing? I couldn’t do that.”. It’s not about luck. It’s about what YOU choose to do with your life. And if you say “I couldn’t do that” then no…you couldn’t handle it but it is because you don’t WANT it bad enough and prefer to play the game of life safe. That is all well and good since we all get to live the life we choose. I choose differently.

The lifestyle I have had since moving to WA is certainly not for everyone, and I could safely say it not for most people. It is not an easy lifestyle and there have been tough times without a doubt – a few extremely tough times. In the 80s I did some freelance stagelighting gigs getting work wherever and whenever I could find it. Just as it was then, it is sure not about getting rich…working in the outdoors is more about the freedom and experiences and a true passion for your job. You give up a “home” and security but the amount of freedom is amazing and worth the trade-off.

At one of the outdoor jobs I have had the last few years I heard someone say “we get paid in sunsets” and to me that is how it should be. It’s not about the money but unfortunately  it is what matters in the world. When you make a decision to get into this type of career you should fully understand the sacrifices you have to make to do what you love and be flexible enough to make it happen. For me it was not that difficult to “roll with it” since I had already lost my job and my house. I chose a new path, got rid of pretty much everything I owned, and hit the road for a new adventure. I didn’t let it get me down and I still don’t. Life marches onward whether you want to play or not so make it what YOU want.

It is exciting to think about this move and potentially ending up back in the place I love most (well, second to Ireland) – Colorado. With some variables to ponder in the future that may be later rather than sooner…but I will get back there. It is not that I dislike Washington, but I have never really felt that “magic” like I do in Colorado. I like the forests in the Rockies better because of the openness and not feeling “closed-in” when I go for a hike in the woods.

So now is the time to not look back at the latest fork in the trail but to instead look forward and head for the Rockies.

April 24th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

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This is a stick-up; give me everything…well, except your coronavirus.

It has been a busy week – packing and storing stuff, doing some real cooking, cleaning, mowing…just nonstop festivities. My neighbor is going to work on the shower pan in my trailer and that’s about the last major thing needing to be done before loading up. My timetable for moving actually moved up a little yesterday so it will be happening sooner than planned.

I already have most everything packed up and ready to roll. Most of the things that aren’t I am still using, like kitchen stuff and clothes. I was going to take this weekend off but it looks like I will be not only packing more things but also mowing the grass since more rain is coming. I will also start moving whatever I can from the pantry into the trailer. It is nice to have the luxury of a little time so I do not have to rush but I won’t wait until the last minute. Need something to do!

Apparently it needs to rain a lot more. My truck is no longer white and allergies are at it en force again. The break from the rain is good, but the pollen needs to be disciplined and cleared out.

In preparation for the big move I have started getting utilities notified for shutting off in my name. Today I contacted my internet provider today to make arrangements to get my internet shut off. I went the online chat route and got a little crazy in the chat window.

At the bottom of the chat window it says “Type here”…so, being the smartass that I am, I typed “here” several times as you can see in the window below:

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Having a little fun…

Unfortunately, “Justin”, my alleged customer service dude, never took the bait. I tried though!

I reluctantly went to get groceries today (last time was three weeks ago I think…time is all a blur at this point) and people just don’t care – aisles are labeled one way and they just do what the hell they want. I’m fed up with stupid fucking arrogant Americans. I yelled at two people for being just that and potentially endangering others. I think I will start doing grocery pickup while I am still here since it is safer and just save myself the aggravation.

That’s about it for now.

April 22nd, 2020: A Fork in the Road…

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

I am leaving Washington.

Yeah, it’s another big move for me and now my furry sidekick. I put in my notice with the  landlord today and will be heading to Montana for a while. After that, possibly/probably back to Colorado to be more centrally located between all of my family.

Part of my being able to retire was I could travel and not have to pay rent anyplace (yes, I know it still costs to do that). I could take my time and see new places and things and revisit some old favorites (which is one of the big reasons I want to go back to Colorado). It meant I could save quite a bit of money actually. Travel can be expensive but I tend to live cheap and would rather stay in a campsite out in the forest than in a campground.

I actually considered moving back to Colorado a few years ago when my mom died. I considered moving there to be closer to my dad. I didn’t end up doing it since he seemed to be doing okay, but then he got sick, too.

I have blogged about the magic of Colorado before. I have missed it quite a bit and the very few times I have been back in the last 7 ½ years since I left brought back some great memories and made me realize how much I do miss being there. I will be able to visit family more and take care of things at the house when I can get back there. It’s a little frustrating I cannot go take care of some of it now but it’s okay. Things are not pressing at this time so it’s all good – hence the “possibly/probably” I mentioned earlier.

It finally rained today so I can see and breathe once again. Instead of yellow my truck is back to the white it was when it left the factory. The dog had fewer eye boogers today and my allergies were a little better…until I started to clean the house and kicked up the pollen. I made sure to work in small sections toward the air purifier I have so it could suck in the bad air. It helped tremendously to keep some of the dust and dirt down. Then I had to vacuum the couch, recliner, and rugs and wash the bedding to get rid of those pesky allergens.

In closing I will definitely miss Washington, however Colorado and the Rocky Mountains are where I feel most at home. In the time I have been up here I have met a lot of people, made some lifelong friends, got to do some incredible things and have amazing experiences the whole time starting on the very first day I moved up here. There has been the good but there has also been some agonizing heartbreak and pain, a motorcycle wreck, two surgeries, deeply personal loss, a couple of really shitty “human” beings and 13 addresses. It’s a bit sad for me to think about leaving…but it’s what I need to do. It has been great up here all in all but it’s time for a new and different road to travel to some new adventures.

So I’m doing it.