July 7th, 2020

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

I had a COVID-19 test today. I don’t think I need to state how much this pisses me off when I am the one taking precautions.

Out of an abundance of caution it was recommended to get one due to a potential third-level exposure that happened. They handed me a swab, I had to roll the window up, and shove it into my nose until it poked out the back of my skull. I then had to do the other side after I was done sneezing (hence the reason for rolling up the window I assume) and then do the other side before rolling down the window and putting it into the lab tube.

I think everything will be fine as the first-level exposed person tested negative (the initial contact person was a positive). As far as we know the second-level person is negative, too, so that makes us very optimistic along with a local nurse telling us there should be no problems.

In other better news, plans are still underway for a trip (dependent, of course, on my test results). It will have to be a shorter one than originally planned due to some changes in work schedules (not mine!😁 ) so I will have to babysit a little more. I am still going to get away soon (and as much as I can afterwards) and that’s what really matters. Unfortunately the test results can take up to a week so there is a potential of seven days of travel lost.

I had an interesting faux pas for dinner tonight. I made up one batch of stir-fry ramen with canned chicken for one of the kids, then went to make mine. I opened the can for mine and thought “this looks weird” when I dumped it into the wok. Sure enough, I accidentally grabbed and opened a can of pulled pork.

Now before you poo-poo this being in a can, let me remind you where that tuna sandwich came from that you had for lunch (after it left the ocean, of course). And the canned chicken as well. I heated up another can of it last week and slathered it with BBQ sauce on a bun and it was actually pretty good. No, it is NOT Rosedale’s (the best BBQ not only in KC but anywhere) but it will work in a pinch.

Anyhoo, I thought “Oh well, it’s in the wok and it’s almost done so let’s go for it”. Pulled Pork ramen stir-fry. It was good but much more filling than the chicken version. I would eat it again, just a smaller portion and maybe add a little sweet sauce of some sort to cut it a bit.

I got a couple of new updated locks for the side compartments and got those installed for a bit more security. I discovered that the seal on one of my shocks on the rear of the truck has gone bad so I ordered two new ones and will be installing them this Thursday or Friday dependent on when Amazon gets them here. My truck has about 195,000 miles on it and nothing has really ever had to be fixed on it. Shocks are a wear item so they do need replaced. It is a pretty easy repair – loosen two bolts and pop the new shock in, tighten, and repeat for the other side. I cannot really go anywhere until I get it fixed so the timing is good.

I have to admit it’s really nice to get this stuff done on the trailer but I am glad I am about done with the repairs and updates. The updates I don’t mind, but with the repairs being fairly constant it’s wearing thin. The last thing I can think of that’s left is the shower and I am really not ready to tackle that just yet – I want a break from this necessary stuff. Maybe next month I will look into getting it done but for now I am taking a break. I’ll just take a shower outside.

So the next few days will be waiting for the results and doing some vehicle maintenance. But there will be a trip soon afterwards!

July 3rd, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Yesterday I had decent weather (meaning dry) and worked on a few things on the trailer. I got the leaky rear window in the trailer patched. The biggest part of the issue looks to be the rubber weatherstrip around the window has shrunk, leaving a gap unsealed about a half of an inch long on one end and an inch and a half on the other end. I sealed these gaps up previously but the rubber has shrunk back even more and exposed an opening for water to get in.

The part I had earlier thought was weatherstripping up inside is basically just a plastic strip that I am not really sure of what its function is; perhaps it is a spacer. It also looks to direct water to the internal drainage channels of tghe window but it, too, has shrunk and has gaps on the end. That means the water was not being sent to where it needed to go and probably contributed to the leak as well. It could be this part is not normally a problem in a vertical wall but the rear wall is angled out a little from the top to bottom so the window is also angled. Our friend gravity then makes the water drip inside.

Anyhoo, I cleaned out the old sealant from the ever-shortening window weatherstripping and put in a temporary patch out of a new tube of Lexel. This will get me by until I get enough warm days I can pull it back apart and install a new piece around the glass. I then pulled the window apart and added a thin piece of rubber weatherstripping over the plastic strip. I know this isn’t supposed to be in there but I will see if it helps. My main goal is to keep the water out any way that I can for now.

Today I added a little more sealant to fill in a few gaps due to settling. I hope this is a good fix until I can locate the weatherstripping so I can try to replace it. I also got two new wastewater valves – one for the grey water (sink/shower) and one for the black water (toilet). I replaced the grey water valve today but I cannot do the other valve until I get the sewer tank rinsed out good (it is already empty). That means a trip to a campground or dump station.

I also did a modification to the rear dinette set-up. Several years ago the rear table broke when it was put down into the slot to make the bed. It was made of particleboard so it wasn’t going to hold up to much pressure and the way it was designed the was no support in the center. My dad cut four pieces of lumber to make slats for the bed conversion and made a separate table from an old butcher block. I took the four pieces and screwed them together with parts from the table he made to create a new table top/bed support combination. It is much sturdier, there is only one thing to haul around and I have a table for the rear dinette once again. I will probably sand it and put a good finish on it so it looks nice.

I wish I coulda gotten this stuff fixed a few days earlier but the rains have kept that from happening. It’s probably for the best since this is a holiday weekend and the forest is probably full of too many people anyway. The nice thing about the trailer is that being self-contained I can social distance constantly and still have the freedom to go places. I am trying to get another trip together soon though.

Things are calming down finally so I am looking into cataract surgery (hahaha) on my other eye. I have an appointment scheduled to see (hahaha again) if it is bad enough to finally get it done. After that I can finally get new lenses with the new prescriptions. Next week I will be scheduling an appointment to see about getting a surgical appointment to finally get the problem in my left hand fixed. It has been very painful and weak, making it difficult to do even the simplest things. Between that and my right arm issues it’s getting harder to hold on to tools to work on things like my trailer and I have been fumbling with and dropping things for a while. I need to get it done and I probably would have done it last year except for my shoulder injury.

That’s all for now.

June 30th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

When it rains it pours.

Literally.

I went to make my bed a couple of nights ago and one of the cushions was wet. No, it wasn’t incontinence – it has been raining quite a bit the rear window was leaking. Just another little frustration with the trailer but mechanical things do break at some point and need fixing.

It seems like a lot of things are going bad and needing fixed but trailers take a lot of abuse just simply being towed down the road. It’s similar to the old adages like “boat” meaning “Bust Out Another Thousand” and “Jeep” meaning “Just Empty Every Pocket”. Some things are inexpensive, but things can add up quickly, like the water heater problem I mentioned a few days ago.

I put some sealer around the frame but that didn’t fix the problem because it WASN’T the problem but i found out what was. The upper part is stationary and doesn’t open. The bottom window opens and the seal on top of that window (that seals against the stationary window) is what is leaking. I cannot fix it while it is raining so I temporarily put plastic over the window with the infamous Red Green multi-tool – duct tape. It looks pretty crappy but it’s just until I can get it fixed. The seal is in a pretty inaccessible place so it will take some doing to figure it out. I may even have to take the whole window apart.

I was really hoping to get back out on another adventure soon but this window issue will set me back a bit as far as going anywhere very soon. I won’t take the trailer out in public looking like this, and the plastic would never hold up to the wind while going down the highway. I will get it fixed as soon as the weather cooperates and I can take the window out of the trailer, which was on my list of things to do anyway. I mentioned before I just got some new sealant to re-seal all of the windows but I have to take them out of the trailer to do it right.

Speaking of the trailer, I was coming out of the local convenience store yesterday and saw a truck towing an original 1960s version of my Hilander. That was pretty cool to see. I did not get a picture but the style was the same and similar, yet faded, color scheme – turquoise and white. Mine has updates in some things but is pretty close to the original in many ways.

The rain is making a nasty mess of things. The soil here has lots of clay (similar to the midwest) so it is slippery and sticks to everything…like shoes and dog paws. Today I helped Meghan engineer and put in a buried drain pipe for their barn. It was not done correctly (in my opinion) as it drained right into the dry lot making it, well, an un-dry lot. The drain should have really been on the other end so we had to fix it by digging a 40′-long trench and installing a drainpipe to get the water out to the ditch. Everything hurts – some parts hurt just bad and some hurt really damn bad. My hands not working like they should doesn’t help either.

That’s it for today.

June 23rd, 2020 – Trip Wrap-up and Takeaways

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

This was taken at the house in Kansas about 11:30 P.M. one night

I got up and made some eggs for breakfast then packed up to go. My spot had no sewer hook up so I had to hit the dump station to empty the tanks before the “flush rush” (my word) happened. It worked out as it got me out on the road quicker, but the time I saved was eaten up with being caught in road construction delays. This was the same beautiful and winding road I was on a few weeks ago when I went out exploring. Conveniently this same road took me right past my storage unit and I needed to unload a few things and grab a few other things like my Ninja blender to use at the house.

Takeaways

I have been on many roads on this adventure and on some of the more remote ones they would sometimes post the distance to the next fuel stop. Given the way things are these days I would no longer trust these signs and get a fuel stop taken in if in doubt. I learned that the places they refer to on these signs may or may NOT even be in business due to the ‘rona and/or economy. I learned to never trust these 100% or you may end up stranded and tuning up the banjo.

I would say that approximately half to two-thirds of the roads I traveled on this adventure I had never been on before that I was aware of. The more I travel I find that there are many roads I will see familiar things on that I remember seeing sometimes decades earlier. I have been a lot of places as a kid on family vacations and as an adult and working on the road doing stage lighting. Many of the towns are now dying off. I drove through towns full of empty buildings, some closed for many years and some closed more recently. There are so many places I had been to before over the years and now when I return to them while driving in an area they are just no longer there. These things can be sad but they are also a part of the experience of travel.

Some places I visited I would like to return to, others I have been there…done that and won’t return to. Of course there are some places I have no desire to go to at all. There are a lot of things to see in this world and I want to see more. Currently I will not fly or use public transit so driving all over the country and Canada (when possible) will fill the need nicely.

I would also add that, given the current ongoing pandemic and the resurgence of even more cases, I was only one of very few people wearing a mask anywhere I went the last few weeks (and I really try to avoid gong in stores any more than I have to). I even got the stinkeye in a few places when I HAD to go in for something. The lack of concern not just about themselves, but of other human beings, is just unbelievable, stupid and selfish.

I was able to find a few issues with the trailer on this trip so they have either been taken care of or on my radar to get taken care of. I hope the water heater is an easy fix but I don’t have much confidence in that; I will stay optimistic though. And there is the cracked shower pan that is needing to be pulled out and fixed. Guess I will be learning about fiberglass soon!

I did fall into my groove with trailer travel pretty nicely on this trip. I really got comfortable with the routine pretty quickly once I got a few things moved around to make my life easier. I cut back on my driving marathons on this trip but I need to work on that a little bit more still. I did notice it was much more enjoyable, but since I am not working I am no longer on a strict timetable and that frees me up. It also allows more time for stopping to smell the roses.

The trailer gets a lot of looks driving down the highway and I do get asked about it when I stop on my journeys. I had so much fun on this trip I cannot wait to go again. My daughters are all talking about getting RVs of some sort and we would have so much fun meeting up in different places and hanging out. I am trying to get some friends to give it a try, too. Perhaps one day I (or we) can do a “caravan” trip in Europe. That would be so much fun.

Wrapping up, this trip actually felt like retirement. Again, I had so much fun on this trip now that I am getting things fixed and a routine together. I added an extra day on the way to Kansas and about five extra days heading back to Montana.

It’ll be a little while before I can get back out on a long trip like that again, but it won’t be too long until the next shorter one. Living in this area there are many interesting places close by so it makes it easy to get away. I am just happy to go sit in the forest for a few days.

Stay tuned for more adventures!

June 22nd, 2020

Adventure

And cold I was. I tossed and turned quite a bit trying to stay covered. I had trouble getting to sleep.

I finally fell asleep about 10:30 and woke up after midnight. I decided I needed to go outside to have a look at the night sky. Pretty amazing! I got come and went back to bed. As I was laying there almost back asleep something hit me in the hand so I crushed it with my lightning-fast reflexes.

I woke up again a few hours later (must have been around 2:00 A.M.) and wanted to get another peek at the stars. This time of year the sunlight is still visible late into the night, but this time I went out it wasn’t. Looking up at a sky like that you realize just how little you matter in the universe. I went back in and slept until about 6:00.

I woke up and I laid there thinking about stuff. I looked and that thing I crushed in the wee hours was a damn spider from what I could tell of the remnants. I don’t like spiders inside where I live. At all. Outside I leave everything alone to move on with their lives.

I also thought of heat so I got up and turned on the thermostat. I flipped the thermostat on…let there be heat! I figured at least I am awake so I will know if there’s a problem. No alarms and warmth! I still want a shower, though. I washed up with a washcloth but that wasn’t what I needed.

I heated up some water, put on my sandals, grabbed a towel and shampoo, and enjoyed an awesome shower out in nature. Think about it… which one would you prefer?

This…
…or this?

That’s what I thought.

I made a reservation this morning for one last KOA, this one at the west gate of Yellowstone. It is only a couple hours from home but I need to empty the holding tanks before heading back so one more night out on the road won’t ever hurt my feelings.

Earlier yesterday when I got into Utah I noticed many of these interpretive geological signs all along the road.

Interpretive sign in US 191 near Flaming Gorge

The signs are interesting and something to check out if you get this way. On this trip I came across many other geological interpretive signs, and many about people or places of history (some local, some maybe more familiar). Some I stopped at for a look, others I went past due to time or traffic considerations.

My drive on US 191 continued north toward I-80. Many very steep grades with winding curves and no guardrails along the way kept things interesting. At one point the road climbed upon a plateau with some great views.

I got to the interstate and went east a few miles, then back north toward Pinedale. It was a long 90-mile stretch so I topped off the tank to be sure. Good thing because there was, as I remember, only one or two fuel stops along the way.

I decided to wait for fuel until I got farther down the road. I am getting a little better mileage now with no winds to fight and I still had over ¾ of a tank. I did, however, stop to whip up some stir-fry for lunch at a roadside parking area with a nice view of the mountains to the east. I used the overlay function on an app I have to ID the mountains in the Wind River range and Bridger Wilderness Area. Gannett Peak, just left of center, is the tallest mountain in Wyoming.

I went on north to Jackson. It was another beautiful drive and it was still on a road I had never been on before. I have been to the Jackson/Grand Tetons/Yellowstone area about seven times prior to this, the last time I spent any time there being about 17 years ago. I really do not need to go there again – the stifling crowds and atmosphere is someplace I really do not like to spend my time in. Overpriced and way too touristy to be authentic (my opinion and the traffic jams in Yellowstone are the stuff of legend.

I decided to go west out of Jackson and take the Teton Pass route into Idaho and head north. It was a s-l-o-w slog up the pass – it has a 10% grade up one side and 10% down the other side. My truck was doing 45 mph uphill and would not go any faster. On the downhill I pulled over to give the truck a break. I have been over that pass before but not pulling a trailer. If you don’t know, a 10% grade is going either up or down one foot for every ten forward. That is steep and I hve not seen many grades steeper than that.

I got into Idaho and went through Driggs and continued north and west, the Grand Tetons getting smaller in the rearview mirror. The fields were bright green with potatoes and some other crops I could not identify without stopping. It is a beautiful valley.

I went through Ashton, where parts of the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” were filmed. I was here once before (on the aforementioned trip), prior to the movie being filmed, and had eaten at the drive-in featured in the movie. We were watching the movie one day and I saw the diner and recognized it immediately.

The last stretch for the day the scenery drastically changed and became more of the National Forest with a road cut through it. I pulled into my spot and got the trailer set up for my final night of the trip. I even busted out my portable grill and bought some hot dogs and buns. Not the same as charcoal or wood but still good.

It’s too bad it’s back to reality tomorrow. Then again, my version of reality is something I enjoy and am fortunate to have!