February 8th, 2021

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

It was a year ago today that I made my second trip to Europe with my two oldest girls, leaving Kansas City on a Saturday morning to go to Dublin, Ireland. I know my first trip over really was a complete assault on the senses – foreign country, different foods, languages, using public transit, plus experiencing how life is for others with which we share the planet. I remember pulling into Amsterdam Centraal that first trip in 2018, seeing all the trains and tracks everywhere, thinking “Oh shit…what have we gotten ourselves into…”.

Even though I had been there before, this trip was still a life-changing experience for me in several different ways. Seeing the castle where our family started out was incredible and getting to see it with Chelsea and Angie on their first trip was such a cool thing (you’re next, Meghan!). Of course there was all of the great food we ate, the things we saw and did, people we talked to…much like the first time all over again.

I was in a weird headspace for many reasons. I hated the prospect of having to leave. There was also an accumulation of the previous five years of loss and the other BS life put on my doorstep in a flaming paper bag. In Amsterdam we took time on our last day there to go different ways and explore. I was lost in thought just getting lost in the city. I got myself into a much better headspace before my adventure and everything in life was calm & peaceful as I wandered around, looking at some familiar places and finding other places I had never seen before. It really helped me in ways I cannot describe, and it was badly needed.

Right now it would be nice to have the opportunity to do that again, venturing out into unknown areas of a city that is nearly half of a world away. No map of any sort…just walking; no matter where you go that’s where you are. Everything is new in every way and you just kinda say “WOW” inside. I would even settle for someplace domestic; how nice it would be just to be able to wander around Seattle on foot like I used to do on occasion.

A steamed BBQ pork hombow from the Chinese bakery at Pike Place Market would be delicious right about now, as would breakfast at Biscuit Bitch and a burger, cheese curds and a pint at the Five Point or a pizza from Serious Pie. There are so many places to wander around checking out and so many things I have not made note of yet. I do still update my bucket list for things and places of interest, and there are more places in Seattle on that list I have not been to but want to check out when it is safer for my health to do so.

I always keep an eye out for interesting places everywhere and I put them into both my bucket list and Apple Maps so I can have directions ready to go if I end up someplace on a whim (which does happen often). I still have plenty of things to see and do in Amsterdam yet, and both Ireland and Iceland are islands of so many things to see and do. Beyond that there is still a lot more of the world I want to experience.

I will be looking into some domestic road trip options as well, adding more to that section of the bucket list. When things calm down I will be traveling locally more so I should do something unique, like visiting all of the state parks in Washington. I have been to almost all of the National Parks in the state so there are a couple of those left I want to visit; not because they are on a list, but because I want to visit them.

I will hopefully be going to MT soon to get my stuff, but want/need to get my vaccines first. I don’t want to miss out on getting it in fear of not being able to get it if I do miss out the first time because I am gone. The weather, being another factor, has not been bad there, but I don’t need to take a chance with that either since I would be towing a cargo trailer back.

The past year has been tough for everyone but in hindsight getting to go to Europe was a big help to get me through the year. We have talked about it often and relived our experiences both separately and with each other numerous times ever since we returned. I hope at some point in the next year we can all go together.

That’s all for today.

February 7th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Uncategorized

Yep…it was a good weekend. Got some things accomplished.

Yesterday I woke up, had a shot of espresso and a cup of coffee, and said “I need to cook”. So I cooked. I got to try out my new (to me) Le Creuset stockpot and made what ended up being a huge pot of pasta…MUCH more pasta than I thought it was. I browned up some chicken Italian sausage, added some fresh garlic and lots of olive oil, stirred in some of the pasta, and I instantly had five meals’-worth of dinners from that.

With the pasta I had left, I portioned it out and added some Muir Glen Garden Vegetable red sauce, plus a dash of garlic powder and a drizzle of olive oil to each tray. I ended up with four of those trays but they are pretty hefty portions now that I look at them; I probably could have gotten another 2-3 dinners out of the bunch but I was also worried about having enough sauce. I was lucky I had that on hand, but I do have some canned fire-roasted tomatoes so I can make my own sauce from that. I can also use some to make salsa and have some cilantro, and a fresh onion a couple of jalapeƱos to do just that. In fact, that is why I bought a case of those tomatoes.

It was extremely windy yesterday. I mean horrible winds almost all day and then it was a little rainy at times. This morning I woke up and saw a bright sunny day and some gusty winds that have lasted all day; nowhere near as bad as yesterday though. When I saw that sun I figured the dog and I needed to be outside some. Plenty of walks but too windy to play with his flying disc that he loves so much. The week is shaping up to be poopy weather- lows in the teens and highs in the 20s/low 30s – so I am trying to get out and keep the dog happy too. That’s unusual for here; it happens a couple of times every Winter for about a week.

Seeing the forecast for this coming week, I saw that I was going to have to put it off for another week, so I finally got the problem emissions part replaced on my truck! I thought while it is windy, it is not raining or really cold, I might as well see if I can get it done today and I did. Took me about 5 minutes and $40 or so for the part. Saved another $20 from the dealer repair AND the OBD-II reader paid for itself as well. It is running better and after I cleared the light it is not coming back on and it runs better and is getting better gas mileage. Glad to have that done. I guess the fuel filter will wait another week. I will be borrowing some ramps from a friend and try to do that in his driveway. It is another five-minute fix. Well, it SHOULD be…

Now that I have that main problem fixed I feel much better about taking a long drive (it iorobabky woulda been fine), and I plan on doing that very soon. I’d probably have to do it so soon so it may be tomorrow or Tuesday given the weather that the forecast says is moving in. The fuel filter does not seem to be causing any issues and there are no codes in the computer for errors so I feel confident. I am so glad to have that finally done.

I just saw an article today about the pandemic and what to expect. I think that I may be a bit too optimistic about going to Europe (or anywhere international) even as early as Spring of 2022 according to this news story but everything is even less than uncertain for the foreseeable future. I am still watching some travel shows and keeping an eye on travel articles as it is something positive to look forward to. I reactivated my Scott’s Cheap Flights notifications (I stopped updates for a while since I felt it was pointless) and have been looking at prices in searches. I also realize there may be other options besides Europe but all of that remains to be seen given the constantly-changing pandemic regulations.

It is interesting to hear about a real push for high-speed rail in the U.S. That would be so cool and so convenient. I think once people see how easy and efficient it is to go around the country by train it would sell itself. The key, of course, is public transit infrastructure available near each rail station to get people close to where they want to go. It’s odd that in Europe public transit is something everyone does because they want to, while here there seems to be a stigma where it is the poor people who ride the bus. I have ridden public transit quite a bit in various places and it is a great way to get around. My fingers are crossed that we can finally make some progress nationwide on this.

It had a good run, but I think my 27″ iMac is ready to give up. I have been using it for videos in place of a TV but I noticed a few days ago that it was extremely hot to the touch. I used some canned air to blow it out and cool it off but it’s about used all the runway. I cannot upgrade the OS anymore so I am looking at recycling it and I will get some cash out off the deal. It’s ten years old and has moved all over the PNW with me to most of the 18-20 addresses I have lived at, and it is remarkable it stood up to that.

It’s why I buy Apple products.

That’s all for now.

February 3rd, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

I have been receiving some things I bought at an online auction and a few other goodies.

On Monday I got this week’s HelloFresh box. I got beef bulgogi bowls, cheesy smothered mushroom chicken with mash and roasted carrots, and plant-based protein enchiladas rojas. I am not doing them every week so I can have other stuff too plus it saves a little money.

I also won an auction for a vintage off-white Le Creuset porcelain-coated steel stockpot with lid and colander and it came Monday too. It is much larger than I imagined so I need a garage to park it in. I really like this porcelain stuff for clean up and this will be great for cooking spaghetti, linguine, and rice noodles for stir fry. I still want to try to can some home-made pasta sauce. I can’t do it yet since I would like to use my Instant Pot to help with the canning part. I need to fire-roast some tomatoes somehow; maybe on my grill after I get it here too. I have to research that.

The box of 17 Zwilling/J.A. Henckels knives showed up yesterday so I got them washed up and used a couple to cook dinner – beef bulgogi bowls. What a difference a good-quality knife makes. A little disappointed that the most expensive of the bunch – an 8″ chef knife – has a broken tip but the whole lot was still a great score for the money. I will take it to the knife sharpener guy and see if he can do something to fix it. I still need to get a sharpener but they are in pretty good shape for now. A couple of the handles have a melted spot on them but I can work on smoothing those marks out with my Dremel.

Today I got two Le Creuset salt cellars I won on an auction for way less than the price of one. I plan on using one for salt and the other for pepper. and they will be a help in the kitchen when cooking. I got another package today from a friend – a really nice bell for my bike and some chocolate Guinness candies that look like a little pint.

Tomorrow I am finally getting some Espresso cups I won in another auction. These are vintage Italian but they have no matching saucers. The price of the four (two red, two black) with shipping was less than a single cup on eBay! They are heavy ceramic and will come in handy since Monday my coffee order came in and I got several espresso pods in this box.

Also I have a few other needed things showing up tomorrow, and one of the items is an OBD-II vehicle code-reader that sends info about my truck to my phone on an app. This will help me clear out the codes and see there are any other things wrong without going anywhere and having to have it done. I hope to get the fuel filter and the vent solenoid changed in the next few days and it will be handy after that is done. It has been wet and it is certainly no fun laying on cold, wet pavement so I have put it off and the stuck fuel line needs to soak up some oil to loosen up so more time won’t hurt. Tomorrow I have to call and find out if they have the solenoid in stock then go get it and install it in the parking lot since I don’t know if it will cause any further problems.

I still have not gotten my airline plans done yet. I have been trying to get it finished up, but I have been back and forth quite a bit on what to do with Europe, vouchers and my miles and trying to make the most sense out of it. I think that with everything going on Europe will just have to be pushed to next year. I was hoping to go back in the Fall but now that is one less thing to figure out. There are so many unknowns and I don’t want to have to straighten out things if there is a border closing or a flight cancelled or a pandemic. It’s also some extra time to shop for fares. Now that I got that part decided on I have been looking at a different place to go along with the other two options that I have been considering. Notes are being taken and I think I have somewhat of a plan.

I will be getting my passport in the mail in the next few days so I can start the renewal process with hopes of getting the new one back in a reasonable amount of time. They are saying the turnaround time is only 10-12 weeks so that is not bad considering the country has been needlessly on fire for a year now.

There really is not much I can do in the trailer at the moment. It is too cold and damp to do much as far as re-sealing windows and the shower floor pan so I still have to wait to do that. I cannot really do much organizing since I ransacked some things out of it to use in the house until I get to MT for my things.

So there has been a little going on but not much, and I am sure that we all have a little different version of the same story right now – day in and day out. And, also much like many of you, it gets to me a little sometimes but that’s okay. We just gotta hang in there.

Have a good day!

January 25th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

I had to buy a stick vac to clean my house. I do have a broom but it just doesn’t work on the rug that well. I guess the one I have in storage in MT will get sold and hopefully I can get rid of a few other things as well so I don’t have to haul some of it again. It’s really looking like it may be a bit before the ‘rona calms down but I need some of my things and am thinking of alternatives on getting my things.

One thing that I have been needing to get (that I do not have in storage) is some decent kitchen knives but they can be expensive. To get a really good one you need to spend some real money, but there are a couple of low-cost ones that get great ratings. I found some on an online auction so I what bid an amount that I considered to be kinda high (but low compared to what I though they were worth). Looking at the pictures of the knives, all 17 of them, I saw what looked to be a decent collection of hardware so I started checking the values to figure out how much to bid.

I watched the auction when it was getting ready to close and I still had the high bid by quite a margin. Suddenly it started to make a run and my bid was in serious danger. It got to the last minute and I won it…but by only 89 cents. What a close one since I had to refresh the screen to see how the bids were going. The last few bids told me that I had made the right call bidding the amount I bid on this lot.

One or two of them may have a little damage on the handle but I really think I scored a major deal. They look to be mostly, if not all, German-made J.A. Henckels/Zwilling knives. It’s an assortment of several different types. I think that just one knife is worth about what I paid for all 17. They will need some cleaning up and I guess with 17 of them I better start learning how to sharpen them.

I also got a Le Creuset enameled steel stock pot with colander at another auction. I think it may be vintage and from what I can tell they don’t sell the colander any longer except in stainless steel. It is in very good shape from what I see in the pics. I am also looking for coffee cups to fit the different sizes of my coffee pods as well.

After doing the laundry I went to the store to grab a couple of things to make up some more burritos. This time I will make up some with Southwest ranch chicken, black bean, and lime cilantro rice with some roasted salsa verde. Luckily I forgot the limes as I have no room in the freezer! All of the other stuff I made up has filled the freezer so I will be eating that for a bit to make some room. I have another meal kit coming this week, then another break for a couple of weeks. I certainly won’t be starving!

The forecast for snow was wrong and it was a sunny day for most of the day. I really need to get the filter on the truck changed so maybe I can look at that tomorrow if the weather is good. I might even make another attempt at the last spark plug. My arthritis hand still hurts so I don’t know if I can get it changed or not, but I did get 7 of 8 replaced and it does seem to run a little bit better. I need to call the dealer service department to see what the other part needing replaced was; that is on the reminder list for tomorrow.

That’s it for now.

January 22nd, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

What day is it? Other than Wednesday being trash day and the garbage was taken out, they are all the same anymore.

A few days ago I got the parts to fix my truck so that was on today’s to-do list since it looked to be a sunny day when I got up this morning. I got the new fuel filter, spark plugs and wires. Even with the cost of the parts I am still saving over $600 by doing it myself. I don’t really enjoy working on vehicles but I can do some things. These things are easy and fairly quick to fix but my hands didn’t cooperate with me to get it done without much problem. I struggled a bit to get the plugs changed and had trouble trying to get one of them replaced so I will have to come back and revisit that last one. The fuel lines on the filter were stuck so I sprayed them with some PB Blaster to soak a day or two then I will try again.

My arthritis hand is really mad after working on the truck earlier. The only real option, other than a surgery that will only be a temporary fix for ten years or so, is getting a big needle jabbed into my hand at the base of my thumb and pumping it full of cortisone. I have had a similar thing done before and it is really not pleasant in the slightest bit. I think getting a shot in my neck without sedation (which I have done it several times) didn’t hurt as bad as that one needle in my index finger. I think I am going to have to get this injection done though. I cannot deal with this much longer but am trying to put it off as long as I can tolerate the pain and swelling and lack of dexterity.

It is good to see the sun more every week and it really helps with our moods; really…who doesn’t need that right about now? We are gaining about 15 minutes a week so in a month it is another hour of daylight each day. It is still dark until 7:00 A.M. but instead of the sun going down at 4:00 P.M. it is now setting at 5:00 or so and actually gets dark around 6:30. I am so ready for some spring and summer and the long Spring/Summer/Fall days are really nice for being outside. Of course the time will change sometime in March (as usual, for no good reason) since we can’t quit trying to control the things that we cannot control.

No meal kit in this week’s mail, but I finally got the last one from last week cooked last night and it was something different – beef banh mi bowls. It was pretty good and it made quite a bit of food. I won’t have to do much cooking until the next one gets here, but I will still be cooking and try to use up some stuff like pasta.

I went to get something out of the trailer yesterday to use at the house (glad I have that stuff to fall back on) and it was odd in a sense. I kinda missed it, yet didn’t miss living in it. I spent a lot of time in it over the summer and into the Fall so I got used to it but at the end the dog and I were ready to have room to spread out. It is fine for trips but staying in it full-time is difficult with the limited space. I am excited to get it back out for some trips and it’s really looking like that is going to be the only real travel option for some time yet.

I definitely won’t be going far if I do go someplace with the trailer, and it will just be within the state until some things calm down. It also won’t be very soon – there is some colder weather with snow (BOOOOO) forecast so I don’t want to unwinterize the trailer yet – once I get it ready I don’t want to redo it. With all of the things I have worked on, the trailer is in pretty good shape and is ready to go. I still need to fix the shower and reseal the windows. I will start working on that when I can, hopefully next month. I should have done it last year but didn’t since I was staying in it; I did not want to live in a 15′ construction area.

For now it will just be some day trips. Pack a lunch and find a quiet place to sit on a beach and enjoy nature. It is the safest way to get out of the house and maintain some sanity while limiting exposure.