February 9th, 2021

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

Tonight’s featured movie is “Groundhog Day”. As if it is not enough that life imitates art right now, why not watch a movie about it.

Yesterday I got the truck out for a road trip/test drive. I had to go pick up something anyway so the timing was good. I left the house and had to make a few stops on the way. All was fine. As I was heading on to my next stop miles away, the Check Engine light came back on again. 🤬

I thought “💩” and went on ahead. It felt like it was running fine and when I checked the codes were just the same as before. After I made my stop I cleared the light again to see what happened. I got all the way back and then made another trip to town. The light is still off so that is a good sign. I did a live read on the truck while running and there are no issues showing up. Success!

After that, it was a little housework and then some pasta. And not really much else other than several walks with the dog. There was even (gasp!) some reading! The last walk around 10 P.M. was definitely cooler and a sign of things yet to be. A few snowflakes fell as we were out for that quick tour of the local “watering holes” that the dog frequents.

As for today, I finally got a road trip in. I needed to get out of the house plus I wanted to get a microplane to do some cooking. No, a microplane is not a tiny aircraft. It is a type of grater that is really shallow. I want to use it to zest some limes for some cilantro lime rice. A couple of the meal kits needed lime zest and it was difficult to get it using a knife edge. Then it was over to Trader Joe’s to grab a few unique snacks and some Gouda cheese (the sliced TJ’s Gouda is pretty good and makes a great breakfast sandwich with bacon).

The truck is really running good now that I got the part fixed. The light came on once today but I was driving over a rough patch and it triggered the light. I know there are a couple of broken exhaust bolts so I think what happened was the exhaust jiggled and it sucked in a little outside air, triggering the O2 sensors. I gained about 3 MPG more after the fix and it may get a little better as the computer adjusts. I guess once I can finally go get my stuff I can put my K&N air filter back in. That will help with a little bit more of a boost in power and mileage. I am really anxious to see how it does pulling the trailer now that it is running better. Hmmm…now THERE’S an idea…

Taking a long drive today helped out immensely and I recommend it if you need a break from the grind. Sounds like snow for this area so I am glad I went today. If the weather holds I may go someplace tomorrow but it is not looking conducive for a good day of driving where I want to go. Even the weather people are not quite sure what to expect yet. If I don’t get out that is fine too – at least there was today. I do still have a lot of cooking to take care of. I already picked up the fresh ingredients so it needs to happen in the next day or two. I will need to make a supply run for a couple of things at some point.

Calling this day in the books. A good night to all.

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 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 15th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Music, Outdoors, Road Trip, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

It was a busy afternoon today.

I got up this morning and it was time for coffee, then I got the dog out for a walk. He never seems to be in a rush to get out in the mornings so I am gonna caffeinate myself first. It seems odd that he doesn’t wake up doing the pee-pee dance, but then again he is odd. He didn’t even eat his breakfast until a few hours before dinner.

I locked the dog in his crate and got the bike out for a longer shakedown ride around the block (2-3 miles or so). I need to make a few adjustments – the front fender is rattling a bit against the front fork and the brakes need tightened up some. I really don’t know much about working on bicycles but these are minor things that I feel comfortable with tackling. I can look at some videos online and figure it out if necessary.

It is definitely a different feel riding this bike and it will take some getting used to it. Small tires and sitting up so high are not what I am used to but I will adjust. I also need to get mirrors, a bell, and more lights along with maybe some other things for more visibility. My motorcycle wreck affected my neck and I now cannot turn my head very well to see if anyone is coming so some mirrors are high on the list before I ride it again very far. It does move along pretty good without the Class III setting, but I DO like speed…

I got back and we went for another walk, then came home and started cooking. I made some beef & bean burritos and some beef stroganoff. I got everything labeled and in the freezer; I have a total of 12 meals frozen as of now. I still have to cook dinner yet, and I got another EveryPlate box yesterday so that will be for the next few days’ meals.

I went to Costco yesterday to get a few things and got the 1000-pack of tortillas (you know what I mean), so I used some for the burritos and I will be making up and freezing some breakfast burritos the next few days. I am still trying to do the cold oats with berries and cashew milk for breakfast every morning but breakfast burritos are great any time of the day. I always like doing something different for breakfast on Sunday mornings so since I cannot go out for breakfast I cook something for myself and forgo the overnight oats. It breaks up the week and when it is possible I’ll be meeting up with friends for a restaurant breakfast on Sundays.

While cooking I decided to listen to some music. Last night I watched a couple of videos from the new AC/DC album. Damn, that album rocks and sounds like the old days. I got on Apple Music and added that album and Highway to Hell. I listened to Highway to Hell while cooking and that is a great album. I am waiting until later to listen to the new one; I have a giant playlist of new music I have added but have not listened to yet so I am trying to knock that list down a little before listening to anything else. I listened to some old Porcupine Tree while cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes.

After taking my truck in to get fixed, the “Check Engine” light came on again; it is why I took it to the dealer to start with and they replaced the part that THEY said was bad after I replaced parts I thought were bad. It is going in early next week to get looked at again. I am really hoping to get it fixed correctly this time and get out for some long day trips to help maintain sanity. I don’t need (or want) to be around groups of people…I just need some new scenery to look at. Once I get this fixed I will feel better about going in the forest to explore or on a longer drive, plus the fuel mileage will improve.

I guess I could even take the trailer out to get away once the truck is fixed, but I must say it has been nice being out of it for a while so I have not been too excited about getting back in it yet and I am fairly certain the dog agrees. I would have to de-winterize it so I will wait a few more weeks to do that to make sure the danger of freezing is past. With the last-minute storage after finding this place I had to put water line anti-freeze in it again so I would have to go to a campground to de-winterize for the first trip. I am glad I did dump some in it since it did freeze several nights, but I still hate putting that stuff in there. It makes that first trip a pain and it takes a while to flush it out of the system.

I am still working on the airline tickets but I am finding more places, even in the US, are talking pre- and post-arrival testing and quarantines. With these things looming, and the additional concerns of new strains being discovered, it is extremely difficult for me to get very excited about even looking at flights let alone actually booking one. I won’t let it get me down and I will keep looking. There are still a couple of big U.S. cities I would like to go visit but I have big reservations about doing that since I travel to cities to explore and try the local foods. On top of that, I don’t feel safe with all of the nonsense going on and that is also a problem for me wanting to go on long road trips. I will get something booked before my vouchers expire.

That’s about all for this update. Forgot to send it before I passed out last night!