July 25th, 2020

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

Comet NEOWISE, just below the Big Dipper
This one is not zoomed in as much so it is clearer and was taken later in the evening

As you can see, I was able to get a few pictures of NEOWISE a few nights ago as it was scooting across the Big Sky of Montana. I took these with my iPhone and it did a decent job of it.

We had some pretty good rain here a few days ago, and much to my relief there were no longer any water leaks on the back window. It was getting rather frustrating but it looks to finally be patched until I can get the weatherstripping to do it correctly. I will be able to scrape all the sealant off the outside of the trailer I globbed on between storms to try to fix it. I also got the fenderwell patched up and sealed again so hopefully that is fixed. I will still be applying the sealant I have left (good ol’ FlexSeal!) to use it up and really make sure it is covered good.

I ordered a new sewer hose storage tube to mount under the trailer but it hangs too low to put it there. I am really afraid it will be dragged off in a low spot in the road so I just attached it to the top of the bumper. Usually the hoses are stored in the bumper but it is a tight fit. One of them will not fit at all and the other two only go in a certain way. I got tired of fighting them so problem solved.

I am really wanting to go someplace but just cannot get away yet. I am still getting medical appointments taken care of and that is the first priority. With the pandemic getting worse I have to really think about what is necessary and what can wait. My hand really hurts and is causing me issues so I would really like to get it taken care of but we will see what happens with that. My other appointments are more important so I have a full plate with medical stuff – nothing serious…just things needing taken care of and checked.

Speaking of travel it is really looking like getting back to Europe will be quite a ways off by the looks of the pandemic and travel restrictions. I am so glad I got to go twice in the last two years and that Jim, Chelsea, Angie and I got to see and do so much in so many different cities and countries. It will probably never be the same again – the restaurants, the Irish pubs, the interesting experiences on public transit, and the sights….everything. The whole experience both times was mind-opening and amazing. The best experience for me of all the travel we did was all of the wonderful, friendly and helpful people we met everywhere we went and that is one thing I hope will stay the same. I cannot wait to go back at some point when it is safe to do so but it will be some time before I will even get on a domestic flight let alone a transatlantic/transpacific one.

I am happy for now just being retired and being able to travel around here domestically when I can and see places I haven’t seen. I cannot wait to get into Canada more when the border opens back up but I think that may not even happen this year. Between the road trips I am looking at doing and my medical stuff I really have plenty to keep me busy for a while. It is a bit of a bummer that now I am able to go I can’t.

I have been considering a few things and I came to the conclusion that with the pandemic escalating even worse I am rethinking my plan to relocate completely to Colorado. All of my doctors are in Washington and if something happens they know my history; I have had a few things of concern and that relationship is very important given the recent family history. I really do not want to start over with new doctors and surgeons and I may even wait to get my hand fixed during a trip back there. I also have all of the great friends I made there the last eight years and it is really a smarter financial move in several ways. Plus I really grew to love the ocean up there and still want to spend time traveling more along the West Coast. And, honestly, I do miss all of that. I still plan on spending a lot of time in the mountains in CO and visiting family in KS.

After I got my ink done on my wrist in Dublin I really got excited and wanted to start getting a tattoo sleeve around it (wish I woulda got more over in Europe). I was getting several ideas together and was planning on doing that when we got back (and on a return to Europe). Then the ‘rona hit so everything shut down, and even if they were still open it was not worth the risk anyhoo. I have not even had a haircut in many months and it has been quite a long time since my hair was this long so I am looking a bit rough. A haircut is just not worth the risk to me (never liked them anyway), and if I am going to be sitting that close to someone I am getting a tattoo and not a haircut.

That’s about it for today’s short update.

July 18th, 2020

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

Quite the sight on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake near Townsend, Mt

I was able to finally get away for a few days and it was a welcomed break.

I left Sunday to just get away with the intent of staying in a campground to take on water and do some camping in the National Forest. I ended up staying in that campground Monday instead but the first night was on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake.

The rainbow picture is kind of symbolic in that much like like the rainbow emerges from the ominous cloudiness, my covid test results came back with great news – nada ‘rona. I felt confident all was well but still had to go through the testing. It’s better to know without a doubt.

The bugs were kinda bad even with the strong winds – they must be working out to fly in those gusts. I had the lakeshore to myself and then realized the next day there was a swamp next to my site. No womnder there was nobody next to me!

Once I got Rider inside the trailer he was embracing being retired as well…

…and yes, he crosses his legs like that all the time.

The next day it was off to the other campground and it is one I will not return to. If at all possible I would have cancelled that reservation and left. It was more of a mobile home park – nearly everyone there was living there full time and there were storage boxes of stuff piled around the trailers and permanent dog pens. I had a reservation to stay there my last night to empty the tanks but I cancelled it. I will not be back there to stay and they got a one-star review.

I left and went over to the White Sulphur Springs area and decided to head north toward Great Falls. Some of this area was new territory for me and it was pretty. I was looking to boondock in a dispersed site but it’s hard to find those when you don’t know thew area and have a low-rider trailer that can get damaged on rocks and potholes or get stuck (as I nearly did in the Nebraska Sand Hills).

I decided to just check out some Forest Service campgrounds. I like the primitiveness of them but i wanted to be in the woods, preferably by a stream. Plus, being self-contained in the trailer I do not need the toilet facilities (or would even use them in this pandemic). The only advantage is during fire restrictions – they are the last to get fire bans.

I drove on up to the north end of the forest and turned around. Didn’t see many options for dispersed camping so I thought I would go back to the first campground since there was no one there.

There are no trees on any of the sites – maybe removed due to disease – but the worst part was the flies; vicious things from small to big, their fangs dripping with blood. I decided we would hang out a few to see if they were going away but they were eating the dog alive so we got out of there quick. It would have been okay there since I probably would have been the only one there, but even with the winds blowing pretty good the flies were terrible. I bet when (rather IF) the winds died down you couldn’t even get out of your vehicle without getting carried away to their nest to feed the young ones.

I decided to go back to town to get fuel and regroup. I decided to go west on US 12 and came across a road for forest access. These can be good or bad depending on the rig you are driving. It was 7 miles to the Forest boundary and it looked good starting out so I went for it to see what I could find.

I didn’t see many accessible spots along the way so I stayed on it. It actually went on back toward the highway I was on earlier so that is the way I went. I do remember seeing the other end of this road earlier in the day. I should have checked it out earlier because I am now only 2.5 miles from the highway after driving 15.5 on some roads that were a little rough in spots. It’s what exploring is all about.

The truck was fine but the trailer had to go through some big holes that I later discovered had popped off the gray water valve from the tank outlet. No worries, though, since it appears to be designed to do that if it gets caught on something. I pushed it back on and will put a little sealer around it to stop leaks. That will still let it break loose if necessary.

I was fortunate to find this site, and my guess is it would be packed on the weekends. It is a larger grassy area that could accommodate a group, there’s a small stream in the forest, and the bugs are not bad so far. As I have been sitting here two people have driven by looking for spots and they were looking this way.

After getting set up I decided to build a fire. I have not had a campfire in a long time so this seems like a good opportunity to have one. There is not much wood, but someone left enough to get a small one going and have enough for another one. I am not certain how long I will be here yet, but I have to be back Friday afternoon and it’s only Tuesday. I have been here just a few hours and I am already enjoying the surroundings and the solitude immensely.

I decided to call it a night about 10:30 or so and I turned out the lights. I have not been in darkness like this in quite some time. I wanted to go out and stargaze for a bit but this is bear country and I don’t care to take that chance. Another reason I didn’t burn a fire late.

I ended up staying here from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning. I decided to head back because my propane tank – yes the new one I just hooked up on Wednesday – is running low after just one night. I finally figured out that the day I got it refilled it was really hot and, much like when you fill your car, the gas expands in the heat giving you less gas. I could not take a chance on running out (I was at nearly 6,000 feet in elevation – it was pretty cold at night!) so I decided to scrub the mission a day early.

I went back through White Sulphur Springs and decided to head south toward Livingston. At the town of Willsall I turned west into the Bridgers. What a spectacular drive! It would be a regular ride for me if I still rode motorcycles. Narrow, winding, two-lane backroad…just a beautiful drive.

Today it was cleaning the trailer thoroughly and washing everything I could wash. A lot of dust got inside through my damaged fender and the inside of the trailer was filthy. It had gotten damaged during my March 2017 trip from Kansas to Washington when I went to pick it up after my mom died. When the tire blew out in the middle of nowhere in Utah (I posted about that as I remember) it chewed up the inside of the fender pretty badly so I had to patch it. The patching came loose and the dust just poured inside. After I cleaned today I re-patched it the damage; tomorrow it’s a can of Flex Seal and I can float it on a lake.

It’s okay, though. I don’t take my travels for granted. I was able to get away once again, I got my forest fix, and was able to relax by a stream with cooler weather and some bugs. I’m glad I got to go since I have appointments every week the next four weeks so it will be a month or so before I can leave again. It’s okay – life goes on and things have to be taken care of so I can travel and that is what matters.

It’s not always about the relaxing.

Wait…yes it certainly is!

Until the next post…

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.


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.


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!