November 9, 2020

Adventure, Just things, pictures, Road Trip, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

It has been a sleepless few days. Bright lights all around and train tracks across the street from the repair shop. Sunday night was tough. I’m not sure why my trailer battery doesn’t seem to charge but at 3:00 a.m. I woke up pretty damn cold – probably in the mid-20s F inside the trailer. The battery ran out of juice so no furnace. I got up and had to go out and try to charge it from the truck. I just replaced the trailer battery but no idea how long it’s been since it’s had a full charge.

An hour’s worth of charging and I got one cycle of heat. Then it went dead again so I said “well, okay then” and slept cold for about 90 minutes. I said something else along the same line as before (actually it was “F THIS”) and got up out of bed to go get coffee and something warm to eat.

I went for a drive to kill some time while waiting for my trailer. I decided to go to Roslyn, the shooting location of Northern Exposure. Great show if you’ve never seen it but you gotta like quirky. I was here maybe thirty years ago and mostly it looked the same. It is a cool old mountain town on the Historic Register. I did niot get out and walk since most everything was closed still so I went back to check on the repair.

Trailer was repaired right before noon and they asked about checking the other side. I said I had thought about it and it’s a good idea so go for it. He said the other bearings were fine and now freshly repacked. I am glad to be getting it done for peace of mind.

Getting a late start as the days get shorter is not good. Too many deer on the roads and I don’t really want to drive at night. I opted to come back to the campground I was in a few days ago and will leave earlier tomorrow morning after the frost clears. It’ll be nice to have some time to regroup and not be rushed.

I had to buy a heated water hose to keep water flowing into the trailer. I’ll need it in other places anyway so now seemed like the time to buy it since it may get cold tonight. I won’t be getting cold though!!! Got electricity so the electric heater is plugged in. Plus I did find my electric blanket right before I left and that is pretty awesome to have with the nights getting cold.

As for now, it’s a double espresso of Sumatra coffee, then a cup of dark (or as they say “Intenso”) and some relaxing in the warmth after a couple of interesting days. Might even kick off my shoes.

I got a few bundles of firewood to have a fire later tonight and an obligatory adult beverage or two. Then a nice, albeit abrupt, hot shower before crawling into my preheated bed. That sounds awesome.

You can’t look away…

It’s a really good night for a fire. It’s 32° F and some clouds to hopefully hold some heat on the earth tonight. The fire pit is an old heavy truck wheel so it really heats up and dissipates the heat nicely. The wind is a little breezy and at 32° it is chilling.

I discovered earlier that instead of a carton of pineapple passion fruit cider I actually bought a carton of seltzer. Never really been a big seltzer person but I gave it a try. As expected, it was nasty – tastes like that “go-juice” you have to drink a gallon of the night before a colonoscopy.

Fire is going out. Looks like it’s time for bed. Been a long day and I am tired.

November 7th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Road Trip, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

I write this post sitting in the parking lot of a repair shop on Washington. I’ll be here until Monday since they are closed on Sunday.

I was heading back out on the highway this morning and a problem arose. It was windy. I have driven in winds before but my trailer has never gone down the road crooked so when that happened I thought it was odd. The winds just weren’t strong enough to make it do that and it just didn’t look right.

Then I saw something that looked like smoke trailing behind me, but my windows were dirty so I wasn’t sure. Finally I saw it WAS smoke so I thought I’d best pull over.

Smoke was billowing out of the passenger side tire on the trailer. I had stopped in the nick of time. It could have caught fire, locked up and caused an accident…any number of things – and all of a bad nature. Wheel bearing is cooked and the wheel is sitting odd:

This tire SHOULD be straight up and down…

So, lemons and lemonade and $590 later I’m staying in the trailer in the parking lot since the lot is not secured. I just replaced the battery in the trailer so I should be warm overnight with the furnace running. There’s no shore power so I am boondocking for a few nights and charging the trailer battery from the truck. Even more fun is the trailer is not level; it’s nowhere near level. The ground was already sloped…and it’s up on a jack stand! Yes, I have supports out to keep anything from happening. I’ll be sleeping with my feet downhill (I guess if it rolled over I’d basically end up standing up). Just another part of the adventure.

Oh, the things that happen to me. I usually just shake my head at them in disbelief, smile a little, and go about my day.

So, anyhoo, I left a few days ago to come back over. It was odd leaving; it’s never easy leaving any of the kids and grandkids and it certainly wasn’t any easier after being there a while. I needed to move along and take care of some things. Winter was getting ready to have another go so I needed to scoot while I had the opportunity. I pushed my luck far enough and I’m not much for winter these days. I got into a few rain showers in the mountains on the way over but no issues. From the pictures I saw at Meghan’s house this morning I’m glad I left when I did.

I brought a few extra things with me so I don’t have any extra room be it truck or trailer. I’m constantly moving stuff around on and off the bed, but it’s just a temporary thing. I’m going to find a small storage unit when I get there and put a few things in there to help with the clutter. I did a little rearranging this morning and got a bit more room.

I decided to hang here a few days to let the rains pass. I considered going over to the Oregon coast but not sure yet so it gives me time to ponder. There’s not a way over there without backtracking a bit and I really don’t want to do that. I’d like to avoid Tacoma so I will weigh my options. Thinking back eight years, I actually went over to Astoria and went north. I drove down from Mt. St. Helens and went over through Longview. There’s two really tall bridges along that route. I also remember I got a speeding ticket down in that area too.

Winter on the coast can be stormy so that’s another consideration. I would love to see a storm on the coast. I am not sure if I care to be in the trailer out there during that stuff. It’s pretty vicious. I have seen big surf but nothing like what’s out there.

I don’t really have a major plan yet. I do have things to fall back on so I’ll be fine and I have a place to be. I don’t know how things will unfold but I always have a roof and a meal. Never an issue these days but it’s been a little, shall we say “interesting “ at times. Had a few rough times here and there but always made things work out for the best.

October 17th, 2020

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

Nothing like an amazing cup of coffee in the morning

Boy, what a change in the weather.

I woke up at 2:00 A.M. this morning to intense winds shaking the trailer. It felt as if one corner of the trailer was off the ground at one point. These were the worst winds I have encountered in the trailer so far – no need to do that again. It snowed last night and has been snowing today. The winds have been blowing strong all day but nothing like last night. We are under a winter weather advisory overnight with more snow on the way on into Monday. I have a feeling that the places where I took pictures and the video yesterday are no longer accessible after this. I am glad I got to go!

I ventured out and got the propane topped off this morning to make sure I am prepared for the cold. I have been staying plenty warm and still relying on mainly the electric heater with the furnace as a backup. At night the electric cannot quite keep up so the furnace kicks on to pick up the slack. I still cannot figure out where my electric blanket went so I grabbed the down mattress topper to put underneath me and I am using the down duvet cover from the bottom on top now for extra warmth. I just got two brand new Tempurpedic pillows yesterday to replace my old ones that were worn out (and giving me serious neck issues and bad headaches) so I am sleeping in comfort…if I could only sleep. I hope the pillows will help but that is not the issue completely.

Three days ago I decided to tape up the roof vents to keep the wind and dirt out until my new vent covers showed up (which they did two days ago). The noise of the wind blowing in the gap was very loud and annoying so I had to do something to stop that and reduce my having to clean everything daily. I imagine that the weather is still unsettled for the time being so I will probably have a few days I can sneak in getting them replaced. It should not take very long and looks to be fairly simple to do.

Today I opened up the drains to empty the water system. Tomorrow I hope the weather is better so I can use the air compressor to blow out the water lines. I have the cabinet doors open to keep the lines warm so they won’t freeze. From what I have read I won’t need to add RV antifreeze in the water lines after they are blown out which is good. It is easier than having to flush that stuff out and using air you can do it as needed.

I really like my new Nespresso machine. It is definitely a different way to make coffee. It makes coffee very reminiscent of what I had in Europe and that is what I was exactly what I was hoping for. The crema (foam) in the picture above is about an inch thick (it is just black coffee). The flavor selection of different coffees from around the world is incredible and excellent quality. The machine uses recyclable aluminum pods that spin to make the crema. A barcode on the pod tells the machine how much water to use for the different pods so you can make a shot of espresso all the way up to a 14 oz. cup. It’s a bit spendy for the coffee but the coffee is top-shelf and delicious. I don’t drink that much coffee in a day (no more than a couple of cups max) so it is still reasonable. I actually drink less with this but I am drinking better quality.

Well, I have been awake for a long time now so I am going to bed and hope for sleep. Maybe the tangerine Mike’s Hard Lemonades I drank will give me a good start.

Stay safe everyone.

October 16th, 2020

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

When you see a fork in the road take it” – Yogi Berra

Today I volunteered to go out with the US Forest Service to help do some things in the forest. It was great to get back in the woods with the Forest Service again. I saw some more new territory and some amazing scenery. What started out as a grey overcast day ended up being a beautiful, partly-cloudy day in the mountains. The area most of these pictures were taken just has the classic Montana feel to it. Look at them and you can see where the term “Big Sky Country” comes from.

My first trip to the state was in 1987-88 when I was on the road doing concert work. I remember looking out the window as we passed Little Big Horn Battlefield and I understood the Big Sky analogy that very moment. If you have ever been in that area you understand.

I thought I would share a few pictures and a video from the day. Turn down your sound as the audio is just wind noise; it was extremely windy up on top about 9500 feet above sea level. I believe the video was the area known as Ruby Valley, the view is west from where we were.

September 3rd, 2020

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

The eyes have it

The dog pictured above is Otto – one of Meghan’s pack.

I have had several things going on lately so actually the timing is working out pretty good for my upcoming getaway. A few new things have come up and it is really beginning to look like the next few months will be busier than I thought so that will mean more travel in my future than I previously planned. I finally got an appointment set up with a hand surgeon in Washington and we will probably be scheduling the surgery at that appointment. I hope to get the other cataract surgery done around the same time, and I will fit in whatever else I need done in that timeframe as well. Busy indeed, but I want to get the stuff done that needs done – there is fun that needs to be had and I’m gonna have it but there are priorities.

Another “summer” draws to a close next week with the Labor Day holiday. This year has really gone by fast, but there really has been quite a lot happen in the first eight months of this year – at least in my life.

Unfortunately some places close down after this holiday, which is too bad since it is usually the best time to travel because school has started and the crowds have gone home. That was always frustrating in Colorado. The weather is still decent in many places, but places like many Forest Service, National Park, and State Park campgrounds will close. As I have said before, though, I usually don’t stay in many campgrounds.

That’s all in a normal year, and this is far beyond a normal year as we previously knew the definition of normal. I don’t really know what to expect in my upcoming travels, but the places I go are usually not where the crowds are anyway so I don’t anticipate much being different. The trips I have made so far since getting back from Europe I have not seen the huge crowds of people out as I would usually see, like my day trip through Yellowstone for instance. It was busy…just not Yellowstone busy.

I always try to avoid being out during long holiday weekends like this one because of the crowds and the stupidity that goes along with them. Too many people that cannot handle their booze and drugs means it’s Amateur Hour on the roadways and it’s just safer to stay home and avoid becoming a statistic. They are also obnoxious and destructive in the forest so they take away from the enjoyment of nature.

So, I felt this was a really good time to go someplace and I just returned from a few days in the woods.

My original thought was to go back to Earthquake Lake so that’s the way I headed. On the way down I was able to fill up the water tank on the trailer at Ennis RV Park in Ennis, MT. I told them I would come by and use their pay dumpstation when I was headed back to the house so they said okay. But, on the way out there was a tray of baked goods. Singing a siren’s song from a shelf by the door was a package of homemade carrot cake. I grabbed it and took it up to pay. I had to have that plus I wanted to make a purchase since they did me a favor. Luckily it was diet carrot cake – there were only two hunks in the plastic wrap so I did not feel so bad.

I took off after a quick stop for a propane refill, some Guinness and a couple of fresh ground burger patties. But, along the way, a Forest Service Road was just luring me in so I turned and found a great spot right next to a river, which I believe is the West Fork Madison because that is the road I took. Since I would rather do some boondocking for a few days it saved me $60 in camping fees plus I did not have to drive quite as far even though I was a bout eight miles in. I would not be using any of the campground facilities so it is pointless for me to stay in a campground anyway, other than there is safety in numbers. More about that later.

A pretty nice site!

Unfortunately there are no trees blocking the road in the site I found, but I only saw two vehicles go by so it’s been fine. It’s bear country for sure so I took all the extra precautions since I had no bear spray. I did see a calling card left by a bear and the Forest Service posted a sign on a tree in the campsite right by the river and along the roads I took.

A Guinness and a recliner – who needs TV?

Stopping here saved me some time, too, so I was able to get in the woods a little faster to find a good spot. I know that weekends are the busiest time and kids are also back in school in some fashion. I have flexibility with when I can go so it’s during the week when I go out to find a spot, and I scored pretty good with this one!

It was pretty cold the first night and when I got up the next morning there was a pretty hard frost on the truck and grass. I adjusted the thermostat a little warmer after that night though since it was a little too cold inside. My trailer is not made for cold weather so I have to be careful. If I want to camp in winter it’s dry-camping only – no water onboard. That also means no showers so that changes my traveling options. But with the weather just getting cold at night and warming up during the day it will be fine. The furnace helps keep the plumbing inside warm, but the valves and graywater tank are outside and that’s where the problems can happen. I will still need to figure out something for winter.

The second and third nights were not as cold outside and the second day was nice, but the third day was pretty warm but a breeze helped. They were all nice days for a short walk to check out other spots along the river.

I did put a few grill marks on those burgers and enjoyed every last bite of one piece of that carrot cake. The Guinness went down smooth like it always does. SPAM (no…don’t you EVEN give me any grief about SPAM; it’s tasty, easy to store, there are many varieties and you can do so much with it), scrambled eggs (with gouda aged 1000 days) and southwestern-style hashbrowns for breakfast was delicious. I thought about cooking my burgers over a campfire but I honestly don’t build many fires anymore since it is just me (not counting the dog).

The main point, however, was to get away & decompress and I was able to do that pretty well. Since the dog is not with me this trip I am able to sleep in and even lie around after I woke up. Sitting out in my lounge chair recliner drinking a few beers by the river and not thinking about anything for a few days was just what I needed to do for me.

I opened up my road atlas for ideas for future trips. I was looking at the Colorado pages since it’s close and I have not been road-tripping there in quite a while. One thing stuck out as I looked at the map: I have been on every major highway in the state between all my trips around Colorado. I was quite shocked to discover that. The last trip through northern CO a few months ago filled in the last blanks on places I have been in CO and those highways at the same time. Of course, along with that, are the countless miles of four-wheeling in the back country and smaller roads I have been on. Pretty surprising. Looking at Washington’s map afterwards it is the same – I have been on most major highways, only lacking a couple.

Before I took this trip I was looking at places to go to get some ideas, but the pandemic has shut many things down. In Theodore Roosevelt NP, which I was hoping to drive over to and stay in for a few days, the campgrounds are shut down for building construction on new toilets. That is actually great planning since the visitation is down all over and it inconveniences fewer people to do it now before visitations ramp back up next year (maybe). Construction projects have to be done in summer in many places due to weather and seasonal staffing available, especially in the northern half of the country.

So be aware that some (but not all) state parks, federal lands, and even city parks are closed down for now or have limited resources and hours so you will have to check where you want to go for restrictions before you go anywhere. Even roads and highways going into some tribal lands are closed for outsiders. This is complicating travel for RV people and car campers, but many private campgrounds are open. There is still the option of boondocking on federal lands (pay attention to the regulations for stay limits, fire regulations, etc.). One city park I checked into was closed for the pandemic.

Road warriors talk about staying in Walmart parking lots and it is popular. Some allow that for one night only, and some don’t allow it at all so you have to ask as you make a purchase (don’t be a cheapskate – they are helping YOU out). There have been a lot of issues with some people “camping” in the parking lots (violence, noise, theft, vandalism, police, etc.) so many Walmarts have put a stop to it. I did it once; I didn’t have any problems, but after reading about it and seeing videos posted I won’t stay in them anymore. I am seeing more and more people living in Walmart lots and my understanding is they get territorial. I don’t need that in my life so I avoid it.

Ironic that I should mention those issues before I wrap this post up. Things were pretty good the first few days of my exile, but that all went straight to hell on Wednesday afternoon. I was getting ready to cook a burger and had an issue with one of the entitled local assholes. Without going into the long story about it the sheriff is now involved and charges will be filed against him. I am okay – no physical violence but it was close.

After this I have decided that I won’t be going into the forest in Montana anymore. With everyone here having a gun and an attitude, the hell with it. I don’t need this BS and will spend my time and money elsewhere where people are treated with respect. I have spent countless days and nights in the National Forests in various places across the country over the decades and never ever had any problems in the forest until now. I honestly felt safer stumbling around the streets of Seattle at night than I now do in the forests in Montana.

I went back to Ennis and stayed at the Ennis RV Village to drink a few beers and calm down. I must say that this was a really nice RV campground – probably the nicest one I have ever stayed in. Even though they had “residents”, there were not dog pens or storage bins everywhere and the place was very clean. The staff was very friendly, welcoming, and helpful. It is in town so it is close in case you need supplies. I am very picky about these places with the experiences I had a few months ago, but after staying the night in this park I would definitely recommend this park.

The view from Ennis RV Park

That’s it for now. Still trying to get over what happened so it’s time for a cocktail.