March 10th, 2018

Adventure, Just things, Uncategorized

Didn’t sleep very well last night. You know that trouble you have getting a good night’s sleep when you are in a hotel or a new place. On top of that I heard a damn dog barking – even without my hearing aids in. One of the joys of being in a populated area. I did hear frogs croaking while I was driving here last night though. That was a trip in the Wayback Machine. I have not heard that noise much the last several years.

I got up early and had a package of mini-donuts and coffee for breakfast. I am really trying hard to avoid sweets and it’s going good so far. I have to say that those donuts I used to be able to eat but they are just too damn sweet now. I guess laying off is cutting into that sugar addiction that is so prevalent in this country. I am trying to get my sweets from fruits and I can tell a difference. It just doesn’t appeal to me like it used to. Many of the sweets I used to gorge on suddenly are not as good as I remember.

I did give in today to temptation, but not for the cookies. I came out of the store this afternoon and there was this cute little girl standing there all alone with her Girl Scout Cookies. She looked so sad so I went to the truck and put my groceries away. I went back in to her little table and asked her “how much?”. She looked up at me with these sad little doe-eyes and said “Five” rather quietly. I asked her how her day was and all she said was “slow”. I was only going to get one box since I am cutting that kind of stuff out of my diet. I decided to get two and I wish I would have bought what she had on the table. She cheered up a little and counted out my change after I got two boxes.

I got some groceries to make a few things to eat here at my new home and save some money while I am here this weekend. I got a Boboli-style flatbread crust. It cooked a little faster than I thought it would so it was a little bit over cooked. But for lunch I tried a package of a Kroger chicken verde on some white corn tortillas and it was actually very good. I usually don’t buy much, if any, of the convenience foods but I don’t have all my kitchen stuff here yet. I gotta have a recipe for that chicken verde. Luckily I have leftovers.

I finally got the truck unloaded this afternoon. I had issues getting into the storage unit. Actually it was getting into the gate to get into the storage unit that was the issue. I finally got it done and I think it will actually hold everything I have that needs to go in there. I got one storage bin emptied and another has motorcycle clothes I need to get rid of since I am no longer able to ride. This one is a third of the size of the one I have by the apartment. I had to have a large storage unit for the canoe to fit so this will save me serious money.

Tomorrow it’s off to Costco to order some new glasses. They should be ready to wear right after I move completely over so the timing is good. Hopefully I can get them back before I go out of state. After Costco it’s back to the apartment for one last week at this position then two weeks off. I want to hurry and get the move over with so it is off the list and I have few days to get it all put away and relax.

This weekend has been kind of like a vacation of sorts. Got my work done fast that needed done and the rest of the day was for me. I moved the living room area around to fit the futon (a bit bigger than it needs to be). I got some blankets washed that had been stored. I wanted to get the “stored” smell and dust off of them after sneezing this morning. The futon is fairly comfy to sleep on, and I really enjoyed it as I celebrated the 20th Anniversary of “The Big Lebowski” by watching it from the comfort of a couch – something I haven’t had of my own in a while. It was so nice to lay out on a couch for a change and watch a movie (even though it was on the iPad).

It’s been a productive weekend and it was good to get it done fast.

March 9th, 2018

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

Change of plans.

I loaded up the truck right after work and made a run for it. The weekend is supposed to be nice all over and it will be busy on the roadways. It was actually pretty busy tonight on the way here to the cabin. I wanted to avoid it tomorrow morning and stay here the whole weekend anyhoo.

It will be my first night staying here. Futon is fully assembled now and it’s very comfortable. I added a down mattress topper on top of the futon mattress. It is quite squishy and wraps around you. I guess that would be kind of like a fat chick.

I decided to get as many storage bins as I could in my truck. I will go through them and put in the shelves what I want to keep here and consolidate the rest in fewer tubs. My new storage unit is not very far away; basically it’s right around the corner. It will be convenient to take stuff over and pick something up if I need to go get it. That’s where I will keep most of the trailer stuff and what won’t fit in here that I won’t part with quite yet. I’ll probably still bring the trailer over next weekend (to get it out of storage) and the canoe afterwards. Since I decided to leave so abruptly I wanted to just get as much stuff fast as I could and hit the road.

A few new noises to get used to here, but I like it so much more than the apartment. Tonight the local tweaked was walking around in the middle of the intersection. Won’t have to put up with that shit much longer either. It is much quieter without trains and highway and city noises. It is bright and cheery, and the apartment is a little dingy and old feeling. It has served its purpose just fine, though, and now I’m upgrading.

I have a tiny but nice private backyard so now I need to get a grill. Haven’t had one of those in a while and it will be nice to have one again. I really like the charcoal taste better, but the propane is so much easier and much less polluting. I think I’ll do some container gardening – some tomatoes for sure, some flowers, maybe some green beans and peas to snack on raw, and peppers and onions and cilantro to try making my own salsa. And…with a new grill I can roast those babies. Gotta find a good, simple recipe. Or just wing it. I actually like that idea better.

Oh, and I just discovered that not only do I have cable, it has a TiVo. Man, it just keeps getting better.

Europe – Day 11 – February 4th, 2018: Antwerp, Belgium to Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Adventure, food, Just things, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

The view from our room in Antwerp, Belgium

We got some pretty good rest last night and headed out around 9. When we got to the station it was right on time to catch our first train of the day to go to Amsterdam, and to finish the trip a train change in Rotterdam. We saw a couple of classic windmills yesterday as we went through the countryside.

We were told the Antwerp station is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but I haven’t verified that as of yet. It’s the same as the others we have been in – grand, beautiful and a reminder of the opulence of earlier times that continue today in Europe. The station here is the most incredible one that I’ve ever seen.

Interesting escalator with two pitches in Antwerpen Centraal – Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerpen Centraal – Antwerp, Belgium

There were not any pictures taken in the train. The windows were just too nasty to see anything very clearly. We got into a little weather but we have been prepared for it pretty well.

Once we got to Amsterdam our hotel was a five minute walk, and it turned out better than what we thought it would be. Lots and lots of foods and plenty of vice in the area – “coffeehouses”, sex shops, prostitutes in windows, “smart shops” and the like. Not an area for the weak or prude or kids. Our hotel was in the Redlight District (just for a change of neighborhoods and nothing else other than it was very affordable yet nice). It is a lively area with a lot to see and do.

We got settled in and went out for something to eat. We have eaten the frites min a few places around the city before and they are delicious. They deep-fry the fries until almost done, then take them out and set them aside. When you order them, they pop them back into the fryer to finish cooking and it also gives them that delectable crunch.

We opted instead for a waffle. I had a waffle with Nutella drizzled over it and I also got a strawberry crepe. We did some more strolling around after that to see more sights then went back to the hotel.

I went out for a walk alone when it got dark out. I wanted to get out into the night’s crowds and excitement and check out the area. It is a very exciting area with tons of food to try. I went back to the hotel and Jim was ready to go out again.

Church in Redlight District – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Street in front of our hotel – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Street in front of our hotel – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Nighttime in Amsterdam

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oh…damn…

We got out for a walk and a late-night snack. I got this tasty morsel – a chocolate-covered flaky croissant, split and filled with creme filling, strawberries, walnuts, and topped with Nutella.

This is a fun city, and nighttime is even more exciting. The first place we stayed in on the way over was in a different area than this last one in the Red Light District. Completely different feel but I did like them both.

It’s a great last evening for now!

Europe – Day 9 – February 2nd, 2018: Luxembourg to Köln, Germany

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

Last night we decided that our next destination would be Köln (Cologne), Germany after some recommendations from the girl who helped us yesterday and my friend Kevin, who had been there before. We got up this morning and decided to skip going into central Luxembourg so we could get an earlier train to Germany.

We went downstairs and had a delicious complimentary hotel breakfast consisting of meats and cheeses, bread, yogurt, coffee and fruit. We are really enjoying these continental breakfasts here in Europe.

We made our way to the train station about 9:30 and got on the train to head out. We are getting pretty good about finding our way around for two guys who never really dealt much with public transportation before the trip started. I must say that Google Maps has helped quite a bit and help from the numerous strangers who have shared their knowledge along the way has been even better.

The trains are very smooth and they go everywhere. It is really an incredible system capable of mobilizing masses of people. They are smooth, quiet and comfortable and can get you virtually anyplace you want to go. The scenery is beautiful and it is really neat to see the little towns and villages in isolated areas.

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Fort at Köln, Germany train station

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Train ride scenery between Luxembourg and Köln, Germany

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Köln Station – Köln, Germany

Along the way, just before Köln I saw something interesting that may be tied to family history. I saw a Winniger Winery along the tracks. Perhaps they are some distant relatives!

We stepped out of the train station to be overwhelmed by an incredible sight…the Köln Cathedral.

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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No way in hell I’d go up that ladder – Köln Cathedral in Köln, Germany

Words cannot describe the enormity and architecture of this building, and pictures cannot capture it – it must be seen to be believed and experienced. I could not stop looking at it the entire stay; the details of the details is just unbelievable. Gargoyles, statues, spires…it is really something to see. You cannot fathom what the inside of the place looks like. Think about this: this building started being built in the 1200s and wasn’t completed until the 1880s.

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

And the nighttime view from our hotel window inspired me to go for a walk…

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

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Köln Cathedral – Köln, Germany

While out walking around I stopped for some local food (no surprise there!). I went to a shop selling a sandwich called a döner. It is a type of shawarma, except the bread was more of a crusty/chewy pita that was split and filled with delicious goodness.

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A delicious late night snack called a döner – Köln, Germany

After, of course, I had to have dessert so I went by a bakery and grabbed this delicious item:

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Oh, the Pastries!

Earlier in the day Jim and I had some curry wurst mit pommes frites. It was a very filling snack and carried us through for hours. I just find something that looks interesting to eat or something I have heard of and want to try. One caveat – no mayo, which is globbed all over several foods in Europe (especially frites).

Tomorrow morning we are off to our next destination. As I write this I cannot help but look at that magnificent cathedral…what an experience.

Europe – Day 8 – February 1st, 2018: Brussels, Belgium to Luxembourg

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

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Statue near Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

Our hotel was in a central area near downtown so the train stops were not very far apart for where we wanted to go. The area we were in was very interesting to see in the daylight. Most of the buildings were not what I expected – modern and minimalist. Function over form.

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City Center Near Our Hotel – Brussels, Belgium

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City Center Near Our Hotel – Brussels, Belgium

We cut across a botanical park and it was a very mice park. Even those things it was quite cool and blustery there were roses in bloom and I saw something familiar in Washington…rhododendrons!

The Grand Place, however, was what I expected in Europe and much, much more. Grand centuries-old buildings, ornate beyond belief. It was breath-taking to walk into a square hundreds of years old surrounded by some incredible architecture.

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Side Street Near Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Side Street Near Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

Grand Place has been used as a gathering place for centuries. It is ringed with chocolatier shops and restaurants. It has been used as a public market and is a massive plaza.

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Waffle Stand in Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

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Waffle Stand in Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium

For breakfast we stopped by this waffle shop and grabbed something to eat. Jim got the white-and-milk chocolate churros (which were nothing like we are used to in the States). I got a waffle with cherries on top and a coffee. It was a great way to start the day in a gorgeous place.

We made our way to the train to head out to our next destination. We finally found the correct train platform but asked a local guy to make sure we were in the right place. He spoke very little English but a girl walked up to get on the train who spoke it and she helped us out.

We climbed aboard and settled in for a three hour train ride. We got to see some beautiful scenery on the journey – small villages, cities, rolling green hills, estates and vineyards.

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

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On The Train Between Brussels and Luxembourg

As we pulled into Luxembourg the girl that helped us out earlier came back and talked to us. We talked about our travels and she gave us some ideas. She even showed us to a hotel and helped us get checked in with Reception by speaking French. She also gave us some ideas for food and some things to see.

Unfortunately we did not get her name, but she really helped us out. In the odd chance she may see this at some point we would like to say “merci” from the two Americans you helped out. Best of luck with your law school!

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Luxembourg -Train Ststion in Center

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Train Station – Luxembourg

We went out for food and took a stroll around. Tomorrow we’ll set an alarm to get an early start with sightseeing downtown then it’s back to the station to catch another train!