February 8th/9th, 2020 – Day 1: Flights Over and Arrival!

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

IMG_0042

Yeah there is!!!

After a very sleepless night (go figure!) we left KC early this morning and flew to Atlanta. Atlanta is a five hour layover so we will need to find something to occupy that time. First Class, a couple of cocktails, and we are on our way in grand fashion!

I finally decided to just stay up all night. I am trying to adjust my schedule to get in sync with where we will end up. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and figured it was breakfast again when I woke up.

The guy sitting next to me showed up fairly late and we chatted a few minutes about destinations. He was a really nice guy and asked where we’re headed so I told him our plans. He said it sounded like a great trip. We then put on our headphones and watched some TV. It was a fairly short flight so I got about a 20-minute nap.

I got coherent again after my nap and ordered another drink. I looked over and noticed a big ring on the finger of my seatmate. It sure looked like a Super Bowl ring but my eyes were so tired I couldn’t focus on it completely.

We were preparing to land and he asked me “You watch much football?”. I said “a little” and he then proceeded to introduce himself as we shook hands. “My name is Willie Lanier and I was on the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Team.”. My jaw hit the floor and I looked at Chelsea and Angie and mouthed the words “Holy shit!”. It really WAS a Super Bowl ring! He had been in KC for the parade. We talked until we deplaned. He was an incredibly nice man. He told us to enjoy and have fun on our trip. We shook hands again as we got up to leave.

647E9226-D96B-4060-950E-0AB708C394E7

That’s Willie Lanier by the window!

I seem to have this uncanny knack of running into people I may know personally or a few celebrities in the most unusual places. For instance, I once ran into long-time family friends from Kansas at Little Big Horn of all places.

We got on the train in ATL to go find food. We found a place that had delicious wraps and sat and watched planes while eating. We got back on the train to get to our gate. Lo and behold…ANOTHER celebrity looked to be standing right behind Angie. I believe it was Oliver North.

IMG_0012

Oliver North on the airport train in Atlanta airport; he’s in the blue suit partially covered and not the one in red pants

The next leg of our journey takes us from Atlanta to NYC and from First Class back to Coach. This is a shorter layover (thankfully).

Then there was a problem. The last of the flights over had a few issues. I had received an email from Delta just as we got on the plane out of ATL saying our last flight over was delayed three hours. This means getting to our first destination close to noon. It also meant having to change plans and miss out on seeing stuff the first half of our first day. And the other flights they offered were ON SUNDAY!

Well that was absolutely unacceptable. We have used a day for all of the travel and an overnight flight across (hence the dates in the title of this post). We are NOT going to lose an other day or even a few hours.

To make a long story short, I raised absolute hell with Delta and got us on another flight with Aer Lingus. Our original flight had issues due to the weather and it caused many people to reroute. This meant we each had a row to ourselves on the flight over! We actually got in over an hour before our original flight so we hit the ground running…in Dublin, Ireland!

The first order of business after landing and going through Customs is finding our rental car place. Yes, we are renting a car and none of us have driven in Europe. That means that none of us have driven on the opposite side of the road intentionally.

From the pictures of our car it looked to be about the size of a shoe. Turns out it was a little bigger – more like a boot. Good thing we are traveling light!

At the car rental booth we were told the weather was really bad and to be careful. Major storms were going through and it was not looking good. So much for an escape to better weather. We arrived in Dublin and the weather was horrendous so we figured we knew what to expect. The winds were ferocious when landing and it was raining torrentially hard.

BF7A3286-2BE2-45CF-B86F-F1B636808A01

Our transportation – the Clio

We got in the car, a Peugeot Clio with a manual transmission, and took off into Dublin airport traffic. I was chosen to drive first by a majority vote. It’s really not difficult driving a right-hand drive car. The difficulty comes in driving on the other side of the road and your reflexes in an emergency.

IMG_0019

It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

IMG_0031

It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

We drove southwest toward Limerick then northwest through Shannon. Along the way we saw a castle on the side of the road so we stopped for a look.

It was the Bunratty Castle. We did not go in since were were trying to get to our destination, but we stopped for a look.

IMG_0035

Thatched roof cottages on the grounds of the Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

IMG_0036

Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

IMG_0038

Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

We then took off to Galway where we stayed at The Western. We got cleaned up and relaxed a few then went to find good. Just down the street was a pub we went to called McGettigan’s and had dinner, where we tried fries that had been cooked in duck fat. Oh man. It went great with the obligatory pint. Then we went for a short walk. We were not only beyond exhausted but the weather was, as they say in Ireland, shite.

IMG_0040

The Western Hotel in Galway, Ireland

Yeah, I was wanting better weather but it is far from that. We are well-prepared for the conditions and are staying warm and dry. Then again, we are on vacation…IN IRELAND! Small price to pay!

We were jet-lagged badly and fell asleep about 8:30. Sleep was going to be good.

Until tomorrow…

February 7th, 2020

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

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page – St. Augustine (maybe…it’s controversial)

Today I am in KC, but tomorrow I am off for another adventure – heading back to Europe again! This time two of my daughters, Chelsea and Angie, are along for the adventure! Unfortunately Meghan has too much going on to be able to get away this time but we’ll get to do a trip somewhere at some point.

I got the tickets back in October for this trip and it has been more than just a little challenging for the three of us to keep our excitement under any type of control. The last two weeks have gone by quick and the last few days it has really gone by even quicker!

There will be a lot of cool things we are planning to see and do, and a little time to freestyle it and just go where we end up. Be sure to check back here every day to see where our adventure takes us.

We have had to plan most of our trip since it will be nine days or so. We’ve been looking at not just the ol’ interwebs, but poring over guidebooks and maps as well in order to maximize our time. I do have to admit it is nice to have many things already figured out even though it is not how I usually travel on road trips. I have posted my thoughts on planning for trips before but I must say that it actually has been fun and enjoyable researching things and places to see and experience. So much so that I just may have to rethink my anti-planning methodology somewhat, especially for trips like this. It is going to be a fairly quick and busy trip so it had to be planned to make the most of our time but we will still have a lot of fun. A big thanks go out to their families for helping to work this trip into their busy lives.

One of the biggest things to figure out was where to fly out of. With all of us scattered about the western half of the country it was tricky trying to figure out where to leave from. After all the dust settled I decided it was easier and cheaper if I just went to KC and the three of us flew over together. A few hundred more airline miles earned and I will have enough for another (my third!) free ticket so it serves another purpose too. I was really hoping for a non-stop flight but Kansas City only has international flights to Canada and Mexico; there are no intercontinental flights that are non-stop.

That means I fly to KC, we leave KC, have two stops with layovers, then we are on a plane across the Atlantic to our first destination (which you will find out about tomorrow – pretty exciting!). Coming back our flights will be different and I’ll be posting about that when the time comes. Having a shorter flight across will be a good thing to start the adventure!

Traveling light and compact can be challenging, but it is easily done. I won’t go into details since there are plenty of “experts” on the internet about the subject. I started out with a good guidebook on my first trip over and learned quite a lot about what I needed to learn about packing for a trip like this. Having done a little backpacking in the mountains I know to travel light, and my previous trip was a good primer.

With the coronavirus outbreak we are definitely well aware of how it can impact our plans so we are keeping one eye on the news. We will be sanitizing everything we can where we are and not touch anything more than absolutely necessary.

Last minute checks are always nerve-wracking for trips like this, trying to make sure you have all the things you need that you cannot get elsewhere like your prescriptions, glasses and such. Yes, it’s true the rest of the world is civilized like we are so you can always find most everything you need.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Day 1!

(As usual, I am posting these entries on a delay for personal safety)

 

 

February 6th, 2020

Adventure

Man the weather around here has really sucked the last few months. I mean it’s probably just how most people imagine the PNW; it really isn’t usually like this normally. Fifty shades of gray beats you down after a while; add to that the rain, and now some cold weather with snow and rain and your last nerve is done. I think they said on the local news that since January 1st it has rained in Seattle every day but one.

I, like others I know, am over this shit. My granddaughter Alexis came over a few days ago and we were talking about it. She is fed up with it too.

I am ready to go someplace and see some damn sun.

January 30th, 2020

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

It’s been a somewhat quiet life lately. The dog is doing good. The weather has started getting a little better, and we are getting more daylight finally (about 15 minutes a week!). The Scotty is ready for a trip. I, too, am ready to go somewhere.

So thats what I did.

I went to Montana a few weeks ago. It was good to get out of the house. It’s good to see family and we had a good visit. It is always risky driving that way this time of year but I made it without incident despite the best intentions of some of the careless drivers I encountered. Good thing I have the flexibility of nowhere to be and all day to get there…but I didn’t really need it since I left early to get back home between storms. I always keep an eye on the weather when I travel and build in a day or two of padding.

Snoqualmie Pass – Washington

Snoqualmie Pass – Washington

Of course Rider turned into a hellion while there and ended up getting grounded a few times. He did good on the way and loves the road! We got him registered while there and his papers came in the mail last week so now he is somebody..

Speaking of that flexibility, as I write this post I am actually on another adventure. I am taking an Amtrak train trip to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Pacific Central Station – Vancouver, BC

I have wanted to go to Vancouver for a while and have wanted to do it by train. The clincher for me was I had a voucher for a free hotel room that I needed to use this week so I took great advantage of that and found an expensive hotel in downtown Vancouver to spend it on. It worked out to be a great opportunity for a train trip, albeit a fast one, to someplace new I wanted to see and experience and it will not cost me AS much.

Just prior to the last trip I took to Seattle I bought a new travel backpack. I got to try it out a little on that trip. It was definitely comfortable but I was still figuring out the packing. I am treating this like a trip to Europe (and it’s why I bought the backpack) so I packed it exactly how I would if I were going there. I think I have the packing dialed in pretty good so far but I am finding a few small packlng tweaks I will need to make before I go anywhere else. I’ll be walking around to get on transit and getting to and from the hotels so this is a great test run. It’s also not as silly-looking as walking around the neighborhood wearing a suitcase. Upon reflection, however, I have seen worse stumbling around the streets in my ‘hood.

Tuesday night I stayed at a hotel in Edmonds to make it easier to catch an earlier train the next morning so I can get to Vancouver sooner. I ended up walking 8.2 miles to shop and check things out in the area, and that’s on top of the bus rides I took.

Whenever I fly somewhere early out of Seattle I always stay in a hotel the night before so I am doing the same for this trip on the train. I always take full advantage of any shopping, dining or sightseeing that I can when I do an overnight. You have to maximize time when you travel so don’t just park your ass in the hotel…plan on finding some interesting things to do! I have some things I want to shop for so that will be something else to do on this trip.

My plan is (surprise) there is no plan since it is to be such a quick trip. I found several things I definitely want to see and do in my short visit but mostly it’s going to be spontaneous. I have a feeling I will be making another trip to Vancouver to see everything I want to see. Now that I am not working I can go when the weather is better without any time restrictions. I’m definitely excited about that!

Wednesday started out grey with a few sprinkles and there was more rain the farther north I went so the sightseeing along the coast wasn’t real good. I spent time in these waters running boats to various State Park islands so I have seen this area before and on some beautiful days. I’m just hoping that the weather is better in Vancouver.

Amtrak scenery on the Coast Starlight route

img_2803-1

Coming Into Vancouver, BC

The train is definitely comfy and a relaxing way to travel. We did a lot of train travel in Europe two years ago and this trip brings back some good memories of that experience. I wish we had more passenger rail service in the US and if the rail companies would even add just a single passenger car on a train I bet they could get people on board.

I walked about 20 minutes over to the hotel through some seediness but I felt fairly safe or I would have just called a ride or taxi. Usually I won’t walk areas like that alone but it was just another adventure! Even with the train delayed about an hour and a half I arrive in Vancouver well before my hotel check-in time.

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, BC

I got to my hotel and was able to check in early, drop my bags, and hit the town to find some sights and food. Pretty nice hotel for free (usually around $220/night!) and in a great location – right in downtown close to the arenas. I got on the elevator with a couple to go to our rooms. When we were getting off the elevator on the 10th floor I happened to notice that their baggage had tags from Air China. Damn. Hate to see that.

It turned out to be a nice day to be out and about – clear and a bit cool but very pleasant with a long sleeve shirt and rain shell. I walked around the area by the hotel to see what was going on and get my bearings. There was a lot happening and the usual interesting and exciting things: the noise and hustle and bustle of the city, people, restaurants, tourist shops, and cannabis stores.

View from my hotel – Vancouver, BC

Responsibly different than other countries, Canada has decided to be intelligent and realistic about cannabis (I prefer to say “cannabis” since I refuse to use the racist term “marijuana” that was coined by the government to scare people in the 1930s) and has legalized it nationwide (there are many reasons, most ignorant of facts and full of hypocrisy, why it’s illegal in the US; one news story even speaks (not surprisingly) of Cabinet-level government corruption in the 1930s involving Dow Chemical. Shocking, I know.).

Unlike Washington state, where you are supposed to smoke out of public view, in Canada you can just walk around smoking in public just as you would a cigarette. The pre-rolled joint packages have a Canadian tax stamp and you can even have the government send it to you through the mail! It’s not as cheap here as Washington though and purchasing bulk flower looks to be different than Washington.

It’s different than Amsterdam, too, in that cannabis is technically not legal there but is tolerated. From what I was told in Amsterdam you won’t get bothered by anyone for smoking in public as long as you are not blatant about it and the King and Queen are not in town. The Netherlands even says psilocybin truffles are legal BBC and they can be bought in what they call “smart shops”. These shops even sell cannabis seeds.

There were many restaurants, mostly Asian-style foods like noodles and most were my kind of place – small mom-and-pop joints – and there were a few chains like the local Japadog, Five Guys, The Clown, and The King.

I was still looking for something to eat but not sure what I wanted so I headed to Granville Island and the Granville Market hoping to find some cheap unique eats.

On the Waterfront – Granville Island, Vancouver, BC

On the Waterfront – Granville Island, Vancouver, BC

On the Waterfront – Granville Island, Vancouver, BC

It is similar to Pike Place in Seattle – mostly a place to get fresh produce and meats – but more outdoors like the old River Quay area in Kansas City, MO. It had only a few stalls to get cooked food but nothing really looked interesting at the time. I’ll visit again and have time to look around more. I caught a water taxi back across and went back into downtown.

View from the water taxi – Vancouver, BC

View from the water taxi – Vancouver, BC

View from the water taxi – Vancouver, BC

View from the water taxi – Vancouver, BC

View from the water taxi – Vancouver, BC

View from the water taxi – Vancouver, BC

I walked around more and was not sure what I wanted. A shawarma place looked good until I saw a guy that looked like the cook picking his nose so I decided to pick something too…another restaurant.

I decided on a Canadian chain. Tim Horton’s has really delicious coffee and a selection of food that is different than most fast food chains. I will eat at a local chain in other countries but usually not when I travel on vacation in tbe US. As a rule I don’t eat at American chains in other countries unless I find something unique at them. The “food” is usually garbage and I don’t like to eat like that stuff much these days. After Tim Horton’s I walked around for several hours more just taking it all in.

Inside the Vancouver Public Library – Vancouver, BC

I felt much less threatened walking around Vancouver than I do in Seattle, especially at night. Vancouver has, from what I have seen, fewer people just hanging out on the streets begging, pissing on the sidewalks, trashing everything and committing crimes which they never get prosecuted for – all the things that happen in Seattle. Granted, I don’t know as much about Vancouver that I know about the problems and crime that Seattle refuses to do anything to fix. Vancouver does have automated public toilets on the sidewalks and many other things to help keep the city clean.

I did get a taxi to the train this morning as I was told by hotel staff that walking back to the train would be a bad idea (and I thought it was a bad idea too given the areas I walked through near the station to get to my hotel). However, I mainly thought that it was a bad idea because it was not only five in the morning but also because I walked 10.2 miles yesterday. My legs are tired!

Amtrak King Street Station – Seattle, WA

All told, the trip definitely went by too fast but it was a great adventure and I finally got to do this trip. With the train getting delayed it threw my day off so I did not get to see and do as much as I wanted to. I’ll do it again and stay a few days next time. Vancouver is a really fun and interesting city to hang out in and I want to do another trip there but maybe have someone to go with. Lots of great people watching, a vast selection of great foods, many exciting things to see and do and a great transit system that makes it cheap and easy to get around. However, like cities in Europe, I have other places I want to visit and usually do not spend my travel time repeatedly going to the same places; a trip of 1-3 days a time or two is plenty. It’s too big of a world to spend it all in one place!

That’s all for now. Check back soon for more fun and exciting adventures!

February 24th, 2019

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

Last year I went through and deleted a few posts to clean up the blog a bit. It needed to be done and definitely feels better to me.

I write this because I passed a milestone for the second time. Once again I reached 500 blog posts. I had been over 500 before my deletion of those aforementioned posts, but I guess they count only the active posts. I am still happy with that accomplishment.

One of the adventures I was wanting to do that I posted a few days ago is a little costly for what is basically a long weekend. The biggest problem is transit availability to the airport where I wanted to go and I don’t really want to rent a car. I was wanting to go see a concert in another city and just cannot make it work. The money I have already saved up, but the transit was the real dealbreaker. I really worked to try and make it happen but couldn’t make it doable. I’ll keep thinking of alternatives (I pretty much already did that) but really don’t see it happening. Oh well, I can catch them in Europe at some point since they are, well, European.

I went to a restaurant yesterday that I had not been to yet. I was told it was very good. I had seen an ad for it and asked a friend about it. After her recommendation I decided to give it a try. I had a lamb köfte. It was served in a pita as two ground lamb patties that were spiced and herbed to perfection. It was served similar to a gyro or döner kebab – taziki, cucumber, red onion, tomato, greens and a side of home-made hummus. It was quite delicious.

The good weather keeps on keepin’ on and I think that a trip to someplace is on the agenda very soon if the weather cooperates. Not sure if it will be in the trailer or not until I see what the weather holds and what is open for places to park it. I could just do the hotel thing too. It could end up just being a trip to Seattle but I’d like to go someplace else.

That’s it for now.