December 30th, 2020

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

I had to go do a curbside pickup for a few things this morning and while in town I decided to go ahead and get my bike helmet purchased. The supply and color selection was limited but I was not waiting another day and I am glad to have that taken care of so I can ride. Even though it is supposed to rain, it was sunny for a time this morning after I got back but then the clouds blew in and it looked like rain so I could not get out today. I got the dog out for a quick hike of the leg (his) and there was some light precipitation falling. I woulda gotten wet, and that’s no big deal, but it isn’t really good for an e-bike to get wet. Perhaps the weather will have a break over the next few days (despite the forecast) and I can go for a spin on it.

I was looking at some maps to look at how far it is to some places I want to go on the bike and how to get there. Most of those places are within 11-12 miles of where I am living. That is well-within the range on my e-bike even if I would be using only the electric motor and not pedaling (which I am gonna pedal). Almost all of that is on trails and backroads so no major traffic to deal with. For now it is only a Class II bike (top speed 18 mph) so I can ride it on sidewalks (if I wanted to), but when I get to the point I want to go faster and use it as a Class III (top seed 28 mph) it will be only to ride on the street (and anything above that is considered a motor vehicle and treated as such). I suggest if you get an e-bike check local and state laws before you get one and see what the laws are where you live or want to ride. I have learned a lot about the laws and you can get into trouble and be fined/ticketed for being in the wrong place. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to know the laws. Don’t whine if you get busted.

I need to figure out something with the dog on biking adventures, but I think the first couple trips will be just me so I can get used to the bike; I don’t really want to mess with holding a leash while figuring it out. I gotta get him a dog pack and water bottle for adventures. I can run him up and down the driveway with ]out a leash to see how he will respond but I just don’t think he is ready for that yet.

I got a special new-customer promotion on another meal plan called EveryPlate so I signed up for the discounts then I will pause it as needed. They also have a link to give to people so (DISCLAIMER) if you click on this you get a $20 credit and so do I. It looks to be just like all of the other meal plans you see advertised and there are some very interesting recipes, especially in the pasta section (which I am trying to cut back on). I have a few days until the meals get here from the two different meal kit places so I have some time to eat more food out of the freezer and free up some containers.

I know for New Year’s I will be staying home like all my friends are doing, avoiding gatherings and staying well. I might grab a carton of Guinness to bring home to toast but not much else. I am still not drinking much Tito’s or Grey Goose these days, but I don’t really think much about it. There will be no driving anywhere after dark (if even at all) with the annual New Year’s Eve Amateur Night taking place on the roadways. We’ll see if I even stay awake until midnight!

Speaking of adult beverages, I was thinking a while back that I really have not had much wine the last several months. I like a nice wine and craft beers due to the talent it takes to make some really good ones of both. I did get to the point where it was nice to have a glass or two with a good meal, but since it is just me I have to drink it all myself in two or three nights (at most) so it doesn’t go bad. I will have to grab a bottle or two to go with my meal kit meals.

That is about all for now.

✌🏼

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.

September 13th, 2020

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

It has been really nice lately to be able to get away more often. So nice, in fact, I am out right now to get away for a few days. I had thought about going someplace a little farther than where I stopped, but as usual there’s a story behind that.

I was debating for several days about a hotel or taking the trailer. I had to replace a part on the truck and it is running much better now so I felt better about taking the trailer. The part I replaced is called a Mass Airflow Sensor (No, it’s nothing to do with the Catholic converter…😂 ) and feeds the computer info on incoming airflow to the engine. The things I had read about symptoms summed up what was going on with the truck so I took a chance and replaced it. Taking it out for a test drive it felt like it was running better. The only way to know was to hook up the trailer.

I went back and forth and finally I voted for the confines of my bubble also because I have the dog with me and it is better for him too. Plus it is cheaper since I can cook my own meals since I already have groceries.

The trip south out of Montana was, unsurprisingly, windy as heck and it seems it usually blows at you no matter if you are going north or south. I ended up getting 9.1 mpg on the way down on I-90/I-25 fighting the headwinds. I left around noon on Sunday and drove to the KOA in Douglas, WY for another night’s stay there. The hosts are very nice and helpful so I certainly do not mind giving them a shout-out. As I pulled in to find my spot, though, trouble was a-brewin’…

The truck brakes were grinding. REALLY grinding.

I took it to the car wash a few days prior to leaving and washed out the brakes really good. With all the gravel roads I have been on recently they were pretty dirty and powering them clean seemed to really help. Sometimes you can get a rock stuck in the brakes so I was thinking it may be that. But, driving down on the highway wore them down even more.

Since they were grinding that bad when I arrived I knew the priority was to get them fixed immediately (before even thinking of leaving), so I made a plan to be up early Monday morning and go to a 5-star shop that I found on Yelp (my usual business review guide).

Since I arrived late (8:30 p.m. or so) and it’s an early up tomorrow I am headed to bed.

August 25th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

This post is about doing some good things in the world along with an update. It’s not going to be preachy -0 just some interesting things I have come across.

Today I came across a short interview with Chef José Andrés that I found very interesting. He is doing some great work to help feed people and keep restaurants in business in disaster areas all over the world with his incredible organization World Central Kitchen.

I first saw him on the travel shows hosted by my favorite travel host Anthony Bourdain. Chef Andrés is so passionate about food – good, simple food – that he makes you want to try it all. WCK helps out so not just people in disaster areas can eat, but he outsources much of the cooking to local restaurants to help keep their doors open and keep their staff employed. It is a pretty impressive organization.

In the last paragraph of the article the interviewer asks “Talk to me about the power of travel to open hearts and minds.

Chef Andrés: “It is important for us to travel, to meet people who seem different from us. You realize that they aren’t that different. We are all together on this planet, and we need to be working together more. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we have an amazing opportunity to get to know who we are and where we live. To look at things through another lens and appreciate the beauty of the planet we have.”

This takes what I have previously said about travel and elevates it to a whole other level…an important level. A level we need to think about more.

Be sure to read the whole article I linked to and check out the link to WCK as well; it is a short article and will only take a few minutes. There are opportunities all over; one opportunity is they are looking for volunteers to help feed firefighters battling the wildfires in California. Of course you can donate money as well as time.

I really didn’t go to a lot of concerts in the days before the T-virus (last one was Riverside in Seattle in June 2019) but I know how important it is for bands to tour to make money and that is not happening right now. The music I listen to is not very commercially popular as opposed to mainstream radio-play music so these bands live hand-to-mouth constantly, and some even have regular jobs to supplement their incomes to just be able to play and create their music. This means that all but the biggest acts are struggling along with the venues they play in – from Irish pubs to your local bar and theater.

I have been trying to support some of my favorite bands by buying CDs and DVDs directly from them (and not through Apple Music, Amazon, etc.). I want the bands I enjoy listening to to get as much of the money as possible from my purchases. I have received CDs and DVDs from bands in England (IQ, Marillion) and Norway (Green Carnation) so far and plan to do more to support them and other acts I enjoy listening to. And, since I cannot see them live (which I do buy tickets to these tours when possible) having a concert DVD gives me a chance to see them “live”. Many of the bands I listen to never even make it here to the US so it’s either a DVD or I schedule my next Europe trip to see them…we almost did on our first trip over!

Another way to support your favorite acts is on the Bandcamp website. The website was giving up their revenue share portion on Fridays so it would go straight to the artists (not sure if they are still doing that or not). That’s a fantastic gesture to help support indie artists and I have taken advantage of that to help even more. Stop by and check it out and you might discover some new music by some new artists. I have seen free music, music for set prices, and even name your own price on some artist pages as well as some great deals buying collections (Porcupine Tree, Silent Island, Black Hill, Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster). Just support them directly however you can! And yes…I know you may not have heard of any of these bands or probably think they have weird names.

I have seen articles where many of the museums around the world are in trouble and many may close or never reopen. That is so sad to hear as our history is so important for future generations to see where we have been. I purchased an annual museum pass to help out museums in Ireland. I will be going back soon (hopefully) so I can use it to get in to places, plus it supports my ancestral castle as well.

My Interagency Pass – some mistakenly call it the National Parks Pass – is a great deal and it supports all Federal Lands. If you want to support a particular National Wildlife Refuge, National Park or National Forest then purchase one at that particular place they get to keep 80% of the money on that Refuge, Park or Forest! Pick your favorite place and buy it there and not at an outdoor retailer (not to mention any names); that money all goes into a general fund.

Free admission to all Federal lands for a year…not a bad deal at all. And a Senior Pass is $80 for a lifetime card with 50% discounts for campgrounds on top of free entry with the card if you are over 62. A little hint – buy it early in the month and it expires at the end of the same month the following year; it’s basically a free month! Just remember the pass has to stay with the owner – you loan it you can lose it.

There are so many small things we can do that help. You don’t have to be a philanthropist to donate (I’m certainly not wealthy) but even just a few dollars here and there to support something near and dear to you makes a difference!

I get bronchitis just looking at this sunrise…

Earlier I mentioned wildfires but some relief is here!

Rain!!! We are finally getting some rain as I type this post. It has been months since we had any real rain here and this will do wonders to clear the air up some and help put out some of the fires in the area. Before the rains we had some hellacious winds – probably 50+ mph – and I am sure those did not help firefighter efforts, but there is rain falling and that will. I had to park my truck next to my trailer to keep the trailer from getting blown over and the wind ripped the top of the chicken coop off. Then Auntie Em flew by…

I’m thinking that, along with helping get some of the fires under control, this rain might help open up some other possibilities for my upcoming adventure. I guess I need to look at some fire info to see what is open and closed before I decide to go someplace and even see if I can get anywhere. I have been checking the pandemic outbreak maps and some places I wanted to go I will certainly be avoiding.

I started working on a new song for my ongoing opus called The Neverending Suite (which is currently just shy of 19 minutes long). I got the lyrics completed a few days ago (well, for now as far as I know). I have had a lot on my mind and it came flying out through my fingertips; most of it in about 30 minutes, and I decided to add another verse two days later when it wandered into my thoughts. Next step is to take a few music ideas I have and put the two together. It’s never an easy task as I tend to want to add a lot of layers for texturing, but I am getting a little more disciplined about doing that. It’s been a while since I have put a song together but when it’s time to write it just happens, not to mention there has been a lot of time to think about a lot of things.

Earlier this year I started reworking the last section I recorded last year but got sidetracked with life, Europe, a pandemic, and moving. It’s not like I have not had the time; I just have not been in the songwriting frame of mind lately. The reworking ended up being a bit more complicated than I thought it would be but I will probably be getting back on it soon so I can get this new part of the song to tie in after it. It’s good therapy too.

It’s been some time since I have heard the song so I think I will have a listen to it and close out this post.

August 23rd, 2020

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

First things first.

It was two years ago today I lost my Dad to bladder cancer. I miss both him and my mom quite a lot and I think about them every day. To those of you reading this blog – PLEASE get regular check-ups and see your doctors about ANYTHING going on with you that isn’t normal. I am vigilant about getting check-ups. I don’t want to get sick and I owe it to my friends and family…and you owe it to yours.

Okay, now on to better things.

I am getting ready for another road trip that I hope to make very soon – I just have to fit it in with other things going on but it is a priority. I really need to get away pretty badly and get some cooler weather with better air to breathe…and I also need a change of scenery for a little while to get my head in a better place. I do have some ideas for a few places but nothing certain yet (and I would not tell you anyhoo!). With much of the West on fire locating some clean air someplace close may be a bit of a challenge but I will find a spot.

Along these same lines it is looking like, unfortunately, my trip to upper New England and the Atlantic Provinces this Fall may have to be put on hold due to the T-virus. I wanted to go into eastern Canada when I got over there but the border is really looking like it will be staying closed for quite some time. Add to that the fact that the pandemic is nowhere near under control – and won’t be for the foreseeable future. Even though I stay in my trailer and avoid people I think it is best that my travel plans be more confined to a smaller footprint to minimize my exposure and stay closer to my own doctors just in case. I was really trying to be optimistic about it, and am not giving up completely on the idea, but there is also the reality of what is happening.

I got an e-mail a few days back telling me how many airline miles I have so just for grins I looked up where I could get to and the prices using miles. On one flight I can go to Dublin for free but it is on an airline I don’t care to fly on, plus it is a layover flight. If I buy a few miles (which is cheaper than a ticket) I can fly non-stop back to Dublin. I can also go through Iceland again and stay there a few days if I buy a few miles more on top of the non-stop. Hot damn! But, I am nowhere near ready to get back on a plane yet (at least not without a lot of sedation). The places to go are pretty limited since most countries are closed to U.S. tourists. In Ireland right now you have to quarantine for 14 days after arrival or the penalties are pretty stiff. Hell, I have been quarantined so many times and for so many weeks that is not a problem. I will keep an eye on the pandemic and flights and see how things progress. If a great deal comes up and there are no cancellation or change fees I might book one foir the future. I said “might”.

I finally got myself a wok last week. It’s an old-school carbon steel one that had to be seasoned so I did that yesterday. It took a little time as you have to boil water in it, scrub the hell out of it to get the protective coating off, rinse and dry. Then, to season it you have to rub oil in it and heat it up on the bottom and all the sides. It is tough to do that part on a regular stove so it looks like I will need to get me a wok burner. I have not tried to cook in it yet but I am going to try it on my stove first. If that works then I may not worry about it, but I don’t know if it will work though. You have to get a wok really hot to cook in it correctly so the wok burner may be the best option. I have used a non-stick one a few times but I am really anxious to try mine out! It is pretty bulky to keep in the trailer but I will find room. It is an easy way to eat healthier and you can cook so much faster.

Speaking of space, A few weeks ago I got a new 3-way coffee maker to save a little space in the trailer. It takes the K-cups, but also makes tea in a basket (loose leaf) and has another basket for ground coffee as well. Seemed like a good idea, but only on paper (or the phony reviews on Amazon). It is definitely not the quality of a Keurig and I am going to send it back. It has had some issues working correctly and I am not gonna fight with it anymore. I will go back to my French press and kettle. It works and it’s much more gratifying to make it that way anyway. Plus they are not as polluting as the K-cups and I do like shopping for fresh beans of different new coffees to try.

Not much else exciting happening at the moment. I have been holed up in the trailer due to the air quality warnings the past several days and I am pretty much over this nonsense.

Soon. I will be going someplace soon…