February 17th, 2020 – Day 9: Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Kansas City, MO USA

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

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On the way to Schiphol Airport from Amsterdam Centraal Station

I woke up at 4:30, an hour before our alarm was supposed to go off. I laid there in the darkness, contemplating our trip during that time; all the things we saw and did and the fun we had. We have a 9-hour flight to ATL then a couple more hours to MCI.

It was such a great trip and after getting back home I am still thinking about it all. For me returning from this trip was much different than the first time over; having been there I already had that initial excitement of being in Europe. I also knew what to expect for not just going to Europe, but parts of the trip (Köln and Amsterdam, and a little bit in Dublin). I really had no idea what to expect about being all over Ireland and that’s the part I am still having trouble processing. The people were so wonderful and friendly. Everywhere we went in Europe everyone was friendly and helpful but Ireland has the overwhelming feeling of belonging. Galway (and the areas around it) was an even more comfortable place to be…not surprisingly, a feel of home given the centuries-long family history in the area.

The adventure of travel – domestic or international, be it by foot, transit, air, sea, or land –  is so fun and amazing. It is also what you make of it and to be self-reliant in a country where you are a visitor/outsider gives one pause to think about that a little deeper (at least it should) when they return home.

You must get out of your comfort zone to actually learn things and have great experiences when and where you travel; it’s not just about taking pictures of the same famous things like everyone else has posted online. Get in the alleys, go in a coffeeshop or a smart shop, do something you wouldn’t normally do, go someplace where your language is not spoken primarily, eat foods you cannot pronounce, try to have conversations with a local. I guarantee you will have some amazing life-changing experiences and countless stories and memories that last a lifetime.

This trip also included my first stay in an Airbnb property (Landsmeer) and I think that its a great way to travel now that I have done it. I will be looking into doing that more on my own – it’s a great way to get the local flavor of where you are and a great alternative to the same old boring chain hotels here in the States. Being retired, most of my travel will probably be with the trailer but there will one times I need to fly someplace and need a place to stay.

A few thoughts about Amsterdam – it’s a fun, easy city to be in but it is so overrun with cannabis tourists and all of the businesses play it up pretty well – to me it is really overblown and gaudy. I can stay home for that without the commerciality but Washington is overrun with people as well, especially the Seattle area.

I do feel really bad for the residents of Amsterdam; it is tough enough just living in a tourist area but what they deal with is pretty bad. Many tourists don’t care about or respect the locals and that is bad – trust me I know firsthand, having lived in touristy areas since 1996. We avoided being in the city on Friday and Saturday night and waited until Sunday to walk around at night.

I will probably be back, but will stay in the outskirts since I not only want to minimize my impact on the city but I also have other places I want to see in The Netherlands. I really do like Amsterdam’s progressiveness (which some call “freedom”…but only if it fits into their own morals). If you have a closed mind Amsterdam is just not for you.

…and some more thoughts about Ireland – I will definitely be going back to visit this beautiful place, full of some of the friendliest people I have ever met in my life. Dublin is fun and there’s a lot of history there that I still want to explore. There is so much more of the island I want to see. I had a lot of fun driving the car and really enjoyed the challenges and the differences (but not the Dublin traffic madness) and I will definitely get a car every time I go there. There is so much more to see and do in Ireland and I have to see and do it. For me, Galway has that indescribable special magic I feel when I am in the mountains.

In all we walked a total of about 58 miles in 8 days; not counting the day we left that’s an average of 7.25 miles a day. Some days were more – I know one or two were 10 miles a day! Pretty good amount of exercise! The girls did great figuring out the public transit and they fit right in. The only issues we had were the mapping apps not updating like they should (slow data speeds on our free international plans) and sending us in the wrong direction for a bit almost every time we wanted directions.

It was their first trip abroad and their first trip carrying everything around on their backs in a backpack and they did fantastic. They really adapted to this new style of travel really quick and they looked like experienced travel pros from the moment we left. To share travel with someone else makes it even better. When it is with someone you care about it is even better yet. I am so glad we got to go.

Thanks for a great trip, girls. I am looking forward to our next adventure!

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The End!!

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

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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.

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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.

December 4th, 2019

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

With year’s end drawing to a close it’s looking like I will finish the year with only three surgeries!

Recovery from my last surgery a few weeks ago is still in process but is going pretty good and that is such a relief in many ways; a relief in the form of the good news the doctor had and also the physical part of the recovery being fairly quick as well. I will still need checkups every three months or so for the time being but she was pretty confident with the outcome of the surgery. I am really hoping that tomorrow’s PT appointment is my last one; I am not back to full range of motion yet, and it probably will not come back 100%, but what the Physical Therapist said at my last visit made it sound like I will probably be done very soon. The cataract surgery was successful and was the least problematic of them all.

Getting these things finally behind me has been huge. It’s been a tough summer – hell, a tough year – and I am glad I am finally able to move forward with my life. I haven’t been able to go anywhere or do very much until very recently and that has been difficult for me.

That is all about to change.

Lately I have been feeling pretty damn good and it’s been a long time. It’s exciting easing into retirement-travel mode, thinking about the road trips I can now take to visit with family and see places I want to see – all without any real timelines. The jobs I have worked the last seven years have involved working in the summers and being off in the winter some of that time. Travel in the summer when places are open will be a huge change along with better weather, and opportunities to do things with family will be one of the biggest and bestest things of all.

Yes, he said “bestest”.

But it will also mean drawbacks – being on the road with more people, all clamoring to see some of the same things. I am not real big on crowds but sometimes you just gotta do what you want to do despite being surrounded by giant masses of people; you cannot let things like that stop you or you will never go anywhere or do anything. Luckily we traveled quite a bit as a family when I was a youngster so I have already seen many of the big touristy things and many of those places I don’t need (or want) to see or go to again.

Granted, there will always be favorites (pretty much anywhere in Colorado for example) that I will visit again and again regardless, but I still have many places I haven’t been to that I still want to see and things I want to do and experience. A coast-to-coast drive on US2, a longer drive down the Pacific Coast, Route 66, eastern Canada…it’s a big list. And this list doesn’t even include Europe or Asia!

Being in the PNW (at least for now) I can easily start visiting many parts of northern and western Canada weather permitting. There are actually quite a few places I want to visit in Canada. In several of my earlier blog pages I had posts and pictures from Banff/Alberta/B.C. and it is a huge, beautiful country with a lot more to see. It would be fun to drive to AK and it’s something I have always wanted to do, but my truck has 190,000 miles on it and I don’t know if that would be a good idea to do that without a newer vehicle.

Again, it’s all very exciting to think about (and it’s even better to do) but sometimes life gets in the way. I know I have talked about doing these things before but with the way life (and death, for that matter) has been the last 3½ years things have gotten sidetracked and delayed but that doesn’t mean I am not going to be doing any of the things I talk about. This year has not been an exemplary one either as far as my personal health but I am feeling and doing pretty good now so it’s now time to do these things. Spending more time and having the ability to do things with family at any time will the the best part of all and what I am looking forward to the most. I already have one huge trip booked (so be sure to keep checking back for that) and with the other things I mentioned I think I can be busy traveling and relaxing (and blowing!) for quite a while.

Speaking of travel, I was supposed to go to CO for a wedding last week. Unfortunately the weather sucked and didn’t cooperate. I was on the fence about it anyway with my recovery but thought I could manage to get there okay and was cleared for travel. Perhaps it all worked for the best but I was really looking forward to seeing some friends I had not seen since I left CO in 2012.

The dog is doing good but we had a little scare a few nights ago. He was acting weirder than normal and was unable to stand without being wobbly. He jumped up onto my lap about 11:30 and laid down to sleep (sleep seems to be his favorite thing to do). He will do the typical “chasing a rabbit” thing in his sleep but this time it was different. He woke up a few times with his legs stiffened and kinda freaking out. He got down out of the recliner and was even more wobbly – like he was gonna fall over. I decided he might need to go to the vet and was planning on taking him in  the next morning to get looked at. I was concerned he wouldn’t be okay overnight.

At 4:00 AM he woke me up and threw up on my bed. He had to go outside really bad but he then got progressively better all morning. I took him in (of course he was pretty much back to his normal goofy self by then). He apparently ate an apple or two off the ground and it affected him adversely. Needless to say I got the apples picked up (and dumped on the other side of the fence for the rabbits!) so hopefully he won’t be doing that again.

I have been de-cluttering again so I have a huge box of stuff to donate with more yet to go through. I was able to trim down several more things in the trailer and a few things in the house but I think I still have a lot more I can get rid of. I was working on going through and organizing stuff earlier this year but had to take a break from it for a bit. Then the surgeries all happened. It felt good to go through and get rid of more stuff but things like going through and scanning pictures is exhausting emotionally and it’s one thing I really cannot dive back into fully yet.

My microwave blew up so I have been living in the 60s the last few weeks, heating everything up on the stovetop. I forgot what this was like, but it hasn’t been horrible and it sure keeps you from buying microwave convenience foods! It’s also one less thing to move in the future. I remembered I bought an extended warranty for it (which I usually do not do) so they will send me a check for reimbursement once I send it in. Besides, I have one in the trailer if I REALLY need to use one.

Otherwise I have been lying low, saving money and not doing much other than recuperating and planning some getaways.

That is all there is for now.