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)

 

 

December 23rd, 2018

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

2018 State of the Union

For those of you who read my blog regularly you know it’s been another eventful year for me and my family. Quite a bit happened throughout the year.

The biggest (and by far the most devastating) news was, of course, losing my Dad to cancer. We all miss both him and my mom a lot. My sister seems to be doing okay currently but that still weighs heavy in the background. I am fairly certain that you know my thoughts on cancer by now…

I have been going through and organizing and putting my digital photos into albums and sharing them with family. I had to sort through over 8,000 photos in the computer and I have to scan probably hundreds more into it; at least we will all have them. It got to be pretty tough looking at some of the pictures of me with my parents, thinking back of what we were doing and where we were when we took certain pictures – Wyoming, Washington, Kansas, Colorado…many, many places. There will also be many more from their own adventures and trips in the scan pile.

Looking through all of these pictures definitely brought back many other memories, too. Pictures of my three daughters and five granddaughters certainly bring back lots of memories along with many of friends, other relatives, reunions and such. Sorting through my digital pictures and organizing into albums has been on my personal to-do list for a while and now it is done. I definitely will keep them organized into photo albums as I add new pictures.

Speaking of the trailer, it was a very big travel year for me. My life-changing European Tour in Jan/Feb, a trip or two to MT, a road trip to KS, several flights to KS to see my Dad and family, a day trip to Victoria, BC, a trip to CA in the Scotty and numerous nights spent in Seattle making the most out of any trip there to either fly out or to get personal things done.

In a previous post I mentioned that I was pretty lucky to be able to travel as much as I did, albeit some of it was certainly not for pleasure. I definitely had other plans for travel but those were plans were changed due to the cancer my Dad was diagnosed with. I was hoping to involve him in some of these travel plans but it was not able to happen since his health deteriorated so fast.

I got in extra work hours in the Winter/early Spring and that helped pad the savings a little bit. I moved to a new studio in a new area this year in order to take a new job with a new employer. There ended up being some more changes at work that turned out good for me. I even got in a little more work in the late Summer/early Fall. I also ended up  moving to the house next door. More room, no more storage unit or storage lot for the trailer.

The new house has a much bigger kitchen and I am taking full advantage of it. The Hello Fresh boxes are filled with tastiness but I’m going to have to scale back and do it intermittently – I can save a little money that way and I have other things I want to eat and like to cook other than what they offer (which is a decent selection). Getting six single meals out of three meals for two really is a lot of food and cuts back on my variety of choice with all of the leftovers.

I picked up a Cuisinart Toaster Oven/Air Fryer combo appliance to use up some of the newly-found kitchen space and I am very impressed. Usually combination items like that do everything half-assed, or maybe only one thing pretty good, but this one does it all and does it well. It keeps me from having to heat up the big oven (saving money and heat in the middle of summer), I can air-fry stuff so it is healthier, and it’s one appliance and not three (saved MORE money!). That was a really good purchase.

Around Black Friday I was lucky enough to get in on a Hulu subscription for 99 cents a month for a year. It really helps out with getting through the short daylight hours here in the PNW.  I have been bingeing on TV shows – “Three Sheets”, “Scrubs”, “Seinfeld”, and a few British shows (the selection is slim). I find their movie selection a bit thin as well but I got to see some interesting documentaries so far. With a price like that I definitely couldn’t lose. Plus, I still have my Apple TV box with free Pluto TV, local news on my KIRO 7 app, and the PBS app.

I have some friends out of town and they asked me to check on their chickens for them – mainly it is to grab the eggs that are laid so they don’t lay on them to hatch. I went over there the first day and when I went to the gate it was just like going to Meghan’s house. They ran up to me and looked up at me like “So, where ya been? Got anything to eat?”. They were not skittish at all and would not leave me alone. I snagged the two eggs after cleaning out the water container and the feeder. Next day I took a few apples from my tree over to give them and they liked them. I got three eggs from the nest box and as I was leaving the pen a couple of the chicken-puppies had to see me to the gate. I reached down to grab one and it walked away but the other one stopped and stood up very straight…sure enough he was waiting for a back scratching. Cracked me up. So, I obliged and gave him a scratch and he just stood there taking it…just like we all do. One of them even stuck its butt in the air like a cat when I scratched back by it’s tail.

I am more than ready for this shitty year to get out of town and I sincerely hope the door hits it in the ass on its way out. I am looking forward to a better year in 2019. I am sure there will be more travel and adventures. I know that I am very fortunate that I get to live my life as I do: living in a great places, working with some fantastic people in a fun places doing a fun job, getting to have plenty of time off to do what I want, traveling as much as I have gotten to travel and seeing the places and doing the things I have gotten to see and do (and more to come!). I have worked very hard and made sacrifices the last six+ years to get to this point and I do not take any of it for granted.

Concerning this blog, yes I have slowed down on my posts a little but there has not been much new to write about. There are no plans to stop blogging and will continue to keep you posted. There are a few people who read and/or subscribe to it and I thank you for that. Hopefully you find it interesting and get something out of it on ocassion. I’ll continue to post my adventures or anything else that may (or may not) be of interest. Send comments if you like, and I will approve to post them (usually all of them) if I think it’s okay. Maybe you have a question…wanna know about something I post about? Perhaps a personal question? Feel free to contact me and ask. Personal questions will not be posted but I will respond to you.

I saw a woman at the Post Office a few days ago that had on bell-bottom jeans. I thought I was having a flashback. Many years have passed since I have seen a pair of those things, and many more have passed since I bought my last pair. WTF were we thinking?

Overall it was a good year, but one thing – the loss of a loved one – can really bring the whole year down – and that one thing was terrible. I do my best to keep my head up, though. Life carries on and we need to as well. Doesn’t make it any less painful; it’s just the way it is. It helps to have support from family and, given what we have gone through, my family has shown over the last two years we are incredibly strong.

Here’s to a better new year in 2019. Hopefully the world will be a better place. Sooner rather than later, preferably.

Peace to all.

 

 

 

July 27th, 2018

Adventure, food, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

As I start this post I am back in Seattle and will head to my hotel this afternoon. I catch a plane tomorrow morning to go back to KS again.

My day as it unfolds:

Until then I am starting out in the Capitol Hill station getting ready to get back on the light rail. Came up this way to go to Dick’s Drive-In for a snack (burger, fries, vanilla shake) before I go to Pike Place Market for another snack. I am debating going to the International District for another snack but not sure yet. There’s a lot of good stuff to eat at Pike.

Capitol Hill is a really cool area. I would like to explore around there a little more and may be doing just that in a few weeks when some family gets here. There’s a restaurant in that area that I want to find – I just haven’t been there yet.

Got to Pike and went directly to Mee Sum Bakery for both a baked and a steamed bbq pork hombow. Been a year since I had one and it was delicious as always. The area was busy as hell and I didn’t stay there long. I saw a little boy there that had a shirt on that said “Snacks first, then pants”. Cracked me up.

Seattle is just swarming with a lot of people. It is also pretty warm so I decided to head to my hotel and went back to Westlake station to head south to check in. I also was not very hungry with what I had eaten on the two stops I already made plus the heat was nothing I wanted to hang out in. No International District this go around.

My usual hotel was booked up so I am trying out a new place tonight. It’s actually more convenient to the airport so if it works out I’ll probably be changing my hotel preference to this new one.

Seattle is such a cool city. It has major homeless issues and can be expensive but there’s no denying it’s an interesting place to hang out, eat great food, and have a lot of fun. Be prepared for some huge crowds though.

I got to the hotel and it is damn good to be in the A/C. I walked 3/4 mile from the light rail station to get here and it was almost all in the sun. Good to get exercise though and as of right now I have walked a little over 4 miles today.

I took a walk to get dinner and ended up having Japanese at Masae’s Teriyaki. I have really never been a fan of teriyaki, but the teriyaki I have had in the past has been pretty heavy on the sweet taste and not much savory. This was a perfect balance. It was delicious and filling, and I even ate the slaw that came with it. I thought I would at least try the slaw since I didn’t see any of that nasty stuff called mayonnaise on it.

Since I will be making several trips back to Kansas in the near future I will maximize my time while I’m in Seattle, finding some new places to eat and interesting things to see and do. Today worked out pretty well, and I can even get over here earlier to have more time to do stuff.

I’m anxious to get back and spend time with my dad. This cancer thing has really surprised us all and it sucks. Life is always too short and I try to make the best of it all the time. This will be no different for any of us – we’ll enjoy the time we have and make the best of the situation.

That’s all for now.