April 19th, 2020

food, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

I hope everyone reading this (and your loved ones) are staying well through the pandemic and doing what they should do. We still have a long way to go but we have to be patient and do what we have to do (that means NOT what we WANT to do) to get this under control or it will just keep going and never get under control.

I have been staying home and making as few trips as possible. I may go for a quick drive once or twice a week just to get myself and the dog out of the house, even if it is for just 15 minutes. I have not been to the grocery store in two weeks and still have plenty of food. I don’t plan on going on another big grocery trip again for another week or two if possible. I am only eating at home and no take-out, drive-through or delivery. It may sound extreme but I am not taking any chances. It is also a good chance to learn how to cook something if I want to eat it bad enough.

Needless to say this is not how I envisioned retirement but these are extraordinary circumstances. I am good with taking drastic measures and not getting The ‘Rona. It sure as hell sucks not visiting with friends and family (my house or theirs) but we have to take the necessary steps to stop the spread of this virus. For that I am willing to do what needs to be done even if it means being alone and not traveling like I had planned.

I have been trying to find things to do other than TV and the lawn mowing has been non-stop. The grass has been going crazy so that has kept me busy. I planted some flower seeds and did a few more changes to the trailer interior – more reorganizing and installing a spice rack. I have been going through and finding more things to take out to lighten the load and declutter my storage in it – things not needed all the time like tools and my hammock – that do not need to be in there but can ride in the truck. I also got a storage unit to put some storage bins and other things in so that helps declutter my small house.

In hindsight we were pretty damn fortunate to get out of Europe without catching this stuff given what we now know. We were smart and took precautions cleaning, sanitizing and avoiding touching door handles and such, but we were on public transit, airplanes, and crowded city streets. The possibility was definitely there to pick up something but we never had any health issues (knocking on wood) after returning. Even with this I still dream of going back as soon as I possibly can, but that will probably be a while yet.

Tree pollen allergies are really kicking my ass. My eyes are swollen and runny like I have been watching Old Yeller, sinuses are stopped up, and I’m coughing. My truck is yellow with pollen and I have to dust and clean everything in the house again (I just did that) since I had the doors and windows open to get some (what I thought was) fresh air in the house. Oh well, what else do I have to do.

The weather has been beautiful otherwise. We have had blue skies, sun and 60+ degree days and I have been outside taking advantage of it however I can. Some rain is in the forecast and that will clear the air up nicely…it just has to follow through and rain. I heard a weather report that said we have had less rain that Las Vegas recently. That is unbelievable for the PNW.

That’s the update for now. Wish it was a bit more exciting! Stay home & stay safe.

 

 

 

November 4th, 2019

Adventure, Just things, Uncategorized

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You will be missed so much…

Today we lost a long-time family pet.

Kona had a great 16 or so years. Or, I should say, WE had a great 16 or so years being lucky enough to have her in our lives. She was always there and with her unconditional love she helped us get through some tough times in our lives. She loved hiking and road trips and she went off-roading with us every time we went – she just enjoyed being with her humans no matter what we were doing or where we were doing it.

And we really loved being with her as much as she loved being with us.

When we went to look at her as a fuzzy little puppy we got there early to be first in line. Some other people tried to do an end run and get her first. There was literally almost a fight over her but Meghan and I prevailed and took her home. She was part of our family and along with Lakota we were her pack.

When Meghan went off to college I kept Kona at my house since she couldn’t live with her in the dorm. That dog followed me everywhere and always kept me within eyesight (much like Rider does). She would even circle wide and herd the cat out of the kitchen. So many stories and fond memories of her.

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Kona on one of our last four-wheeling adventures together

I may have written about this before (I’m not really in the mood to go back and look…) but want to say it again if I did. I thought about how, and how much, pets are entwined in our lives when Lakota died the day I lost my job nearly eight years ago. They are always there, quietly supporting and living us through life’s highest of highs and the lowest of lows; from the moment we bring them home until the very end they transcend all of the events in our lives for the short time they are with us whether events are happy or sad – the relationships beginning and ending, the new jobs and new places to live several states away, loss of family and friends. And, much like the loss of family and friends, the loss of a pet is also a loss of a loved one as well as another link to our past.

I will miss seeing her when I visit but she will always be there. We were so lucky to have you, Kona. You were a great companion.

Thanks for having us in your pack.

October 9th, 2019

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

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I just got back from my first trip after retiring. I drove to Montana to visit Meghan and get my new dog, who I have named Rider. It is getting to be that time of year where the weather can be a problem driving that far. Being retired it normally wouldn’t be a problem. However it IS for the time being since I still have physical therapy and orthopedic appointments that I cannot miss.

The drive was a good opportunity to think about some things (as it always is). With the changes in my life the last few months it has given me a lot of time to think about finally deciding to retire. More time to spend with family was my main reason to finally go for it. I will have more opportunities for travel as well.

There are, however, a few details I need to figure out. The biggest of those is considering where to live. I like Washington but I do miss things about Colorado. I have really good friends in both places. Along with that are, of course, the financial aspects; WA has no state income tax and does not tax Social Security or retirement. That is pretty huge when you no longer work and want to stretch your dollars. On the other hand, though, one big thing is the cost of living in WA. Gas is currently a little over $3.00 a gallon and is even higher in the summer. Rent is ridiculous, and that is only WHEN you can find a place to rent in an area you want to live and can find a job you want. With my medical stuff happening I really cannot make any major changes at the moment so I have time to figure things out.

Speaking of driving, I forgot just how tiring driving that far can be, especially after not driving at all for three months. I left mid-afternoon last Wednesday, drove halfway and stayed the night in a hotel. I had to plan around some appointments but wanted to get a jump on it, knowing that breaking it into two days was going to be easier. Plus I wanted to take advantage of the weather being decent for driving.

I believe I have mentioned before how I just don’t like to do the marathon driving like I used to when I was younger. I have gotten away from that more in the last few years and it does make a trip more relaxing and enjoyable. Used to be when I had taken time off of work the goal was to maximize that time off and get someplace fast to spend more time there. Time will no longer be an issue (it really hasn’t the last few years anyhoo). Animals on the highways are always an issue after dark.

The first part of my drive through the Seattle metro area is a lot of traffic to deal with until you get to Snoqualmie Pass and I-90, but at least it goes through the National Forest and there are mountains. The drive from Ellensburg, WA to Spokane is very underwhelming. Miles and miles of miles and miles. There are few towns along the way so you have to plan a little for things like food, bathroom and fuel stops. The drive the rest of the way is better as you start to get back into the mountains and forests.

Speaking of forests, the difference between the forests of Washington and the Rockies is fairly big. Different flora and fauna due to the different climate is quite obvious, with coastal forests being more humid. This humidity makes the forest extremely dense with understory so thick you cannot walk under the trees (except on a trail) as opposed to forests in the Rockies where you see trees with grass under them.

It was good to not only get back on the road but see those forests of the Rockies again. I do miss seeing the forests where you do not feel so confined by the understory. It was also good to be back in a drier climate. I find hiking in the Rockies is more enjoyable since you aren’t limited by a trail through the brush. I have hiked trails in WA where you cannot see ANY views at all. For me it takes away a little from the enjoyment of being outdoors – it’s just not the forests and mountains I grew to fall in love with in Colorado. Different strokes.

On a twelve hour drive there will usually be something of interest worth stopping to see – museums, historical markers, even quirky restaurants and things like the world’s biggest electric electric shovel (seen it). If I see something even remotely interesting I stop and look.

Along with the usual rest stops I made a few other stops to see some interesting things along the way there and back. One place, which I have stopped at several times before, was a rest area on the west end of Wallace, ID.

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Rest Stop and Mining Exhibit – Wallace, ID

The town of Wallace has extensive mining history and is worth stopping in. At this particular rest area (right off if I-90) they have put together an exhibit about it with a lot of mining equipment. I took some extra time to check out the exhibit. It is very well done and is worth your time. Stop and read the interpretive signs; you just might learn something interesting and fascinating. Be sure to make a donation to help the cause!

I got to their house in the afternoon and we had a good time but it was busy! We went out one day to see their new house and drop off a load of hay. It is a really nice place they had built on a nice lot they picked out. Gorgeous views really don’t suck! the weather was very nice most of the time, but I had to get out of there early due to a big storm moving in. It was a good thing I did as it got pretty nasty.

I left Tuesday mid-morning and it was very windy until I stopped in Ellensburg at a hotel. It was odd going to a hotel with a dog. He did great during the 8-hour drive we made – slept the entire way, but was prancing around like he was Fabio on a  romance novel cover.

Looking west at Snoqualmie Pass from a rest area was a big “uh-oh”. It looked nasty on the Pass so I looked it up and it was rain/snow mix and slushy with 32 degrees. I have been stopped in that Pass before when the weather was bad and it WAS bad. I didn’t want too take a chance.

I got onto Expedia (which I am getting away from using) and checked into the Red Lion Hotel. It was decent but undergoing renovations. Friendly staff, decent rooms at reasonable prices, decent breakfast buffet, and some restaurant choices nearby. I decided to go to Taco del Mar next door and ordered a taco salad. She asked me what I wanted on it and I said “surprise me”. She looked and me and was a little surprised and smiled when IU told her to go for it and do whatever. I ended up with a 10-layer taco salad.

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Amazing taco salad – Taco del Mar, Ellensburg, WA

It was delicious and I ate the whole thing. Walking out I told her how good it was and she should name it.

I have actually done that before at a different Taco del Mar near me and it is really fun to see the reaction of the employees when you tell them they can create something, anything they want, for you. I said to her “make it like you would at home” and it was really good too. Try that out for yourself sometime!

After finishing off dinner I got the dog out of the truck and went to the room. After sleeping all day I guess the excitement was just too much for Rider.

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We got back in the truck this morning and finished driving home. Driving over Snoqualmie Pass just west of Ellensburg I saw snow, wet roads, and about 33 degrees. Not too bad and I am glad I decided to call it a day yesterday where we did. It was pretty relaxing to take another night – we just needed to avoid the weather.

I stopped and got a few pictures along the way:

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Near Snoqualmie Pass – Washington

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Near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, looking at the ski area across I-90

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Near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

It was fantastic to get away and I needed it badly. It is always good to see and hang out with family. It’s good to travel. And I finally got my dog.

It’s been a really good week.

January 12th, 2019

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

Yesterday I met up with a friend and went birding. It was a really nice day to be out of the house doing something. We saw a few things she has not seen in the area in a while (she is into birds) so I got to see a few new ones. The biggest thing (literally), though was we saw orca swimming by at one place we stopped to see birds. They were a little ways away but we were able to see them close up through binoculars and a spotting scope. A really cool experience.

We took off to a few other places to look at wildlife and worked up an appetite and a powerful thirst. We ended up in a small town at a small restaurant overlooking the water. I ordered up an interesting beer after trying a sample – a dry stout. It was similar to my favorite nectar of the gods – Guinness – but a little less filling. The interesting part of it was the “dry” aspect. Yes, it was a dry finish and I did like it and would order it again

And the food…it was fantastic. I ordered a Mediterranean gnocchi. Gnocchi, capers, Spanish and kalamata olives, pepperoncini, garlic, shallots, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, butter and artichoke hearts. It was absolutely delicious and I am going to find a recipe to make it at home. For those of you who do not know, gnocchi is a small type of dumpling.

My friend ordered tuna lettuce wraps, which had rare tuna slices rolled in sesame seeds, carrots, and some other stuff wrapped in lettuce leaves. I do not like rare-cooked meats (it’s something in my mind) but she offered me a taste and I took a bite. It was good but I just cannot get past that rare cooking.

While we were waiting for our food my friend smacked me on the arm and said “orca!”. I looked out the window (along with the others who heard her) and out in the water a pod of orca were swimming by. This was our second orca pod for the day! Needless to say that was exciting for everyone in there to see and out came the phones to snap pictures. It was a really good day – hanging with a really good friend, seeing wildlife that you don’t get to see every day, sharing a great food experience, and talking and laughing our asses off.

As I type this a squirrel is running along the fence rail with an apple in his mouth. He likes to go over to one of my apple trees and climb up and grab apples. Sometimes he sits on the fence eating them, and other times he runs off with them. I have some bird feeders within sight of my window and the birds are going crazy after I refilled the feeders. I don’t know how they stay so skinny after eating all the seed.

I planted a few tomato seeds in some pots and am waiting for them to pop up. These tomato seeds come from some store-bought ones I always buy. I plan to plant a few other things in the raised bed in the yard and have some fresh homegrown veggies. That will save a few bucks at the store. I’ll wait to plant until the weather warms up and stays warmer (of course) and probably plant from starter plants when they come in. I also think sometimes about moving and have a friend who is interested in splitting a house. That would make it cheaper than what I pay now and saving some money is good, especially if I can get into a bigger house and still pay less.

It looks like a beautiful day again today so I am going to be heading out to do something somewhere. Fresh air, sunshine, and exercise sound like a good plan for the day. I need to get to the store but Saturdays are usually pretty busy in the morning so I will go get a few things later.

Enjoy your day!