April 4th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

I just got back from spending nearly the last week in Montana. No, I was not on vacation; I had to go over and trailer my stuff back from storage and take care of some personal business. I am glad that I got this opportunity to visit and take care of things before surgery and the lengthy recovery afterwards. It was also one of my last chances to get away for a while, but I will see what happens and if I can get away again.

It was a good trip. As always, it was good to see family. I splurged and got one last Hilltop Burger and fries from The Sac Bar in Three Forks, MT. It’s the only cheat on my diet in nearly two months so I earned that privilege. The doctors said as long as it is not happening all the time a splurge on occasion is okay so I will take a treat every now and then. That is also important to my travels since I do like to eat local foods everywhere I go. I will still have to eat things in moderation, but a few bites here and there is better than NO local foods when I travel. A salad is a salad is a salad…

I got to see my dog finally! He was excited but kinda confused. I really hated to leave him behind again and felt so bad about it. He really wanted to go for a ride but I did not want him to get too excited about getting back in the truck so when I ran errands I went by myself. It sucked having to come home without him.

The traveling kind of messed up my routine as far as drinking lots of water and walking. I cannot drink my usual 12-13 glasses of water a day while driving or I would never get anywhere. It is obviously difficult to walk as much while driving, too. I definitely got some exercise in when I was loading and unloading the truck and trailer. I was able to stay on my diet (except that burger!) and even ate much less since it is hard to eat healthy on the road. I tried to do what I could but now that I am back home I am getting back in to my routine. I am down 34 pounds so far!

I am so glad to finally have all my stuff here and in one place. I will be going through kitchen things to bring to the house and while I am at it I will see if there is anything I can get rid of. I got a few things out and into the house but today was a slack day. I will be going tomorrow to get more things from storage and pick up some groceries. I hope to get my TV, Apple TV and DVD player set back up so my caregiver(s) and I can watch some TV and movies when the time comes.

I need to get my passport in for renewal so I’ll be ready to go when I am able and, more importantly, it is safe to do so and countries start opening up. I have the application ready to go but I have to get an appointment scheduled to get my picture taken. I want to get it in and taken care of before it expires so I will be looking in to that this week. I have been watching more travel shows and I really want to go out of the country again as soon as possible.

That’s about it for now. Basically I am just leisurely wrapping up things around the house getting ready for when the time comes.

December 8th, 2020

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

It was a leisurely yet productive weekend. I have gotten things done on the computer that I needed to do; updating some more accounts and printing/sending off forms, yet I still had time for some hikes with the dog. It has been too beautiful to not take advantage of that and the exercise is always good for us both. Another eye post-op appointment in a couple of weeks and my calendar will be clear (at least that’s how it is for now…always subject to change, of course).

I have been cooking stuff and putting it in prep containers. Last night I boiled up some chicken thighs and portioned it out to freeze. I can take one of the containers out, heat it up with some additional water and some soup base from a jar. I can then make some homestyle soup or some chicken and dumplings. Today I made up and froze some Sloppy Joes. I don’t know if I can put anything else in the freezer but I will shuffle things around to see what I can do. This is definitely one of the things I missed about being in the trailer.

Tomorrow is laundry day since I will be down to my last change of clothes in the morning. I have to go to the laundromat early to do that and avoid the crowds. I will start my clothes washing and then maybe pay them to dry and fold so I can go do other stuff. They used to offer that service and I will gladly pay for it since it is really not that much. I have to go over to my old storage unit and move out of it, then take that stuff, along with some other things, to the new (and cheaper) storage unit. Now that I am back in a house I don’t need a heated storage unit.

It has been a week now that I have been out of the trailer and it has been so nice to be in a house again after six months. Traveling with it is one thing, but actually living in a 15′ trailer is challenging. It is fun to travel with; it is so easy to maneuver, I can take it in places where bigger trailers are not allowed, I have more options of sites it will fit in…just some of the plusses for travel. Staying put and living in it is another story. They are not made for that unless you get a huge trailer and that is not going to be happening.

I really hope to get some form of travel in soon but it is looking grim with the ‘rona escalating to even more epic proportions and no end in sight. I am starting to think about some local options when I can get the trailer out again. With the weather that may be a while yet, but it also gives me time to see how the pandemic progresses. I am much more concerned about that than the weather. Since travel is my thing I always think about it so looking at ideas is nothing new; not being able to go is new, but we do what we have to do.

For now I am happy just to pack up some snacks and take a drive to get out of the house for the day. It may not seem like much to some people, but it is a change of scenery and an escape from the rampant stupidity that is going on. Living here there is a wide variety of places to go and things to see and do away from the masses as long as you avoid weekends and holidays.

I could do a trip and stay in a hotel – I got over some of that fear on the trip I took over here some weeks back – but I am staying away from them for now so the trailer is the only viable option I will consider other than a daytrip someplace. It would also mean going to get takeaway at restaurants as well so even more exposure. I have had to go into more places than I have wanted to lately since I moved but I have needed to buy things. I still spend as little time as possible in any crowded place and traveling is no exception.

I would really like to do a multi-day Amtrak trip at some point. They seem to be reasonably safe if you spring the extra money for a roomette and keep to yourself in it. I like trains and train travel and the last trip to Vancouver, BC was scenic and fun and I have been on several in Europe. I would really like to do the Coast Starlight train down into California in the future when it is safer to go visit places. I’d have to board the dog but I would not be gone more than a few days. For me it would be more about the journey but I am always open for options (as one who travels should be…).

Of course Europe is always on the list but is closed to US passports for now. I almost seriously considered getting a ticket for next year with my airline miles when the pandemic started to calm down over there a bit. Airlines were doing no change/cancellation fees and that made it tempting with sone of the fares I have seen. With everything going on I wasn’t sure how things would work if I used miles and wanted/needed to cancel or change the flight and I had other priorities than to find out details. I can look into it now that things are calming down personally and I have the time to do it but no hurry. Now things are heating up again everywhere with the ‘rona so who knows when we will be able to go anywhere, be it far away and exotic or close by.

Speaking of travel, I have gotten a few new e-mails about cheap/discounted airfares. The website I use is having a contest for up to $1000 for you and a friend to go on vacation. If you might be interested, click here before December 11th, 2020. If you sign up on there I also get an entry. No pressure…just an FYI to pass along. I get nothing out of it other than an extra sweepstakes entry. Unless you want to take me on the trip with you!

It was another early morning (before 6:00 A.M.) and perhaps my days of sleeping in until after 8:00 A.M. are over for now. It is not getting light until after 7:00 so it’s coffee and a sunrise. I have said before I like getting up early but I like staying up late too.

I think I like getting up early better these days so that’s about it for tonight.

Thanks for reading my blog! Be safe and stay well. It’s all about the science.

April 7th, 2020

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

Hello!

All is good with me and the rest of my family and I hope that you and your family are also well and taking the necessary precautions and STAYING HOME.

We are really fortunate – we dodged one when we went to Europe in February. We got back just as it started to heat up. Wisely we took precautions to sanitize everything on most public transit when possible and didn’t touch door handles etc. None of the three of us have any illnesses (other than the seasonal tree pollen allergies giving me problems) after being back for six weeks so that’s quite a relief.

I have been home from MT about four weeks as of this post, and I have been out away from the house only 5-6 times getting groceries and prescriptions. I limit my exposure pretty seriously. I do not order takeout even though I would sure like to have some Thai or Vietnamese food while I support our local businesses – I’ll sure be back in line there when this goes away. I am staying home and away from everyone, and any shopping trip I take is get in/get out as fast as possible. I should be able to stay away from the store for two weeks after my last trip.

Cooking new things at home has been fun though. Since I am not eating out I figure if I want to eat something bad enough I will make it so that is what I have been doing. I want to try to make some Irish brown bread but a lot of the baking supplies are nowhere to be found – no flour on the shelves. Perhaps this will spark some huge change in people actually cooking at home again, which will be necessary since many restaurants may not recover from this to reopen.

We finally are enjoying a break in the weather in my area so the dog and I are getting outside quite a bit. We have been out in the sun playing fetch, ball, and Frisbee several times each day so that is a welcome change. We even get to just kick back on the patio and relax. He is enjoying getting out more and we have a lot of fun even though he’s a little bastard sometimes. Yesterday it was a very sunny and pleasant 58 degrees and calm and it is supposed to be even nicer the next two days. Pretty perfect weather.

My backyard is pretty well shaded and the grass is getting tall but it is too wet to mow everything at once so I hope to finish it up over the next few days as it dries out. I really hate mowing grass and have never understood the need for it other than keeping defensible space right next to the house and to keep rodents out. It pollutes, is noisy, and is completely unnecessary. I don’t care how it looks and I hope that we can get away from that thinking at some point.

I’ve been in a major Ireland state of mind lately; I’ve been really thinking about our adventure quite a bit. Yeah the rest of the trip was great, too, but Ireland really affected me very deeply. It is something I was really not prepared for; I had an idea that spending that much time in Ireland and seeing the family castle would “do something” to me but I didn’t know how or what or how much it would be but I have to go back there before I go anywhere else. And I will.

Given the current state of affairs I don’t know how long it will be until it is safe to fly again (biologically, that is). I plan to go back over as soon as I can and the focus of the trip will be Ireland – other countries if time (and money!) permits and if, in fact, I feel like it. Also, given the current state of affairs, it is something positive that I can begin to think about and look forward to doing.

In the meantime, though, I can also think about road trips. Whenever it is good to do so I can try to get some of my U.S./Canada road trips in while I can, but only when I can. I had some fairly ambitious plans to do some road trips this year but sometimes things change so you have to be flexible and sometimes it means you’re staying at home like it or not. I am not making any trips other than necessary.

I am looking for a few other things to do with all of this downtime. I have been looking at new guitars online but I want to play one before I buy one. I am also looking at getting a Dremel tool. I need to install a water heater power switch in the trailer and a Dremel would be handy for doing that but i would like to do other stuff with it if I weren’t artistically deficient.

That’s all for now. Just wanted to post a quick update to let those who read the blog know that my family and I are staying well. I send good thoughts to everyone out there to stay well. Be sure to think about and support the healthcare pros on the front lines by staying safe and doing what you are supposed to do and not what you want to do. Listen to those who really know what they are talking about and ignore the fucking idiots who may think they do but don’t.

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!

November 18th, 2019

Adventure, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

It’s been a busy few weeks. Fall is definitely here, and with it comes the usual PNW climate for this time of year – grey, clouds and rain, the days getting shorter, and the much cooler weather. Quite a change that happened rather abruptly. I’m glad I will be able to get away soon to see some different and better weather.

A few weeks ago my oldest daughter Angie flew into town with her mom and they picked up Alexis and came to my house for a visit. We went out to the coast to see the Hoh rainforest and get on the sand at Rialto Beach. It was a really nice day and perfect weather for going out that way. My trailer makes for a nice extra room for people that come to visit.

I got back from the hospital a couple of days ago after another surgery (unrelated to the shoulder). It was something I’ve been trying to get handled for a while now so it is a relief to have it taken care of finally. I actually spent the night in a hospital which I haven’t done in decades. Needless to say I am glad to have this finally done but I am really glad to be back home. Surgery went fine and the doctor felt pretty good about the outcome. Waiting on lab results, though, before getting too relieved!

While I was gone I had to board the dog at a kennel. It was strange to do that since I just got him home and he was looking at me like “WTF is going on here?” as he curiously went with the strange (to him) woman. I’m sure he did fine since he is pretty laid back and likes almost everyone he sees. I can’t wait to see him (and not smell him!).

I’ll find out in two weeks how much longer my physical therapy will continue. It sounded like I am close to being finished with it when I was at my last visit. I will still be doing exercises but will be on my own since I still do not have full range of motion. I don’t know if it will all come back or not but I will keep working toward that goal.

It will be very nice to not have to be somewhere weekly and I can start getting out and about on some long-awaited and much-needed adventures. I try to not get too excited yet since I am still recovering from this last surgery and I have to be mindful of that. It is hard to not get excited about going places, though – I was unable to do much of anything the last six months so yes…I am ready to go someplace. I do have some big plans coming up in the future!

Being retired is quickly becoming more real. All of my options are wide open now so I  have a few things to ponder. I find the classic “Pro/Con” list is such an effective way to help you make some informed decisions of this type. I started doing this when I began thinking about no longer working so now I need to go to the next step and consider what the next chapter is. Of course, my main focus was looking at if I could even think about retiring financially.

The biggest difficulty is deciding where to call your “permanent home”. The US laws enacted after 9/11 say you must have a domicile; you cannot just wander about and be a “citizen of the world” (well, at least, not in the US). You also need a domicile address for things like getting mail (“General Delivery” at the post Office is only supposed to be allowed for 30 days), vehicle licensing and income taxes (And no, it is NOT legal to just go live in the National Forest despite what everyone thinks and does and posts on YouTube and other social media; in fact, there are limits on length of stay in the forests that vary in each National Forest so you need to check into that before you set up a camp in the forest – even if you are just on a vacation.).

That means you have to think about things like taxes on your retirement on top of statistics on crime, politics (I guess those two are the same), cost of living, climate…whatever things you consider when wanting to live someplace. Some states have no state income tax (like WA) while some tax retirement/Social Security over a certain amount (like CO), and some tax it all (like KS). This can be frustrating to try to figure out because you may live in a place you like with no taxes but the cost of living is high and want to escape to a cheaper place. Some places (like OR) have no sales tax but are not retirement-friendly financially otherwise. The combinations are infinite so you have to figure out what best suits you.

One last thing…I want to post a link for Scott’s Cheap Flights (NOTE: Clicking on the colored link and joining the website gives me future discounts on my membership and may help me win a vacation!) . This website is one I pay to be a member of and it has saved me money on many flights (but you can just join for free). My first flight to Europe a few years ago was found through this website and I ended up paying only $373 for RT tickets on Icelandair to Amsterdam.

They do show you how they search for stuff on your own, but I still pay to be a member because they will find and send you cheap flights you may not think of. For example, they sent me an email a couple of months ago with a mistake fare for Bangkok, Thailand with stopovers in Viet Nam, Singapore, or other cities in Thailand. This ticket was on the top couple of airlines that fly to the Far East and Asia. Price? It was less than $300…for a $2000+ fare! And it is really cheap enough for the savings you get.

To make it even easier they give you all the steps to get the flights, what cities, airlines, and the normal prices and there is even a search link at the bottom of the emails that already has the info filled in – click the link and it takes you to the search!

That’s today’s update.