June 15th, 2021

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

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As you can see by the graphic above I am getting skinnier.

Just one more pound and I will hit my current weight-loss goal! Yep, I weighed myself this morning and I am down 39 pounds…so far! I say “current weight-loss goal” because that was my very ambitious starting-out plan. I would still like to drop ten more but I am quite happy with my results so far and I figured 40 was ambitious enough.

I have expanded my diet to include some different foods and I have really changed my eating habits quite drastically. It has been an adjustment after eating a certain way for many years, but between the diet changes and logging all of my food into the app it has really been helpful, made it easier, and I feel pretty successful with my efforts so far. I feel better, my health is better, and I still can have the occasional splurge. “Occasional” is the key word.

I will say that last week I was sick and tired of the routine of the last four months. I didn’t mind staying on my diet, but I was damn tired of the routine. Between having to walk after surgery because I was required to and staying home and not being able to do anything the last month I was fed up with it. All of it. I had to get over it and walk but the rains also did not help. Being able to go other places has really made a difference and got me back into what I need to be doing.

Saturday was one of those days. I went to my favorite local Thai bistro and ordered up the Basil Noodle with Chicken, a heat level of 2. The thing I like about the Thai bistros I have eaten at is the food is lighter – no thick, sugary, syrupy sauces; just amazing flavors without the goo. It tastes so much better and feels lighter on the stomach after you eat.

I got a call yesterday from the shop about my truck. I was kinda scared as the voicemail sounded a bit ominous. I called them back and the fuel lines are in pretty bad shape with corrosion. I believe it is the lines on top of the tank so there is no additional labor charge – just the price of the parts – so I got a little break. That means a few more days for the parts to get in so I am still driving the Soccermommobile. I don’t mind driving it though. I am still mobile!

With some gorgeous weather coming up I am really hoping to get the final organization on the trailer done in the next few days as I wait for my truck. I am not really sure where to go, or even if I can manage hooking the trailer up yet. I also need to think about potential mechanical issues – I still cannot do much heavy lifting, such as a flat tire, or using tools for fixing problems, such as the same flat tire. That means I may have to make other arrangements for lodging if I want to go someplace.

With that in mind, today I finally signed up for an account with Airbnb. I really enjoyed the Airbnb properties the girls reserved that we stayed at in Europe this last time. I know I am late to this party but it is affordable and easier to find locations in pretty much any neighborhood you want to stay in – like we were at in North Amsterdam and the city center of Dublin. I am really wanting to do something different than the same ol’ hotel chains these days and this will give me many more interesting options. I even saw one that is in an old crane for unloading ships!

I would rather take the trailer for the security of having my own place to be but it is nice to mix it up a bit. Given the rising gas prices it may be cheaper to do an Airbnb but I have not done the math. I hope the truck gets a little better gas mileage after this repair, especially pulling the trailer, so I will have to do some comparison.

That is today’s update. Stay safe!

February 11th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Uncategorized

There was about an inch or so of snow this morning when I woke up and it has been very lightly snowing off and on all day. It was a little icy underneath it but it was right at the point of freezing vs. thawing so it was not very slippery. I needed to get the truck out to see about getting the wheel bearing fixed so I ventured out early this morning and got it to Les Schwab so they could have a look.

It tuns out it was not the wheel bearing after all; it was the whole damn hub assembly. Yet another $400. Still cheaper than buying a new car.

This means that pretty much the next five days I will be at home, going nowhere unless really necessary. They said it is in bad shape so I figure I should drive as little as possible and only when necessary. I don’t want to take any chances with getting myself (or anyone else) hurt or further damaging the truck. Or spending money on what is usually an overpriced tow bill on top of any other problems.

One of my new demitasse cups; it’s the red one with the handle

I stopped by the Post Office while on the way home to get my mail since it will be a few days before I can get out again. All I had was one package, and it was my vintage espresso cups I got from the online auction. As you can see by the picture above they are not very big, and actually tinier than I thought they would be. It’s hard to believe that I saw these on some websites for over $60 a pair! I got two pair in the auction – two black ones and two red ones like the one pictured above (and no…the green thing is not a giant lime). Unfortunately there are no saucers or spoons that came with them. Since an espresso is only a little over 1 oz. the cups are not big and are designed a certain way to enhance the espresso (much like a Sam Adams beer glass or a Guinness pint glass does). Science is everywhere whether you believe in it or not.

It’s looking like I’ll have plenty of time to be doing some cooking the next few days since I probably won’t be driving much. With the temps being in the 20s it was looking like a good day to make up a pot of chili…so I did, and it turned out pretty good. I even had two extra portions for the freezer. I also made up some fresh salsa to maybe have some nachos or chips & salsa. I will be making up some chicken & dumplings and biscuits & gravy for some rib-sticking warmth over the next few days as well. Unfortunately I did not get eggs while out but I have plenty of oats and fruit and a box of Cheerios I can eat for breakfast. I will definitely need to make a grocery run after the truck is fixed.

At least I can still get out with the dog for walks the next few days if nothing else. We just have to get through the next few days of cold weather and snow. So far we are not really seeing the winds they were talking about previously, but it looks like they have posted new watches/warnings about strong winds and up to another 3″ of snow in the area. I tossed another blanket on the bed so I’ll stay toasty there next few nights.

That is all for this post. Stay safe.

February 9th, 2021

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

Tonight’s featured movie is “Groundhog Day”. As if it is not enough that life imitates art right now, why not watch a movie about it.

Yesterday I got the truck out for a road trip/test drive. I had to go pick up something anyway so the timing was good. I left the house and had to make a few stops on the way. All was fine. As I was heading on to my next stop miles away, the Check Engine light came back on again. 🤬

I thought “đź’©” and went on ahead. It felt like it was running fine and when I checked the codes were just the same as before. After I made my stop I cleared the light again to see what happened. I got all the way back and then made another trip to town. The light is still off so that is a good sign. I did a live read on the truck while running and there are no issues showing up. Success!

After that, it was a little housework and then some pasta. And not really much else other than several walks with the dog. There was even (gasp!) some reading! The last walk around 10 P.M. was definitely cooler and a sign of things yet to be. A few snowflakes fell as we were out for that quick tour of the local “watering holes” that the dog frequents.

As for today, I finally got a road trip in. I needed to get out of the house plus I wanted to get a microplane to do some cooking. No, a microplane is not a tiny aircraft. It is a type of grater that is really shallow. I want to use it to zest some limes for some cilantro lime rice. A couple of the meal kits needed lime zest and it was difficult to get it using a knife edge. Then it was over to Trader Joe’s to grab a few unique snacks and some Gouda cheese (the sliced TJ’s Gouda is pretty good and makes a great breakfast sandwich with bacon).

The truck is really running good now that I got the part fixed. The light came on once today but I was driving over a rough patch and it triggered the light. I know there are a couple of broken exhaust bolts so I think what happened was the exhaust jiggled and it sucked in a little outside air, triggering the O2 sensors. I gained about 3 MPG more after the fix and it may get a little better as the computer adjusts. I guess once I can finally go get my stuff I can put my K&N air filter back in. That will help with a little bit more of a boost in power and mileage. I am really anxious to see how it does pulling the trailer now that it is running better. Hmmm…now THERE’S an idea…

Taking a long drive today helped out immensely and I recommend it if you need a break from the grind. Sounds like snow for this area so I am glad I went today. If the weather holds I may go someplace tomorrow but it is not looking conducive for a good day of driving where I want to go. Even the weather people are not quite sure what to expect yet. If I don’t get out that is fine too – at least there was today. I do still have a lot of cooking to take care of. I already picked up the fresh ingredients so it needs to happen in the next day or two. I will need to make a supply run for a couple of things at some point.

Calling this day in the books. A good night to all.

June 12th, 2020

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

After an eight-hour nap I woke up at a leisurely pace this morning, thinking how strange it was to not have a dog sitting on me and staring me down first thing in the morning. I also thought about how nice it was too – I was able to lay around for a few minutes after waking up and not be rushed. I saw people out walking their dogs last night and it made me miss my little furry cohort but I left him with Meghan for this trip. Among other reasons he has to get a rattlesnake booster shot (yeah, weird, eh?) during the time I would be gone. He will get a chance to hit the road again soon.

First things first. Coffee and some breakfast. A delicious, eye-opening cup of Sumatra dark roast and a breakfast burrito. I unfortunately neglected to bring cheese, but I had Spam (hey, don’t judge me…it’s easy and delicious), potatoes O’Brien, eggs (of course) and another new hot sauce from Culinary Tours that I discovered recently called peri-peri that hails from Central Africa. Heat and a delicious smokiness that is soooo delicious and actually not that hot. (I also discovered the magic of Chohula hot sauce on Mexican food recently as well. Another new favorite.)

After securing everything in the trailer for the road I have some personal business that I need to attend to here in Douglas so the timing of this adventure has actually turned out good. And no, I am not in trouble.

I got to Douglas to take care of my personal stuff and that ended up not working out very well unfortunately. But, since I was coming by this way anyway, I thought I would stop and give it a try. It just means I have to do things by mail when I get home.

I decided to head east into Nebraska. I had no particular plan except going to the easternmost part of the Nebraska National Forest in the central part of the state. Yes, seriously, there is a National Forest and Grasslands in Nebraska. More on that in a minute.

The drive throughout most of Wyoming actually sucked due to the road conditions. The interstate was filled with little hills that made the road like a roller coaster. Little to no maintenance ever appeared to have been done on many roads. Most sections looked as though they had been there since they were first built and not touched since. Pretty inexcusable and I will leave it at that.

Other than the wagon trail conditions of the highways, there were some beautiful areas I drove through. The area around Shawnee has a lot of family history on my mom’s side that we explored a few years ago.

Near Shawnee, WY

I went on to Lusk and headed east toward Chadron, all new territory for me and I had no idea what to expect. It was quite varied terrain for much of the trip, with beautiful rolling hills, vast grasslands and several miles of highway construction that was two lanes of gravel. I guess they’re at least making progress.

Near Lusk, WY

Around Chadron I came across my first section of the National Forest as I drove along US 20. It was a very beautiful area that kind of reminds me of parts of Colorado, South Dakota or Montana. Remember, this is Nebraska. Rolling grassy hills, lots of trees – a very nice drive.

Sorry about the bugs on the windshield!

At this point I knew where I wanted to end up but no plan on how. I decided to go south after seeing a sign for a point of interest that I had forgotten about but wanted to see…

Carhenge.

Yep, down south of where I was and close to Alliance was Carhenge. Well, the adventure took a right turn and I was kind of excited that I was going. I wanted to see it ever since I heard of it but was not going to make a special trip. Simnce I was in the area I thought I would take advantage of it though.

Carhenge – Alliance, NE
Cadillacs, Willys, and Gremlins, oh my at Carhenge – Alliance, NE

The story behind it is in this link. This may not be for everybody, but there were actually quite a few people there to have a look and take pictures. One family there was rather interesting. The family stayed in the minivan while the mom got out ran up took pictures and then she got back in the van and they left. you could tell they were just bagging sites and not having a vacation.

I took another look at the trusty road atlas and figured out a way to head east for the national forest and camp for the night.

I came across a place called Fort Robinson nestled amongst the cliffs and the sand hills. It had been turned into a state park. They have a campground there that I could’ve stayed in but it was still relatively early and I got such a late start on the road in the morning I was trying to get as far as I could so I took a few pictures and went on.

Fort Robinson, NE

I took a drive up a Forest Road which almost turned out to be a really bad decision. Being nestled in the sand hills of Central Nebraska (which were quite beautiful by the way).

Near Thedford, NE

The road was basically sand. It was OK for a truck, jeep, ATV, etc., but not pulling a trailer which I soon found out was a bad thing. I got up the hill and immediately tried to find a place to turn around but couldn’t turn around because of the soft sand. Eventually I was able to find a spot and do a 27 point turn to get out of there.

I got back to the highway and went over to the recreation area of the national forest. I was not impressed with the campsites as they were basically on top of each other. There were none to be had anyway being a Friday night so I went back out towards the highway for a look at the atlas for a back up idea.

I decided to backtrack 15 miles and head south on US 83 toward North Platte Nebraska.

The Sandhills – south of Thedford, NE

I got about 30 miles outside of North Platte and saw a sign for a campground in a little town called Stapleton. I pulled in to the town and saw a sign but it looked like it led down into a residential area and was made of gravel. It really didn’t look much like a road to a campground in a town so I thought maybe the sign meant the next road turn right.

The next road didn’t look much better but up ahead a block I saw another blue sign for camping. This time it happened to be in the city park. It was $15 a night and I had electricity and water, and there was a sewer dump station for the morning before leaving. Perfect! I’ll take it!

Camping in the city park – Stapleton, NE

I have stayed in one or two city parks before and they are actually a pretty good value plus you can really help support the local economy. I will be looking for more of those in my travels. I have my trailer so I am fairly self-contained. No need for a bathroom but given the miserable weather conditions the electricity is great for the A/C. I am going to need to get a generator soon so I won’t need to rely on campgrounds. I can boondock and take a shower outside.

I got dinner and sat to relax. It was hot and so humid that the A/C didn’t seem to keep up. I went to bed and tossed and turned for a bit but eventually I got a decent night’s sleep.