July 25th, 2020

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

Comet NEOWISE, just below the Big Dipper
This one is not zoomed in as much so it is clearer and was taken later in the evening

As you can see, I was able to get a few pictures of NEOWISE a few nights ago as it was scooting across the Big Sky of Montana. I took these with my iPhone and it did a decent job of it.

We had some pretty good rain here a few days ago, and much to my relief there were no longer any water leaks on the back window. It was getting rather frustrating but it looks to finally be patched until I can get the weatherstripping to do it correctly. I will be able to scrape all the sealant off the outside of the trailer I globbed on between storms to try to fix it. I also got the fenderwell patched up and sealed again so hopefully that is fixed. I will still be applying the sealant I have left (good ol’ FlexSeal!) to use it up and really make sure it is covered good.

I ordered a new sewer hose storage tube to mount under the trailer but it hangs too low to put it there. I am really afraid it will be dragged off in a low spot in the road so I just attached it to the top of the bumper. Usually the hoses are stored in the bumper but it is a tight fit. One of them will not fit at all and the other two only go in a certain way. I got tired of fighting them so problem solved.

I am really wanting to go someplace but just cannot get away yet. I am still getting medical appointments taken care of and that is the first priority. With the pandemic getting worse I have to really think about what is necessary and what can wait. My hand really hurts and is causing me issues so I would really like to get it taken care of but we will see what happens with that. My other appointments are more important so I have a full plate with medical stuff – nothing serious…just things needing taken care of and checked.

Speaking of travel it is really looking like getting back to Europe will be quite a ways off by the looks of the pandemic and travel restrictions. I am so glad I got to go twice in the last two years and that Jim, Chelsea, Angie and I got to see and do so much in so many different cities and countries. It will probably never be the same again – the restaurants, the Irish pubs, the interesting experiences on public transit, and the sights….everything. The whole experience both times was mind-opening and amazing. The best experience for me of all the travel we did was all of the wonderful, friendly and helpful people we met everywhere we went and that is one thing I hope will stay the same. I cannot wait to go back at some point when it is safe to do so but it will be some time before I will even get on a domestic flight let alone a transatlantic/transpacific one.

I am happy for now just being retired and being able to travel around here domestically when I can and see places I haven’t seen. I cannot wait to get into Canada more when the border opens back up but I think that may not even happen this year. Between the road trips I am looking at doing and my medical stuff I really have plenty to keep me busy for a while. It is a bit of a bummer that now I am able to go I can’t.

I have been considering a few things and I came to the conclusion that with the pandemic escalating even worse I am rethinking my plan to relocate completely to Colorado. All of my doctors are in Washington and if something happens they know my history; I have had a few things of concern and that relationship is very important given the recent family history. I really do not want to start over with new doctors and surgeons and I may even wait to get my hand fixed during a trip back there. I also have all of the great friends I made there the last eight years and it is really a smarter financial move in several ways. Plus I really grew to love the ocean up there and still want to spend time traveling more along the West Coast. And, honestly, I do miss all of that. I still plan on spending a lot of time in the mountains in CO and visiting family in KS.

After I got my ink done on my wrist in Dublin I really got excited and wanted to start getting a tattoo sleeve around it (wish I woulda got more over in Europe). I was getting several ideas together and was planning on doing that when we got back (and on a return to Europe). Then the ‘rona hit so everything shut down, and even if they were still open it was not worth the risk anyhoo. I have not even had a haircut in many months and it has been quite a long time since my hair was this long so I am looking a bit rough. A haircut is just not worth the risk to me (never liked them anyway), and if I am going to be sitting that close to someone I am getting a tattoo and not a haircut.

That’s about it for today’s short update.

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.

 

 

 

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 16th, 2020 – Day 8: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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

Today we got out of our rental in Landsmeer and moved into Centrum near Centraal Station. Our room happened to be overlooking a canal and the station along with buildings in the other side of the canal. From here we go back and catch a train to Schiphol Airport for the trip home.

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Our final hotel room is the second row from the bottom (the First Floor in Europe) and the two windows on the left. Not a bad location!

We got into our room and hit the streets again to find food and souvenirs. One thing on my list was to hit a place called FEBO. Much like the old Automats in NY City, FEBO has two options – you can order from the counter or you can drop a coin in a slot and pick out tasty morsels for €2-4 each. Kroketten, bami, kasssouffle – mostly it is deep-fried deliciousness but there were burger options as well. We went there three different times today!

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FEBO – Goes great with a “coffee”!

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The weather was a bit blustery for our last night. We went different directions for a while and then it started to rain. And then it rained even harder. My pants got soaked so it was back to the hotel to warm up. First, though, there was time for a lamb kebab wrap and it was delicious. This looks to be a second storm that came across the UK that was like the first one we got caught up in while in Ireland. We are leaving at a good time.

We went back out to stroll around some more and take one last look at the city as the rain finally slowed to a few sprinkles. The crowds were thinning since it was Sunday night. But still many people are milling about.

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Back to the hotel one last time for the evening. We put the final touches on our packing for tomorrow.

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The view from our hotel window on our last night in Europe

February 15th, 2020 – Day 7: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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

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Sure coulda used these earlier!

This morning we got up early to get into the city from our house in Landsmeer. We had tickets to tour the Anne Frank House – one of the few touristy things we scheduled and planned.

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I was a bit apprehensive about it but I’m glad we went. There are many lessons in what happened to that family and history damn well should not be repeating itself. It’s a very informative, emotional exhibit and well worth visiting. The Jews could not ride bikes, swim…a countless list of ever-growing restrictions on a particular race of people. And it was absolutely heartbreaking to hear. One of the videos they showed of Otto Frank talking about losing his family – especially his daughters –  I had a real hard time watching and had to leave the room with tears streaming down my cheeks.

After that we went to find some food and just wandered aimlessly around the city during the day, experiencing the city and checking out shops and the sites. It was a decent day to be out walking and there is so much to see and do here.

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We decided to try to get back to our rental late afternoon and kick back a bit after getting some groceries and eating at home. It’s a comfortable place to be so we were able to rest up. We ended up on a ferry across the water to North Amsterdam where we then had to find our way the rest of the way. There was a lot to see from the water and it was a while new perspective.

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North Amsterdam is an artist community with a lot of interesting stuff going on.

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It was also good to be away from city center (Centrum). That’s where we’ll be staying tomorrow.