February 8th, 2021

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

It was a year ago today that I made my second trip to Europe with my two oldest girls, leaving Kansas City on a Saturday morning to go to Dublin, Ireland. I know my first trip over really was a complete assault on the senses – foreign country, different foods, languages, using public transit, plus experiencing how life is for others with which we share the planet. I remember pulling into Amsterdam Centraal that first trip in 2018, seeing all the trains and tracks everywhere, thinking “Oh shit…what have we gotten ourselves into…”.

Even though I had been there before, this trip was still a life-changing experience for me in several different ways. Seeing the castle where our family started out was incredible and getting to see it with Chelsea and Angie on their first trip was such a cool thing (you’re next, Meghan!). Of course there was all of the great food we ate, the things we saw and did, people we talked to…much like the first time all over again.

I was in a weird headspace for many reasons. I hated the prospect of having to leave. There was also an accumulation of the previous five years of loss and the other BS life put on my doorstep in a flaming paper bag. In Amsterdam we took time on our last day there to go different ways and explore. I was lost in thought just getting lost in the city. I got myself into a much better headspace before my adventure and everything in life was calm & peaceful as I wandered around, looking at some familiar places and finding other places I had never seen before. It really helped me in ways I cannot describe, and it was badly needed.

Right now it would be nice to have the opportunity to do that again, venturing out into unknown areas of a city that is nearly half of a world away. No map of any sort…just walking; no matter where you go that’s where you are. Everything is new in every way and you just kinda say “WOW” inside. I would even settle for someplace domestic; how nice it would be just to be able to wander around Seattle on foot like I used to do on occasion.

A steamed BBQ pork hombow from the Chinese bakery at Pike Place Market would be delicious right about now, as would breakfast at Biscuit Bitch and a burger, cheese curds and a pint at the Five Point or a pizza from Serious Pie. There are so many places to wander around checking out and so many things I have not made note of yet. I do still update my bucket list for things and places of interest, and there are more places in Seattle on that list I have not been to but want to check out when it is safer for my health to do so.

I always keep an eye out for interesting places everywhere and I put them into both my bucket list and Apple Maps so I can have directions ready to go if I end up someplace on a whim (which does happen often). I still have plenty of things to see and do in Amsterdam yet, and both Ireland and Iceland are islands of so many things to see and do. Beyond that there is still a lot more of the world I want to experience.

I will be looking into some domestic road trip options as well, adding more to that section of the bucket list. When things calm down I will be traveling locally more so I should do something unique, like visiting all of the state parks in Washington. I have been to almost all of the National Parks in the state so there are a couple of those left I want to visit; not because they are on a list, but because I want to visit them.

I will hopefully be going to MT soon to get my stuff, but want/need to get my vaccines first. I don’t want to miss out on getting it in fear of not being able to get it if I do miss out the first time because I am gone. The weather, being another factor, has not been bad there, but I don’t need to take a chance with that either since I would be towing a cargo trailer back.

The past year has been tough for everyone but in hindsight getting to go to Europe was a big help to get me through the year. We have talked about it often and relived our experiences both separately and with each other numerous times ever since we returned. I hope at some point in the next year we can all go together.

That’s all for today.

February 7th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Uncategorized

Yep…it was a good weekend. Got some things accomplished.

Yesterday I woke up, had a shot of espresso and a cup of coffee, and said “I need to cook”. So I cooked. I got to try out my new (to me) Le Creuset stockpot and made what ended up being a huge pot of pasta…MUCH more pasta than I thought it was. I browned up some chicken Italian sausage, added some fresh garlic and lots of olive oil, stirred in some of the pasta, and I instantly had five meals’-worth of dinners from that.

With the pasta I had left, I portioned it out and added some Muir Glen Garden Vegetable red sauce, plus a dash of garlic powder and a drizzle of olive oil to each tray. I ended up with four of those trays but they are pretty hefty portions now that I look at them; I probably could have gotten another 2-3 dinners out of the bunch but I was also worried about having enough sauce. I was lucky I had that on hand, but I do have some canned fire-roasted tomatoes so I can make my own sauce from that. I can also use some to make salsa and have some cilantro, and a fresh onion a couple of jalapeños to do just that. In fact, that is why I bought a case of those tomatoes.

It was extremely windy yesterday. I mean horrible winds almost all day and then it was a little rainy at times. This morning I woke up and saw a bright sunny day and some gusty winds that have lasted all day; nowhere near as bad as yesterday though. When I saw that sun I figured the dog and I needed to be outside some. Plenty of walks but too windy to play with his flying disc that he loves so much. The week is shaping up to be poopy weather- lows in the teens and highs in the 20s/low 30s – so I am trying to get out and keep the dog happy too. That’s unusual for here; it happens a couple of times every Winter for about a week.

Seeing the forecast for this coming week, I saw that I was going to have to put it off for another week, so I finally got the problem emissions part replaced on my truck! I thought while it is windy, it is not raining or really cold, I might as well see if I can get it done today and I did. Took me about 5 minutes and $40 or so for the part. Saved another $20 from the dealer repair AND the OBD-II reader paid for itself as well. It is running better and after I cleared the light it is not coming back on and it runs better and is getting better gas mileage. Glad to have that done. I guess the fuel filter will wait another week. I will be borrowing some ramps from a friend and try to do that in his driveway. It is another five-minute fix. Well, it SHOULD be…

Now that I have that main problem fixed I feel much better about taking a long drive (it iorobabky woulda been fine), and I plan on doing that very soon. I’d probably have to do it so soon so it may be tomorrow or Tuesday given the weather that the forecast says is moving in. The fuel filter does not seem to be causing any issues and there are no codes in the computer for errors so I feel confident. I am so glad to have that finally done.

I just saw an article today about the pandemic and what to expect. I think that I may be a bit too optimistic about going to Europe (or anywhere international) even as early as Spring of 2022 according to this news story but everything is even less than uncertain for the foreseeable future. I am still watching some travel shows and keeping an eye on travel articles as it is something positive to look forward to. I reactivated my Scott’s Cheap Flights notifications (I stopped updates for a while since I felt it was pointless) and have been looking at prices in searches. I also realize there may be other options besides Europe but all of that remains to be seen given the constantly-changing pandemic regulations.

It is interesting to hear about a real push for high-speed rail in the U.S. That would be so cool and so convenient. I think once people see how easy and efficient it is to go around the country by train it would sell itself. The key, of course, is public transit infrastructure available near each rail station to get people close to where they want to go. It’s odd that in Europe public transit is something everyone does because they want to, while here there seems to be a stigma where it is the poor people who ride the bus. I have ridden public transit quite a bit in various places and it is a great way to get around. My fingers are crossed that we can finally make some progress nationwide on this.

It had a good run, but I think my 27″ iMac is ready to give up. I have been using it for videos in place of a TV but I noticed a few days ago that it was extremely hot to the touch. I used some canned air to blow it out and cool it off but it’s about used all the runway. I cannot upgrade the OS anymore so I am looking at recycling it and I will get some cash out off the deal. It’s ten years old and has moved all over the PNW with me to most of the 18-20 addresses I have lived at, and it is remarkable it stood up to that.

It’s why I buy Apple products.

That’s all for now.

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.

November 24th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Road Trip, Uncategorized

Clouds draped over the Olympics

It was a beautiful morning, but when it decided to rain it came down pretty good. I was out doing some errands this morning, and when I got back it started to rain and the winds started picking up so this afternoon it was inside. Right now the stars and moon are shining on a cool night with a few clouds in the sky. It’s a very calm, peaceful night. Such a nice thing to have right now – peace.

I started looking and contacting some places about a secure place to store the trailer today. One company owns about 10 different places so I covered all that with the one e-mail to them so I just might have some luck. After my eye appointment tomorrow I’ll come back home and look some more if I need to but I hope something comes through with the one email. It’s a whole lot like shopping and I am not a big shopper. I am getting into the new place in a week and with the holidays the time is cut shorter. Gotta get something found soon.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”.

I saw this saying paraphrased on a bumpersticker today while I was out. It really made me think and I wanted to know who said it originally. First, the part that was paraphrased was the first eight words; I was surprised to find out that it was not only longer with more meaning, but it also is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. Thinking about it more it is actually a pretty profound quote. It is simple, yet says so much.

Whenever I see things like this it makes me think about what it says and ponder things in my life that may fit. I think at times in our journey we all ask ourselves questions about what we are doing with our lives, thinking about some of the decisions we have made along the way. I freely admit I do and I think it is good to do that to keep you centered.

Feel free to philosophize amongst yourselves…

I have been getting some more good airline deals lately. Montreal, Tokyo, Cambodia, and Dublin to name a few. Dublin was a screaming deal and it is so tempting to book one since they are all refundable. I would still have a hard time being on a plane with all those people for a non-stop (or a 1-stop) to Europe. It’s a hell of a long time to wear a mask for another thing, and that’s not including being in the airport masked-up. Not much other way to go unless it’s by boat or beamed by Transporter.

I have begun to start thinking about a timeframe to go again and start looking for travel partners. I know my daughters are itching to go so I think it’s time to start considering when to go. I have been in January and February so now I’d like to go during a different time of year. Not summer and the crowds. No thanks. Perhaps we will see some advances with fighting the pandemic so I will not be booking anything until I see some progress in fighting it and countries I want to go to open up. I have resigned myself to the thought it may not be until 2022, but we will see. I still want to go to Montreal so that would be a good short flight to a place that is different than the rest of Canada.

In the meantime I can dream (we all can!). I have been thinking about ink and getting more done. I have ideas for the beginnings of my left arm sleeve (to go along with my “Slainte” tat). I want to get my left arm done when I visit different places, but I am gonna need to practice getting one or two here to see the precautions being taken. I still think it is safer than a haircut (and I STILL have not gotten one!). I hope to get several tats done at different shops while I am in Europe next time. I feel certain I will be going back to most countries I have been to for at least a few hours so that is long enough for ink.

So things are falling into place as the year winds down. I don’t think that I will be doing a year-end summary going forward. You can always go back to read the posts if you want to see, and feel free to go all the way back to the start to see how this adventure has unfolded over the last 8+ years. It’s all in there.

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.