November 7th, 2020

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

I write this post sitting in the parking lot of a repair shop on Washington. I’ll be here until Monday since they are closed on Sunday.

I was heading back out on the highway this morning and a problem arose. It was windy. I have driven in winds before but my trailer has never gone down the road crooked so when that happened I thought it was odd. The winds just weren’t strong enough to make it do that and it just didn’t look right.

Then I saw something that looked like smoke trailing behind me, but my windows were dirty so I wasn’t sure. Finally I saw it WAS smoke so I thought I’d best pull over.

Smoke was billowing out of the passenger side tire on the trailer. I had stopped in the nick of time. It could have caught fire, locked up and caused an accident…any number of things – and all of a bad nature. Wheel bearing is cooked and the wheel is sitting odd:

This tire SHOULD be straight up and down…

So, lemons and lemonade and $590 later I’m staying in the trailer in the parking lot since the lot is not secured. I just replaced the battery in the trailer so I should be warm overnight with the furnace running. There’s no shore power so I am boondocking for a few nights and charging the trailer battery from the truck. Even more fun is the trailer is not level; it’s nowhere near level. The ground was already sloped…and it’s up on a jack stand! Yes, I have supports out to keep anything from happening. I’ll be sleeping with my feet downhill (I guess if it rolled over I’d basically end up standing up). Just another part of the adventure.

Oh, the things that happen to me. I usually just shake my head at them in disbelief, smile a little, and go about my day.

So, anyhoo, I left a few days ago to come back over. It was odd leaving; it’s never easy leaving any of the kids and grandkids and it certainly wasn’t any easier after being there a while. I needed to move along and take care of some things. Winter was getting ready to have another go so I needed to scoot while I had the opportunity. I pushed my luck far enough and I’m not much for winter these days. I got into a few rain showers in the mountains on the way over but no issues. From the pictures I saw at Meghan’s house this morning I’m glad I left when I did.

I brought a few extra things with me so I don’t have any extra room be it truck or trailer. I’m constantly moving stuff around on and off the bed, but it’s just a temporary thing. I’m going to find a small storage unit when I get there and put a few things in there to help with the clutter. I did a little rearranging this morning and got a bit more room.

I decided to hang here a few days to let the rains pass. I considered going over to the Oregon coast but not sure yet so it gives me time to ponder. There’s not a way over there without backtracking a bit and I really don’t want to do that. I’d like to avoid Tacoma so I will weigh my options. Thinking back eight years, I actually went over to Astoria and went north. I drove down from Mt. St. Helens and went over through Longview. There’s two really tall bridges along that route. I also remember I got a speeding ticket down in that area too.

Winter on the coast can be stormy so that’s another consideration. I would love to see a storm on the coast. I am not sure if I care to be in the trailer out there during that stuff. It’s pretty vicious. I have seen big surf but nothing like what’s out there.

I don’t really have a major plan yet. I do have things to fall back on so I’ll be fine and I have a place to be. I don’t know how things will unfold but I always have a roof and a meal. Never an issue these days but it’s been a little, shall we say “interesting “ at times. Had a few rough times here and there but always made things work out for the best.

June 17th, 2020

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

Westward ho!

As I am starting this post I have just stopped for gas and am letting the fridge run for a bit on propane to cool off some.

I left late this morning after coffee with Chelsea so I could start to make my way back toward Montana via Colorado. I’m ready to get my Rocky Mountain High on and find some cooler weather. Hell, pretty much any weather would be cooler. It’s like I’m driving on the surface of the sun.

Wasn’t gonna happen without a fight apparently. I-70 across Kansas and eastern Colorado is always notorious for its winds and boring scenery. This stop for gas finds it 101 goddamn degrees. Add to that a horrendous crosswind of about 40 mph. There is absolutely no need for this uninhabitable nonsense and I hate this shit. On top of it this hot weather expanded and loosened that damned weatherstripping again, but this time on the entire top on one side of the trailer. The winds are whipping it around too.

I had to stop to fix it and get gas (currently getting 6 mpg). I could not climb on top but did the next best thing – pulled into the trucker fuel lane and stood on the concrete barrier protecting the pumps. Problem solved. May have to pack a ladder though.

This weatherstripping has been a pain before (when I was moving to Washington in 2012) but there is no fix as far as I know – it expands and contracts with the weather. This piece is now cracked so it looks like I’ll be replacing it when I get back. The other side I replaced around 2014.

I had to pull over in the shade at a rest area near past Hays to fire up the fridge again. I think I’m gonna sit here a bit and let it run longer so I don’t have to stop so frequently. My frozen stuff is thawing out. I might think about a late lunch to take advantage of the time. Last stop had no sshade so I’m taking advantage of this stop.

I have driven this road many many many times and I have never seen it this windy except for once in the early 80s when a really severe thunderstorm was blowing through. I was in my old CJ-5 and had to stop under a bridge for an hour or two late at night (2:00 A.M.) until it blew over. The temperature now says 103 on my truck sitting in the shade. I don’t really remember ever having weather this hot either.

I decided to go ahead and push on. I was just east of the KOA at Wakeeny but it was still fairly early in the day – around 3:45. I still had plenty of daylight to go plus I’m going to gain an hour at Brewster, Kansas. I want to get as far as I can so I can get into the mountains tomorrow at a decent time. It’s getting close to the weekend and I need to get someplace.

I made it to the KOA in Goodland, just shy of the Colorado border. The next one is in Limon and I would have went in if this one in Goodland was full.

I got everything hooked up and did some reorganization in the truck to take stuff from the trailer and put into the truck. I converted the front dinette into my bed and put the rear dinette back into its seating configuration. It is so much more roomy to sit comfortably and feels less cluttered inside. This also means I need to get rid of some things out of the trailer when I get back. Since I am currently traveling solo I don’t need a big bed (and no, I don’t mean the dog).

I cooked some Chinese food for dinner and a shower is the other reward of the day. The winds are still howling but with the other RVs around and some trees and a few buildings it breaks it up a little. It still shakes the trailer though!

Tomorrow the winds should die out and it will be cooler in the morning. I know the afternoon will b e cooler since I plan on getting in the mountains by then!

Time for a few thoughts…

Like I said earlier I have been down this interstate too many times to count. I remember coming out to Colorado as a small kid on family vacations, and many times over the years as an adult. Some years I was driving out this highway three or four times a year. Needless to say the place is in my blood. And my heart.

As a youngster we would pack up the old 1962 Chevy II station wagon with a pallet to stretch out on between the camping gear. Seat belts? Didn’t have them. I was always really excited to go and we would stop at one of the first rest areas and I would pick up a free map that they used to have in a dispenser on a post.

I would get out my trusty magic marker and anxiously follow our route the entire time, using my black highlighter to keep track of our progress.

I remember seeing many of the tourist sight signs even into my adult years. Some of the attractions we stopped to see, such as the World Famous Rock City (now re-opened it looks like), the Walther P. Chrysler boyhood home, The Eisenhower Museum and even the now long gone Indian Burial Pit that, if I remember right, was around Salina.

We saw the signs for hundreds of miles but we never did stop at the worlds largest prairie dog. I did stop there as an adult. It’s a giant concrete statue of a prairie dog located amongst an animal freakshow that was a poster child for animal abuse. It is shutdown as well but you can still sneak a peek at the statue through the deterioration of the plywood barrier.

The thing is, I see these things advertised and wonder how long they will remain relevant – or even open for business. Classic restaurants will always be there, like The Cozy Inn in Salina, but how many people these days visit these attractions? Younger generations did not grow up with this stuff so do they or WILL they care? Seems rather sad in a way, but it is just the way it is.

I may have written about this stuff before, but I didn’t go back to check. I thought about it a few days ago as I showed my granddaughter Emery what I did when I was younger and showed her my trip in 2012 to move to Washington that I had highlighted as well. I gave her her very own atlas and highlighter so she could do the same with her trips.

Only this was a yellow one.

April 29th, 2020

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

While doing the various things one does when getting ready to move a lot goes on in your mind – that constantly-changing mental checklist of things like shutting off your utilities, thinking about the logistics of getting from A to B, and changing insurance agents just to name a few. And then there are the other things like the insomnia. Most of you have moved at one point or another in your lives so you probably understand. I don’t stress about it much these days; this will be my 15th address change since 2012. It’s just another move to me.

However, one thing currently stands out well above the rest while getting ready to leave – the inability to see family and the friends I have made here the last 7 ½ years in person before I leave. And that’s the part that really sucks. With the ‘rona quarantine there will be no hugs, handshakes or tears; the tears will still be there, but it’s more out of frustration than from leaving. We all know that once we are able to do so we will be seeing each other again. I still plan on traveling as much as I can when I can and when it is safe to do so. With the internet it is easy to keep in touch several different ways so we will still keep in contact with each other.

Sometimes it is not easy to move away no matter how badly you want (or need) to leave, and other times it’s no big deal. I was numb and emotionless leaving Colorado that cool, dark, rainy morning. Heading off into a new life had me preoccupied and I was not thinking about leaving a place that made me fall in love with the outdoors and the awe-inspiring beauty of the mountains.

There is the excitement and “that new car smell” of going to a new place with new people and experiences, be it for work or just because you want a change in your life. Some people deal with the uncertainties, and even embrace them. There are the others who dread it and decide to stay in their safe place and that is fine. Me, personally, I thrive on that unknown. I want and crave those new experiences and it is only one reason why I love travel so much.

I have certainly had more new, different and amazing experiences than I ever dreamed I would have in my life living in the Midwest, and I have had even more after moving to Colorado and then Washington. I won’t list them here as they are already written about, starting with the first blog entry I posted in 2012 (so by all means go back to Day 1 and have a look!). And the stories in these posts are just since 2012…there are countless other stories from a lot of other experiences before that and some of those are probably best left on a dusty shelf.

Some may look at these experiences and say “Boy, you’re so lucky”, while others say “WTF are you doing? I couldn’t do that.”. It’s not about luck. It’s about what YOU choose to do with your life. And if you say “I couldn’t do that” then no…you couldn’t handle it but it is because you don’t WANT it bad enough and prefer to play the game of life safe. That is all well and good since we all get to live the life we choose. I choose differently.

The lifestyle I have had since moving to WA is certainly not for everyone, and I could safely say it not for most people. It is not an easy lifestyle and there have been tough times without a doubt – a few extremely tough times. In the 80s I did some freelance stagelighting gigs getting work wherever and whenever I could find it. Just as it was then, it is sure not about getting rich…working in the outdoors is more about the freedom and experiences and a true passion for your job. You give up a “home” and security but the amount of freedom is amazing and worth the trade-off.

At one of the outdoor jobs I have had the last few years I heard someone say “we get paid in sunsets” and to me that is how it should be. It’s not about the money but unfortunately  it is what matters in the world. When you make a decision to get into this type of career you should fully understand the sacrifices you have to make to do what you love and be flexible enough to make it happen. For me it was not that difficult to “roll with it” since I had already lost my job and my house. I chose a new path, got rid of pretty much everything I owned, and hit the road for a new adventure. I didn’t let it get me down and I still don’t. Life marches onward whether you want to play or not so make it what YOU want.

It is exciting to think about this move and potentially ending up back in the place I love most (well, second to Ireland) – Colorado. With some variables to ponder in the future that may be later rather than sooner…but I will get back there. It is not that I dislike Washington, but I have never really felt that “magic” like I do in Colorado. I like the forests in the Rockies better because of the openness and not feeling “closed-in” when I go for a hike in the woods.

So now is the time to not look back at the latest fork in the trail but to instead look forward and head for the Rockies.

April 22nd, 2020: A Fork in the Road…

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

I am leaving Washington.

Yeah, it’s another big move for me and now my furry sidekick. I put in my notice with the  landlord today and will be heading to Montana for a while. After that, possibly/probably back to Colorado to be more centrally located between all of my family.

Part of my being able to retire was I could travel and not have to pay rent anyplace (yes, I know it still costs to do that). I could take my time and see new places and things and revisit some old favorites (which is one of the big reasons I want to go back to Colorado). It meant I could save quite a bit of money actually. Travel can be expensive but I tend to live cheap and would rather stay in a campsite out in the forest than in a campground.

I actually considered moving back to Colorado a few years ago when my mom died. I considered moving there to be closer to my dad. I didn’t end up doing it since he seemed to be doing okay, but then he got sick, too.

I have blogged about the magic of Colorado before. I have missed it quite a bit and the very few times I have been back in the last 7 ½ years since I left brought back some great memories and made me realize how much I do miss being there. I will be able to visit family more and take care of things at the house when I can get back there. It’s a little frustrating I cannot go take care of some of it now but it’s okay. Things are not pressing at this time so it’s all good – hence the “possibly/probably” I mentioned earlier.

It finally rained today so I can see and breathe once again. Instead of yellow my truck is back to the white it was when it left the factory. The dog had fewer eye boogers today and my allergies were a little better…until I started to clean the house and kicked up the pollen. I made sure to work in small sections toward the air purifier I have so it could suck in the bad air. It helped tremendously to keep some of the dust and dirt down. Then I had to vacuum the couch, recliner, and rugs and wash the bedding to get rid of those pesky allergens.

In closing I will definitely miss Washington, however Colorado and the Rocky Mountains are where I feel most at home. In the time I have been up here I have met a lot of people, made some lifelong friends, got to do some incredible things and have amazing experiences the whole time starting on the very first day I moved up here. There has been the good but there has also been some agonizing heartbreak and pain, a motorcycle wreck, two surgeries, deeply personal loss, a couple of really shitty “human” beings and 13 addresses. It’s a bit sad for me to think about leaving…but it’s what I need to do. It has been great up here all in all but it’s time for a new and different road to travel to some new adventures.

So I’m doing it.

February 17th, 2020 – Day 9: Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Kansas City, MO USA

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

IMG_0221

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!!