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.

December 11th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

I got the tailgate lock fixed today, got the mouse repellent put in the trailer and the truck, and I got the water system in the trailer winterized. I gotta try some other things on the check engine light problem, but I do have an oil change and service appointment set up already. It needs an oil change no matter, but if I can fix the other myself that’ll save a few hundred dollars. If I cannot figure it out by then, they can do it. It is getting worse gas mileage and running a bit rough so it needs fixed.

After I made some stir-fry for lunch, I took the dog for a walk and we went to some ponds to see the birds that were hanging out. He was very interested in them – he was more curious than wanting to get to them. We got in about two miles just on that walk, but I have logged a total of five today. I am trying to get a lot more active to be healthier. I have walked all over Seattle several times, and all the places in Europe we walked several miles. I kinda put it aside for a bit but I am getting after it now.

Tonight it is Lebowski night. Yep, “The Big Lebowski”, one of my favorite movies. The Coen brothers, just like Wes Anderson, do some great movies and I like most all of them. I have “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” also; this just may turn into a Coen brothers night!

One scene in the movie in particular is kind of personal to me. Sit back as I tell you my tale. And yes…this story is true (I told you I have a lot of stories; some are pretty wild, but some will never be spoken of). You might not want to drink or eat anything while reading it…

I used to mow grass in a huge cemetery. This one elderly lady had died, and her husband came to the gravesite every day. He would sit there in his car several hours, sometimes several times a day, and stare at the mound of dirt where she was buried. A very touching scene. I believe it was mid-June when this happened.

One day in July he didn’t show up. He died, probably of a broken heart. They had been together for a long, long, LONG time and it was really sad but it was nice to see that kind of love. His ashes were scattered on her grave. They were together forever. Until…

It was a really humid and hot Kansas day (over 100° F). I had no shirt on (back when I would not get a ticket for that) and I was sweating bullets. It was a brutal day. Mowing in a cemetery you are always closely watching the edging along the gravestones and markers so you don’t tear them up but minimize the trimming. So, there I was mowing along and “POOF!”.

When it happened I thought I had hit some loose dirt – it was a good-sized cloud, and it happened to us often every day. Boy, was I surprised. I came to a stop, sitting there motionless for a moment after I saw it wasn’t soil stuck on me – like a person on a hidden camera show. I was covered in human ashes and looking like a powderded donut, laughing incredulously/nervously at what had just happened to me…all while spitting out and wiping stuff from my mouth and eyes. I had run over the ashes with the mower and the wind blew them back all over my sweaty body and face. Of course the upper part of me got it the worst. When I finally realized what had happened and discovered the morbid truth I got over to the water faucet pretty damn fast. That Lebowski scene when they go to commit Donny’s ashes to the sea reminds me of when it happened to me for real.

Not sure what tomorrow brings yet. I will probably try to look at the truck problem again but probably not much else. It is the weekend and it’s going to be crowded. I don’t want to take part in that. Rather, I won’t take part in that.

Have a great Saturday everyone!

December 10th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

Relief.

I believe I now have pretty much everything important done that I needed to do after moving. I am finally able to do some kicking back, getting outside doing some walks and dealing with this pesky animal I have 😁. I got the storage items swapped into the new unit this morning so that’s done. I was even able to take a few more things out of the house over for storage. It’s not heated, but it is a bit bigger than the one I moved out of and it’s cheaper. If I need to keep something out of the cold I will simply bring it home. I got it when I was in the trailer and had no warm storage for things.

I did some living room area rearranging and organizing so my desktop 27″ Mac is now my TV. After being offline for six months it finally updated the software as much as it can. It is eight years old but still works so I am taking advantage of it, watching movies and videos on it and I will use it as a bigger monitor on my laptop on top of working on more music. I only watch streaming and DVDs so I don’t need a TV and don’t really want to buy one anyhoo.

I take the dog out after dark every night so he can take care of his evening paperwork (since he doesn’t have opposable thumbs he cannot open the door himself; I figure since I’m up opening the door for him I might as well just take him out and get some exercise too). I have been taking him out in the yard, but a few nights ago I began taking him down the driveway. Then we take a walk up the road, and there’s no mud like in the yard.

We made a few trips down and back last night. It was a beautiful clear night so I was hoping to catch the Northern Lights they talked about on the web. I never saw them but I read today where the forecast was incorrect – that kind of thing is very hard to predict I guess. We never saw anything other than a sky full of stars and the Big Dipper spinning in a circle. I need to get my tripod and DSLR book out and make a time lapse of that.

The final trip out last night we were starting down the driveway and all of a sudden a chorus of what sounded to be about 20 coyote pups started yipping and barking. He stopped, I stopped…and we called off the mission and went into the yard instead. I guess that’s why I keep a towel for him by the door.

I have to take the tailgate apart on the truck and fix the lock so I guess I need to look it up on YouTube. While I am on there I will have another look at some ideas and ways to test the MAF sensor. The check engine light is on so it throws an error for the sensor and I just replaced it. I’ll look into that maybe tomorrow and fix the lock, but I also need to get it into the dealer for an oil change. If I cannot figure out the issue then they can look into it when the oil gets changed.

I picked up some mouse-repelling packets for my truck and trailer. I have had them build a nest in the console of my old Explorer before and I know someone whose wiring under the hood had to be completely replaced due to mouse chewing. This repellent is all natural (peppermint leaves and some other herbs) and non-lethal – it just keeps them away. I have heard of people using dryer sheets but others say it is a myth. I should go do that tomorrow. With the cooler, wetter weather I am sure they want a dry place to be so I need to stop it before it starts. With my freed-up schedule and okay weather I need to get things done while I can.

I am still waiting for my e-bike to get here. I knew with the holidays it would be slow to arrive so it’s fine. It’ll get here when it gets here and not before. It is in the pipeline so I may have it early next week. I have been watching videos on helpful tips and am anxious to get it. I think it will be so much fun to travel with when I get out again. The one big thing I am excited about is using it to go to town on the trail and not taking the truck. The Post Office is even closer so that will be a great e-bike errand as well. I don’t get the mail every day usually, but I may now and get some exercise doing it. I do plan to use the pedal-assist mode – it’s not going to be an electric motorcycle. I guess I need to start looking at helmets…

That’s about all for now. This blogger is headed to bed.

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 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.