October 29th, 2020

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

Tuesday I returned from the northwest and another adventure. I went back up to Washington to take care of a few things and hopefully see a few people.

I got up fairly early to get some things done before taking off on this trip. I had to wait for things to thaw and have a little bit more daylight so I ended up leaving a bit later than I usually like to but safety is important. I am leaving a day early to get up there since the weather has been nasty yet unpredictable and I need to be there.

Yes. There really is a town in Washington called “George”

The forecast for the weather was bad and got worse plus the following weekend was going to be bad as well. I just did not feel the need to risk safety to pull the trailer over and back. On the way over the winds were ferocious; there were whitecaps on the Columbia River! I had to cancel my campground reservations due to the weather and it’s more than strange for me these days to stay in a hotel. But I am doing it.

I stopped at a hotel on my way; these days I’d rather make it more leisurely if possible. Staying in a hotel kinda freaks me out more than a bit right now to be honest, but it is getting better already. I got to thinking about it differently, trying to assure myself it’s gonna be okay. The logic I am using is that we were in Europe in all of this at the start. We were careful and avoided touching surfaces in public place with bare hands and were always very conscious of our hands. We were still elbow to elbow with people from all over in Amsterdam and on the trains in Germany and the Netherlands plus all of our flights. We all came back as fit as when we left, and it is because we were cautious.

That said, though, I sprayed the hell out of everything with industrial disinfectant the moment I walked in the door to both my hotels last week. Sure, it is a pain in the ass the first time for certain but worth the trouble sanitizing everything in the room. They can say whatever they want but I do it myself and I know it is done. Not saying anything about anyone in particular, but it is for MY peace of mind.

It’s a big jump for me personally. I want to go back to Europe as soon as I possibly can, but I gotta get past some of these phobias to be able to go and be comfortable and have fun. That way when things get a little better I can face it and go without hesitation. My dream trip is I want to go for 6-8 weeks. Many places are closed to US passports right now, so it’s either wait or cut back on the time and maybe get to go earlier to fewer places. Finding someone to be able to go with for that long may be tough, too, but I could piece it together with a few people meeting up in different places. That might be kinda fun to do but someone for the duration would be cool too. I got an e-mail today for cheap airfares to Finland. In January. Just imagine how damn cold that would be…

So no big plans while I was there. Saw one friend the day after I got in to drop off some hot sauce for him to try. We stood about 20 feet apart in his driveway. Almost all my friends are quarantining out of caution so I did not see anyone and I do respect that. Otherwise I just kicked back relaxing and taking a few drives based around my appointments. That was the plan.

Meghan ended up going over to a place south of Tacoma for some dog-related things. We decided it would be best for us to follow each other back given the possible road issues so we met up in Ellensburg and went on to Coeur d’Alene for a night in a hotel. Beyond there hotels are few and fart apart, cell service is spotty for quite a while and there are a couple of mountain passes to be concerned about.

We got up the next day and left. It is a real good thing we stopped when we did, though. A few spots were pretty nasty and we would have been driving through there as darkness fell. We have been through there enough to know the roads pretty well and when to not take chances.

We got back to the house and it was time to take care of a few things in the trailer. I was pretty concerned about my new Nespresso machine freezing after the heater shut off and things froze. Luckily I emptied the water before I left and it is working fine. The extreme cold stretched out a few of my canned goods but everything else seems to be okay – no fluids anywhere. With winter in the neighborhood I will have to be leaving here a little earlier than what we had originally thought. The electricity I need to be hooked up to for heat and keeping the battery charged is needed to keep the horse trough (and the hose to fill it) thawed out. Meghan won’t be working as much so it all works out good other than I will really miss seeing everyone here.

With all of this going on I am now in the stages of thinking about wrapping things up to leave. It’s a bit odd to think of after being here helping out for the last five months. I didn’t want to be here in winter; I lived in a house for six years at 10,500 feet with seven months of winter (one storm alone five FEET accumulated at that house – not including the gale-force winds), and after that it was a house at 8400 feet for ten years and snow often. I have had enough winter. I am no longer a fan of the snow like that after dealing with it living in the mountains for many years. If I want to drive to see the snow that is one thing, but I don’t want it coming to me. I certainly won’t miss these winds either!

I am not quite sure where I am going for the next few weeks yet but know where I am going after that. I have appointments next month I have to be at but I have the time to go someplace now if I want. This time of year is tough with the possibilities of weather challenges, and the pandemic adds another dimension. I was thinking of a few places to go but the ‘rona is really making me consider my options differently and more closely.

I’ll be heading over to get a few things from storage before I take off. With the trailer being only 15 feet long it is very limiting so I have to choose what I need to take very carefully while realizing I won’t have access to my storage unit for a while. I really don’t like not having my stuff scattered states away but for now it’s best to leave my storage here. Extra clothing this time of year is important and that takes up extra space. Luckily I have had the time to shake things down as far as needs vs. wants. One big thing was realizing that I will have to make more frequent trips for groceries. Not that I will have to go daily, but limits such as there’s only room for one box of pasta and not two without giving up room for something else. It’s been an adjustment (along with no freezer space for prepped meals) as I usually have well-stocked shelves.

That’s to0day’s update.

September 30th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Road Trip, Scotty Hilander, Travel

Looks like US 2 near Skykomish!

Got up with the alarm this morning…only because I forgot to turn the weekly alarm schedule off. Oh well. I got up and put everything away and took off toward Newport on US 2, overt to Sandpoint, then south on US 95 to I-90. I chose this route, and backtracked a few miles to get on US 2 in a certain spot.

I did this because driving the length of US 2 across the country is a goal of mine, but now I have been on the entire route in WA and ID, as well as about a third of MT. Doesn’t matter…piecing it together or all at once. You are still driving it either way and there is no real need to cover it all again once you have done it. It saves time and fuel as well.

Priest River, ID

It was another beautiful drive and a nice day for it and a nice day for a stop at a local landmark. Nothing to do with food this time!

Cataldo Mission, ID

I have driven this highway several times and have been wanting to stop and see the Cataldo Mission, the oldest building in Idaho. With the weather being cool enough the dog waited impatiently in the car while I went in the building.

It was a really interesting building to see. There are some interesting details on how it was built and some nice interpretive signs on the grounds. I did not go in the museum (maybe when there’s no pandemic I will) and there were way too many people inside (no masks, of course) so I spent very little time looking and missed out on some of the history behind it.

We got back on the highway and continued on. There are a few other things I want to stop and see at some point but they may be closed now that summer is over.

Fall, indeed.

The bad thing about travel is it usually has to end at some point. However, you can always look forward to the next trip. Being retired I don’t have to settle for one or maybe two trips a year; I can go whenever I want. I got back, parked the trailer, and settled back in. I always feel fortunate when I do get to go see and do things and I never take any of it for granted. I enjoy the experiences – big and small, good and otherwise – and I always take away something from every trip I take.

I watched a documentary called “Iconicity” on Prime that was pretty interesting. It’s quirky and not for many, but I found it interesting and it made me want to visit the places in the video. It is about art, but also about the people and lifestyles in places like Salvation Mountain/Slab City and the Salton Sea. That area has kind of fascinated me since I saw another documentary about the music scene in the Low Desert. I’ll get that way someday.

Well, it’s an early morning for me so I am done for today.

Until next time, stay safe and stay strong.

September 28th, 2020

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

Today, I woke up.

YAY!!!

Seriously, today I wanted to get somewhat of an early start to drive back over and down to Coeur d’Alene. I have never been downtown or by the waterfront so I wanted to do that. And, it JUST so happens that there is a famous place there I want to eat called Hudson’s Hamburgers.

I left the KOA and Apple Maps routed me east and south through Idaho which is how I wanted to go anyway since it is a road I had not been on. It ended up being a very scenic drive through gold farmlands in amongst the dark green hills. A very beautiful drive and one worth the time – it took me an hour and twenty minutes or so to get to where I was going. If you have ever driven through CdA/Spokane on I-90 you will understand avoiding that mess even by taking backroads.

I got into downtown and it’s a nice area if you are a shopper and like sidewalk cafes and beers – not really my kind of place to hang out. I got parked and just 600 feet around the corner there it was. Hudson’s. Nothing fancy and a very limited menu. Since I was here for a burger, I ordered up a cheeseburger with spicy mustard and onion. I stepped outside, unwrapped it and angels sang as a bright light shot out of the wrapper. Absolutely one of THE best burgers I have ever eaten. Yes, he said “ever”. Juicy, homestyle burger cooked perfectly, a slab of white onion and some fairly spicy brown mustard. I damn near went back for a second one it was so good. That alone was worth driving over six hours yesterday and the drive down to the restaurant.

I took a walk around the area, but since I am not really a shopper it didn’t do much for me. I did stop and buy an almond blackberry cookie at a bakery that was a little spendy but it was really good. I decided to get back on I-90 and head west of Spokane to pick up US 2/395 north toward the trailer.

I took my exit, and of all the bad luck there was a Dick’s Hamburgers joint at the bottom of the ramp. NOT all Dick’s are the same. This is not affiliated with the chain in the Seattle area. But, it has piqued my curiosity driving past it many times and ever since I ate at the Seattle ones as much as possible as you know from previous posts.

This was quite different than the Seattle ones but still a pretty good burger, and both are definitely much different than Hudson’s. I thought the fries were good but the Seattle ones have a soft spot as a similar memory from my childhood – my grandma’s hand-cut fries cooked in a cast iron skillet in lard. One of the top four fries I have ever eaten (Dick’s, my grandma’s, the ones at the bar near Grand Coulee Dam, the duckfat-cooked fries in Galway at a pub). Anyway, Hudson’s you MUST stop at and any Dick’s location east or west you cannot go wrong for different reasons.

Rider and I headed back to the trailer. I don’t think he is feeling very good. He hasn’t eaten much the last few days which isn’t normal. We got back and I tied him up outside. He eventually got to feeling a bit more lively and we took a walk over to the lake. I think tomorrow we are gonna just stay here and take the trail around the lake, and maybe walk around other parts of the campground.

It’s pretty quiet here right now but it is probably hopping when there’s no pandemic. They have a lot of family activities here along with the little lake and it is also part of a camping club network so yeah…it gets busy. But it is a nice place and the people are very friendly. It has great ratings and I see why. Not my usual style of camping but I knew I could get a spot here.

I actually ran into an issue in a spot last night and had to be moved. No, it was not another redneck blowhard asshat. It was an odd problem; the sewer pipe hook-up pipe was higher than my trailer tank outlets so they just would not drain. Of course I discovered this after I had already unhooked the trailer and got it set up. Something to remember to check for more often. I talked to them about the problem and they moved me to a better site and there was no extra charge. Luckily I had only hooked up the grey water and not the black but I knew what I needed to test it with and it wasn’t poo-related.

Sometimes I buy frozen Bird’seye garlic chicken with vegetables and pasta and it is really good. They came out with a new plant-based protein version (made with Gardein brand Chik’n) and it was not bad at all. Tonight I stir-fried it up (without the garlic butter) in some General Tso’s sauce. It was pretty good, but I find myself steering away from that old favorite to something less sweet and more savory these days. I guess my tastes have changed considerably as I noticed this about a year ago. I guess it’s why I have been eating more Thai food the last few years.

Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and I forgot I used all of my eggs up so I guess it will be either bacon and cheese in a tortilla (a “breakfadilla©” I shall call it and © 2020) or a Noosa yogurt. I did not realize it until I got back earlier but I didn’t want to leave again – not even tomorrow. I just want a down day to go hike around. I’ll make it work!

This has been a very relaxing trip so far. Today after we got back I just sat on the tailgate of my truck looking and listening for an hour or so. I am looking forward to the walk around the lake, too, and I know the dog will like that. It looks to be another gorgeous day tomorrow so it will be a great day to really lay back. Yeah, there’s several days of stuff to see and do around here but I only have a few days so I’m having a slack day.

It is very pleasant outside tonight. Cool but not too, perfectly still air and fairly quiet – a nearly-perfect evening that recharges you. The dog wanted to go for a stroll to check the irrigation so we walked leisurely down the road a bit and came back as he inspected; I have not seen a night like this in quite some time and it is so nice…even soothing. We have had cool nights but the never-ending wind…well, it never ends.

Getting out on these trips brings out the travel bug in a big way. It feels good to be on the road seeing things. I am so ready to get back to Europe I cannot stand it. I have been thinking about both my trips over and the girls and I were talking about our trip again. I need a long stay – enough to rent a place for a month, then another place for a month, and maybe a third, all in different countries. I still have enough miles to schedule a flight but I just can’t go for it yet.

I went out to close the front window cover a few minutes ago and had this weird flashback of doing the same thing in Banff National Park in September 2012 (almost eight years to the day…within a few weeks). My parents let me take the trailer to Washington State when I was moving, and I had a pretty big adventure. It’s why I started this blog. I didn’t know much about the trailer but I got through it and learned along the way. I have learned so much and I am still learning not just about the trailer, but a different way to live. It has an oddness and uncertainty about it most people would think “no, it’s not for me”, and rightfully so, I guess. It really is not for everyone. I really am enjoying it though. Most importantly I have had a lot of fun doing it.

It’s now time to kick back for the evening.

See you next time!

September 27th, 2020

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

Guess you can’t have it both ways…

Hard to believe another summer has come and gone and it is nearly October. It certainly feels like Fall in the air now and it is a welcomed change from that 100 degree BS of not long ago. The days have been pleasant, the nights cool, but the air is still choked with smoke. A few days ago the air cleared out and it was once again clear and breathable. Too bad it only lasted the one day.

With the weather getting cooler I am having to make some adjustments in the trailer. I now have to keep an eye on the cooler temps to make sure things don’t freeze but that has only been an issue a couple of nights so far. I have been using the electric heat instead of the propane furnace but I will be digging out the electric blanket at some point when I can figure out where it is buried in the storage unit. I also put some long sleeve shirts in the trailer and put the kilt in storage but left out a pair of shorts just in case. It is that time of year when you don’t know how to dress on any given day so best be prepared for most anything. It is the mountain way of life!

He’s loving this travel thing too!

Since it is getting into the time of year where travel in the northern part of the country starts shutting down, this morning I left for a campground north of Spokane, WA for possibly one of the few remaining leisure trips with the trailer this year. I did hope to get out a day or two sooner but the winds were blowing so hard that towing the trailer would be too dangerous, so between that and avoiding the weekend crowds I decided to leave today. It’s going to be about 6-7 hours of driving (adding extra time to stop for more fuel and exercise breaks).

Other than an old truck with a bumper sticker that said “You’re about to exceed the limitations of my medication” that made me laugh out loud, it was an uneventful drive and a nice day for a drive other than a little headwind. This is the first trip with the truck pulling the trailer up over a couple of fairly steep passes and it ran great. Plenty of power and the gas mileage improved even over the passes.

I have a few days here to relax and explore this area. I have not really spent much time in this area but I have been through areas west and east of here and north into Canada (too bad it’s still closed at the border) in years past. One really nice thing about being in a campground like this is your rig is pretty safe if you want to go adventure out doing some day trips. I plan on taking advantage of that every day since the forecast is not too bad for the next few days. The full utilities are certainly nice to have and come back to at the end of the day, especially having electricity on these cold nights. I do like the solitude of boondocking, though.

I got here right at the tail-end of the open season for the campground here. I believe they said this coming weekend is it for the year so I lucked out. It is in a really nice setting – lots of trees and a lake nearby that we will go check out at some point.

Tomorrow I am probably going to go back south to check out stuff around the cities plus I am on a food mission. I have never stopped here for more than a night in a hotel or the trailer and I thought this would be a good opportunity to see some of this area and not be rushed of crushed by tourists. It is a pretty area with lots of trees and Lake Coeur d’Alene is beautiful.

Tonight, however, it’s time to do some stir-fry noodles in the wok and relax with a beverage.

August 17th, 2020

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

A sign I saw today…

Today it was another road trip!

This adventure started in Anaconda, Montana. Anaconda has a rich and varied history so click on the link to learn more. It is an old town and there are many cool buildings. One interesting thing there is the historic Anaconda Smelter Stack. I thought you could go up to it but apparently not – at least not that I could see. I did stop and snag a few pictures though:

Anaconda Smelter Stack
Anaconda Smelter Stack

I left Anaconda and took MT-43 – a two-lane road the led me to the southwest corner of the state – an area I had never been to. It was absolutely one of the top drives I have ever taken. Stunning scenery made of the stuff that make the blue highways the best way to travel to really see the country. Interstates get you there in generic fashion but it’s certainly faster. Finding the balance is the key if time is precious, but if you are in no hurry the backroads should be your first choice.

As you can see, the scenery was incredible:

Mountains, grasslands, ranches, rivers, forests, historic sites…the terrain ran the the gamut along this road. I saw some incredible four-wheeling opportunities and it made me think back of all the fun we had and the trips we made off-roading in Big Red back in the forests of Colorado.

I can see taking this road again, especially since I found…

Can you ever have too much???

It was here I had a choice to make as far as getting back to the house, but me being me I decided to take the long way. I was pretty close (about 10 miles) to a National Park site I had never been to and wanted to see.

I have a National Parks Passport book so I thought I would see how busy it was and if it wasn’t I would put on the mask and gloves and go inside real quick to get my book stamped. It wasn’t to be since the visitor center was closed. At least the site was open and I could look around.

I did not get out and walk around much. I knew it was going to be several hours on the road on this journey so I really did not have much time to spare. Not to mention bear activity was posted and I have no bear spray. I did drive down below to where the parking area is to hike around on the battlefield. I don’t like to rush like this and want to come back again and see this area at a more leisurely pace. Along with this site there are many more tied in with it around the area as well as a rich history with the Lewis and Clark Expeditions. I am interested in historical things/history and this whole trip ended up being more history than I imagined.

I decided to continue on over to Idaho on MT-43, up Chief Joseph Pass to US 93 then south toward Salmon, Idaho. I have been on this highway before back in 2012 on one of my many road trips, that particular one with my friend Rich. Some of it looked familiar (an uncanny knack I have for remembering places from long ago that I have been to…).

One of many interpretive signs along US 93

I ventured on down to Salmon, ID…birthplace of Sacajawea. The entire trip down 93 from the pass had several signs about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I did not stop at all of them – some snuck up on me and I was not going to backtrack.

As with many places out West and in the mountainous areas, if you look closely on some of the hillsides you will see what looks like a narrow road. More than likely those were wagon roads that were later converted into being used for railroad tracks. Some can be hiked on and you will see old trestles, rock walls, and tunnels along these trails. I have driven on some that the current roads were laid on top of the old roadbeds. In Colorado I have hiked through some of the old tunnels and crossed old trestles. It is really interesting to do.

I took ID-28 out of Salmon, heading southeast. Just as you leave town there is a visitor center with beautiful grounds dedicated to Sacajawea. I stopped to just drive through and look – too many people for me. Along this road there were many more signs about the expedition.

It was along this stretch a big dose of reality hit. No, I did not run out of gas. It was this:

My long way just turned in to a longer way. I was planning on cutting through the forest to start heading back north but the road was closed at Tendoy. This fire was going to make the day longer…several hours longer. This meant driving almost down to Idaho Falls then cutting back north. I was already making a long trip in a day, but what else can you do but roll with it? It was either that or backtrack and I’m retired.

I continued to watch the fire as I ventured on south. When I got to the next turn to go in the forest on ID-29 I took it. No closed signs so that was good news, but I called the Ranger Station just to check. She said the road appeared to be open so I went for it. I really did not think I could get through once I got to the top but it was still open so I went down the other side.

Being in he middle of a closed area when there is a forest fire is pretty damn scary. I did it a few years ago to look for campers and it scared the hell out of me. This time was not as scary but still intimidating since I was driving right under the smoke plume as it was blowing east. As you can see by the pictures I was very close – I was surprised they even had that road opened to be honest.

I got through the area and continued on through more beautiful scenery but I think they might have been closing it after I went through. I was heading toward I-15 to go north toward Dillon, then more two-lane adventures and beautiful surroundings heading northeast toward Whitehall.

I ended up driving roughly 470-miles today. Not a lot of driving on a long trip/vacation when you think about it, but it just seems like a lot when you are doing it as a day trip. It is all the same though…and it beats sitting at home!