August 8th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

First, I want to add a few thoughts about my last post.

I try to stay as apolitical (and secular) as possible on this blog and it is extremely difficult to do that in these effed-up times. There is more than enough negativity going on in certain parts of the world that I will not call out…but you know where I am talking about. Those who know me know I am pretty outspoken about the bullshit that is going on right now. I try not to let it bleed over into my blog these days but I have in the past, and a few years ago I went back and deleted any previous ramblings about anything political.

That being said, the song I posted was written by John Kay of Steppenwolf. You can look up his biography on your own, but I will give you a little info.

If you listen closely to the powerful words of that song those are words written by a man who knows oppression well. He was born in 1944 in East Prussia. His dad died in WWII when he only a year or so old. When the Allied powers took it upon themselves to divide up Europe after the war (to the victor go the spoils), the area where he was living as a very young child with his mom was taken over by the Soviet Union. It later became East Germany and was ruled with an iron fist.

When he was the ripe old age of five his mother smuggled her son out of the country to a better place (this was before the Berlin Wall). If you listen to interviews with him his story is actually quite fascinating. He listened to the radio often and he constantly heard political propaganda and news about uprisings. As he got a bit older he started understanding what was going on, determining what was right and wrong. All of this happening during those early years in his life made him politicized at a very young age and he has carried that throughout his career and life. He said that something like 1 in every 17 people in East Germany were spies for the government and turned people in to the Stasi (the secret police, much like the SS or DHS) if they were deemed “subversive”. If you want more info on his story do a search. There are some great documentaries and interviews with him on the internet.

So, you see this wasn’t some “goddamned dope-smoking hippie waving peace signs and shoving flowers in gun barrels” (not like that was ever a bad thing) talking shit about the government (that either). This is a guy who lived through it firsthand and understood it. He saw it not only as a young boy but later as an adult in the 60s and 70s and he wrote about it. He spoke up about it. For someone to write such a timeless song like that in his mid-20s, taken from his real-world experiences at such a young age, is amazing and it is still relevant today.

I will still keep this blog apolitical going forward, but that is a real conundrum for me as I am a person of principle. By NOT speaking up you are a huge part of the problem, but I do not want to alienate the people who DO look at my blog or future visitors who might – so, therein lies the rub. I also do not want someone stalking me to harass me since I have my own opinion and it may not be what certain others think it should be (and that doesn’t seem to be very popular these days). It has gotten so ridiculously bad (and dangerous) in this country that you get ridiculed/condemned/harassed/shot at/beat up for wearing a certain t-shirt (or even a mask), having a certain bumper sticker on your vehicle or even expressing an opinion that you are entitled to express. And, quite honestly, I resent any son of a bitch taking away my freedom to do any of those things and I am goddamned sick of the hatred and the negativity.

I don’t have a lot of people following or reading my blog but I do try to make it fun and interesting. This went a bit away from thatI realize but it is very important to speak up as much as you can. I am not apologetic for it and I will not apologize for it. I do sincerely hope you keep stopping by and reading my blog even if you disagree. If you don’t continue reading you have the freedom to do just that as well and I wish you peace.

Getting back on the point…I just wanted to post an interesting song with a timeless message to get people to think a little for themselves instead of being sheeple. In addition, I also thought it would help for my readers to understand how the writer’s past inspired him to write it and understand how your life can be directly affected by traumatic and powerful events, especially when they are horrific and inhumane.

Think about it.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

…and now back to our regular programming

I had to go to Urgent Care and get The Swab in my brain again last week. I got a combination of a cold, allergies, and horrible air quality that started out with a runny nose and ended up getting into my lungs – pretty typical for me. Since I am in a couple of high risk groups for the ‘rona I had to do it out of caution. I have to have an outpatient procedure done in two weeks so I’ll be getting another one next week. Yay! I caught this in the nick of time as I am prone to respiratory problems and pneumonia. It has been a few years since I had this but it was a yearly thing for a while. I’d walk in to the doctor’s office, tell them this is what is going on, this is what will happen and they listen and then give me something to get rid of it.

Being sick has set me back on any more current travel plans. I had to quarantine until my swab came back negative, but luckily it was not as long as the first one. Since I had respiratory issues already going on, and I have COPD, it got expedited. I quarantine until I get the results because that is what you should do until you know for sure. If it happened to come back positive (which I was fairly certain it would be negative) I didn’t want anyone else to get it.

I had to postpone my hand surgery for now. I will probably go back to WA to get it done since all my doctors are there and they are familiar with my concerns. I was really wanting to get it done now but with the timing it will be best to wait so this will possibly affect any travel I was wanting to do in the Fall. It won’t be as bad as recovering from my shoulder surgery, but it’s definitely more recovery than cutting yourself shaving.

Speaking of travel, I read an article about travel bloggers getting grief from people about traveling and posting about it. Since I write a blog that pertains to travel I want to say a few things about that.

First, this goes back to what I was talking about earlier as far as people harassing others. If you don’t like what they post then quit looking, shut up and move along. Change the damn channel.

Second, I will not stay in a hotel, ride public transit, fly in a plane…no way, no how, not yet. I have talked before about how my trailer is my sanctuary from being in public places; I have a place with my own bathroom, I’m cooking my own food, staying away from people, avoiding overcrowded places. I also go in no more places than I absolutely need to…just like every day when I am not traveling – I get groceries (which I now am doing curbside pick-up for) and I wear gloves and pay at the pump for my fuel. I avoid public places almost to a fault, and some may think I am overboard about it, but I am not taking any chances on getting sick.

To me, traveling in an RV/trailer/truck camper or even a tent is pretty acceptable as long as you can do these things and stay away from people. Don’t go see the Grand Canyon or Yo-semite, but spend a week in the forest by a stream. It is probably more relaxing and you are away from strangers. Take any necessary precautions still, but you are much safer than being in a hotel after a taxi-ride from the airport.

Travel is an escape for people. It’s a way to get your head clear, see some amazing things, and get away from the everyday struggles of life. Road trips are a good way to do this and I find the highway very therapeutic. It can be affordable and is a lot of fun. The way I travel is really no different than being home since I limit all interactions with others and take the necessary precautions I need to.

Third, I am not an “influencer”. This is not my job; sure, I wish I could make a lot of money doing this but it is more for friends, family and whomever else stops by my blog to keep up with what’s going on (but if someone wants to send me bags of real money or checks that will clear the bank please do so!). Yeah, I could possibly get more people following if I were on Instantgram, YubaTuba or Fecesbook, but in my various jobs the last eight years I have seen firsthand what social networks do to beautiful places in the outdoors (social network graffiti in the backcountry on buildings and natural objects, places overwhelmed with people, nature being trampled and destroyed) and I will not stoop that low to make money or so I can feel accepted by others.

Finally, I think that if people are careful, WEARING A DAMN MASK, social distancing, and being conscious of their actions then travel and blog away. It may help someone else get some enjoyment while quarantined (or even sick), or it can even help people you know find out what you are up to. I will say, though, that doing something “just to get it on social media” is pretty ridiculous and egotistical. A while back I saw an article about people buying toilet seats, putting a picture behind it, and taking a selfie to make it look like they were in an airplane looking out the window. Really?!?! Just how pathetic is your life that you need to do that?

Travel just to travel and not because you “need” to plan a trip just to post your life. Slow down and enjoy where you are for what it is and not as a photo op. If you do that then the haters might just back off a bit – otherwise it comes off as boasting, especially in this pandemic. I think that people are too consumed about trying to impress others. It’s really a shame because you miss so much if you travel like that. For me, I take a trip that I want to take because it is someplace I want to go, and I always have a lot of fun (even on trips when there are problems that arise). I take some pictures (because I want to take them not because I “need” to post them), and I may eventually write a few blog entries and add a few interesting pictures to share with others for no reason other than to share with the people I mentioned above. I am not under any pressure from anyone to outdo myself or anyone else and it is not to boast or one-up anyone. I travel because I love to travel; the blog is secondary.

The other part of the equation is a question: Just why can’t everyone leave others the hell alone? Is it jealousy? If you are traveling responsibly and not flaunting the health recommendations (like WEAR A DAMN MASK or quarantining after arriving) then you should have nothing to worry about. It is why I don’t post my trips in real time, why I don’t post where I am when I am there, and why comments on my post do not publish unless I say so (and just maybe someone simply wants to send me a personal message – no need for those to go live – so feel free to contact me if you want).

I bring this lengthy post to a close now. I know this has been a bit out of the norm for my blog, but mainly I wanted to make a point about the song posted a few days ago.

Hope to see you next time.

June 20th, 2020

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

I decided to do more reorganization today. Okay, I really just wanted another Meday. I’m finding a few things not very practical the way I had it packed, though, so I decided to revisit it once again after coffee and breakfast.

No I don’t have OCD. With limited space you have to really think about convenience – just like spending two weeks in Europe with nothing more than what’s on your back. You can constantly shuffle stuff around or you can look at your workflow and simplify it to move as few things as possible.

After living with the organization I did the last time for this trip I knew I needed to remove/relocate more stuff. I took a few more things out of the trailer (like all the plates and bowls except what I can get by with) and packed them into a rolling tub in the truck bed (it’s just me right now). More space in the trailer for what I actually need but still available if needed. I think I am going to need to go back to a suitcase for keeping clothes organized. It will stay in the truck. I was able to pack things in the bed of the truck more efficiently and it will be more useful as well.

I found the chlorine bleach I had stashed away so I finally got the water tank sanitized again, rinsed, and refilled. This place must be on a well – it is some great-tasting water. Good place for a water fill up!

Changing to the other bed has helped quite a bit, and the packing changes I made earlier will work out best for either bed being set up as a bed or seating area with a table. I think I will set up and take down the front bed/dinette each day for even more space and see how that goes (it’s actually fast and easy compared to the rear dinette). The dog won’t know what to think when he sees it. There’s a lot more room for him to stretch out and it’s less cluttered.

After getting things wrapped back up for what will hopefully be the final time reorganizing. I am now sitting outside in the shade again. I just finished up a bowl of pasta and am rather enjoying doing nothing in particular. Wish I woulda grabbed a couple of beers.

During my breakfast I got a plan figured out for tomorrow to at least get into Wyoming. I just don’t know yet where I’ll end up. I want to boondock away from people so bad but with the furnace acting up I cannot risk it. It has been nice having utilities (“hook ups” really doesn’t sound very good – hahaha) while getting things like organizing and some minor mechanical things worked out without having to worry about how to stay warm/cool. Soon after I get back I will be looking into getting the furnace inspected so I am back to staying dry and warm with clean-burning Strickland propane.

As I was sitting here enjoying just sitting here I was looking up a bird on my birding app and discovered it was a Bullock’s Oriole. I started playing the calls and songs on my app and they all came over to the tree above me to see who the new kid in town was. It was fun and I got to see them closer but they have a chatter that is annoying. I was very careful when looking up!

Everyone in this RV park seems pretty nice. One guy stopped by asking about the trailer then came back over to ask more questions. Unless I have someone traveling with me I am pretty much a loner on the road so when people “pop by” it’s weird if it is more than a hello and a short conversation. I have gotten several questions about the trailer while out on my adventure.

The conversation went on too long – I could tell what his political leanings were when he started spouting out bullshit. Then the questions about being retired – “…you must be doing well”. “You got something going on you’re not telling.”. You get the drift. I wasn’t having it. When this stuff came up I decided I had enough and went to have supper and finish the water system. He said he’d be back later so I avoided that situation.

As far as politics and religion, mind your own damn business and keep it to yourself. Quit forcing your beliefs and dictator on others, and just like my financial situation, none of it is any of your concern. I could see through this guy’s BS from the start and hoped he would cut it short. He didn’t so I did. I don’t want to be an a-hole but I am not putting up with it.

Mysteriously the carbon monoxide detector went off again but neither furnace nor fridge were running on propane. However the propane water heat was on and the widow above it was open since I had just flushed the system and was heating water for a shower. I am thinking it may have sucked the fumes in through the window, at least perhaps this time. I cannot remember if the window was closed or anything was running that first time but I think the first time it went off it may have been the same as today. The second time I am not sure. I will still get everything checked thoroughly when I get back.

Last bit of housekeeping was, well, housekeeping. Sweeping out the floor and shaking the rugs. The Scotty is clean and ready to go to the next spot tomorrow.

I have been able to sit out in my little courtyard the past couple of days, safe in knowing that just two spaces east of my spot is an honest-to-goodness member of the Zombie Outbreak Tactical Response Team.

No, Seriously.

I. Don’t. Know. I. Just. Don’t Know. This country is truly going insane

I don’t really know what else to say right now…

June 18th, 2020

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

Gee, it’s good to be back home again…

I woke up after a pretty lousy night’s sleep, got coffee and breakfast. I woke up at 4 A.M. with a bad headache after tossing and turning all night. I should have put on my eye mask last night because the neighbors left their outdoor LED string of lights on all night and it shone right into my eyes through the back window. Pretty disrespectful to those around you. I like the peace and quiet and the light disturbs that.

The winds were supposed to be gone this morning but the trailer is shaking from the winds even more than last night. Gusts up to 45 currently on the NOAA webpage. I want to push on into Colorado since there are some thunderstorms being forecast for this area. It looks like the winds are not as intense around Limon and showers there without thunderstorms. These winds are problematic when you pull a trailer as it can knock them right over so therein lies some hesitation. But I really don’t want to sit here where I am for 2-3 more days – I am trying to have a vacation and this is not where I want to spend it!

I filled the water tank so I can boondock – I only like to stay in these parks if necessary (fill water tank, electricity for air conditioning or heat). I usually do not haul much water with me because of the weight but it may help stabilize the trailer a little with the winds. A few times I was towing after I got the trailer I had water onboard and the trailer would sway back and forth because the tank is not baffled and the water would slosh around. Pretty scary.

The electricity thing is also why I am not sure about replacing the microwave. I can get by without it pretty good (just like my forefathers did in the 1960s). I have used old-school reheating methods and it works out okay for me. I am retired and am not in a hurry so I just don’t know if I will replace it (at least for the time being). I have a propane stove to heat up food anytime I want (like the breakfast burrito I made a few days ago that is today’s breakfast) so it works fine and not needing electricity gives me freedom. The only real necessity is fuel and dump station facilities.

Once I got into Colorado the winds died down just like the forecasts predicted that I saw for a few cities along my route. The temperatures were a perfect 60-70 degrees. I was not sure which way I was going of the three or four I was considering. When I got to the E-470 north I swerved over and went for it. This partucular version was that I was going to head to Fort Collins and then head west through Poudre Canyon. It was a really beautiful drive.

Driving through Poudre Canyon in Colorado
Poudre Canyon, Colorado

The morning I woke up when I stayed the night in the Stapleton City Park it was a bit cold so I fired up the furnace to knock the chill off. After a few minutes the carbon monoxide detector went off. I mean it went crazy and kept getting crazier. I had to turn it off – it was a very elevated reading. I was standing there making my coffee and that’s when it went off. Scared the bejeezus outta me. And of course I turned off the thermostat and left the premises immediately and ventilated the trailer thoroughly.

I tell this tale as it appears it is still a problem. I couldn’t boondock in some dispersed camping areas of the forest tonight since it was already down in the low 50s in the afternoon (and that is when I found the very few spots open. I stopped for a leg-stretching and thought I would test it. I took it apart to have a look at it a few days ago and found nothing. This test failed as well. A night without heat would be a bad night. I just really don’t enjoy that nonsense these days.

I decided to go on to Steamboat Springs after not really seeing anywhere in Walden. I called the KOA (it seems to be working out okay but it has been out of necessity too – the air conditioner because of the heat, and luckily I have my little electric space heater for the cool nights). I do think I am really going to need to think about a generator.

I got to the KOA and got all set up, went for a quick walk and fixed some food. It hit the spot after eating snack stuff all day (mostly healthy). Frozen (well, mostly…) garlic chicken with veggies. Fried it up like stir-fry in some olive oil and a little Parm on top. I think you hear me.

Tomorrow I will be off to Craig, CO for two nights at the KOA there (their Rewards Kard has actually almost paid for itself in a very short time – no plug intended or implied). I want to take a two-day stop and try to enjoy something other than driving all the live long day. I also want to get the furnace looked at in hopes that I can boondock in the forest for a night or two. I will make something work. Still got a full water tank and a cylinder and a half of propane so I have the means if I can get that figured out.

And plenty of toilet paper.

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.

June 11th, 2020

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

I am typing this before calling it a night in a KOA in Douglas, WY, the smell of campfires being sucked in through the trailer windows by one of the new super duper fans I installed. I told you a road trip was coming up!

It was a fairly uneventful drive down from MT (more on that in a bit). The temps were a bit warm – hottest I saw was about 84 degrees Farenheit. Not sweltering, but you have to understand I am still getting used to the different, drier climate in the Rocky Mountain area as opposed to the PNW. I had the A/C cranking!

I did not bother taking pictures because I have posted pictures of this route before and not much has really changed. There is some pretty scenery along the way but much of it’s just miles and miles of miles and miles, especially souther MT and all of WY.

So…about the “fairly uneventful drive”…

I made a pit stop on an off-ramp to get more water (I also check the hitch, chains, tires, etc. each time I stop, too). I decided to go ahead and make a reservation at the KOA so I could flush the water lines and do some system checks – water heater (with the new switch I installed), propane heat on the water heater, 12 volt water pump, and anything else that needed a once-over. i also put some water in the water tank so I can boondock it for a day or two if I want.

So there I am jetting down I-25, and I get through Casper. I am about four miles from the exit and my truck died on the interstate. I pulled over and called the KOA to see if they could suggest anyone local to call for some assistance. They asked if I had AAA but I don’t (might oughta think about that I guess…).

Ended up one of the guys from the KOA came out to help…with a gas can. Yep. I am a dumbass. I got through Casper and looked at the gas gauge and it was a real “uh-oh” moment (okay, that not REALLY what I said). I was too far out of Casper to go back – gee, I would hate to run out – so I went onwards hoping for the best. That didn’t work out very well. I am usually more careful than that.

I got into the trailer, went through a few things I wanted to check, got the hot water flowing for a shower before bed, and I was ready to eat. I whipped up some stir-fry chicken with some vegan organic Hokkien noodles, canned chicken, garlic powder, chili flakes and soy sauce. A Fat Tire Ale, a plate and chopsticks later and I was quite full and my taste buds happy. It turned out pretty good for a quick meal.

I am getting better with the chopsticks but have had to really just start over with them after my surgery last year (I tried left hand but that is a no-go…very right handed!). I’m still having weakness issues with that hand, and my left hand has some problems that I have to have surgery to repair. It really sucks but I make do for now. Makes it hard to play guitar though.

I still have to get a wok for stir-fry. I am looking at a Taylor & Ng Natural Nonstick flat-bottom wok, either a 12″ or 14″. I can use it for many things in the trailer so I can cut down on some kitchen gear I haul around. I still need to get that ordered. Maybe I will do that while I am out on my adventure.

It was nice to get a shower in after sweating bullets getting set up. However, the repair on my shower did not hold up so I will have to do what I did not really want to do – take the whole toilet/shower apart and fix it. Looking at it I guess it may not be too bad to fix – not as bad as I thought originally – just a bit daunting at first glance. I did a temporary fix to keep it from leaking but when I get back to MT I have to take care of it. Only one way to know how to do something and that is to just go for it. I learned that lesson well my first solo trip out in a boat heading to Protection Island in a storm with water splashing up over the wheelhouse!

All in all a pretty average day. Tomorrow will be more travel and I will be taking some roads I have not been on yet. I don’t plan on a driving marathon while I am out. I am enjoying traveling much more that way.

Check back tomorrow!