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.

October 16th, 2020

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

When you see a fork in the road take it” – Yogi Berra

Today I volunteered to go out with the US Forest Service to help do some things in the forest. It was great to get back in the woods with the Forest Service again. I saw some more new territory and some amazing scenery. What started out as a grey overcast day ended up being a beautiful, partly-cloudy day in the mountains. The area most of these pictures were taken just has the classic Montana feel to it. Look at them and you can see where the term “Big Sky Country” comes from.

My first trip to the state was in 1987-88 when I was on the road doing concert work. I remember looking out the window as we passed Little Big Horn Battlefield and I understood the Big Sky analogy that very moment. If you have ever been in that area you understand.

I thought I would share a few pictures and a video from the day. Turn down your sound as the audio is just wind noise; it was extremely windy up on top about 9500 feet above sea level. I believe the video was the area known as Ruby Valley, the view is west from where we were.

October 11th, 2020

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

Today it was off to the pumpkin patch. It was a brisk windy day but it was fun. They had all sizes of pumpkins there, and some odd color ones too; one we got looked like a giant Honeycrisp apple. They had some that were red, and some with this weird green shade – like a lima bean green. If you zoom in on the picture, there are a few you can see.

It was on a ranch that had all sorts of animals – some you would not really expect to see except in a zoo:

The winds were horrible last night, and tonight is shaping up to be worse as the storms will be moving in. The winds were howling again and you could see rain/snow falling out of the clouds in the distance today. The winds (40-50 mph gusts) are forecast to continue a few days along with the precip – in whatever form it takes on the way down. It is going to be a rough few days weather-wise. We had some rain last night and figured it would be muddy this morning, but the ground is so dry the moisture was soaked right up and it looked like nothing ever happened.

I am finding a lot of dust from these fierce winds on everything inside the trailer. It’s so bad I am having to dust everything on a daily basis. The roof vent covers are warped from the sun and you can really hear the wind trying to get in through the gaps so I had to order some replacements. Hopefully it will cut down on the wind noise and the dust inside and maybe help the heat (or A/C) maintain more consistent temps inside. And hopefully, weather-permitting (or not), I can get them replaced since they will be here in a few days.

With the cold weather coming I need to insulate and seal things up as much as I can. I stay pretty cozy but anything to help save energy is always a good thing. I will probably have to get a heat tape or two for the tank drains. As far as the tanks, only one is exposed to the outside and that is the gray water tank so I will either have to add RV water system anti-freeze to it constantly to at least keep it slushy or add a heated pad on the bottom to keep it thawed out. The RV anti-freeze is not harmful like regular car anti-freeze so it won’t affect the system at a dump station. By doing this I can still use my bathroom and shower and not have to use a public one. From what I can tell, I think I can keep things pretty well thawed-out and usable by making a few adjustments.

One cold-weather idea I saw was people will get some bubblewrap (the small bubbles) and cut it to fit their RV windows. They then spray the inside of the windows with a mist of water and use the water to stick the bubblewrap to the window. The water evaporates, leaving the bubblewrap stuck to the window as insulation but it still lets light in. Easy to remove and replace. Very resourceful I thought and very clever. You could even add that shrink film window covering you shrink with a hairdryer over that. I don’t know if I will need to do that or not, but I am going to try to add a little weatherstripping and hopefully seal a few windows up a little tighter. I have some closed-cell foam that I think I may carve up and put in some storage areas as additional insulation to keep the cold out. I could also buy some styrofoam sheets to cut up and put in the storage areas to help insulate too. I have a few throw rugs on the floor so maybe I will just buy another one that matches and trim it down to “carpet” the whole floor.

I stopped at a place in Three Forks, MT for take-away the other day. It is in the historic Sacajawea Hotel and it is called The Sac Bar. I got this incredible burger called the Hilltop Burger and it is another one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. This is not a homestyle-burger; it is more of a gourmet burger ($14). See if this makes your taste buds pitch a tent: Montana Wagyu beef burger cooked medium, smoked onion BBQ sauce, applewood smoked bacon, Vermont white cheddar, jalapeños and crispy fried onions. All of that on an incredible bun with a side. The sauce on this burger is one of the best BBQ sauces I have ever eaten – even in any BBQ restaurant. The burger is huge – may even be a half-pound patty. This chef knows what he is doing. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend it. They have another restaurant called Pompey’s Grill that is upscale dining and that menu has some really interesting dishes on it.

I think I will get an early start tomorrow and run to the storage unit to grab that foam to insulate some compartments when I get back and also grab a few other things I need – like another blanket. After that I may go get my flu shot. I try to wait as long as possible without waiting TOO long to get it. I think I am just about at that threshold, and with the pandemic exploding even more I want to keep myself well. I thought about taking a drive tomorrow but I think these things are a bit more important to take care of with the weather that is moving in. Plus, there may be snow on the roads.

That’s about it for now.

October 9th, 2020

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

A Montana sunrise – looking southeast toward Livingston, MT

Fall is settling in and getting comfy but it is looking like we will get a little taste of winter over the weekend with some rain, cold nights (around 30° F) and maybe a few snowflakes. I cannot find my electric blanket yet but I am getting by okay between the electric heater and the propane furnace. I may need to do something different in the meantime like oh…get another blanket.

The moisture is certainly needed since the west half of the country is on fire and I am fairly certain that there won’t be many complaints from anyone around here no matter how we get precipitation. You can see the smoke in the picture above giving the sunrise that amber and orange glow – that is how the sky has looked most of the summer, but much of the time we cannot even see ANY of the three mountain ranges within view. The fields that are not irrigated are devoid of greenery and in many places it’s mostly just dirt. It’s pretty bad drought conditions.

I took a trip to the storage unit this morning and decided to drive a different route back. It was a backroad instead of the interstate. It went through farm country and it was a nice drive on a two-lane blacktop. All of the trees were really changing colors so it was a beautiful detour to take. I had been on just a few miles of this road at the far end so I had to see what was between where I was and what I had seen. I am beginning to understand more why my dad always did that.

After that last POS coffeemaker I bought and returned I treated myself to a present. My French press broke on the last trip so I spent real money and got a good coffeemaker this time. It is made by Breville and it is a Nespresso Vertuo. It will be here next week and I am so excited to try it. I think it will take up less room than the French press and coffee canister and I can store the kettle under the bench. Only thing is since it is electric I cannot boondock and use it so I may have to just switch to tea an d water on the stove when I am off-grid and that is totally fine. This one uses little recyclable aluminum pods instead of the plastic Keurig-style clogging the landfills with their convenience. They should store easier than my big ceramic canister which, somehow, has not broken yet given what it has been through on the road so far.

I am hoping it will make a cup of coffee like we had in Europe and, since I have never had an espresso, I will be trying that too. This machine spins the pod and it makes a “coffee foam” on top of the cup that looks kinda like a Guinness. It comes with a milk frother but I like my coffee straight up – nothing but the taste of coffee for me these days – so that will go into storage. Yeah, it takes some of the ritual out of the morning but I really wanted to try something a little different. They make many different roasts and flavors plus I really like the recycling part. Someone even makes a kit so you can refill the old pods so that is cool. Yep, I am excited about it!

Earlier this week I got a text from a friend I had not talked to in several months and that really brightened up the day. We both had many changes in our lives recently and texted back and forth for a long while, catching up with each other’s lives. It’s nice to hear from some of the people in your past and this person is definitely one of the ones it was really great to hear from. You know who you are! 🐶 🐕 (And, of course, if any of you want to send a message and don’t have my info just post a comment; they won’t post until I okay them and I do not post everything sent to me.)

I do have another adventure coming up soon so I will be posting about that at some point. I really hope the weather holds out a little while longer so I can get the things done that I need to take care of; I’m getting to the point where I will be having to worry more about the weather as the calendar pages flip. I’m sure that I’ll be posting about that in the future as well.

The other day I heard a banging noise outside and thought it was the horses banging the side of the barn like they do, but it had a different sound the more I listened. I looked out a window and the other dogs were staring at something from the backyard so I thought I would investigate. And just what did I see?

Hay! No horseplay allowed!

This is Maverick. He is a wild horse rescue who thinks he is a dog. All that banging was him climbing in the tank and playing. He stomps around a little, splashes around with his nose, then plays the fence wire with his teeth like it is a guitar string and he is Jimi Hendrix. He has such a fun personality. He always walks over to say hi and see what’s going on.

After this, the tank was moved outside the fence and just a little of it is under the fence so they can still drink but hopefully it will keep him out of it. I don’t know how, or IF, it will work or not to keep him out. Meghan’s German Shepherd Cheyenne actually does the same thing in the dog tank. 🤦‍♂️

That’s about it for today’s post. Stay safe.

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.