July 18th, 2020

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

Quite the sight on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake near Townsend, Mt

I was able to finally get away for a few days and it was a welcomed break.

I left Sunday to just get away with the intent of staying in a campground to take on water and do some camping in the National Forest. I ended up staying in that campground Monday instead but the first night was on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake.

The rainbow picture is kind of symbolic in that much like like the rainbow emerges from the ominous cloudiness, my covid test results came back with great news – nada ‘rona. I felt confident all was well but still had to go through the testing. It’s better to know without a doubt.

The bugs were kinda bad even with the strong winds – they must be working out to fly in those gusts. I had the lakeshore to myself and then realized the next day there was a swamp next to my site. No womnder there was nobody next to me!

Once I got Rider inside the trailer he was embracing being retired as well…

…and yes, he crosses his legs like that all the time.

The next day it was off to the other campground and it is one I will not return to. If at all possible I would have cancelled that reservation and left. It was more of a mobile home park – nearly everyone there was living there full time and there were storage boxes of stuff piled around the trailers and permanent dog pens. I had a reservation to stay there my last night to empty the tanks but I cancelled it. I will not be back there to stay and they got a one-star review.

I left and went over to the White Sulphur Springs area and decided to head north toward Great Falls. Some of this area was new territory for me and it was pretty. I was looking to boondock in a dispersed site but it’s hard to find those when you don’t know thew area and have a low-rider trailer that can get damaged on rocks and potholes or get stuck (as I nearly did in the Nebraska Sand Hills).

I decided to just check out some Forest Service campgrounds. I like the primitiveness of them but i wanted to be in the woods, preferably by a stream. Plus, being self-contained in the trailer I do not need the toilet facilities (or would even use them in this pandemic). The only advantage is during fire restrictions – they are the last to get fire bans.

I drove on up to the north end of the forest and turned around. Didn’t see many options for dispersed camping so I thought I would go back to the first campground since there was no one there.

There are no trees on any of the sites – maybe removed due to disease – but the worst part was the flies; vicious things from small to big, their fangs dripping with blood. I decided we would hang out a few to see if they were going away but they were eating the dog alive so we got out of there quick. It would have been okay there since I probably would have been the only one there, but even with the winds blowing pretty good the flies were terrible. I bet when (rather IF) the winds died down you couldn’t even get out of your vehicle without getting carried away to their nest to feed the young ones.

I decided to go back to town to get fuel and regroup. I decided to go west on US 12 and came across a road for forest access. These can be good or bad depending on the rig you are driving. It was 7 miles to the Forest boundary and it looked good starting out so I went for it to see what I could find.

I didn’t see many accessible spots along the way so I stayed on it. It actually went on back toward the highway I was on earlier so that is the way I went. I do remember seeing the other end of this road earlier in the day. I should have checked it out earlier because I am now only 2.5 miles from the highway after driving 15.5 on some roads that were a little rough in spots. It’s what exploring is all about.

The truck was fine but the trailer had to go through some big holes that I later discovered had popped off the gray water valve from the tank outlet. No worries, though, since it appears to be designed to do that if it gets caught on something. I pushed it back on and will put a little sealer around it to stop leaks. That will still let it break loose if necessary.

I was fortunate to find this site, and my guess is it would be packed on the weekends. It is a larger grassy area that could accommodate a group, there’s a small stream in the forest, and the bugs are not bad so far. As I have been sitting here two people have driven by looking for spots and they were looking this way.

After getting set up I decided to build a fire. I have not had a campfire in a long time so this seems like a good opportunity to have one. There is not much wood, but someone left enough to get a small one going and have enough for another one. I am not certain how long I will be here yet, but I have to be back Friday afternoon and it’s only Tuesday. I have been here just a few hours and I am already enjoying the surroundings and the solitude immensely.

I decided to call it a night about 10:30 or so and I turned out the lights. I have not been in darkness like this in quite some time. I wanted to go out and stargaze for a bit but this is bear country and I don’t care to take that chance. Another reason I didn’t burn a fire late.

I ended up staying here from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning. I decided to head back because my propane tank – yes the new one I just hooked up on Wednesday – is running low after just one night. I finally figured out that the day I got it refilled it was really hot and, much like when you fill your car, the gas expands in the heat giving you less gas. I could not take a chance on running out (I was at nearly 6,000 feet in elevation – it was pretty cold at night!) so I decided to scrub the mission a day early.

I went back through White Sulphur Springs and decided to head south toward Livingston. At the town of Willsall I turned west into the Bridgers. What a spectacular drive! It would be a regular ride for me if I still rode motorcycles. Narrow, winding, two-lane backroad…just a beautiful drive.

Today it was cleaning the trailer thoroughly and washing everything I could wash. A lot of dust got inside through my damaged fender and the inside of the trailer was filthy. It had gotten damaged during my March 2017 trip from Kansas to Washington when I went to pick it up after my mom died. When the tire blew out in the middle of nowhere in Utah (I posted about that as I remember) it chewed up the inside of the fender pretty badly so I had to patch it. The patching came loose and the dust just poured inside. After I cleaned today I re-patched it the damage; tomorrow it’s a can of Flex Seal and I can float it on a lake.

It’s okay, though. I don’t take my travels for granted. I was able to get away once again, I got my forest fix, and was able to relax by a stream with cooler weather and some bugs. I’m glad I got to go since I have appointments every week the next four weeks so it will be a month or so before I can leave again. It’s okay – life goes on and things have to be taken care of so I can travel and that is what matters.

It’s not always about the relaxing.

Wait…yes it certainly is!

Until the next post…

July 3rd, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Yesterday I had decent weather (meaning dry) and worked on a few things on the trailer. I got the leaky rear window in the trailer patched. The biggest part of the issue looks to be the rubber weatherstrip around the window has shrunk, leaving a gap unsealed about a half of an inch long on one end and an inch and a half on the other end. I sealed these gaps up previously but the rubber has shrunk back even more and exposed an opening for water to get in.

The part I had earlier thought was weatherstripping up inside is basically just a plastic strip that I am not really sure of what its function is; perhaps it is a spacer. It also looks to direct water to the internal drainage channels of tghe window but it, too, has shrunk and has gaps on the end. That means the water was not being sent to where it needed to go and probably contributed to the leak as well. It could be this part is not normally a problem in a vertical wall but the rear wall is angled out a little from the top to bottom so the window is also angled. Our friend gravity then makes the water drip inside.

Anyhoo, I cleaned out the old sealant from the ever-shortening window weatherstripping and put in a temporary patch out of a new tube of Lexel. This will get me by until I get enough warm days I can pull it back apart and install a new piece around the glass. I then pulled the window apart and added a thin piece of rubber weatherstripping over the plastic strip. I know this isn’t supposed to be in there but I will see if it helps. My main goal is to keep the water out any way that I can for now.

Today I added a little more sealant to fill in a few gaps due to settling. I hope this is a good fix until I can locate the weatherstripping so I can try to replace it. I also got two new wastewater valves – one for the grey water (sink/shower) and one for the black water (toilet). I replaced the grey water valve today but I cannot do the other valve until I get the sewer tank rinsed out good (it is already empty). That means a trip to a campground or dump station.

I also did a modification to the rear dinette set-up. Several years ago the rear table broke when it was put down into the slot to make the bed. It was made of particleboard so it wasn’t going to hold up to much pressure and the way it was designed the was no support in the center. My dad cut four pieces of lumber to make slats for the bed conversion and made a separate table from an old butcher block. I took the four pieces and screwed them together with parts from the table he made to create a new table top/bed support combination. It is much sturdier, there is only one thing to haul around and I have a table for the rear dinette once again. I will probably sand it and put a good finish on it so it looks nice.

I wish I coulda gotten this stuff fixed a few days earlier but the rains have kept that from happening. It’s probably for the best since this is a holiday weekend and the forest is probably full of too many people anyway. The nice thing about the trailer is that being self-contained I can social distance constantly and still have the freedom to go places. I am trying to get another trip together soon though.

Things are calming down finally so I am looking into cataract surgery (hahaha) on my other eye. I have an appointment scheduled to see (hahaha again) if it is bad enough to finally get it done. After that I can finally get new lenses with the new prescriptions. Next week I will be scheduling an appointment to see about getting a surgical appointment to finally get the problem in my left hand fixed. It has been very painful and weak, making it difficult to do even the simplest things. Between that and my right arm issues it’s getting harder to hold on to tools to work on things like my trailer and I have been fumbling with and dropping things for a while. I need to get it done and I probably would have done it last year except for my shoulder injury.

That’s all for now.

June 10th, 2020

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

Today while running some errands I saw a couple of interesting things so, of course, I had to take a couple of pictures.

I saw this sign on the men’s room door at the local Food Co-op. Sausages on sale? I think I will buy mine in another part of the store, thank you. And I don’t want to hear about the buns, either.
As you can see, these lights spell out “Bah Humbug”. Could they still be called “Christmas lights”? I just don’t know…

Anyhoo, these gave me a laugh and thought I would pass them along.

I am getting ready to take a road trip pretty soon, hence the reason I was out today. I ran one of my propane tanks out of gas because it was leaking. I ended up using it to heat my trailer and run the refrigerator to get it empty since it was not safe to use on the grill with the flame so close. As usual, my whereabouts on this next adventure will be posted after the fact along with any pictures and tales from the road. I have had the trusty, and very-well-worn, road atlas out and am looking at getting WAY off the beaten path to see many new things and places.

This Fall things are looking like they just might line up so I will be able to make it to Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire – states 48, 49 and 50 – the Final Three to visit and that list is complete. This is pretty preliminary in the process of “planning” but it is looking like it could work out this year. Going in the Fall I would get to see the colors and I am sure that would be spectacular. Of course there are so many variables in life that you never know what will come up (just like I intended to do this trip a couple of times before and life took some turns). That is the nice thing about not planning anything – no big disappointments.

One disappointment about things being shut down from the ‘rona is that I was planning on getting a tattoo sleeve started when we got back from Europe. I want to start adding on around the ink I got in Dublin and really get serious about it. I really wish I would have gotten more done when I was there but I didn’t – the one I got was actually a last-minute decision on the last day in Dublin so there wasn’t time. Next trip I will be planning that part out more and will come back with (hopefully) several new tats from all the places I visit.

I do think of getting back to Ireland sooner rather than later but I know it will still be a little while yet. After all, we were just there a mere four months ago but I still think about Ireland pretty much daily. Maybe there is an Irish woman who would want to import me to Ireland…that would be awesome!

Sláinte!

May 31st, 2020

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

Last night I went to bed at a decent time hoping to catch up on some sleep. I am staying in my trailer with my dog so we have our own world and Meghan and her family can have theirs.

I was awakened from my slumbers in the wee hours by what could easily be classified as gale force winds. Some of the plants on the porch were even blown over and hay and horse turds were scattered about the yard this morning when I took the dog out for a walk (speaking of scattering turds around! 🤣🤣). It wasn’t the noise that woke me as much as the shaking of the trailer. Even with the four outrigger stands deployed for stability the shaking was pretty intense. I laid there listening and thinking about the situation, flashing back to the similarities between that wind hitting my trailer and the memories of a truck I was in back in the 80’s being driven by someone way too fast and we rolled – it was just like a ride in a clothes dryer at the laundromat; I just flipped back over and soon went back to sleep since I couldn’t do anything about it.

After finally getting the stuff in the trailer whittled down to the necessities I decided to do some Spring cleaning – wiping out the window frames, cleaning the glass, etc. – and start looking at maintenance stuff. Now that I am able to spend more time in the trailer and looking things over I am finding many things that need to be fixed and a few upgrades I want to do to make life better during my travels. I had started doing a few things the last three years but my shoulder injury/surgery last year put a stop to doing anything more. Now I gotta get back at it to keep things from getting worse.

The trailer sat at the house in KS for about four years before I brought it home with me to Washington in 2017. On top of it being 12 years old now, things tend to deteriorate and break over time, and sitting through the seasonal extremes in KS did not help the condition (not really the extremes in Washington where I had it). The sun destroys plastics and fades paint and the decals. I replaced some plastic bumper caps yesterday that keep the sewer hose from falling out (the hoses are stored in the trailer bumper). The water leak I had in 2017 (due to the sealant putty melting in the hot sun and running down into wiring holes, basically unsealing the clearance lights on the roof) caused some damage to some of the wood inside the walls so I will have to take it in at some point for what will probably end up being some pretty costly repairs. The re-sealing I did around the clearance lights seems to be fine if not cosmetically pretty but I want to reseal them. Add to that the other things I replaced (cookstove vent, water inlet, taillights, carbon monoxide detector) I have actually done quite a bit already. I still have some more to do though.

Yesterday I did an upgrade to the ceiling vent fan in the main part of the trailer and today I replaced the one in the bathroom. The upgrade is a retrofit that goes into the existing fan housing so there is no worry about breaking the roof seal, hence no worry about roof leaks. It is a MUCH better 3-speed reversible fan that has a shroud so it moves much more air more efficiently, plus when run in reverse it can bring air in for a cool breeze from above – a very functional ceiling fan. Another added bonus is that with the shrouding around the fan it helps block out light; that can be helpful if staying in a commercial RV park (which I generally try to avoid but do stay on occasion to empty the sewer, get water, and charge up the batteries). Those places are lit up like the Las Vegas Strip and sometimes it is simply just the moon is shining bright.

I have a few more things on order I am waiting on and those should show up this week. I still need to pull the windows and reseal them with caulking instead of that problematic putty but that will be a big job. I even noticed the putty running out of the new water inlet I put in so that will need to come out and be resealed too. The microwave gave out but the space it was in makes for great storage so I may buy a new one and just leave it on the bed while traveling. The air conditioner (it’s a small window unit for a house) I am not sure about – it seems to be hit or miss, but it is at least 12 years old.

I also need to find a table for the rear dinette (the trailer has two that fold into beds). Unfortunately the old one got broken accidentally years ago. Currently I am using the makeshift setup my dad made which is basically five 1″x4″ pieces of oak to lay in the slot between the benches to make the bed. I could make one out of those pieces of oak to get by but I would really like to find a replacement similar to the original. That oak would look good finished though! As you can tell, though, I have plenty of other more important trailer projects to do for now.

I am trying to get to Colorado to meet up with some friends but I think we may have to wait a bit. The ‘rona is definitely affecting those plans since they do the hotel thing. In the meantime I have my eye on some new places I am anxious to explore here in Montana that I discovered on the map yesterday.

It is finally starting to feel like a real retirement!

November 18th, 2019

Adventure, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

It’s been a busy few weeks. Fall is definitely here, and with it comes the usual PNW climate for this time of year – grey, clouds and rain, the days getting shorter, and the much cooler weather. Quite a change that happened rather abruptly. I’m glad I will be able to get away soon to see some different and better weather.

A few weeks ago my oldest daughter Angie flew into town with her mom and they picked up Alexis and came to my house for a visit. We went out to the coast to see the Hoh rainforest and get on the sand at Rialto Beach. It was a really nice day and perfect weather for going out that way. My trailer makes for a nice extra room for people that come to visit.

I got back from the hospital a couple of days ago after another surgery (unrelated to the shoulder). It was something I’ve been trying to get handled for a while now so it is a relief to have it taken care of finally. I actually spent the night in a hospital which I haven’t done in decades. Needless to say I am glad to have this finally done but I am really glad to be back home. Surgery went fine and the doctor felt pretty good about the outcome. Waiting on lab results, though, before getting too relieved!

While I was gone I had to board the dog at a kennel. It was strange to do that since I just got him home and he was looking at me like “WTF is going on here?” as he curiously went with the strange (to him) woman. I’m sure he did fine since he is pretty laid back and likes almost everyone he sees. I can’t wait to see him (and not smell him!).

I’ll find out in two weeks how much longer my physical therapy will continue. It sounded like I am close to being finished with it when I was at my last visit. I will still be doing exercises but will be on my own since I still do not have full range of motion. I don’t know if it will all come back or not but I will keep working toward that goal.

It will be very nice to not have to be somewhere weekly and I can start getting out and about on some long-awaited and much-needed adventures. I try to not get too excited yet since I am still recovering from this last surgery and I have to be mindful of that. It is hard to not get excited about going places, though – I was unable to do much of anything the last six months so yes…I am ready to go someplace. I do have some big plans coming up in the future!

Being retired is quickly becoming more real. All of my options are wide open now so I  have a few things to ponder. I find the classic “Pro/Con” list is such an effective way to help you make some informed decisions of this type. I started doing this when I began thinking about no longer working so now I need to go to the next step and consider what the next chapter is. Of course, my main focus was looking at if I could even think about retiring financially.

The biggest difficulty is deciding where to call your “permanent home”. The US laws enacted after 9/11 say you must have a domicile; you cannot just wander about and be a “citizen of the world” (well, at least, not in the US). You also need a domicile address for things like getting mail (“General Delivery” at the post Office is only supposed to be allowed for 30 days), vehicle licensing and income taxes (And no, it is NOT legal to just go live in the National Forest despite what everyone thinks and does and posts on YouTube and other social media; in fact, there are limits on length of stay in the forests that vary in each National Forest so you need to check into that before you set up a camp in the forest – even if you are just on a vacation.).

That means you have to think about things like taxes on your retirement on top of statistics on crime, politics (I guess those two are the same), cost of living, climate…whatever things you consider when wanting to live someplace. Some states have no state income tax (like WA) while some tax retirement/Social Security over a certain amount (like CO), and some tax it all (like KS). This can be frustrating to try to figure out because you may live in a place you like with no taxes but the cost of living is high and want to escape to a cheaper place. Some places (like OR) have no sales tax but are not retirement-friendly financially otherwise. The combinations are infinite so you have to figure out what best suits you.

One last thing…I want to post a link for Scott’s Cheap Flights (NOTE: Clicking on the colored link and joining the website gives me future discounts on my membership and may help me win a vacation!) . This website is one I pay to be a member of and it has saved me money on many flights (but you can just join for free). My first flight to Europe a few years ago was found through this website and I ended up paying only $373 for RT tickets on Icelandair to Amsterdam.

They do show you how they search for stuff on your own, but I still pay to be a member because they will find and send you cheap flights you may not think of. For example, they sent me an email a couple of months ago with a mistake fare for Bangkok, Thailand with stopovers in Viet Nam, Singapore, or other cities in Thailand. This ticket was on the top couple of airlines that fly to the Far East and Asia. Price? It was less than $300…for a $2000+ fare! And it is really cheap enough for the savings you get.

To make it even easier they give you all the steps to get the flights, what cities, airlines, and the normal prices and there is even a search link at the bottom of the emails that already has the info filled in – click the link and it takes you to the search!

That’s today’s update.