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.

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.

September 17th, 2020

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

I got up early to get an early start and decided in the interest of hitting the road faster i went and got breakfast and coffee. I usually do not unhook my truck so I can just wake up and get gone but I wanted to run around, and the trailer is not level in this spot if it is hooked up – it kinda goes uphill so the trailer tongue has to be cranked down lower than the hitch on the truck to be level for the fridge to work properly and the shower to drain.

The air quality is not good today – much worse than yesterday and I am starting to cough and wheeze from it so apparently I am leaving at the perfect time. I wish I had longer to stay and drive around but with the air getting unhealthy it’s just as well I leave now.

Luckily, with all my recent trips I have gotten into a pretty good rhythm to getting things done fairly quick both setting up and packing it back up for the road. Nice thing with a trailer is when it is raining hard you just park, open the door and go to bed. Dry and warm. Gotta use the toilet? It’s in your closet (basically in mine it is).

I got everything unhooked and put away then hit the road for the drive back. The winds were not quite as bad as they were on the way down but pulling a trailer still knocks the gas mileage down even with a tailwind. I stop often for gas – when I am at about a half-tank – so I don’t run out again like I did a while back. I got gas for $1.99/gallon in Cheyenne and in the low-$2.00 range most of the rest of the trip. The KOA was only $42/night and that was with full hookups.

Having the dog with me it’s good to let him out to exercise and do what he needs to do, and it gets me out of the truck as well so I stop often for that. He still loves to travel and does pretty good but I have had to put the crate in the back and lock him up in it to keep him from wandering.

All the way back the air quality was really horrible so I had the air conditioning set on recirculate to keep the bad air out. I saw the mountains very little and in some places they are not that far from the interstate. Even getting back to the house the smoke is thicker than I have seen in almost the entire time I have been here. I can’t stop coughing and clearing my throat. It sucks and I hope I do not get sick again, but I am staying inside, keeping the inhaler going and doing whatever else I need to do to to fight it off the best I can. I have not taken many pictures on this trip since there was really nothing to see due to the smoke so I did not bother trying.

It was so fantastic to be back in Colorado once again and revisit some long-ago visited places and memories from the past 40-odd years. I had not thought about those ‘shoestring adventures” of those days in quite a while and as I did I smiled inside and out. I only stayed in free places, I froze my ass off at times and was hungry on occasion, but I had a great time traveling like that. I still travel on a low budget but it is because I want to and because I enjoyed doing it in my 20s. Sure, I have the luxury of a trailer now but that doesn’t mean I have to give up the best and most honest way to travel; one that makes you find your happiness without much money.

So, Colorado…I hope to be back very soon! No need to leave a light on for me.

I know the way very well.

September 15th, 2020

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

After a decent night’s sleep I woke up with no alarm (except for this pesky dog). After a filling brunch at Taco John’s – a taco burger, a hardshell and a softshell taco and Potato Olés. It was delicious – I haven’t eaten at a TJ in a few years and it was just as I remember.

The road beckons, but beckons wheezing through a respirator as it is a little smoky this morning. Last night I decided I might to try to head towards Rocky Mountain NP but you now have to reserve an admission time and they are fully booked for over a week out so I am not sure what I will do now. The AirNow website shows some mild smoke in the mountains today but better air quality tomorrow so I may have to do a little planning.

I ended up heading for Estes Park on US 34 out of Loveland anyway. I have not been that way in a few decades so it was mostly new again but there were definitely familiar sights from all those years ago. I used to come here often in the early 80’s. Estes Park was actually fairly busy but I parked to get out for a quick errand – I wanted to pick up my favorite cheese popcorn at a little red-fronted shop I always stop at that has been there for many years. Unfortunately they were closed.

I also stopped at the RMNP Visitor’s Center just to ask about the national park entry reservations. You MUST have a permit that is purchased online at recreation.gov to get in the park between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m (outside those hours it’s open without the permits). The passes allow you in at a certain time only. Today was booked solid and the guy said there may be a few spots open tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. but with the late entry and the smoke I think it will not be worth it. I want to spend the day and come back before dark to avoid animals on the roads. I bet there are other national parks doing this too so be sure to check ahead.

It’s definitely smokier from the wildfires here at the trailer this afternoon than it was this morning. I have been debating on staying here another day because the air is not bad and I have definitely enjoyed sitting outside when it cools down some. I don’t really smell smoke right now so it is pleasant out. I would really love to push on and go west, but it would be a lot of extra driving on short notice and some of it in places I don’t want to go, like back up over Teton Pass again or driving north through Salt Lake City. If I had left here today and went on that would have been better but I would like a different route next time as opposed to backtracking. With the fires I am finding that many roads are closed so its a great time for evaluating your travel plan flexibility. I wanted to go to the Buddhist temple Shambhala in the gorgeous setting of the Rockies but the roads are closed in that area. A second thing I wanted to do that I couldn’t (the first being I couldn’t get into RMNP).

Oh well; at least I did get out for a drive and it brought back so many 40-year-old memories. All those trips from KS to CO I took where I left after work and drove all night to the now-closed Deer Lodge rest area and slept in the car a few hours before pushing on into Denver at sunrise to head into the mountains. Some stretches of I-70 had one radio station on the AM side, and that was for several hours of your drive back in the early 80s.

I would have a bunch of mac & cheese, ramen, canned fruit, and a loaf of bread and Underwood Deviled Chicken Spread loaded in the car, a few clothes and any other basic necessities like a Sterno stove, hot dogs, and a cheap Walmart tent and Coleman sleeping bag. The total trip budget each time, including fuel, was $50-$70 for nine days total and sometimes I even came back with money!

Man, those were such fun and interesting trips and everyone should try it a few times in their lives. There was the trip I locked myself out of my car not once, but twice – one of those times I was in Nederland, Colorado in cut-off Levi’s and no shirt on and it started to sleet. I went and sat in the bar and had a few beverages then I went out into the new sunshine since I figured out a way to take the side rear window out so I could reach the door handle. Another time I was in a truck that rolled on a rough mountain road, teaching me to wear seatbelts and not ride with people drunk or high (at least not them). And who could ever forget Frozen Dead Guy Days? I have slept next to my car on the shoulder of a back road, under my Jeep, in my Jeep, woke up in a rest area with the car running, heat on full blast, and the door wide open…Oh so many, many interesting and fun memories.

So now I need to figure out what to do tomorrow, but more than likely I will just stay here tomorrow night too.