May 25th, 2020 – Washington in the Rearview Mirror…

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

I left Washington nearly two weeks ago. It was a beautiful drive over and I did it in two days for a leisurely trip through northeastern Washington to see a few areas that I had not been to before.

Along US 2 east of Skykomish, WA
Rider posing for a picture along the Wenatchee River just east of Leavenworth, WA along US 2
Along the Wenatchee River just east of Leavenworth, WA along US 2
West of Republic, WA on eastbound SR20

As I drove through some of the areas I saw a few places I had, indeed, been to after all in all the miles and years of past travel. It was still a beautiful drive; slower but much more scenic than I-90.

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North of Spokane, WA along highway 395

I had hoped to find a Forest Service road to camp along since I had the trailer with me but I found no roads to do so (it is called “dispersed camping” and is free; be sure to check local regulations, as each forest – even within a state – is different). That meant I would be driving further than I wanted to so I could find a spot. It also cut back on my sightseeing since I was forced to go on. Ironically, that spot ended up being the same KOA in Spokane I just happened to stay at on my way to Washington.

I got up the next day and went on to my destination in Montana to get settled in. With restrictions and closures in place that I was unsure of it was really the best thing to do. I was only a half-day drive away anyhoo and I will get plenty of chances to explore soon. I have been around Montana in the past but am anxious to explore more of the mountains and forests while I am here. Having the trailer I can keep to myself and avoid crowds. The big tourist areas I have already been to and don’t need really to do much more than drive through them.

Traveling with the ‘rona has its challenges, but luckily I have my trailer to travel with and all the comforts of home are with me. Traveling here…that was the easy part. Gas pumps and gloves and stops to rest on the on-ramps to the highway. Montana has had one of the lowest infection rates reported, and from my trips to get supplies it looks like nothing has ever changed here. Crowded stores with people walking the wrong way down one-way aisles, and very few wearing masks. I cannot get the hell out of the stores fast enough and a few I will not go in again because of the lack of concern selfish people have for others and safety. I’ll be going to either the local market or food co-op to shop from now on.

Honestly, it has been very difficult for me to adjust after not only dodging the ‘rona on our Europe trip, but also while living in Washington where infections were high and I was quarantined for the best part of the last three months and cooked all my meals at home – no dining out since I got back to Washington. With all of that happening I have had an extremely hard time letting go of my newly-acquired covid-inflicted OCD. I am in a high-risk group so I take this very seriously, but at the same time I am trying to do better and temper some of that behavior now that I am in an area with lower risk.

I did get out for a much-needed mental health drive through the forest a few days ago and it did wonders for helping to clear my head. I saw some places I had not been before and drove about 40 miles on Forest Service roads. It was a pretty healing day I must say, and it was so good to be in the forest again.

Cabin in Helena National Forest
Stream in Helena National Forest
Old homestead cabin

I’ll be getting out more soon. I have to get new tires on the truck this week before I do any further exploring and I will definitely be getting the trailer out quite a bit this year. It has been an exciting year in many ways so far but I am really looking forward to more excitement and travels. I am really ready to start to finally enjoy this retirement thing.

That’s all for this update. Stay safe!

April 7th, 2020

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

Hello!

All is good with me and the rest of my family and I hope that you and your family are also well and taking the necessary precautions and STAYING HOME.

We are really fortunate – we dodged one when we went to Europe in February. We got back just as it started to heat up. Wisely we took precautions to sanitize everything on most public transit when possible and didn’t touch door handles etc. None of the three of us have any illnesses (other than the seasonal tree pollen allergies giving me problems) after being back for six weeks so that’s quite a relief.

I have been home from MT about four weeks as of this post, and I have been out away from the house only 5-6 times getting groceries and prescriptions. I limit my exposure pretty seriously. I do not order takeout even though I would sure like to have some Thai or Vietnamese food while I support our local businesses – I’ll sure be back in line there when this goes away. I am staying home and away from everyone, and any shopping trip I take is get in/get out as fast as possible. I should be able to stay away from the store for two weeks after my last trip.

Cooking new things at home has been fun though. Since I am not eating out I figure if I want to eat something bad enough I will make it so that is what I have been doing. I want to try to make some Irish brown bread but a lot of the baking supplies are nowhere to be found – no flour on the shelves. Perhaps this will spark some huge change in people actually cooking at home again, which will be necessary since many restaurants may not recover from this to reopen.

We finally are enjoying a break in the weather in my area so the dog and I are getting outside quite a bit. We have been out in the sun playing fetch, ball, and Frisbee several times each day so that is a welcome change. We even get to just kick back on the patio and relax. He is enjoying getting out more and we have a lot of fun even though he’s a little bastard sometimes. Yesterday it was a very sunny and pleasant 58 degrees and calm and it is supposed to be even nicer the next two days. Pretty perfect weather.

My backyard is pretty well shaded and the grass is getting tall but it is too wet to mow everything at once so I hope to finish it up over the next few days as it dries out. I really hate mowing grass and have never understood the need for it other than keeping defensible space right next to the house and to keep rodents out. It pollutes, is noisy, and is completely unnecessary. I don’t care how it looks and I hope that we can get away from that thinking at some point.

I’ve been in a major Ireland state of mind lately; I’ve been really thinking about our adventure quite a bit. Yeah the rest of the trip was great, too, but Ireland really affected me very deeply. It is something I was really not prepared for; I had an idea that spending that much time in Ireland and seeing the family castle would “do something” to me but I didn’t know how or what or how much it would be but I have to go back there before I go anywhere else. And I will.

Given the current state of affairs I don’t know how long it will be until it is safe to fly again (biologically, that is). I plan to go back over as soon as I can and the focus of the trip will be Ireland – other countries if time (and money!) permits and if, in fact, I feel like it. Also, given the current state of affairs, it is something positive that I can begin to think about and look forward to doing.

In the meantime, though, I can also think about road trips. Whenever it is good to do so I can try to get some of my U.S./Canada road trips in while I can, but only when I can. I had some fairly ambitious plans to do some road trips this year but sometimes things change so you have to be flexible and sometimes it means you’re staying at home like it or not. I am not making any trips other than necessary.

I am looking for a few other things to do with all of this downtime. I have been looking at new guitars online but I want to play one before I buy one. I am also looking at getting a Dremel tool. I need to install a water heater power switch in the trailer and a Dremel would be handy for doing that but i would like to do other stuff with it if I weren’t artistically deficient.

That’s all for now. Just wanted to post a quick update to let those who read the blog know that my family and I are staying well. I send good thoughts to everyone out there to stay well. Be sure to think about and support the healthcare pros on the front lines by staying safe and doing what you are supposed to do and not what you want to do. Listen to those who really know what they are talking about and ignore the fucking idiots who may think they do but don’t.

February 8th/9th, 2020 – Day 1: Flights Over and Arrival!

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

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Yeah there is!!!

After a very sleepless night (go figure!) we left KC early this morning and flew to Atlanta. Atlanta is a five hour layover so we will need to find something to occupy that time. First Class, a couple of cocktails, and we are on our way in grand fashion!

I finally decided to just stay up all night. I am trying to adjust my schedule to get in sync with where we will end up. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and figured it was breakfast again when I woke up.

The guy sitting next to me showed up fairly late and we chatted a few minutes about destinations. He was a really nice guy and asked where we’re headed so I told him our plans. He said it sounded like a great trip. We then put on our headphones and watched some TV. It was a fairly short flight so I got about a 20-minute nap.

I got coherent again after my nap and ordered another drink. I looked over and noticed a big ring on the finger of my seatmate. It sure looked like a Super Bowl ring but my eyes were so tired I couldn’t focus on it completely.

We were preparing to land and he asked me “You watch much football?”. I said “a little” and he then proceeded to introduce himself as we shook hands. “My name is Willie Lanier and I was on the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Team.”. My jaw hit the floor and I looked at Chelsea and Angie and mouthed the words “Holy shit!”. It really WAS a Super Bowl ring! He had been in KC for the parade. We talked until we deplaned. He was an incredibly nice man. He told us to enjoy and have fun on our trip. We shook hands again as we got up to leave.

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That’s Willie Lanier by the window!

I seem to have this uncanny knack of running into people I may know personally or a few celebrities in the most unusual places. For instance, I once ran into long-time family friends from Kansas at Little Big Horn of all places.

We got on the train in ATL to go find food. We found a place that had delicious wraps and sat and watched planes while eating. We got back on the train to get to our gate. Lo and behold…ANOTHER celebrity looked to be standing right behind Angie. I believe it was Oliver North.

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Oliver North on the airport train in Atlanta airport; he’s in the blue suit partially covered and not the one in red pants

The next leg of our journey takes us from Atlanta to NYC and from First Class back to Coach. This is a shorter layover (thankfully).

Then there was a problem. The last of the flights over had a few issues. I had received an email from Delta just as we got on the plane out of ATL saying our last flight over was delayed three hours. This means getting to our first destination close to noon. It also meant having to change plans and miss out on seeing stuff the first half of our first day. And the other flights they offered were ON SUNDAY!

Well that was absolutely unacceptable. We have used a day for all of the travel and an overnight flight across (hence the dates in the title of this post). We are NOT going to lose an other day or even a few hours.

To make a long story short, I raised absolute hell with Delta and got us on another flight with Aer Lingus. Our original flight had issues due to the weather and it caused many people to reroute. This meant we each had a row to ourselves on the flight over! We actually got in over an hour before our original flight so we hit the ground running…in Dublin, Ireland!

The first order of business after landing and going through Customs is finding our rental car place. Yes, we are renting a car and none of us have driven in Europe. That means that none of us have driven on the opposite side of the road intentionally.

From the pictures of our car it looked to be about the size of a shoe. Turns out it was a little bigger – more like a boot. Good thing we are traveling light!

At the car rental booth we were told the weather was really bad and to be careful. Major storms were going through and it was not looking good. So much for an escape to better weather. We arrived in Dublin and the weather was horrendous so we figured we knew what to expect. The winds were ferocious when landing and it was raining torrentially hard.

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Our transportation – the Clio

We got in the car, a Peugeot Clio with a manual transmission, and took off into Dublin airport traffic. I was chosen to drive first by a majority vote. It’s really not difficult driving a right-hand drive car. The difficulty comes in driving on the other side of the road and your reflexes in an emergency.

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It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

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It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

We drove southwest toward Limerick then northwest through Shannon. Along the way we saw a castle on the side of the road so we stopped for a look.

It was the Bunratty Castle. We did not go in since were were trying to get to our destination, but we stopped for a look.

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Thatched roof cottages on the grounds of the Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

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Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

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Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

We then took off to Galway where we stayed at The Western. We got cleaned up and relaxed a few then went to find good. Just down the street was a pub we went to called McGettigan’s and had dinner, where we tried fries that had been cooked in duck fat. Oh man. It went great with the obligatory pint. Then we went for a short walk. We were not only beyond exhausted but the weather was, as they say in Ireland, shite.

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The Western Hotel in Galway, Ireland

Yeah, I was wanting better weather but it is far from that. We are well-prepared for the conditions and are staying warm and dry. Then again, we are on vacation…IN IRELAND! Small price to pay!

We were jet-lagged badly and fell asleep about 8:30. Sleep was going to be good.

Until tomorrow…

March 16th, 2019

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

What fantastic weather we are having! Mid-50s, sunshine…the whole weekend should be like this and get even warmer early next week. The sights and sounds of Spring – people trimming bushes and trees, mowing and trimming the grass, and the amount of birds feeding and singing in my yard is pretty fun to have around.

I was considering a road trip either yesterday or today, but thought about it more after I was on the way home and saw all the cars. The weather is really bringing everyone out of the woodwork. Gonna be a busy weekend on the roadways and it was getting busy yesterday morning. Think I’ll stay home and take care of a few things and avoid the weekend warriors.

So far it has been a very productive weekend so I think that tomorrow will be a slack day for me. I’ll be outside again enjoying the weather and not doing much; I already did it!

Yesterday, I got my raise planting bed filled up with soil and planted some seeds. Romaine, radishes, sugar snap peas and rainbow carrots for now. Tomatoes will be ready to move outside and put in the bed soon, and I want to get some jalapeños to make salsa at home and maybe even try to can some. I transplanted some other things into a patio pot and in a couple of little gardens along the fence.

Today was a beautiful day; I’ve got the fever bad and am ready to be outside. I got the other two window boxes planted on the other side of the front of my house and scattered some seeds around for some wild flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds.

Also today, I decided to pull the cover off of the trailer and de-winterize it. I think it will be safe to go for it so I did. I can always drain it if need be. I flushed out the water system so it’s ready for the season! I had already gotten most of it ready a few months ago when it was so nice out so flushing it was the last bog thing to do. I’ll load a few canned goods and whatever else into it that I can for now. After that, I just need to load in perishable things, hitch it up and roll down the highway. Sounds awesome to me!

I finally started up the generator this morning that I bought nearly two years ago. That thing weighs 125 pound; it’s good I have these giant, muscular arms to fling that thing around! Hahaha. Seriously it’s gonna suck taking it out of and putting it in the back of the truck. The price was ¼ of a Honda portable generator and has more power but the thing is so heavy.

It’ll be difficult to not do anything tomorrow so I’ll probably just get out and do some walking. I’ve gotten more done than I had planned the past few days. I got my groove on the past few days and couldn’t stop grooving! The exercise has been good and I need to keep it going.

March 10th, 2019

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

Yesterday I finally got my windows cleaned inside the house and got some organizing done on some paperwork I had not filed away. Last week I had an attack of sciatica that knocked me completely out of commission for a day and a half so this week I was taking care of some Spring cleaning from last weekend.

I am better now and hope that attack was the last one and it doesn’t happen again. Both my back and neck have really been bothering me quite a bit more than usual lately so I guess that I am lucky it hasn’t happened before now. Acupuncture has helped keep the headaches at bay but I think it’s time for a serious deep-tissue massage or possibly even see a chiropractor. I need some relief from this pain pretty soon.

That damn ultrasonic humidifier I have is going to find a new home. The white mineral dust it spews out is everywhere. There are a lot of homes I have been in here that do not have forced-air heat…they use electric wall-mounted heaters. It just usually doesn’t get that cold for extended periods of time. Usually. My house has that electric heat so it gets very dry inside. The air outside has been relatively dry as well so I have to do something to help my skin and my nose get some moisture. Right now I am boiling water in a pan on the stove to get some moisture in the house and that raised it almost 30% in a very short amount of time.

I am pondering a trailer trip next weekend but not quite sure yet. Weather is still a bit iffy this time of year as far as freezing temps (and snow, obviously) and I don’t want to de-winterize it until I can leave it that way for the summer. I guess I could find a campground someplace that is open and dry camp. I can just fill a water jug for cooking and drinking. I have a few ideas for a couple of places to go. The weather looks like it might be okay but it is still too far out to have much faith in the forecast yet.

Speaking of weather, today it was sunny and 50s – a perfect day to be outside and plant some flowers. I got one of my window boxes filled up with violas. I was hesitant to plant them with the cold temps. The person at the store said they would be fine but I may still cover them just to be safe. I have two more window boxes and some little gardens around the yard but will wait just a bit longer to plant them.

This year’s weather has been pretty haywire here in the area where I live. We had really nice weather for a while. After that it got all poopy and then Snowmageddon parts I and II hit, wreaking havoc on everyone. It is sure taking it’s time getting back to normal and it’s making me antsy to plant some stuff and travel. I am doing what I can in the meantime on both of those things. I usually don’t get Spring Fever but this year is a bit different; it is usually better weather this time of year and that’s been the cause of my restlessness.

For those interested in music, I watched a really good documentary called “The Wrecking Crew”. It was about the people who actually MADE the music on albums (those big black circular things) for people such as The Monkees (R.I.P Peter Tork), Beach Boys, and most of the one-hit wonders during the 50s 60s and 70s. It was very good and it had a few surprises in it about some artists that I was not aware of.

Jim and his wife Peggy will be coming out to visit from KS in May so that will be fun. We will be hanging around the area where I live for a few days then it will be a long weekend in Seattle, hitting some sights and eating good food. Maybe a few drinks and then stumble over to ride the light rail late at night to people watch! Much fun shall be had I am certain.

The next big trip I was hoping to take just will not work out. I tried looking at options again, but between the lack of available ground transportation and the time spent flying (two or three stopovers!) I just cannot make the scheduling work out. I wanted to go see a concert but it looks like I’ll just have to catch them in Europe at some point. Like THAT really sucks.

That’s the update for today.