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.

July 25th, 2020

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

Comet NEOWISE, just below the Big Dipper
This one is not zoomed in as much so it is clearer and was taken later in the evening

As you can see, I was able to get a few pictures of NEOWISE a few nights ago as it was scooting across the Big Sky of Montana. I took these with my iPhone and it did a decent job of it.

We had some pretty good rain here a few days ago, and much to my relief there were no longer any water leaks on the back window. It was getting rather frustrating but it looks to finally be patched until I can get the weatherstripping to do it correctly. I will be able to scrape all the sealant off the outside of the trailer I globbed on between storms to try to fix it. I also got the fenderwell patched up and sealed again so hopefully that is fixed. I will still be applying the sealant I have left (good ol’ FlexSeal!) to use it up and really make sure it is covered good.

I ordered a new sewer hose storage tube to mount under the trailer but it hangs too low to put it there. I am really afraid it will be dragged off in a low spot in the road so I just attached it to the top of the bumper. Usually the hoses are stored in the bumper but it is a tight fit. One of them will not fit at all and the other two only go in a certain way. I got tired of fighting them so problem solved.

I am really wanting to go someplace but just cannot get away yet. I am still getting medical appointments taken care of and that is the first priority. With the pandemic getting worse I have to really think about what is necessary and what can wait. My hand really hurts and is causing me issues so I would really like to get it taken care of but we will see what happens with that. My other appointments are more important so I have a full plate with medical stuff – nothing serious…just things needing taken care of and checked.

Speaking of travel it is really looking like getting back to Europe will be quite a ways off by the looks of the pandemic and travel restrictions. I am so glad I got to go twice in the last two years and that Jim, Chelsea, Angie and I got to see and do so much in so many different cities and countries. It will probably never be the same again – the restaurants, the Irish pubs, the interesting experiences on public transit, and the sights….everything. The whole experience both times was mind-opening and amazing. The best experience for me of all the travel we did was all of the wonderful, friendly and helpful people we met everywhere we went and that is one thing I hope will stay the same. I cannot wait to go back at some point when it is safe to do so but it will be some time before I will even get on a domestic flight let alone a transatlantic/transpacific one.

I am happy for now just being retired and being able to travel around here domestically when I can and see places I haven’t seen. I cannot wait to get into Canada more when the border opens back up but I think that may not even happen this year. Between the road trips I am looking at doing and my medical stuff I really have plenty to keep me busy for a while. It is a bit of a bummer that now I am able to go I can’t.

I have been considering a few things and I came to the conclusion that with the pandemic escalating even worse I am rethinking my plan to relocate completely to Colorado. All of my doctors are in Washington and if something happens they know my history; I have had a few things of concern and that relationship is very important given the recent family history. I really do not want to start over with new doctors and surgeons and I may even wait to get my hand fixed during a trip back there. I also have all of the great friends I made there the last eight years and it is really a smarter financial move in several ways. Plus I really grew to love the ocean up there and still want to spend time traveling more along the West Coast. And, honestly, I do miss all of that. I still plan on spending a lot of time in the mountains in CO and visiting family in KS.

After I got my ink done on my wrist in Dublin I really got excited and wanted to start getting a tattoo sleeve around it (wish I woulda got more over in Europe). I was getting several ideas together and was planning on doing that when we got back (and on a return to Europe). Then the ‘rona hit so everything shut down, and even if they were still open it was not worth the risk anyhoo. I have not even had a haircut in many months and it has been quite a long time since my hair was this long so I am looking a bit rough. A haircut is just not worth the risk to me (never liked them anyway), and if I am going to be sitting that close to someone I am getting a tattoo and not a haircut.

That’s about it for today’s short update.

July 7th, 2020

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

I had a COVID-19 test today. I don’t think I need to state how much this pisses me off when I am the one taking precautions.

Out of an abundance of caution it was recommended to get one due to a potential third-level exposure that happened. They handed me a swab, I had to roll the window up, and shove it into my nose until it poked out the back of my skull. I then had to do the other side after I was done sneezing (hence the reason for rolling up the window I assume) and then do the other side before rolling down the window and putting it into the lab tube.

I think everything will be fine as the first-level exposed person tested negative (the initial contact person was a positive). As far as we know the second-level person is negative, too, so that makes us very optimistic along with a local nurse telling us there should be no problems.

In other better news, plans are still underway for a trip (dependent, of course, on my test results). It will have to be a shorter one than originally planned due to some changes in work schedules (not mine!😁 ) so I will have to babysit a little more. I am still going to get away soon (and as much as I can afterwards) and that’s what really matters. Unfortunately the test results can take up to a week so there is a potential of seven days of travel lost.

I had an interesting faux pas for dinner tonight. I made up one batch of stir-fry ramen with canned chicken for one of the kids, then went to make mine. I opened the can for mine and thought “this looks weird” when I dumped it into the wok. Sure enough, I accidentally grabbed and opened a can of pulled pork.

Now before you poo-poo this being in a can, let me remind you where that tuna sandwich came from that you had for lunch (after it left the ocean, of course). And the canned chicken as well. I heated up another can of it last week and slathered it with BBQ sauce on a bun and it was actually pretty good. No, it is NOT Rosedale’s (the best BBQ not only in KC but anywhere) but it will work in a pinch.

Anyhoo, I thought “Oh well, it’s in the wok and it’s almost done so let’s go for it”. Pulled Pork ramen stir-fry. It was good but much more filling than the chicken version. I would eat it again, just a smaller portion and maybe add a little sweet sauce of some sort to cut it a bit.

I got a couple of new updated locks for the side compartments and got those installed for a bit more security. I discovered that the seal on one of my shocks on the rear of the truck has gone bad so I ordered two new ones and will be installing them this Thursday or Friday dependent on when Amazon gets them here. My truck has about 195,000 miles on it and nothing has really ever had to be fixed on it. Shocks are a wear item so they do need replaced. It is a pretty easy repair – loosen two bolts and pop the new shock in, tighten, and repeat for the other side. I cannot really go anywhere until I get it fixed so the timing is good.

I have to admit it’s really nice to get this stuff done on the trailer but I am glad I am about done with the repairs and updates. The updates I don’t mind, but with the repairs being fairly constant it’s wearing thin. The last thing I can think of that’s left is the shower and I am really not ready to tackle that just yet – I want a break from this necessary stuff. Maybe next month I will look into getting it done but for now I am taking a break. I’ll just take a shower outside.

So the next few days will be waiting for the results and doing some vehicle maintenance. But there will be a trip soon afterwards!

April 21st, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

I really needed to do something different so I decided a few days ago to make a few changes to help myself get through staying at home better and easier. As a preface to this post, I am REALLY trying hard to keep my political opinions mine in this blog. I have to say it is sure as hell not easy given what is currently happening in this country.

First and foremost, I quit watching the news and haven’t watched the news for the last 3-4 days; in fact, during this time I have not even had the TV on until late at night and that was to watch a movie (and having some beautiful weather here has helped in many ways). There is entirely too much negativity and misinformation along with the political lies and bullshit. That alone has made me feel SO much better and has helped rid myself of the bad moods and given me more energy. I really suggest trying it to see if it helps you feel better.

Granted I still do get on the internet and do see things on there but I filter through said political lies and bullshit on there as well and don’t click on much news even on the ‘net. I am doing the things I am supposed to do (and much more) according to my state’s orders to stay healthy. I do pay attention to my local news to some extent so I am aware of what is going on close to home. As far as national politics I will be quite blunt –  I don’t fucking care.

Second, I am finding other more productive things to focus my energies on and spend time doing (other than mowing grass). I am looking at new recipes and making up a shopping list with new ingredients that I don’t have on hand (one recipe I really want is the cottage pie recipe from The Shack in Dublin, Ireland). I have an Instant Pot recipe magazine a friend sent me so I am looking through that along with some of the cookbooks I brought back from KS that my mom had.

I will be spending LOTS of time deep-cleaning my house starting tomorrow (supposed to rain so I will be in the house anyhoo) to get rid of the pollen that is all over everything in my house. It was so bad yesterday that I actually had to go inside – my nose plugged up and my eyes watered relentlessly just sitting outside enjoying the day. I am not looking forward to doing it but it has to be done and hopefully it will rain later today and tomorrow to clear the air. At least I got the yard mowed before the rain gets here. I have also been getting more motivated to do a few other things I need to do but have been low on my priority list.

It is easy to get wrapped up in current events but I am now approaching things differently and I feel MUCH better. I wanted to pass these things along in case someone needs some ideas.

April 19th, 2020

food, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

I hope everyone reading this (and your loved ones) are staying well through the pandemic and doing what they should do. We still have a long way to go but we have to be patient and do what we have to do (that means NOT what we WANT to do) to get this under control or it will just keep going and never get under control.

I have been staying home and making as few trips as possible. I may go for a quick drive once or twice a week just to get myself and the dog out of the house, even if it is for just 15 minutes. I have not been to the grocery store in two weeks and still have plenty of food. I don’t plan on going on another big grocery trip again for another week or two if possible. I am only eating at home and no take-out, drive-through or delivery. It may sound extreme but I am not taking any chances. It is also a good chance to learn how to cook something if I want to eat it bad enough.

Needless to say this is not how I envisioned retirement but these are extraordinary circumstances. I am good with taking drastic measures and not getting The ‘Rona. It sure as hell sucks not visiting with friends and family (my house or theirs) but we have to take the necessary steps to stop the spread of this virus. For that I am willing to do what needs to be done even if it means being alone and not traveling like I had planned.

I have been trying to find things to do other than TV and the lawn mowing has been non-stop. The grass has been going crazy so that has kept me busy. I planted some flower seeds and did a few more changes to the trailer interior – more reorganizing and installing a spice rack. I have been going through and finding more things to take out to lighten the load and declutter my storage in it – things not needed all the time like tools and my hammock – that do not need to be in there but can ride in the truck. I also got a storage unit to put some storage bins and other things in so that helps declutter my small house.

In hindsight we were pretty damn fortunate to get out of Europe without catching this stuff given what we now know. We were smart and took precautions cleaning, sanitizing and avoiding touching door handles and such, but we were on public transit, airplanes, and crowded city streets. The possibility was definitely there to pick up something but we never had any health issues (knocking on wood) after returning. Even with this I still dream of going back as soon as I possibly can, but that will probably be a while yet.

Tree pollen allergies are really kicking my ass. My eyes are swollen and runny like I have been watching Old Yeller, sinuses are stopped up, and I’m coughing. My truck is yellow with pollen and I have to dust and clean everything in the house again (I just did that) since I had the doors and windows open to get some (what I thought was) fresh air in the house. Oh well, what else do I have to do.

The weather has been beautiful otherwise. We have had blue skies, sun and 60+ degree days and I have been outside taking advantage of it however I can. Some rain is in the forecast and that will clear the air up nicely…it just has to follow through and rain. I heard a weather report that said we have had less rain that Las Vegas recently. That is unbelievable for the PNW.

That’s the update for now. Wish it was a bit more exciting! Stay home & stay safe.