February 8th, 2021

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

It was a year ago today that I made my second trip to Europe with my two oldest girls, leaving Kansas City on a Saturday morning to go to Dublin, Ireland. I know my first trip over really was a complete assault on the senses – foreign country, different foods, languages, using public transit, plus experiencing how life is for others with which we share the planet. I remember pulling into Amsterdam Centraal that first trip in 2018, seeing all the trains and tracks everywhere, thinking “Oh shit…what have we gotten ourselves into…”.

Even though I had been there before, this trip was still a life-changing experience for me in several different ways. Seeing the castle where our family started out was incredible and getting to see it with Chelsea and Angie on their first trip was such a cool thing (you’re next, Meghan!). Of course there was all of the great food we ate, the things we saw and did, people we talked to…much like the first time all over again.

I was in a weird headspace for many reasons. I hated the prospect of having to leave. There was also an accumulation of the previous five years of loss and the other BS life put on my doorstep in a flaming paper bag. In Amsterdam we took time on our last day there to go different ways and explore. I was lost in thought just getting lost in the city. I got myself into a much better headspace before my adventure and everything in life was calm & peaceful as I wandered around, looking at some familiar places and finding other places I had never seen before. It really helped me in ways I cannot describe, and it was badly needed.

Right now it would be nice to have the opportunity to do that again, venturing out into unknown areas of a city that is nearly half of a world away. No map of any sort…just walking; no matter where you go that’s where you are. Everything is new in every way and you just kinda say “WOW” inside. I would even settle for someplace domestic; how nice it would be just to be able to wander around Seattle on foot like I used to do on occasion.

A steamed BBQ pork hombow from the Chinese bakery at Pike Place Market would be delicious right about now, as would breakfast at Biscuit Bitch and a burger, cheese curds and a pint at the Five Point or a pizza from Serious Pie. There are so many places to wander around checking out and so many things I have not made note of yet. I do still update my bucket list for things and places of interest, and there are more places in Seattle on that list I have not been to but want to check out when it is safer for my health to do so.

I always keep an eye out for interesting places everywhere and I put them into both my bucket list and Apple Maps so I can have directions ready to go if I end up someplace on a whim (which does happen often). I still have plenty of things to see and do in Amsterdam yet, and both Ireland and Iceland are islands of so many things to see and do. Beyond that there is still a lot more of the world I want to experience.

I will be looking into some domestic road trip options as well, adding more to that section of the bucket list. When things calm down I will be traveling locally more so I should do something unique, like visiting all of the state parks in Washington. I have been to almost all of the National Parks in the state so there are a couple of those left I want to visit; not because they are on a list, but because I want to visit them.

I will hopefully be going to MT soon to get my stuff, but want/need to get my vaccines first. I don’t want to miss out on getting it in fear of not being able to get it if I do miss out the first time because I am gone. The weather, being another factor, has not been bad there, but I don’t need to take a chance with that either since I would be towing a cargo trailer back.

The past year has been tough for everyone but in hindsight getting to go to Europe was a big help to get me through the year. We have talked about it often and relived our experiences both separately and with each other numerous times ever since we returned. I hope at some point in the next year we can all go together.

That’s all for today.

February 3rd, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

I have been receiving some things I bought at an online auction and a few other goodies.

On Monday I got this week’s HelloFresh box. I got beef bulgogi bowls, cheesy smothered mushroom chicken with mash and roasted carrots, and plant-based protein enchiladas rojas. I am not doing them every week so I can have other stuff too plus it saves a little money.

I also won an auction for a vintage off-white Le Creuset porcelain-coated steel stockpot with lid and colander and it came Monday too. It is much larger than I imagined so I need a garage to park it in. I really like this porcelain stuff for clean up and this will be great for cooking spaghetti, linguine, and rice noodles for stir fry. I still want to try to can some home-made pasta sauce. I can’t do it yet since I would like to use my Instant Pot to help with the canning part. I need to fire-roast some tomatoes somehow; maybe on my grill after I get it here too. I have to research that.

The box of 17 Zwilling/J.A. Henckels knives showed up yesterday so I got them washed up and used a couple to cook dinner – beef bulgogi bowls. What a difference a good-quality knife makes. A little disappointed that the most expensive of the bunch – an 8″ chef knife – has a broken tip but the whole lot was still a great score for the money. I will take it to the knife sharpener guy and see if he can do something to fix it. I still need to get a sharpener but they are in pretty good shape for now. A couple of the handles have a melted spot on them but I can work on smoothing those marks out with my Dremel.

Today I got two Le Creuset salt cellars I won on an auction for way less than the price of one. I plan on using one for salt and the other for pepper. and they will be a help in the kitchen when cooking. I got another package today from a friend – a really nice bell for my bike and some chocolate Guinness candies that look like a little pint.

Tomorrow I am finally getting some Espresso cups I won in another auction. These are vintage Italian but they have no matching saucers. The price of the four (two red, two black) with shipping was less than a single cup on eBay! They are heavy ceramic and will come in handy since Monday my coffee order came in and I got several espresso pods in this box.

Also I have a few other needed things showing up tomorrow, and one of the items is an OBD-II vehicle code-reader that sends info about my truck to my phone on an app. This will help me clear out the codes and see there are any other things wrong without going anywhere and having to have it done. I hope to get the fuel filter and the vent solenoid changed in the next few days and it will be handy after that is done. It has been wet and it is certainly no fun laying on cold, wet pavement so I have put it off and the stuck fuel line needs to soak up some oil to loosen up so more time won’t hurt. Tomorrow I have to call and find out if they have the solenoid in stock then go get it and install it in the parking lot since I don’t know if it will cause any further problems.

I still have not gotten my airline plans done yet. I have been trying to get it finished up, but I have been back and forth quite a bit on what to do with Europe, vouchers and my miles and trying to make the most sense out of it. I think that with everything going on Europe will just have to be pushed to next year. I was hoping to go back in the Fall but now that is one less thing to figure out. There are so many unknowns and I don’t want to have to straighten out things if there is a border closing or a flight cancelled or a pandemic. It’s also some extra time to shop for fares. Now that I got that part decided on I have been looking at a different place to go along with the other two options that I have been considering. Notes are being taken and I think I have somewhat of a plan.

I will be getting my passport in the mail in the next few days so I can start the renewal process with hopes of getting the new one back in a reasonable amount of time. They are saying the turnaround time is only 10-12 weeks so that is not bad considering the country has been needlessly on fire for a year now.

There really is not much I can do in the trailer at the moment. It is too cold and damp to do much as far as re-sealing windows and the shower floor pan so I still have to wait to do that. I cannot really do much organizing since I ransacked some things out of it to use in the house until I get to MT for my things.

So there has been a little going on but not much, and I am sure that we all have a little different version of the same story right now – day in and day out. And, also much like many of you, it gets to me a little sometimes but that’s okay. We just gotta hang in there.

Have a good day!

January 22nd, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

What day is it? Other than Wednesday being trash day and the garbage was taken out, they are all the same anymore.

A few days ago I got the parts to fix my truck so that was on today’s to-do list since it looked to be a sunny day when I got up this morning. I got the new fuel filter, spark plugs and wires. Even with the cost of the parts I am still saving over $600 by doing it myself. I don’t really enjoy working on vehicles but I can do some things. These things are easy and fairly quick to fix but my hands didn’t cooperate with me to get it done without much problem. I struggled a bit to get the plugs changed and had trouble trying to get one of them replaced so I will have to come back and revisit that last one. The fuel lines on the filter were stuck so I sprayed them with some PB Blaster to soak a day or two then I will try again.

My arthritis hand is really mad after working on the truck earlier. The only real option, other than a surgery that will only be a temporary fix for ten years or so, is getting a big needle jabbed into my hand at the base of my thumb and pumping it full of cortisone. I have had a similar thing done before and it is really not pleasant in the slightest bit. I think getting a shot in my neck without sedation (which I have done it several times) didn’t hurt as bad as that one needle in my index finger. I think I am going to have to get this injection done though. I cannot deal with this much longer but am trying to put it off as long as I can tolerate the pain and swelling and lack of dexterity.

It is good to see the sun more every week and it really helps with our moods; really…who doesn’t need that right about now? We are gaining about 15 minutes a week so in a month it is another hour of daylight each day. It is still dark until 7:00 A.M. but instead of the sun going down at 4:00 P.M. it is now setting at 5:00 or so and actually gets dark around 6:30. I am so ready for some spring and summer and the long Spring/Summer/Fall days are really nice for being outside. Of course the time will change sometime in March (as usual, for no good reason) since we can’t quit trying to control the things that we cannot control.

No meal kit in this week’s mail, but I finally got the last one from last week cooked last night and it was something different – beef banh mi bowls. It was pretty good and it made quite a bit of food. I won’t have to do much cooking until the next one gets here, but I will still be cooking and try to use up some stuff like pasta.

I went to get something out of the trailer yesterday to use at the house (glad I have that stuff to fall back on) and it was odd in a sense. I kinda missed it, yet didn’t miss living in it. I spent a lot of time in it over the summer and into the Fall so I got used to it but at the end the dog and I were ready to have room to spread out. It is fine for trips but staying in it full-time is difficult with the limited space. I am excited to get it back out for some trips and it’s really looking like that is going to be the only real travel option for some time yet.

I definitely won’t be going far if I do go someplace with the trailer, and it will just be within the state until some things calm down. It also won’t be very soon – there is some colder weather with snow (BOOOOO) forecast so I don’t want to unwinterize the trailer yet – once I get it ready I don’t want to redo it. With all of the things I have worked on, the trailer is in pretty good shape and is ready to go. I still need to fix the shower and reseal the windows. I will start working on that when I can, hopefully next month. I should have done it last year but didn’t since I was staying in it; I did not want to live in a 15′ construction area.

For now it will just be some day trips. Pack a lunch and find a quiet place to sit on a beach and enjoy nature. It is the safest way to get out of the house and maintain some sanity while limiting exposure.

January 15th, 2021

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

It was a busy afternoon today.

I got up this morning and it was time for coffee, then I got the dog out for a walk. He never seems to be in a rush to get out in the mornings so I am gonna caffeinate myself first. It seems odd that he doesn’t wake up doing the pee-pee dance, but then again he is odd. He didn’t even eat his breakfast until a few hours before dinner.

I locked the dog in his crate and got the bike out for a longer shakedown ride around the block (2-3 miles or so). I need to make a few adjustments – the front fender is rattling a bit against the front fork and the brakes need tightened up some. I really don’t know much about working on bicycles but these are minor things that I feel comfortable with tackling. I can look at some videos online and figure it out if necessary.

It is definitely a different feel riding this bike and it will take some getting used to it. Small tires and sitting up so high are not what I am used to but I will adjust. I also need to get mirrors, a bell, and more lights along with maybe some other things for more visibility. My motorcycle wreck affected my neck and I now cannot turn my head very well to see if anyone is coming so some mirrors are high on the list before I ride it again very far. It does move along pretty good without the Class III setting, but I DO like speed…

I got back and we went for another walk, then came home and started cooking. I made some beef & bean burritos and some beef stroganoff. I got everything labeled and in the freezer; I have a total of 12 meals frozen as of now. I still have to cook dinner yet, and I got another EveryPlate box yesterday so that will be for the next few days’ meals.

I went to Costco yesterday to get a few things and got the 1000-pack of tortillas (you know what I mean), so I used some for the burritos and I will be making up and freezing some breakfast burritos the next few days. I am still trying to do the cold oats with berries and cashew milk for breakfast every morning but breakfast burritos are great any time of the day. I always like doing something different for breakfast on Sunday mornings so since I cannot go out for breakfast I cook something for myself and forgo the overnight oats. It breaks up the week and when it is possible I’ll be meeting up with friends for a restaurant breakfast on Sundays.

While cooking I decided to listen to some music. Last night I watched a couple of videos from the new AC/DC album. Damn, that album rocks and sounds like the old days. I got on Apple Music and added that album and Highway to Hell. I listened to Highway to Hell while cooking and that is a great album. I am waiting until later to listen to the new one; I have a giant playlist of new music I have added but have not listened to yet so I am trying to knock that list down a little before listening to anything else. I listened to some old Porcupine Tree while cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes.

After taking my truck in to get fixed, the “Check Engine” light came on again; it is why I took it to the dealer to start with and they replaced the part that THEY said was bad after I replaced parts I thought were bad. It is going in early next week to get looked at again. I am really hoping to get it fixed correctly this time and get out for some long day trips to help maintain sanity. I don’t need (or want) to be around groups of people…I just need some new scenery to look at. Once I get this fixed I will feel better about going in the forest to explore or on a longer drive, plus the fuel mileage will improve.

I guess I could even take the trailer out to get away once the truck is fixed, but I must say it has been nice being out of it for a while so I have not been too excited about getting back in it yet and I am fairly certain the dog agrees. I would have to de-winterize it so I will wait a few more weeks to do that to make sure the danger of freezing is past. With the last-minute storage after finding this place I had to put water line anti-freeze in it again so I would have to go to a campground to de-winterize for the first trip. I am glad I did dump some in it since it did freeze several nights, but I still hate putting that stuff in there. It makes that first trip a pain and it takes a while to flush it out of the system.

I am still working on the airline tickets but I am finding more places, even in the US, are talking pre- and post-arrival testing and quarantines. With these things looming, and the additional concerns of new strains being discovered, it is extremely difficult for me to get very excited about even looking at flights let alone actually booking one. I won’t let it get me down and I will keep looking. There are still a couple of big U.S. cities I would like to go visit but I have big reservations about doing that since I travel to cities to explore and try the local foods. On top of that, I don’t feel safe with all of the nonsense going on and that is also a problem for me wanting to go on long road trips. I will get something booked before my vouchers expire.

That’s about all for this update. Forgot to send it before I passed out last night!

January 5th, 2021

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

Welcome to my first post of the new year.

Been fairly rainy around here lately, but I was able to get out and get some walking miles in during the clear moments between deluges. The dog about went nuts a few times; with the rain coming down it just was not walking weather so he slept and laid around as much as he could but that won’t last all day. Then he attacks me.

I did try to make a pie last week but it was a big fail. I gotta work on that a lot more. I am not gonna give up so maybe next time I will try to make small ones and see how the first one turns out before going farther. I have a long way to go with baking from scratch and I see why it’s spendy going to a real bakery.

Monday I got up and after coffee and breakfast I made up some breakfast sandwiches with an organic, free-range egg (nice dark-yellow almost orange yolk!), bacon, Gouda cheese, all on a whole-grain English muffin. It is good for a quick snack or meal; I am trying to eat more oats and fruit at breakfast but who doesn’t like a good breakfast sandwich?

I got my Hello Fresh box yesterday and had some pork flautas. tomorrow night will be Silky Sicilian Penne with zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes. Shepherd’s pie (it’s actually a cottage pie; shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, hence the name) is tonight’s dinner, complete with never-before-made-by-me-from-scratch mashed potatoes. I even had to go buy a potato masher to make this meal; I never had one but I do now! Thanks to Goodwill and lots of hot, soapy water I got myself a heavy duty masher. It turned out really good and I will be making it again. Just wish I had some Irish brown bread with Kerrygold butter slathered all over it. Then wash it down with a pint.

While I was out picking up the spuds masher and a few other items for today’s cooking lesson, I saw some custom bodywork on a car that I just have to share:

I think the blue distracts from the main color scheme, but very nice work drilling a hole at the end of the crack to keep it from going farther

The U.K. lockdown is some pretty serious stuff and it makes me think that perhaps travel, especially international, may be farther off than I want to believe it will be. I still try to be optimistic but know the realities of the situation. I just cannot wrap my head around getting on a plane and going anywhere yet. But…

I also have a couple of hundred dollars in vouchers from a cancelled flight that I need to use to book a flight someplace in the next couple of weeks. I am not real excited about doing that, but I cannot let it go to waste. I will book it as late as I can and cancel if need be. On the bright side it will be more miles to my frequent flier account. I just need to figure out where I would want to go.

Last night I took the dog out for a walk. It was really dark out and no moon due to the clouds. Any darker and I would have needed a flashlight, which I didn’t have with me but soon wished I did.

Across from where I live is a huge field. We had walked up the road so he could make his rounds and mark his special spots with a wee dab of wee. We stopped, and all of a sudden about 20 coyotes started carrying on sounding like hyenas yipping & howling and they were really close – closer than the last time this happened. We turned about and got the hell out of there quick. I did not want to run to get them chasing us, but I woulda easily won a speed-walking contest.

That’s about all for now.