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 29th, 2020

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

While doing the various things one does when getting ready to move a lot goes on in your mind – that constantly-changing mental checklist of things like shutting off your utilities, thinking about the logistics of getting from A to B, and changing insurance agents just to name a few. And then there are the other things like the insomnia. Most of you have moved at one point or another in your lives so you probably understand. I don’t stress about it much these days; this will be my 15th address change since 2012. It’s just another move to me.

However, one thing currently stands out well above the rest while getting ready to leave – the inability to see family and the friends I have made here the last 7 ½ years in person before I leave. And that’s the part that really sucks. With the ‘rona quarantine there will be no hugs, handshakes or tears; the tears will still be there, but it’s more out of frustration than from leaving. We all know that once we are able to do so we will be seeing each other again. I still plan on traveling as much as I can when I can and when it is safe to do so. With the internet it is easy to keep in touch several different ways so we will still keep in contact with each other.

Sometimes it is not easy to move away no matter how badly you want (or need) to leave, and other times it’s no big deal. I was numb and emotionless leaving Colorado that cool, dark, rainy morning. Heading off into a new life had me preoccupied and I was not thinking about leaving a place that made me fall in love with the outdoors and the awe-inspiring beauty of the mountains.

There is the excitement and “that new car smell” of going to a new place with new people and experiences, be it for work or just because you want a change in your life. Some people deal with the uncertainties, and even embrace them. There are the others who dread it and decide to stay in their safe place and that is fine. Me, personally, I thrive on that unknown. I want and crave those new experiences and it is only one reason why I love travel so much.

I have certainly had more new, different and amazing experiences than I ever dreamed I would have in my life living in the Midwest, and I have had even more after moving to Colorado and then Washington. I won’t list them here as they are already written about, starting with the first blog entry I posted in 2012 (so by all means go back to Day 1 and have a look!). And the stories in these posts are just since 2012…there are countless other stories from a lot of other experiences before that and some of those are probably best left on a dusty shelf.

Some may look at these experiences and say “Boy, you’re so lucky”, while others say “WTF are you doing? I couldn’t do that.”. It’s not about luck. It’s about what YOU choose to do with your life. And if you say “I couldn’t do that” then no…you couldn’t handle it but it is because you don’t WANT it bad enough and prefer to play the game of life safe. That is all well and good since we all get to live the life we choose. I choose differently.

The lifestyle I have had since moving to WA is certainly not for everyone, and I could safely say it not for most people. It is not an easy lifestyle and there have been tough times without a doubt – a few extremely tough times. In the 80s I did some freelance stagelighting gigs getting work wherever and whenever I could find it. Just as it was then, it is sure not about getting rich…working in the outdoors is more about the freedom and experiences and a true passion for your job. You give up a “home” and security but the amount of freedom is amazing and worth the trade-off.

At one of the outdoor jobs I have had the last few years I heard someone say “we get paid in sunsets” and to me that is how it should be. It’s not about the money but unfortunately  it is what matters in the world. When you make a decision to get into this type of career you should fully understand the sacrifices you have to make to do what you love and be flexible enough to make it happen. For me it was not that difficult to “roll with it” since I had already lost my job and my house. I chose a new path, got rid of pretty much everything I owned, and hit the road for a new adventure. I didn’t let it get me down and I still don’t. Life marches onward whether you want to play or not so make it what YOU want.

It is exciting to think about this move and potentially ending up back in the place I love most (well, second to Ireland) – Colorado. With some variables to ponder in the future that may be later rather than sooner…but I will get back there. It is not that I dislike Washington, but I have never really felt that “magic” like I do in Colorado. I like the forests in the Rockies better because of the openness and not feeling “closed-in” when I go for a hike in the woods.

So now is the time to not look back at the latest fork in the trail but to instead look forward and head for the Rockies.

April 22nd, 2020: A Fork in the Road…

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

I am leaving Washington.

Yeah, it’s another big move for me and now my furry sidekick. I put in my notice with the  landlord today and will be heading to Montana for a while. After that, possibly/probably back to Colorado to be more centrally located between all of my family.

Part of my being able to retire was I could travel and not have to pay rent anyplace (yes, I know it still costs to do that). I could take my time and see new places and things and revisit some old favorites (which is one of the big reasons I want to go back to Colorado). It meant I could save quite a bit of money actually. Travel can be expensive but I tend to live cheap and would rather stay in a campsite out in the forest than in a campground.

I actually considered moving back to Colorado a few years ago when my mom died. I considered moving there to be closer to my dad. I didn’t end up doing it since he seemed to be doing okay, but then he got sick, too.

I have blogged about the magic of Colorado before. I have missed it quite a bit and the very few times I have been back in the last 7 ½ years since I left brought back some great memories and made me realize how much I do miss being there. I will be able to visit family more and take care of things at the house when I can get back there. It’s a little frustrating I cannot go take care of some of it now but it’s okay. Things are not pressing at this time so it’s all good – hence the “possibly/probably” I mentioned earlier.

It finally rained today so I can see and breathe once again. Instead of yellow my truck is back to the white it was when it left the factory. The dog had fewer eye boogers today and my allergies were a little better…until I started to clean the house and kicked up the pollen. I made sure to work in small sections toward the air purifier I have so it could suck in the bad air. It helped tremendously to keep some of the dust and dirt down. Then I had to vacuum the couch, recliner, and rugs and wash the bedding to get rid of those pesky allergens.

In closing I will definitely miss Washington, however Colorado and the Rocky Mountains are where I feel most at home. In the time I have been up here I have met a lot of people, made some lifelong friends, got to do some incredible things and have amazing experiences the whole time starting on the very first day I moved up here. There has been the good but there has also been some agonizing heartbreak and pain, a motorcycle wreck, two surgeries, deeply personal loss, a couple of really shitty “human” beings and 13 addresses. It’s a bit sad for me to think about leaving…but it’s what I need to do. It has been great up here all in all but it’s time for a new and different road to travel to some new adventures.

So I’m doing it.

December 4th, 2019

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

With year’s end drawing to a close it’s looking like I will finish the year with only three surgeries!

Recovery from my last surgery a few weeks ago is still in process but is going pretty good and that is such a relief in many ways; a relief in the form of the good news the doctor had and also the physical part of the recovery being fairly quick as well. I will still need checkups every three months or so for the time being but she was pretty confident with the outcome of the surgery. I am really hoping that tomorrow’s PT appointment is my last one; I am not back to full range of motion yet, and it probably will not come back 100%, but what the Physical Therapist said at my last visit made it sound like I will probably be done very soon. The cataract surgery was successful and was the least problematic of them all.

Getting these things finally behind me has been huge. It’s been a tough summer – hell, a tough year – and I am glad I am finally able to move forward with my life. I haven’t been able to go anywhere or do very much until very recently and that has been difficult for me.

That is all about to change.

Lately I have been feeling pretty damn good and it’s been a long time. It’s exciting easing into retirement-travel mode, thinking about the road trips I can now take to visit with family and see places I want to see – all without any real timelines. The jobs I have worked the last seven years have involved working in the summers and being off in the winter some of that time. Travel in the summer when places are open will be a huge change along with better weather, and opportunities to do things with family will be one of the biggest and bestest things of all.

Yes, he said “bestest”.

But it will also mean drawbacks – being on the road with more people, all clamoring to see some of the same things. I am not real big on crowds but sometimes you just gotta do what you want to do despite being surrounded by giant masses of people; you cannot let things like that stop you or you will never go anywhere or do anything. Luckily we traveled quite a bit as a family when I was a youngster so I have already seen many of the big touristy things and many of those places I don’t need (or want) to see or go to again.

Granted, there will always be favorites (pretty much anywhere in Colorado for example) that I will visit again and again regardless, but I still have many places I haven’t been to that I still want to see and things I want to do and experience. A coast-to-coast drive on US2, a longer drive down the Pacific Coast, Route 66, eastern Canada…it’s a big list. And this list doesn’t even include Europe or Asia!

Being in the PNW (at least for now) I can easily start visiting many parts of northern and western Canada weather permitting. There are actually quite a few places I want to visit in Canada. In several of my earlier blog pages I had posts and pictures from Banff/Alberta/B.C. and it is a huge, beautiful country with a lot more to see. It would be fun to drive to AK and it’s something I have always wanted to do, but my truck has 190,000 miles on it and I don’t know if that would be a good idea to do that without a newer vehicle.

Again, it’s all very exciting to think about (and it’s even better to do) but sometimes life gets in the way. I know I have talked about doing these things before but with the way life (and death, for that matter) has been the last 3½ years things have gotten sidetracked and delayed but that doesn’t mean I am not going to be doing any of the things I talk about. This year has not been an exemplary one either as far as my personal health but I am feeling and doing pretty good now so it’s now time to do these things. Spending more time and having the ability to do things with family at any time will the the best part of all and what I am looking forward to the most. I already have one huge trip booked (so be sure to keep checking back for that) and with the other things I mentioned I think I can be busy traveling and relaxing (and blowing!) for quite a while.

Speaking of travel, I was supposed to go to CO for a wedding last week. Unfortunately the weather sucked and didn’t cooperate. I was on the fence about it anyway with my recovery but thought I could manage to get there okay and was cleared for travel. Perhaps it all worked for the best but I was really looking forward to seeing some friends I had not seen since I left CO in 2012.

The dog is doing good but we had a little scare a few nights ago. He was acting weirder than normal and was unable to stand without being wobbly. He jumped up onto my lap about 11:30 and laid down to sleep (sleep seems to be his favorite thing to do). He will do the typical “chasing a rabbit” thing in his sleep but this time it was different. He woke up a few times with his legs stiffened and kinda freaking out. He got down out of the recliner and was even more wobbly – like he was gonna fall over. I decided he might need to go to the vet and was planning on taking him in  the next morning to get looked at. I was concerned he wouldn’t be okay overnight.

At 4:00 AM he woke me up and threw up on my bed. He had to go outside really bad but he then got progressively better all morning. I took him in (of course he was pretty much back to his normal goofy self by then). He apparently ate an apple or two off the ground and it affected him adversely. Needless to say I got the apples picked up (and dumped on the other side of the fence for the rabbits!) so hopefully he won’t be doing that again.

I have been de-cluttering again so I have a huge box of stuff to donate with more yet to go through. I was able to trim down several more things in the trailer and a few things in the house but I think I still have a lot more I can get rid of. I was working on going through and organizing stuff earlier this year but had to take a break from it for a bit. Then the surgeries all happened. It felt good to go through and get rid of more stuff but things like going through and scanning pictures is exhausting emotionally and it’s one thing I really cannot dive back into fully yet.

My microwave blew up so I have been living in the 60s the last few weeks, heating everything up on the stovetop. I forgot what this was like, but it hasn’t been horrible and it sure keeps you from buying microwave convenience foods! It’s also one less thing to move in the future. I remembered I bought an extended warranty for it (which I usually do not do) so they will send me a check for reimbursement once I send it in. Besides, I have one in the trailer if I REALLY need to use one.

Otherwise I have been lying low, saving money and not doing much other than recuperating and planning some getaways.

That is all there is for now.

October 13th, 2018

Adventure, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

I am officially off work for a while now…let the time off begin! I am not really sure how long it will last since I may have the chance to go in to work extra and get a few more  paychecks in the bank. Extra money is never a bad thing. At least I don’t think so.

I have a lot of things on the to-do list for my time off. I am trying to get finished unpacking – I cleaned out my storage unit today and got some of the storage tubs emptied out and things put away. I have about seven of the tubs left and they will take some time to put away so it’s good to have the time off to finish that up. I am more than ready to have this done so I can do other stuff.

I have been able to get rid of some things and I am sure there will be more stuff to thin out. Some things I have not seen for a while so obviously I don’t miss it while stored so out it goes. I donated my motorcycle riding gear since I am not riding anymore. I have donated a few boxes of stuff already and started to fill another one. I am finding places to put things I am keeping and have recycled many cardboard boxes in the process.

I need to get a few things done in the yard. Luckily the bees got rid of many of the plums that had fallen on the ground. The feral rabbits have started working on the apples on the ground and I imagine the bees will hit those as they start to rot. If I am still in this house this time next year I’ll get them as they ripen or fall to keep the yard clear.

I have some more traveling that I want to do during my time off so I am definitely looking forward to doing that. I have one trip lined up, another I am in the process of figuring out, and maybe another depending on my additional work schedule. You’ll have to check back to see where I end up. I might even have to check back myself to see where I end up!

The weather lately has been cool but very nice…the proverbial calm before the storm and should stay nice this coming week. There have been the typical rains for the time of year but we have been enjoying sun and short-sleeve weather lately so it has been very pleasant. With the cooler weather coming on it means I need to get the trailer winterized. I could still take it out to “dry camp” without using the water system, or I could even use it wet once I got someplace warmer and re-winterize when I get back. But for now, though, the cover is going back on it after I clear out the water system.

I need to get started on breakfast and get some more organizing done. Hopefully today will be a day to kick back after I get that and the trailer taken care of.

Enjoy your day!