November 9, 2020

Adventure, Just things, pictures, Road Trip, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

It has been a sleepless few days. Bright lights all around and train tracks across the street from the repair shop. Sunday night was tough. I’m not sure why my trailer battery doesn’t seem to charge but at 3:00 a.m. I woke up pretty damn cold – probably in the mid-20s F inside the trailer. The battery ran out of juice so no furnace. I got up and had to go out and try to charge it from the truck. I just replaced the trailer battery but no idea how long it’s been since it’s had a full charge.

An hour’s worth of charging and I got one cycle of heat. Then it went dead again so I said “well, okay then” and slept cold for about 90 minutes. I said something else along the same line as before (actually it was “F THIS”) and got up out of bed to go get coffee and something warm to eat.

I went for a drive to kill some time while waiting for my trailer. I decided to go to Roslyn, the shooting location of Northern Exposure. Great show if you’ve never seen it but you gotta like quirky. I was here maybe thirty years ago and mostly it looked the same. It is a cool old mountain town on the Historic Register. I did niot get out and walk since most everything was closed still so I went back to check on the repair.

Trailer was repaired right before noon and they asked about checking the other side. I said I had thought about it and it’s a good idea so go for it. He said the other bearings were fine and now freshly repacked. I am glad to be getting it done for peace of mind.

Getting a late start as the days get shorter is not good. Too many deer on the roads and I don’t really want to drive at night. I opted to come back to the campground I was in a few days ago and will leave earlier tomorrow morning after the frost clears. It’ll be nice to have some time to regroup and not be rushed.

I had to buy a heated water hose to keep water flowing into the trailer. I’ll need it in other places anyway so now seemed like the time to buy it since it may get cold tonight. I won’t be getting cold though!!! Got electricity so the electric heater is plugged in. Plus I did find my electric blanket right before I left and that is pretty awesome to have with the nights getting cold.

As for now, it’s a double espresso of Sumatra coffee, then a cup of dark (or as they say “Intenso”) and some relaxing in the warmth after a couple of interesting days. Might even kick off my shoes.

I got a few bundles of firewood to have a fire later tonight and an obligatory adult beverage or two. Then a nice, albeit abrupt, hot shower before crawling into my preheated bed. That sounds awesome.

You can’t look away…

It’s a really good night for a fire. It’s 32° F and some clouds to hopefully hold some heat on the earth tonight. The fire pit is an old heavy truck wheel so it really heats up and dissipates the heat nicely. The wind is a little breezy and at 32° it is chilling.

I discovered earlier that instead of a carton of pineapple passion fruit cider I actually bought a carton of seltzer. Never really been a big seltzer person but I gave it a try. As expected, it was nasty – tastes like that “go-juice” you have to drink a gallon of the night before a colonoscopy.

Fire is going out. Looks like it’s time for bed. Been a long day and I am tired.

November 7th, 2020

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

I write this post sitting in the parking lot of a repair shop on Washington. I’ll be here until Monday since they are closed on Sunday.

I was heading back out on the highway this morning and a problem arose. It was windy. I have driven in winds before but my trailer has never gone down the road crooked so when that happened I thought it was odd. The winds just weren’t strong enough to make it do that and it just didn’t look right.

Then I saw something that looked like smoke trailing behind me, but my windows were dirty so I wasn’t sure. Finally I saw it WAS smoke so I thought I’d best pull over.

Smoke was billowing out of the passenger side tire on the trailer. I had stopped in the nick of time. It could have caught fire, locked up and caused an accident…any number of things – and all of a bad nature. Wheel bearing is cooked and the wheel is sitting odd:

This tire SHOULD be straight up and down…

So, lemons and lemonade and $590 later I’m staying in the trailer in the parking lot since the lot is not secured. I just replaced the battery in the trailer so I should be warm overnight with the furnace running. There’s no shore power so I am boondocking for a few nights and charging the trailer battery from the truck. Even more fun is the trailer is not level; it’s nowhere near level. The ground was already sloped…and it’s up on a jack stand! Yes, I have supports out to keep anything from happening. I’ll be sleeping with my feet downhill (I guess if it rolled over I’d basically end up standing up). Just another part of the adventure.

Oh, the things that happen to me. I usually just shake my head at them in disbelief, smile a little, and go about my day.

So, anyhoo, I left a few days ago to come back over. It was odd leaving; it’s never easy leaving any of the kids and grandkids and it certainly wasn’t any easier after being there a while. I needed to move along and take care of some things. Winter was getting ready to have another go so I needed to scoot while I had the opportunity. I pushed my luck far enough and I’m not much for winter these days. I got into a few rain showers in the mountains on the way over but no issues. From the pictures I saw at Meghan’s house this morning I’m glad I left when I did.

I brought a few extra things with me so I don’t have any extra room be it truck or trailer. I’m constantly moving stuff around on and off the bed, but it’s just a temporary thing. I’m going to find a small storage unit when I get there and put a few things in there to help with the clutter. I did a little rearranging this morning and got a bit more room.

I decided to hang here a few days to let the rains pass. I considered going over to the Oregon coast but not sure yet so it gives me time to ponder. There’s not a way over there without backtracking a bit and I really don’t want to do that. I’d like to avoid Tacoma so I will weigh my options. Thinking back eight years, I actually went over to Astoria and went north. I drove down from Mt. St. Helens and went over through Longview. There’s two really tall bridges along that route. I also remember I got a speeding ticket down in that area too.

Winter on the coast can be stormy so that’s another consideration. I would love to see a storm on the coast. I am not sure if I care to be in the trailer out there during that stuff. It’s pretty vicious. I have seen big surf but nothing like what’s out there.

I don’t really have a major plan yet. I do have things to fall back on so I’ll be fine and I have a place to be. I don’t know how things will unfold but I always have a roof and a meal. Never an issue these days but it’s been a little, shall we say “interesting “ at times. Had a few rough times here and there but always made things work out for the best.

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.

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.