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.

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.

October 9th, 2019

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

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I just got back from my first trip after retiring. I drove to Montana to visit Meghan and get my new dog, who I have named Rider. It is getting to be that time of year where the weather can be a problem driving that far. Being retired it normally wouldn’t be a problem. However it IS for the time being since I still have physical therapy and orthopedic appointments that I cannot miss.

The drive was a good opportunity to think about some things (as it always is). With the changes in my life the last few months it has given me a lot of time to think about finally deciding to retire. More time to spend with family was my main reason to finally go for it. I will have more opportunities for travel as well.

There are, however, a few details I need to figure out. The biggest of those is considering where to live. I like Washington but I do miss things about Colorado. I have really good friends in both places. Along with that are, of course, the financial aspects; WA has no state income tax and does not tax Social Security or retirement. That is pretty huge when you no longer work and want to stretch your dollars. On the other hand, though, one big thing is the cost of living in WA. Gas is currently a little over $3.00 a gallon and is even higher in the summer. Rent is ridiculous, and that is only WHEN you can find a place to rent in an area you want to live and can find a job you want. With my medical stuff happening I really cannot make any major changes at the moment so I have time to figure things out.

Speaking of driving, I forgot just how tiring driving that far can be, especially after not driving at all for three months. I left mid-afternoon last Wednesday, drove halfway and stayed the night in a hotel. I had to plan around some appointments but wanted to get a jump on it, knowing that breaking it into two days was going to be easier. Plus I wanted to take advantage of the weather being decent for driving.

I believe I have mentioned before how I just don’t like to do the marathon driving like I used to when I was younger. I have gotten away from that more in the last few years and it does make a trip more relaxing and enjoyable. Used to be when I had taken time off of work the goal was to maximize that time off and get someplace fast to spend more time there. Time will no longer be an issue (it really hasn’t the last few years anyhoo). Animals on the highways are always an issue after dark.

The first part of my drive through the Seattle metro area is a lot of traffic to deal with until you get to Snoqualmie Pass and I-90, but at least it goes through the National Forest and there are mountains. The drive from Ellensburg, WA to Spokane is very underwhelming. Miles and miles of miles and miles. There are few towns along the way so you have to plan a little for things like food, bathroom and fuel stops. The drive the rest of the way is better as you start to get back into the mountains and forests.

Speaking of forests, the difference between the forests of Washington and the Rockies is fairly big. Different flora and fauna due to the different climate is quite obvious, with coastal forests being more humid. This humidity makes the forest extremely dense with understory so thick you cannot walk under the trees (except on a trail) as opposed to forests in the Rockies where you see trees with grass under them.

It was good to not only get back on the road but see those forests of the Rockies again. I do miss seeing the forests where you do not feel so confined by the understory. It was also good to be back in a drier climate. I find hiking in the Rockies is more enjoyable since you aren’t limited by a trail through the brush. I have hiked trails in WA where you cannot see ANY views at all. For me it takes away a little from the enjoyment of being outdoors – it’s just not the forests and mountains I grew to fall in love with in Colorado. Different strokes.

On a twelve hour drive there will usually be something of interest worth stopping to see – museums, historical markers, even quirky restaurants and things like the world’s biggest electric electric shovel (seen it). If I see something even remotely interesting I stop and look.

Along with the usual rest stops I made a few other stops to see some interesting things along the way there and back. One place, which I have stopped at several times before, was a rest area on the west end of Wallace, ID.

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Rest Stop and Mining Exhibit – Wallace, ID

The town of Wallace has extensive mining history and is worth stopping in. At this particular rest area (right off if I-90) they have put together an exhibit about it with a lot of mining equipment. I took some extra time to check out the exhibit. It is very well done and is worth your time. Stop and read the interpretive signs; you just might learn something interesting and fascinating. Be sure to make a donation to help the cause!

I got to their house in the afternoon and we had a good time but it was busy! We went out one day to see their new house and drop off a load of hay. It is a really nice place they had built on a nice lot they picked out. Gorgeous views really don’t suck! the weather was very nice most of the time, but I had to get out of there early due to a big storm moving in. It was a good thing I did as it got pretty nasty.

I left Tuesday mid-morning and it was very windy until I stopped in Ellensburg at a hotel. It was odd going to a hotel with a dog. He did great during the 8-hour drive we made – slept the entire way, but was prancing around like he was Fabio on a  romance novel cover.

Looking west at Snoqualmie Pass from a rest area was a big “uh-oh”. It looked nasty on the Pass so I looked it up and it was rain/snow mix and slushy with 32 degrees. I have been stopped in that Pass before when the weather was bad and it WAS bad. I didn’t want too take a chance.

I got onto Expedia (which I am getting away from using) and checked into the Red Lion Hotel. It was decent but undergoing renovations. Friendly staff, decent rooms at reasonable prices, decent breakfast buffet, and some restaurant choices nearby. I decided to go to Taco del Mar next door and ordered a taco salad. She asked me what I wanted on it and I said “surprise me”. She looked and me and was a little surprised and smiled when IU told her to go for it and do whatever. I ended up with a 10-layer taco salad.

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Amazing taco salad – Taco del Mar, Ellensburg, WA

It was delicious and I ate the whole thing. Walking out I told her how good it was and she should name it.

I have actually done that before at a different Taco del Mar near me and it is really fun to see the reaction of the employees when you tell them they can create something, anything they want, for you. I said to her “make it like you would at home” and it was really good too. Try that out for yourself sometime!

After finishing off dinner I got the dog out of the truck and went to the room. After sleeping all day I guess the excitement was just too much for Rider.

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We got back in the truck this morning and finished driving home. Driving over Snoqualmie Pass just west of Ellensburg I saw snow, wet roads, and about 33 degrees. Not too bad and I am glad I decided to call it a day yesterday where we did. It was pretty relaxing to take another night – we just needed to avoid the weather.

I stopped and got a few pictures along the way:

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Near Snoqualmie Pass – Washington

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Near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, looking at the ski area across I-90

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Near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

It was fantastic to get away and I needed it badly. It is always good to see and hang out with family. It’s good to travel. And I finally got my dog.

It’s been a really good week.

September 9th, 2018

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

Friday was a bit of a busy day. It was a day to get caught up on some paperwork and do some arranging, cleaning, shredding and make a trash run. I did the recycling last week so that was already out of the way. Saturday was jam-packed with some filing and more shredding and getting rid of unnecessary paperwork.

Another thing I am doing is pondering my travel options now that I have my schedule. Europe is definite during the off-season, but not exactly sure when yet. It is narrowed down to a timeframe but no tickets are bought yet. I have seen some great deals and want to go twice at the prices I have seen but I am leaning more towards a road trip in the trailer for a month or so and a single trip to Europe. Decisions, decisions.

The trailer trip is something I was planning on doing before but with everything going on I could not go earlier this year. I was hoping to do some weekend trips this summer (as I had posted earlier) but this is a great time to be able to make a longer adventure happen.

I needed a getaway so I went over to Port Townsend and attended my first-ever Wooden Boat Festival.

2018 Wooden Boat Festival - Port Townsend, WA

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Wooden Teardrop TrailerDetail on Wooden Teardrop Trailer

My schedule changed so I took full advantage of the time off to get out, hang with some friends, have a few beers, some food-truck deliciousness and have enjoy some much-needed relaxation. It was a great time and I had a lot of fun and had some unexpected things happen while there.

I got there early and decided to walk around and check out the amazing craftsmanship that was put into some of the boats. The skill and attention to detail is just incredible on some of these vessels. One was an old speedboat capable of going 63 mph with a two-stroke Mercury that had been carefully rebuilt and restored. The motor alone was Art Deco brilliance.

My friends showed up while I was in the “Main Stage” tent having a local beverage. They joined me with an IPA and then we went for fish tacos and poutine. Perfect match with a beer. We then went back to the tent to enjoy some more music. And another IPA.

We ended up standing on the edge of the dance floor since there was not ,much room anywhere else and one friend had happy feet and was busting a move. While we were talking between songs another song was started as I made some gesture with my hand while talking. All of a sudden a strange hand grabbed mine and dragged me to the dance floor before I knew what had even happened.

You have to understand something. I do not dance – it is just not my thing and never has been. It’s not that I haven’t, but it takes quite a lot of alcohol to get me out there to bust a move. And I really do mean a LOT. I had not had but two beers so for this to happen was rather shocking. But, I went with it. When in Rome…

It was a slower song so that was better than a fast song as far as my dancing abilities. So there we were, slow dancing and just chatting away. Then came a rather unexpected surprise. She suddenly said “Oh, there’s my husband!”, to which I replied “What?”, trying to make sure that I had somehow incorrectly heard what she had said. She repeated it and then he came up to us, fairly drunk and a bit bigger than me. “Oh shit.” went through my head quickly and repeatedly. She told him that SHE grabbed ME to dance and introduced us. He smiled at me and said “whatever”. We then shook hands and he went on his way to find yet another beer. Just another adventure in my life.

It was really good to get out and do something and do it with some friends. With the events that have taken place over the last few weeks I am now trying to return to the version of “normal” that is my life. After losing your parents you find that normal will never be the same again, though. Then there is the emptiness that will never be filled and the endless “shoulda-woulda-couldas” that goes through your head.

But we have all the great memories and that is a wonderful thing to have on top of knowing that they loved us all and we were lucky enough to have them in our lives. And we loved them, and still do love them.

No one can take that away.