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.

September 3rd, 2018

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

If you want to contact me please feel free to send a message or a comment. I have to approve them so I see them anyway.

I wanted to pass along because I gave out my website address to some relatives at the funeral. I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that they can contact me through here.

I had the day off today. I really wish I would’ve realized that before I went to work though. I am quite used to working holidays after all these years and didn’t bother to read the email as carefully as I should’ve so it’s my own fault. That’s OK. I woke up at 4 AM anyway, long before my alarm. That’s very frustrating.

So after I got back home, I took the recycling and dropped it off. Then I washed the trailer and the truck. I haven’t washed a vehicle by hand out in the yard in a long time and it was actually quite therapeutic. I usually just take them to the car wash.

It felt good to get out and do it though. I’ve been sitting on my ass way too much lately and I need to get busy again.

I wanted to get the salt air washed off of both and get them looking good for a trip. I’m not sure about where to go next weekend. The following weekend I have a long weekend and I’m going to enjoy it.

Looks like I’ll be off a few months this winter and come back early. I’ll have time to make a trip to Europe and some other places too. I have some appointments to keep but I’ll make time to do some things.

I cooked up a breakfast tater tot hot dish this morning and put some burritos together for meals. I’ll be eating some Instant Pot items from the freezer that I made ahead and froze. Looking forward to trying some new recipes after I make some room!

July 27th, 2018

Adventure, food, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

As I start this post I am back in Seattle and will head to my hotel this afternoon. I catch a plane tomorrow morning to go back to KS again.

My day as it unfolds:

Until then I am starting out in the Capitol Hill station getting ready to get back on the light rail. Came up this way to go to Dick’s Drive-In for a snack (burger, fries, vanilla shake) before I go to Pike Place Market for another snack. I am debating going to the International District for another snack but not sure yet. There’s a lot of good stuff to eat at Pike.

Capitol Hill is a really cool area. I would like to explore around there a little more and may be doing just that in a few weeks when some family gets here. There’s a restaurant in that area that I want to find – I just haven’t been there yet.

Got to Pike and went directly to Mee Sum Bakery for both a baked and a steamed bbq pork hombow. Been a year since I had one and it was delicious as always. The area was busy as hell and I didn’t stay there long. I saw a little boy there that had a shirt on that said “Snacks first, then pants”. Cracked me up.

Seattle is just swarming with a lot of people. It is also pretty warm so I decided to head to my hotel and went back to Westlake station to head south to check in. I also was not very hungry with what I had eaten on the two stops I already made plus the heat was nothing I wanted to hang out in. No International District this go around.

My usual hotel was booked up so I am trying out a new place tonight. It’s actually more convenient to the airport so if it works out I’ll probably be changing my hotel preference to this new one.

Seattle is such a cool city. It has major homeless issues and can be expensive but there’s no denying it’s an interesting place to hang out, eat great food, and have a lot of fun. Be prepared for some huge crowds though.

I got to the hotel and it is damn good to be in the A/C. I walked 3/4 mile from the light rail station to get here and it was almost all in the sun. Good to get exercise though and as of right now I have walked a little over 4 miles today.

I took a walk to get dinner and ended up having Japanese at Masae’s Teriyaki. I have really never been a fan of teriyaki, but the teriyaki I have had in the past has been pretty heavy on the sweet taste and not much savory. This was a perfect balance. It was delicious and filling, and I even ate the slaw that came with it. I thought I would at least try the slaw since I didn’t see any of that nasty stuff called mayonnaise on it.

Since I will be making several trips back to Kansas in the near future I will maximize my time while I’m in Seattle, finding some new places to eat and interesting things to see and do. Today worked out pretty well, and I can even get over here earlier to have more time to do stuff.

I’m anxious to get back and spend time with my dad. This cancer thing has really surprised us all and it sucks. Life is always too short and I try to make the best of it all the time. This will be no different for any of us – we’ll enjoy the time we have and make the best of the situation.

That’s all for now.

March 28th, 2018

Adventure, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

Well, my Montana trip is drawing to a close along with my time off. Tomorrow night it is off to a hotel in a different city to attend an event Friday morning, then I start the day-long trek home. I was hoping to drive it straight through but I don’t know if I will or not since I will be getting a late start. I am not much on driving in the dark these days (especially with the animals on the roadways at night), and as I mentioned in my last post I’d rather stop for the night on longer trips. I definitely hope to at least get into Washington on the way back so the rest of the trip will go quicker.

The weather has held out for us so far, and it looks like the trip home should be fine (the sound of knocking on wood…) from what I can see. The drive across eastern WA is somewhat tedious and similar to western KS except fewer towns.

It has been busy the last few weeks between moving my stuff then helping Loran and Meghan move some of their things here to the new house. I have gotten some pretty good exercise over the last couple of months between that and the Europe adventure where we walked our asses off! It will help to get me back into the busy work season a little easier. I just need to keep it up.

This may end up being another long season. I am not sure if it will be yet but I hope to find that out in the next few weeks after I start the new job. They may not know yet but we’ll see. I think there is a good chance it could go longer. That would cut into my time off but that is fine. I will still be off a few months if it does go long, or I will be off longer if it doesn’t. It’s a win for me either way.

It has been a great start to 2018, though…I got to work and make some money unexpectedly, there was the trip to Europe in January and February, I moved to a new place for a new job over the last few weekends, and I am writing this while in Montana! I’d say for being only three months in it’s been a pretty good start to what will be a great year with a new beginning.

And Meghan found a missing earring of mine from my last visit here so now I am back to ten!