weekend


27
May 17

From Shieldaig to Overscaig – with so much in between

There are three videos, three panoramas and 10 photos below. You’ll enjoy them all.

If you’re just joining this story, we’re touring Scotland. It is a big tour and a grand place. It is worth your consideration.

We’re touring all of Scotland. This is what we are driving:

Vauxhall Adam

For scale, each letter above the car is the width of a quarter. Place them edge to edge, that’s the size of our car. It holds everything we brought to the UK, but only just. And all of the things must be configured in a particular fashion to fit. But we have legroom, it is pretty easy on gas mileage and our Vauxhall Adam cranks every time. Today, it got driven a lot. And we stopped and started our way through a great deal of this magnificent countryside today.

Here are a few clips from this morning’s drive:

The day’s first panorama was at your standard issue, beautiful Scottish loch. Click to embiggen:

loch panorama

You could get used to this sort of thing.

We also hit the beach!

Udrigle Beach

This is Udrigle Beach. White sand, mountain views, odd smells. There were a few people enjoying the beautiful springtime weather. (We’ve been lucking out on the weather so far.) There were a few dogs digging in the sand. I had a nice little chat with an elderly woman who’d walked down from the nearby lodge to sit and soak up the sun. It was a lovely day, she said. She said it again to someone else, so you know she meant it.

Udrigle Beach

And here’s a beach panorama. Click to embiggen:

loch panorama

We watched the ocean from the roadside for some time today, too:

I realized I tend to take a lot of panoramas with water as a main focal point. So I changed this one up and put a person in one corner of the shot. Look how The Yankee is peering through her camera allllll the way across the shot. Click to embiggen:

Udrigle Beach panorama

We also saw this today:

Corrieshalloch Gorge

Let me explain.

We found that gorge along the way. This wasn’t one of our planned stops. It was just a name on the map. But you have to learn to be curious about names on maps. That curiosity often rewards you.

Down from the Victorian-era suspension bridge there is a viewpoint, where you see the gorge from a better perspective:

Then we saw a castle:

Ardvreck Castle

And you know what that means, right? Castle selfies:

Ardvreck Castle

I put the details of the ruins into a video package which is conveniently located here:

I don’t know how the routines in your life treat you, but we seldom get to take castle selfies, so we took another:

Ardvreck Castle

And now we are in Overscaig, which is about the most middle of nowhere place you can ever be. Over the last few days locals have been asking us our next stop. We’d tell them and they all said, “Where is that?” No one knows. And that’s a shame. It is simply stunning up here:

Vauxhall Adam

We’re dining in with our bed and breakfast hosts tonight. I have some more videos to show you after that. I’ve discovered a new technique that I’ll no doubt use far too often …


21
May 17

Where am I? Who am I?

We flew all night. Because red eye flights give one character. We flew on the Dutch airline, which is happy to feed you as long as you are happy to eat. And I watched three movies — The Founder, Reacher and something I’m already a bit foggy about. It was a long night, you understand.

And so we landed safely in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was the plan. We exited the plane onto the tarmac into a slight chill and a light sprinkle, feeling every bit like world weary rock stars in the world’s largest band that requires a plane with an upstairs level which I never checked out.

We shuffled through the U.K.’s Border Force version of customs and then began an approximately 10 minute walk to the car rental desks. Got our car, reminded each other to drive on the left side of the road and off we went, to check in to our AirBnB, where we’ll sleep all of this off in just a bit.

Met the owners, a lovely older couple, and then walked down the street to the Grassmarket, which has been a central part of the city since the late 15th century. Today, of course, it is part of the tourist path.

Just above, the famed Edinburgh Castle:

adventures!

The timeline here is incredible. The castle sits above everything, and even today dominates the city’s skyline. There is archeological evidence of people there for perhaps more than two millenia. The castle has been there for at least 800 years, and was actually a royal residence until the 15th century when it became more of a military installation. Today: they give grand tours, I’m sure. In fact, it is Scotland’s most popular paid attraction.

We stayed below it. But, inside, you could see the Stone of Scone, or the Stone of Destiny. Scottish kings, and now the UK’s monarchies, are installed on this stone. The Scottish crown jewels are also on display there. The crown dates to 1540, the scepter to 1494 — it was a gift from Pope Alexander VI.

Mon’s Meg is also on display. This is a canon that could send a 330-pound projectile two miles downrange … in 1457. That’s state-of-the-art. It was used in actual combat for about 90 years.

St. Margaret’s Chapel is up there, too. It was built in the mid-12th century, which makes it so old that its historical origins were forgotten and then re-discovered in the mid-19th century. Otherwise, Wikipedia tells me, not many of the buildings at the castle are older than a 16th century siege. Newbies.

Walked by this:

adventures!

At 17 feet by 14 feet, about 20 people can stand in there, they say. Notice, it is Scotland’s smallest, so I guess there is a bar somewhere in England that is more wee than this one.

We saw Boston’s smallest bar in 2005. It closed soon after, because the world needed new condominiums. Sometime later I heard the owner opened a new smallest bar in Boston and it closed, too. More condos. So watch out, Edinburg.

And we saw this. Interesting to see that this debate is ongoing in Scotland:

adventures!

When, obviously the answer is Roger Moore.

Anyway, we have our car, got our bearings, had fish and chips and we stayed up until bedtime (which is the key to minimizing jetlag) and are now ready for our big trip. Tomorrow, we go north.


20
May 17

To the airport! And traffic! And the airport! Eventually!

We were going on vacation. Or so we thought. We were due to fly out of JFK, one of the New York airports. I flew in to the other one, Laguardia, last night. That place is a two hour traffic disaster and no amount of renovation is going to help. But they’re trying. Tonight, though, we had a plane to catch at JFK. Or so we thought.

We had dinner with my in-laws, who took us to the airport, all in good time and according to the carefully laid out travel schedule we had established based on gravitational variation reports, precise distance surveys, meteorological data and a consultation with experts at both Caltech and NASCAR.

And then we hit the traffic. It seems everyone had somewhere to go. And they were all in our way. And we were somehow suddenly cutting it close. Delta, you see, suggests you arrive up to three hours early for an international flight. And by the time you’ve read that sentence we were already flirting with that “Get there an hour early” time. And then there was another bridge and more traffic and we discovered that the check-in counter closes an hour before international flights.

So we pulled into the crowded space at JFK and we were exactly 62 minutes before our flight. At this point we still had to navigate the big sweeping curve into the terminal, and then the double-parked people who don’t understand that our trip is perhaps more important than theirs.

“Ready to run?” The Yankee asked. She had a little smile that was borne of panic, but it looked mischievous. I was ready to run, but first we had to hit the desk and check our bags. The skycaps were there, and they were super. We had to rearrange a few bags for weight purposes. KLF, a Delta-partner, apparently, has limits on how heavy your carryon bag can be. Like this giant jet is going to care whether my jeans are in small roller in the cabin or in the storage component below.

With that sorted there was security. Security.

The Yankee said to a TSA agent, “We have 60 minutes to get to our plane. Is there anything you can do to help us?”

The TSA agent heard this: “”We have 16 minutes to get to our plane. Is there anything you can do to help us?”

She did help us, which was our second great break. We cut through two entire lines. We somehow got involved in a power play with an angry woman emboldened by the power of her blue shirt and aluminum badge who had the hefty responsibility of carding passengers. This seemed to take too long. We got through the metal detectors. My bags got checked. That seemed to take too long.

And then, finally deemed safe in the eyes of American security theater, we dashed down the terminal … where our plane was just about to board. We were flying out of the country and we arrived just in time to tell everyone we actually caught the plane and got settled in to take this picture:

adventures!

We are going on vacation. We’re flying all night, which means I’ll be watching movies all night and we’ll be jetlagged and vacationing tomorrow. It will be a great trip, and we’ll laugh at this airport business somewhere along the way.


1
Jan 17

2017 Resolutions

Be more thoughtful. Help more. Be more cordial, courageous and kind.

Read more. Write more. Shoot more video. Take better photos. Work better.

Make two new friends. Find three new hobbies. Learn four new skills.

Sleep more. Make The Yankee laugh a lot.

(This time last year. And two years ago. And four years ago.)


31
Dec 16

New Year’s Eve

Chasing my best girl all over on a 10-mile run. That blue dot way off in the distance is The Yankee:

Some days she’s faster than me. Some days she’s really faster than me. Look at her go!

It was a 10-mile run, but it was only 26-degrees. (I do not know what is happening.) And this run was important because those last few miles put me cleanly in the top-third of this year-long running challenge I’ve been taking part in. And I’d probably be a percentage point or two higher, but for the cheaters. (Yeah, Darryl, we know you didn’t run 5,244 miles in the first two days of January. Your plane trips don’t count, DARRYL.)

Anyway, getting in a higher percentile is probably a good goal for next year.

At our last little holiday celebration tonight we had a local delicacy. I’m told this was how they were supposed to taste, and that no one does them better than Neri’s.

And Neri’s pastry is pretty delicious. So when in Port Chester, give them a try.

Also, I’m going to use that graphic for something in the upcoming year. I don’t know what it will be yet, but I’m going to use it. It’s an unofficial resolution.

Hey, thanks for spending part of the year with me. Have a safe and happy next orbit around the sun. I’ll see you next year, you know, tomorrow, with resolutions and the usual frivolities.