Monday, December 25, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Scotland at Last

15 days, 3000 miles driven, 21 castles, 6 cathedrals and abbeys, 7 ferries, 3 Isles, 1 mountain climbed, 1 mirror knockin’, 1 concert, 1600 pictures, and thousands of years of history. I really don’t know where to begin and those are just a few of the things we did. I never knew my husband was such a taskmaster. Seriously, he did the most amazing, stupendous, wonderful, incredible job planning the trip of a lifetime.

(Caution: What you are about to read is long, drawn out, and may even be boring. Read at your own risk!)

The Weather: I know, what a mundane subject to begin with, but this is the one of the most asked questions next to, "Did you have fun?". We were incredibly blessed with the weather, for the most part we had clear sunny days, or just overcast days with showers while we were driving. On our sixth day (Oct 5th) we weren’t quite so blessed with the showers, and while visiting a 7th century fort with no shelter we got dumped on. The rain came from every direction, not letting up until we were in the car, and then it stopped abruptly. I of course wore jeans that day, and was slightly damp for quite a while.
The eastern part of Scotland was quite warm as well as sunny, often we went without our jackets and Terran wore t-shirts. The highlands had really nice weather as well, but it was much cooler. We wore our sweaters or jackets a lot there. The whole time we were amazed at how nice it was. We did have a couple locals tell us that this was much nicer Fall than they normally have in Scotland. A little blessing from above.

The Food: Mmm…. I could go on and on about the food. We loved it. The first week we rented a cottage and made most of our dinners there and packed lunches. Even that was a treat. We tried different cheeses, lunch meat, and some yummy store bought desserts.
The second week because we stayed in different places most nights, we ate out. For lunch we would stop at a fish and chip shop or a small tea room and have soup or a sandwich. For dinner we would eat in a restaurant at the place we stayed the night. I had salmon almost every night. I couldn’t get enough of it.
One of my favorite meals came from a little shanty on the pier where we were waiting to catch a ferry. They served fresh smoked salmon sandwiches ½ an inch thick on brown bread with some lettuce and tomatoes. It tasted so wonderful. A second favorite meal was a creamy smoked salmon pie topped with mashed potatoes. The Scots know how to fix their fish.
Terran’s favorite food was the fish and chips. He loves it when I fix the breaded fish with fries, there he couldn’t say enough about the freshly fried breaded haddock and chips (french fries, but thick) lightly salted, with vinegar. He also loved the salmon dinners. I won’t mention how much chocolate we ate, or how many times we enjoyed a glass of ale with our dinner.

The Locals: The Scots are great people. Everyone we met was very, very nice and helpful. One thing we noticed was how mindful of privacy they were. We’d be somewhere and start talking, at first the person would glance at us because of our accent, and then answer our question or statement. Very rarely did they ask where we were from or what we were doing. Terran and I talked about how here in the U.S. people ask quite a few questions. It was an interesting difference.

Driving: Wow…what to say about the driving over there. Absolutely crazy and fast, yet so much better than ours here. Terran did a really good job driving on the other, (I almost wrote wrong side of the road J ), side of the road. Not once did he turn the wrong way, though we did turn down a one way street going the wrong direction once, but that doesn’t count. Now that we have been back for a little while T. says that he really misses the driving, because of the challenge.
The challenge wasn’t just in driving on the opposite side of the road, but in how narrow the roads were. In the towns there would be a narrow two lane road with people parking on both side of the street making it a one lane road down the center. They don’t have many shoulders there or driveways, so you just pull over where there is room and hope no one hits you. It was on one such road that we had the little incident we call the "Mirror Knockin’". It was our first Monday and we were driving along enjoying our sunny morning with the car windows down, when we came to a car parked on our side of the street and a large lorrie (their semi-truck) driving in the oncoming lane. Terran decided that there was room for him, the lorrie and the parked car. I was leaning as far as I could to the inside of the car where I had spent much of the driving time so far when….WHACK ….. glass exploded all around me and our car jolted a wee bit; a stunned silence followed. We had hit mirrors with the other car. Thankfully our mirror folded in towards the car and suffered only a small scratch. The other car was not so lucky, as evidence later showed. After we finally found a spot to turn around and went back the car was gone leaving a small pile of glass and plastic in it’s wake. We felt terrible about not being able to talk to someone. No one was at the house and we didn’t have any info to leave. We did find out the "mirror knockin’s" are quite common and we did see that lots of cars had cracked mirrors. Still…..
The driving seemed very, very fast because of the how curvy the roads are. In the highlands especially you are zipping along on one lane curvy, hilly roads with little pull outs every 100 yards for when you meet someone coming the other way. The first time we drove one of those roads I was so tense and we went pretty slow. By the end of our time there Terran was zooming along just like the locals.

The Castles: I won’t go on and on about castles for two reasons. The first being that this post and all the pictures are long overdue, and second how does one tell about an incredible 21 castles, each being amazing in their own way.
Some of the castles we saw are still lived in by people and they allow you to tour certain rooms. Terran and I enjoyed seeing the rooms decorated and the family history is a little crazy. The owners would have pictures of their ancestors from hundreds of years ago, letters they had written, clothing they had worn and so much more. I can’t imagine being surrounded by so much history.
As nice as the lived in castles were our favorites were by far the ruins. They are so impressive with their age, size, and ornate carvings. The castles ranged from the late 1100’s to 1700’s, The feeling to walk through buildings that are hundreds of years old is amazing. If you were very quiet at times the hustle and bustle of days past would come alive around you. I could almost hear the cook yelling at some poor serving boy, a fine lady hurrying up the steps to be dressed and ready for a suitor, men making plans for war over drinks in some back room or maybe I have just read too many novels.
Both Terran and I were shocked at how large the buildings were, and how they could build such impressive structures so long ago. Some of the castles would be four floors high with huge rooms on each floor. Tantallon, a castle built by the sea, was over 80 feet high and has been standing since 1350, and this with a huge military seige at one point in history.
I wish you could all see the carvings that decorated the castles. The fire places in the bedrooms, the great halls, and sitting rooms would all have carved stone around them, some of them so incredible that it was hard to believe that they had been carved hundreds of years ago. The amount of carvings did vary with wealth, but almost every castle had something.
Both of us had one favorite feature that left us both a bit intrigued; the latrines, or what we call bathrooms. Each castles had latrines with toilets made of stone in them, the waste would then travel out a chute to the ground outside. Some bedrooms had latrines right outside the doors, and a few of them even had a little sink carved of stone for one to rinse their hands in. The great hall at Linlithgow Palace, a huge, beautiful ruin that I could go to today and spend several more hours wandering about, had two latrines right off the great hall that one would eat in and spend the evening. It’s so obvious that they would need bathrooms, but something that we never thought about, and something we never read about. I loved how human it made the castles and their long ago occupants seem.

I know that I haven’t even begun to do justice to all that we saw and did, but hope that this gives you all a little picture of a great land and great people. I do have several other little stories that I will blog about at a later date, but I am not sure of when they will appear.

Greyfriars Bobby and I. This little dog sat by his master's grave for fourteen years and was buried by him at the end of his life. Quite the dog lover's story. Posted by Picasa
Dunrobin Castle Posted by Picasa
Eilean Donan Castle Posted by Picasa
 Posted by Picasa
Caerlaverock Castle Posted by Picasa
Glen Coe, Scottish Highlands Posted by Picasa
Wallace Monument Posted by Picasa
Scottish Heather Posted by Picasa
Steps of Scotland Posted by Picasa
Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, Linlithgow Palace, Finlarig Castle and Duffus Castle (clockwise from top left) Posted by Picasa
Terran at the Stacks of Duncansby Posted by Picasa
Castle Campbell Posted by Picasa
Though I knew that Scotland is an island, I never thought we would spend so much time by the beach Posted by Picasa

A few Scottish wildlife Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Before Scotland

I thought that since so much time has elapsed since our return from the highlands of Scotland, I should do a little update on life right now. Time is flying by with a lot happening, though at the moment so I’m at a loss to remember it all.

Week before last, the father of the kids I watch was hit by a car while biking and had to have surgery on his leg. A steel rod was drilled through one of his bones, so that his break would heal. I can’t imagine the pain that would cause, as well as all the bruises one would have from being hit. A lady speeding and passing in a no passing lane hit him when he was turning around. It is a miracle that he is alive. Needless to say I worked a bunch of extra hours taking care of the kids while their mom went to work and spent extra time with Bob at the hospital. The sad thing was that they were supposed to have left for Hawaii last week and had to cancel.

I still got the scheduled time off for my family’s canceled trip and had my mom come for a few days last week. It was a wonderful time. We really enjoyed ourselves, going out for lunch, running around town, and spending a lot of time chatting. On Friday we went to lunch at the True Grit Restaurant in Ridgeway, Co. For you John Wayne fans, it’s the area where they filmed the movie True Grit. The Restaurant has all kinds of John Wayne memorabilia; it’s a fun place and great food.

I had a little adventure yesterday on my jog with the dogs. We were on our way home and I decided to take a different road that would make our jog a little longer. I was running down the street, when I heard a noise behind me. I turned to look, and saw a Rottweiler flying out from under a fence at my dogs and I. He lunged at our bigger dog Kojo, attacking ferociously. I started yelling at him to go home, while trying to pull my two dogs away. Really it was only one of my dogs, because Kaia, the little one, was trying to get away, while Kojo defended himself. I am so relieved that neither dog was hurt. I came home and called the police here in Fruita, and left a message with animal control to file a complaint.
I can’t believe someone would have a dog that aggressive and not make sure it couldn’t get out. I know that they know there’s a problem, because there were two bricks leaning on the outside of fence where the dog came from. I am so glad that my two friends and their babies weren’t with me today. To top it all off I am scared to death of Rottweilers. They are the only dogs I don’t like at all. I cleaned the house from top to bottom to work off my nerves after I was home.

Still trembling,

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Home again, home again

Our two weeks went so quickly. It was the most wonderful trip. Terran and I enjoyed every moment and I can't wait to share all the details. But for now I need to go to bed, so that I will have energy to play with a two year old and chase a 8 month old, speed crawler tomorrow.


Friday, September 29, 2006

We're Off

Well, it's 2:16 am and I'm waiting for my husband to get out of the shower, then we are off. Hard to believe that in a matter of hours a plane will fly us to the great land of Scotland, home of my forefathers. I am very excited though at the moment my cold has my full attention and I'm praying the meds the Dr. gave me work, and that my sweetest, dearest husband does not get this sickness from me.

Talk to you in two weeks (yipee),


Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Novel

OSMOSIS Chapter one:

I wish that the computer could do osmosis from my brain to my blog. You would have so much more to read if it did. I am constantly thinking of things to write, but it's while I'm out walking the dogs, vacuuming, or cooking; then the moment has passed and I'm out of time or thoughts.
So you, my readers, will have to settle for the few crumbs that come your way. Today I'm going to try and give you a whole slice of "bread of reading" with butter on top.


My birthday was August 12 and it was a truly wonderful day. For me the celebrating actually started on Friday the 11th with Micah (the little girl I care for) having a birthday party for me. She was so excited about the chocolate cupcakes we had to eat and sang the happy birthday to me in her cute little 2 year old voice with her mom. I will always hold that memory dear.
Terran surprised me with tickets to the Vail International Dance Festival. A night of watching ballroom dancing awaited us and it was incredible. I loved every minute of it!
We also ate the most amazing dinner. The whole thing was incredible, but for me my appetizer stole the show. I ordered cantelope and crab over lettuce with lemon dressing. My initial thought was, 'would it really be good?' My second thought was, 'I don't think I can eat all of it!' The plate was heaping and I knew that I still had my main dish coming. Let's just say that was not a problem. I polished the entire plate in record time and was very disappointed to see the bottom of my plate. I get hungry all over again just thinking about it.

VACATION chapter three:

Terran and I have been crazily running around getting ready for vacation that we will leave for in two weeks. On Friday the 29th we will be heading off to the great land of Scotland for two weeks. We are very excited about this trip, as you can imagine, and can't quite believe that it will really happen. My husband has been amazing in getting everything planned. He has a VERY detailed itinerary for us with each site we are going to see listed out, he has hotels we are staying in all booked and ready to take us on the appointed day. I have gotten to see a very different side of my husband. Around home I'm known as the planner, the person who takes care of things, making sure the bills are paid, that we have meals, that the dogs go to the vet, and all the other things that need to be done. It has been great to see him take the reins on this and run. He is a very talented planner. I look forward to sharing our adventures when we get home.

"YOU'RE COOL" chapter four:

Yesterday while fixing a bike tire for nine year old Trinity, Terran was told he's cool. Trinity is our new Junior Partner and we're his Senior Partners. Terran and I after talking and praying a lot have become youth mentors in a one-on-one program here in Colorado called Partners. It's the same idea as Big Brother, Big Sister programs. The kids in Partners have a higher risk of being in trouble or have been in trouble, because of circumstances in their life. Our job as a SP is to spend time with them each week, (a minimum of 3 hours a week for a year), allowing them to be kids and hopefully show them a different way of life than what they are living. We went through a long interview process and picked Trinity out of the kids that we were matched with. He is a great kid, all boy. When we are out playing he scares me a little bit, because he leaps and then looks. Trinity loves outdoor stuff and sports, but because he has no man in his life there is not much of a chance to do these things. He has really latched on to Terran. We are very excited to see what the next year holds for us with him.

MEEKER chapter five:

Last weekend was the Meeker Classic dog trials, which is a world wide acclaimed sheep herding challenge for Border Collies. We have gone the last four years, claiming it our favorite weekend of the year. Each year we have enjoyed it, though the second one we both got sunburned and didn't enjoy that as much. Terran, when he went back to work, was told people now knew what Canadian bacon looked like. It was quite painful. This year was perfect!!! We enjoyed all the runs the dogs made and after the dinner Saturday night we went to a mini-rodeo. What I love most about it is the community, the dogs handlers all know each other and we've sat next to the same person on Saturday for three years now. For us it's a great, great combination of outdoors, dogs, and people. I'll post some pictures later.


I would love to promise that I will for sure write once more before we leave for Scotland, but when I make these promises to myself or others I fail. So I'm not going to say anything along those lines. :) I'm off to rouse my husband and to see if he's ready to make me his special breakfast of pancakes and maybe take a hike with me in the late morning chill. We had our first frost last night. It's getting cold fast.



Wednesday, September 06, 2006

we thought this big, beautiful watermelon was ready when picked it, but it turned out a little pink instead of red inside. Still, we were impressed with the size and will wait longer on the other five in the garden. (Do you like how dirty my legs are from the day spent fishing?)  Posted by Picasa

Another view Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In all it's glory. We've been pleased with how the Topsey Turvey has worked. The secret is lots and lots of water. If you don't have a lot of space this really is the way to go.  Posted by Picasa

Our growing watermelon; in the last two days it has tripled in size. It's amaing how these things take off once they start growing. Posted by Picasa

Someone's shy Posted by Picasa

A brewing summer storm Posted by Picasa

Here are our bikes after our REALLY muddy mt. biking ride. The bikes have been rained on the whole way home, so they are some what cleaner than they were to start with.  Posted by Picasa

Terran took this while hiking one weekend. This picture really appeals to me in some way I can't define.  Posted by Picasa

I'll try not to bother you all with too many dog pictures, but this one of Kojo on Mt. Sneffels is cool. Posted by Picasa

The most incredible view, on top of Mt.Sneffels, 4th of July. Posted by Picasa