Everything I’d hoped it would be, and more.

When we landed, I realized the weather was similar to where we had just left, Alaska. It was chilly and overcast, leaving an  empty and painful feeling in the air, the same feeling I remember experiencing so many years as I child growing up in New England; as the leaves bled with such beautiful colors, I remember aching constantly, but in a way that wasn’t all  bad, more in the way that reminds you you’re alive because of how much you physically feel inside your chest. Scotland, a place of history and mystery and a place I could happily someday call home. Our first adventure was a bit silly as we asked a few Scotsmen how to get to wherever it was we were going at the time, somewhere in Edinburgh. My husband, not the tiniest of men, was hunched over in a small two door European rental. Situated on what felt like the wrong side of the car, I clenched the handle while passing any other vehicle on the road. The Scotsman laughed as we entered a one way, clearly coming to them to ask for directions. After explaining where we were to go, one gave out a chuckle as he said “remember to drive on the left side of the road sonny.” I’ll never forget his accent or the red in his cheeks. We spent our New Years Eve ringing in 2013 at the Hogmanay Street Festival on the city streets located just below the castle. As a child, there isn’t much more exciting than fireworks burning in the night sky, but as a 23 year old I was lucky enough to experience that again as the fireworks illuminated the black sky and the regal statues that seemed to protect the castle itself. 579615_10200783136410423_175982663_n 64231_10200229840538372_835492373_n

 

After our time in Edinburgh, we made our way in our cramped Euro car through The Cairngorm’s National Park. For anyone who has the opportunity to visit these beautiful hills, please do. I felt like I was plucked out of Mel Gibson’s infamous Brave Heart and strategically placed where I could feel the most of what the land had to tell me. Our time in that beautiful park was short, but I dream of being back in those hills again someday. 21999_10200229843698451_2100784005_n 156463_10200579297314573_636187217_n 32154_10200229864378968_2077819917_n

 

After our time in the beautiful hills came to a close with the setting of the sun, we made our way from the Cairngorm’s to the legendary Loch Ness where we were greeted by the Urquhart Castle. Not only was the castle old and bursting at the seems with stories to be told, but it made me feel like I was home in some strange way. I walked around the outside perimeter and into the small grassy area that someone decided was once the garden. Inside this grassy square was an appropriately placed stone bench facing the loch. I sat for a moment and imagined the hardships of the men and women who once lived here, fought here, died here. The cold whipping in around my neck, and it wasn’t the kind of chill you shake after a moment out it, it was the persistent kind that stays and gets to your bones. How did these men and women live here, function here in such an unforgiving place? Any windows for ventilations meant a certain night of unshakable cold and what I would imagine to be an ominous howling of the wind. Battles were fought and won at this castle, but men were imprisoned here, suffered here and died here. This ground I was standing on seemed so sacred to me, so easily noticeable. Not like at home in the states where the thought of another human dying where I stood hardly crossed my mind, unless you found me in a graveyard or at a memorial; or if you caught me  on a more nostalgic day wandering the old streets of New England, wondering about every crack in the hand-stacked rock walls. It was humbling sitting in that garden, walking the halls of this castle and I remember hoping to make it back there again in hopes of seeing the Loch Ness Monster, but he was the least on my mind that day. 216745_10200783185131641_650429991_n 392639_10200783185651654_344957652_n

 

I have many more images of our time in Scotland an many more stories in regards to my personal attachment and nostalgia for the things that went on there long before we ever arrived, but I think many of those emotions and thoughts are better left untold, as long as it be known that they existed. I hope that who ever might make it to that beautiful place has the time to sit, listen and reflect in the same all-consuming way that I did. I hope that if you walk the streets of Edinburgh, hike the Cairngorm’s or feel the pain of the old castle walls, you’ll imagine the life that occupied long before your visit and pay it a moment of respect. I’ll make it back there one day if the universe allows it and if I’m so lucky, I will do the same, again.

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I watched the Sun. I thanked her for another day.

July 27th, 2014 12:18PM As I write this, we are driving through the most beautiful mountains, the only ones prettier that I’ve seen are those of Alaska, but they are just drastically different. The green here is more vibrant than I have ever seen and the smell of the air is sweet and cold, not too cold, just right. My body covered in goosebumps and Lake Crescent to my right looks cold and clear, a possible relocation home for the Loch Ness Monster; which I swear I saw during my trip to Scotland, but Eric would beg to differ. Last night we camped in our orange Marmot tent that my husband bought before he met me and before we had our dogs. I’m glad he felt like he needed more space than just enough for himself because that tent has been a Godsend and has housed us many nights. As I sat by the fire, I realized then the background noise I was surrounded by wasn’t the same as I was use to as of lately. There were no sirens that make the city, the city. There was no bass-filled techno blaring from the DJ neighbor downstairs or anxious barks from the dog next door who is always left alone. No, there was nothing. No noise, nothing to cloud the peace, just waves from the Juan de Fuca straight. Today, our only destination is a camp site along the Pacific Ocean and fresh clams to boil over our fire.

Update 5:51PM Found: Campsite on the ocean. And I mean ON the ocean. 20140728-145516-53716047.jpg   Found: Perfect brightly colored salmon fillet.20140728-144357-53037046.jpg   Found: Brews, perfect brews. 20140728-144355-53035422.jpg   Update: 9:04PM I watched the sun take a dip into the ocean and disappear for another short, dark night. I thanked her for another day as I walked the campground. As I walked, I heard “I saw the sun rise, so beautiful, and it was moving so fast!’ by a little girl who was bragging to her siblings. If this weekend hasn’t been a total win, then hearing a young girl say something like that has definitely made it one. Thankful to be alive in this great big world. Time to do a better job of showing it. Goodnight, world. 20140728-143928-52768236.jpg   20140728-143930-52770033.jpg   20140728-144137-52897421.jpg   20140728-144255-52975189.jpg   20140728-144253-52973625.jpg   20140728-173324-63204772.jpg   20140728-173420-63260969.jpg   20140728-173446-63286550.jpg

I may not be Bourdain…

I may not be Bourdain, but I have traveled cross-country more times than I can count. Lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, California, Washington, Texas and Alaska. I have ran from bears, drank the freshest mountain water, hiked the Cairngorms, sailed the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic. I’ve cowered in the desert, danced in Mexico, witnessed ancient Haitian Voodoo rituals, eaten real southern bbq, the juiciest New England lobstah, and the best Dim Sum that San Fran has to offer. Originally, New Hampshire is home, but for years, home is wherever I make it. My two dogs, my Subaru Outback and my Canon and Hasselblad cameras know me best. I am a professional roadtripper, red wine drinker, bag packer, cheap gas finder, coffee addict, mix CD maker, writer and photographer. I can’t sit still, which I have been told by some is a bad thing, but I like to believe it has led me on my many, strange adventures.

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