Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall in Scotland

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." -Marcel Proust

Sorry for posting such a short note - but I can't feel my fingers. Well, I can mostly feel my fingers. It's my toes that I'm worried about. OK, fine! I'm not worried, I just like to complain. As they say in these parts: "I'm freezin' me bollocks!" I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it doesn't matter, cuz all me parts are freezing. OK, yes, I do know what it means! Geesh, tough crowd.

I'm writing from the north bit of the isle of Skye, where even the locals are complaining about the weather. What a massive wind and rain storm we had last night. I decided to wild camp next to a "loch" (Scottish for lake) in a completely unprotected area, while the radio was predicting gale force winds. Good idea, Dave! When the wind really started howling, these massive gusts turned the van into a bucking bronco, and the rain was deafening, even when it wasn't hail. With the lights off and me huddled in my sleeping bag it seemed reasonable to wonder if it was possible for the wind to turn my van over. Or if it could push the van backwards a bit so it would roll into the loch. Or if it could break out the big plastic window in the side of the van. I really had those questions, and they seemed reasonable. Sleep? Now that was unreasonable.

The forecast for the area is looking pretty bleak, but during the brief bits of bright shadow (or even sun!) it's pretty amazing. We'll see how long I last.

Love to all of you,

Fall colors at The Hermitage, near Dunkeld. There's an arched stone bridge through the mist.
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All the rain makes for treacherous walking around here.
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A close up of the bridge. It's an arch. And it's made of stone. I'm just sayin'.
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Hey look! More stone! I thought it was interesting that someone would bother to put this pattern in an otherwise simple wall. I like it.
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Balvaird Castle, built around 1500 AD. Or in Roman terms, about 1,400 years after Hadrian's Wall. (Wikipedia here.)
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Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Indian guru: "Call it as you like. It is solid, steady, changeless, beginningless and endless, ever new, ever fresh."
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The falls below the Hermitage.
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I love the colors.
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This was just the gate house for some private estate. They have a ton of these kind of places in Great Britain. It makes me wonder what the house looks like.
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I have pics like this from Sweden, and a bunch from Alaska, too.
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It's raining in the distance. Scotland is loaded with these lochs.
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The hills above this stream have been dusted with snow.
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This is the fairy-tale, postcard-perfect Eilean Donan castle, which I have to say looks a lot more impressive in clear weather and high tide. The place was almost totally rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century to a design that the owner saw in a dream. The site has amazing history, but the castle itself reminds me of a theme park. A beautiful, 100 year-old theme park.
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If the van had been pushed over by the wind, it might have landed in this bog. This is where I camped last night.
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Just 10 minutes after taking this photo, I heard on the radio that wild salmon are being threatened by parasites which are made worse by these factory farms.
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Why do I tell you people these stories? The wind was so cold and blowing so hard I stuck my camera out through the gap in my door to take this photo. Does that make me a sissy? Um, yes, Dave, I believe it does.
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Famous row houses in the village of Portree, on the isle of Skye.
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Famous geologic structures on the far north of Skye. (Wikipedia here.)
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Just further along the coast, this amazing waterfall plunges to the ocean. The sun came out for about 5 minutes.
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This is a hotel. Lovely!
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(The End)