Friday, December 6, 2013

Anniversary Road Trip and Why Scotland?

To celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary Anne I planned a three-day trip along the Columbia River Gorge and to Pendleton.  The morning we left for Pendleton, suitcases, camera gear, and golf clubs in the car, was pleasant but cool.  We planned stops at several of the falls along the gorge.  First, was Latourell Falls, 

a short 200-yard hike from the parking area to the base of the falls.  At 28 degrees the walk was quite brisk, but the views we got of the falls were worth it--I burned quite a bit of memory at the falls dropping straight down from a basalt cliff to the rocks below.  

Next was a hike (for me, Anne stayed warm in the car) of about 500-yards downhill to the base of Bridal Veil Falls.  The side trails around the base of the falls were very slippery so I played safe and stuck to the main path.  The photos I think are worth the three rest stop climb back to the car park

 The main waterfall on the scenic highway is Multnomah Falls, the highest in Oregon at about 620 feet in two steps.  We were still early enough in the day and late enough in the year to not have to fight too many visitors for our views.  

I am technically pleased with the photos I took, even if they are rather typical.  The last waterfall we stopped at before rejoining the freeway (motorway to our Scottish friends) was Horsetail Falls.  

The falls have an impressive flow even though it is less than a third the height of Multnomah.  
After leaving the falls area it’s a long drive through the Columbia River Gorge to Pendleton.  The scenery is entertaining, but we still needed a coffee break in The Dalles.  By the time we reached Pendleton we were ready to check into our digs for two nights, Wildhorse Resort & Casino about four miles east of Pendleton. 

We had hoped to play golf on the resort’s fine course, but at 35 degrees with a twenty mile an hour wind, the course wasn’t very inviting.  So, what to do?  Let’s go to the casino.  At the end of the two days we were at Wildhorse,

we had spent less than half what we had taken to play with--we consider that a successful casino trip--lots of fun and money left over.
Since the next day was even colder (with a low of 14 degrees) and the wind was even stronger we decided a photo excursion was a better choice than golf. We started the day with breakfast (in fact, we ate there both days) at the Main Street Diner in Pendleton.  
50s decor in the Main Street Diner.

Owner and manager Marilyn Anderson.

A hole-in-the-wall downtown diner with friendly staff and great food.  It’s hard to eat anywhere else when there’s a place this good in town.  Our drive toward John Day was slower than anticipated. 
Abandoned homestead by Pilot Rock, OR.

I had wanted to get more photos of the almost ghost town of Fox, but the icy roads through John Day River canyons and over mountain passes was too slow to make the whole trip.  Instead, we drove off the main road and into the town of Ukiah, population 186.  
Mule deer outside Ukiah.

At 3400 feet in elevation Ukiah’s noted as having recorded the coldest temperature in Oregon at -54°F or -46°C (Feb., 1933).  We grabbed a quick cup of coffee (no pie, pie only on the weekends) at the only place to eat in town, the Thicket  Cafe and Lounge.  
No pie, but good coffee.

Nobody was in the four-table cafe, but the lounge was quite busy.  Back in Pendleton we did a little shopping at the Pendleton Woolen Mills Store

--Anne shopped, I looked.

After another evening leaving money and taking money from the casino machines (more leaving than taking this night) we fought the heavy winds on the freeway toward home.  As we approached Portland we made a final waterfall stop at Multnomah Falls.  

After two days of almost single digit temperatures there was quite a different look to the falls.  Made a good bookend to our anniversary road trip.

Why Scotland?
At our 50th reunion in August we were asked several times why we go to Scotland so much, especially after we mentioned we were getting ready for our 23rd trip since 2000 right after the reunion.  The answer I always give is, “Golf, castles, and Scotch whisky--and not necessarily in that order.”  While that’s true that we go for the great, historic golf in the Home of Golf, 

Anne at Piperdam GC near Dundee.
and we enjoy visiting as many castles and other historic sites (cathedrals, abbeys, stone circles, cairns, battlefields) as we can, 
Curator of the modern section (1850) of Innerpeffray Library.

and we do seek out distilleries to visit and special bottles of single malt whisky to bring home, those aren’t the most important reasons we forgo traveling to other places and return to Scotland primarily, but Wales, England, and Ireland as well.
A Home at Crail harbour. 

Our real motivation to go back to Scotland is that the place gets in your blood--ask almost anyone who’s been there even once.  For Anne it’s her heritage (Scottish, English, Irish) and for me it’s a kindred Celtic heritage (Welsh, English).  We’ve also been adopted by a Scottish family in Crieff (central Scotland, between Perth on the east and Stirling on the west which are between Edinburgh and Glasgow which are between the North Sea and the Atlantic to get technical).  We are now familially obligated to be in Scotland for birthdays (very important to the Scots) and Speech Days (end of the school year celebrations) for our adopted niece and nephew.  
Ballater GC.

We are also obligated by our chosen retirement gig--writing golf travel guides and books of travel stories.  For our next book (or next revision of a previous book) we “have to” play some courses new to us, stay in different B&Bs, and try new restaurants, pubs, and tea rooms.  “Have to.”  In order to keep sales going we need to go back to courses, restaurants, and pubs we’ve previously visited to promote the latest book (which by the way is the current golf in Scotland #1 seller on AmazonUK).  
Lastly, we keep going back to Scotland and the UK because there is a real satisfaction in knowing a place in depth rather than superficially. 

School PE for Highland children.
We’ve been to Germany, Austria, and Hungary on a two-week train excursion and we want to go back...sometime.  But right now it seems more important to be sure we’ve seen all of Scotland (next for us is to get to the Outer Hebrides, particularly the Isles of Harris and Lewis), Wales (our fifth visit is scheduled for our spring 2014 trip), and England (I have yet to get to London, although Anne flew over for girls’ weekend with our Scottish family  a couple of years ago). 
Kellie castle Gardens, Fife.

I guess the need for in depth knowledge was imparted to me by being a debater in high school and college and a speech coach for all those years.  So, going to Scotland for three months a year (in two trips) is for the golf, the castles, and the whisky--and a whole lot more. 
Rabbie Burns in the Birks of Aberfeldy.

Interesting sculpture on a Highland tombstone.