|Fall is the time for mushrooms.|
In the next few blog posts I’ll be presenting a few of the stories that will be in my next book of travel stories which I hope to publish in the spring. Sales of Ten Years of Travel in Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales have been encouraging. The next book’s working title is More Travel Stories, but somehow I don’t think that’s quite catchy enough. I did consider seriously the title Fourteen Years of Travel in Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Road Trips in America and Canada, and Other Travels--I thought hard for us all then pushed the title into the bin (with apologies to W.S. and those among us who get the not so subtle allusion)--in other words, I threw that idea away. If you have a title suggestion for the new book please let me know.
Buchanty Spout is a waterfall (more a strong cascade) on the River Almond near the little hamlet of Buchanty in central Perthshire, Scotland. The falls is a favorite spot for photographers, picnickers, water watchers, and fisher folk who watch the salmon leap the falls in the autumn run. I’ve been down the short 200-yard hike to the falls several times for photos, but have yet to see the “spouts”--deep circular holes in the rocks are said to cause spouting when the water runs high.
The spring of 2011 was particularly rainy and all the rivers were running quite high. I decided this would be a good time to see Buchanty Spout in spate and hopefully get spectacular photos. Anne let me go alone since she knew I really did know the way to Buchanty and the falls--she kens (Scottish for "knows") I have basically no sense of direction and can get lost in a grocery store, so is very cautious about letting me out without a navigator. She did admonish me with the caveat, “Be careful and don’t fall in.” And she was correct to give me the reminder since falling into the river along the falls would indeed be life threatening.
The drive to the parking area at Buchanty was a non-event. On the short hike down to the falls I did take note of the slippery conditions on the trail. I was slightly disappointed that there was no spouting at the falls, the water was high but not high enough. I was extremely cautious on the rocks as I took some good photos of the powerful cascade. I was not cautious enough to notice the moss around the spout hole as I backed away from the rock edge. The next thing I knew my right foot had slipped on the moss and I tumbled down with my leg mid-thigh in the hole. Instinctively I saved my camera and lens from damage, but not my leg. It took a couple of minutes to recover my senses and extricate my leg from the spout hole. I count myself as very lucky to have been able to limp back to the car with only a bruised shin bone and a major scrape, rather than a broken leg.
|Sma'Glen, the Highland country near Buchanty Spout.|
There was no way I could hide either my embarrassment or my bloody pant leg when I got home to the B&B. Anne was a great sport; she didn’t say, “I warned you.” The photos I took that day, by the way, weren’t that good.
Sneaking onto the Golf Courses
People will do anything to save a buck, bob, quid, or pound. That includes sneaking onto golf courses without paying. We’ve had a couple of encounters with these sneaky duffers. In 2004 we played the second course at Montrose on Scotland’s east coast. It’s a relatively easy track being a relief course for the Championship Montrose GC and not very expensive. It was quite a surprise when several holes away from the clubhouse three people walked off the road with their clubs, threw down balls, and started playing in front of us. We’d never seen that before. Several holes later the threesome found an easy egress and left.
|Moray Old GC and Lossiemouth Lighthouse.|
A year later at Moray Old GC in Lossiemoth on the Morayshire coast of Scotland we had a similar situation. On the third hole we saw a man park his car by the side of the road next to the course and walk onto the course and start playing behind us. He seemed to be in a hurry and was pushing us until on the seventh hole he disappeared. He could have left and walked back to his car, got kicked off the course, or just hop over to some other hole, but we didn’t see him again.
There are other, more sophisticated ways of sneaking onto a golf course. A Scottish friend of ours said he could get us on a major golf course for £25 each when the normal price is £150. We said sure, set it up.
When the appointed day came we went over to the course and our friend paid the starter £100 “under the table” for the four of us. We were put into the queue as the Thompson foursome and the starter said when they check us at the turn we had to be the Thompsons. None of us played well, we were all nervous about being caught as phony Thompsons. At the turn we did everything we could to avoid the attention of the marshalls (After all, don’t outlaws usually avoid marshalls?).
|Crieff Ferntower GC (not the course we sneaked on to).|
|Gleneagles Queens course (not the course we sneaked on to).|
I don’t know how the people at Montrose or the guy at at Moray could do it. Our one experience with sneaking onto a course was enough to cure me.
This next story is in honor of the season and has been published in various newspapers and magazines over the years. It was first published on November 19, 1978. Accompanying the story are some seasonal photos.
Thanksgiving Trip, 1964
“Closed.” “Sorry.” The signs reflected off the glistening streets. Neon colors splashed from the wet sidewalks. Arcadia, California, was a lonely place for a stranger on Thanksgiving Day.
All day I’d been involved with a speech tournament at Humbolt State University. Amidst camaraderie and competition I hadn’t given much thought to being away from home on Thanksgiving. But the coming darkness draped around my shoulders the shroud of the loneliness of a Linfield College freshman away from home.
|Canadian Geese at Baskett Slough Nation Wildlife Refuge.|
When you’re eighteen and a freshman in college everything new is an adventure. A tournament at Thanksgiving only meant a chance to see a new place and meet new people. Reality, though, has a way of catching up, even with a freshman.
|Geese and Mt Hood.|
So, here I was wandering the dim streets, alone in a strange town seeking the only inexpensive restaurant within walking distance of my motel. The garish florescent lighting of the cafeteria blinded me as I sought to adjust from the night. Servers filled trays with the contempt of those forced to work when they too wanted to be home with their families.
“THANKSGIVING SPECIAL -- A Complete Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner (with all the trimmings) -- $1.98, drink extra,” read the sign taped to the glass window overlooking trays of limp lettuce. At the end of the line my tray had on it two thin slices of pressed turkey (mostly dark meat), a scoop of dressing, a scoop of whipped potatoes almost as runny as the speckled gravy on it, a small paper cup of cranberry sauce. I paid extra for a glass of milk and a cup of coffee.
|Two of Canby's wild turkeys in the neighbor's yard.|
My hunger overcame my growing depression. I found myself enjoying the food in spite of the surroundings. As the plate to mouth motions became automatic my mind strayed out the rain streaked windows. My thoughts wandered into the darkness and all the way home. The family would be gathered at either an aunt’s house or our place. Dinner of plump hot turkey, which I might have gotten to carve, fluffy dressing bulging with sausage and mushrooms, both mashed potatoes and yams with brown sugar, and all the extras that make traditions live would have been cleared away hours ago. Uncle Lee and Dad would be lightheartedly arguing about who would deal the card game. Aunt Loretta, Mom, my sister, and the cousins would be cutting the pies, whipping the cream, and sneaking bits of meat off Henrietta Hen’s carcass. Someone might have pulled out a Christmas album which propriety dictates can’t be played until after Thanksgiving--or at least until the dinner itself was over.
A car honking outside the cafeteria interrupted my communion. I finished my coffee and left so hurriedly that I left a tip even though there hadn’t been a waitress. Back on the damp street I tried to recapture visions of family and warmth. The moment was gone. I’d had my Thanksgiving, but would have to wait a few days to share it with those who mattered.
|Our house in Canby decorated in fall colors.|
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE from Bob and Anne