Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall Travels to Scotland, Part One

      We are more than a week into our fall trip to Scotland.  We've spent a few days in our home base of Crieff at Merlindale B&B before moving to the Highlands and played a bit of golf (some new courses, some on our home course in Scotland, some with our friends John and Jacky Clifford, and we even finished in the middle of the pack in a pairs competition at Boat of Garten Golf and Tennis Club).  We also managed to meet up in a tearoom near the Highlands with a couple we'd helped plan their trip to Scotland.  Tonight we are having dinner at Anderson's in Boat of Garten (one of our favorite restaurants) on Pie Night--looking forward to homemade specialty meat pies.
      In this post are two travel stories not completely related to this trip (well, the first one is... sort of... oh, you'll see) and photos that are from this trip.  Hope you enjoy both...please, let me know if you do (or don't).
Breakfast at PDX

King James Square in Crieff.

Meeting with friends, LaDonna and Hal, at the Watermill in Blair Atholl.

On the Hilton Park Allendar Course near Glasgow.
The Bag that Went to Africa

When we arrive at Crieff, Scotland, and our home B&B, Merlindale, the bags that we leave at the B&B were waiting for us in our room and our golf clubs were in the garage.  Beside keeping our clubs, the B&B also keeps a couple of equipment/travel bags which contain fleece blankets, golf clothes, extra sweaters, and all manner of trip “essentials.”  As we were visiting in the evening I remembered to ask who brought down our clubs and bags from the garage attic so I could pay them.  I found out it was Ailsa (the daughter, our adopted niece) and Angeles (the Spanish helper).  Since Ailsa was off to college, I paid Angeles who said, “It was no trouble even bringing down the bag that went ot Africa.”
“What?!” I said.  With the cat out of the bag we now got the whole story.

It seems that after our spring trip, before the bags got put into the attic, Jacky (our Scottish sister, B&B owner) helped get Netzi and Shay (schoolmates of Ailsa and children of Colin and Joanne, UK ambassador to Gambia) headed home for the summer.  They loaded all the kid's luggage into the car, drove to the Edinburgh airport, and saw the kids off to Western Africa.  When Netzi and Shay arrived at the British Embassy in Banjul, Gambia, Joanne took charge of the luggage.  As she started the unpacking she discovered that one bag was not theirs.  Going through the contents of the bag she found a sweater she recognized was Anne’s and knew it was our bag the kids had brought from Scotland.  When Joanne brought the children back to Crieff for school, she brought our back back.  The bag’s trip to Gambia and back would have been expensive (luggage fees) except that it traveled for free as diplomatic luggage.
Joanne and the kids were sworn to secrecy by Jacky, but Angeles let it slip.  So now we are the proud owners of the Bag that Went to Africa.

The Jam Room at House of Bruar (before they told me no photos).

Boat of Garten GC

At the Boat Open competition we played with Fiona and Mark from Aberdeen.

Amur (Siberian) Tiger at Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie.

Polar Bear at the park which is part of the Edinburgh Zoological Society.

Portland’s Expensive Parking

On this trip to Scotland (and most of our longer trips) we try to arrange a ride to and from PDX with friends rather than pay to leave our car at even the economy parking at Portland’s airport.  In fact, on shorter trips we stay at an airport motel which provides Park-n-Fly — we stay the night before our flight in the motel and leave our car for up to ten days free.  We do this now because on one eight-day trip to Phoenix and Tucson we found out how expensive airport parking was.
From a trip to Phoenix to see Anne’s sister, Bev, and her husband, Noel, and to Tucson to visit the astronomical observatories there, we arrived back at PDX late in the evening.  Luggage in hand we took the shuttle bus to the economy parking lot and started for home.  We stopped at the exit kiosk to pay the expected $80 parking fee.  I put my credit card in the machine, but the card wouldn’t cover the bill, which when I looked closely was $60,500 for eight days—almost $8000 a day!  The machine wouldn’t give me my card back, either.  Totally frustrated I started pushing every button on the machine that I could reach through the car window.  Finally, a supervisor came out to see what the trouble was.  I breathlessly explained.  She looked at the machine and said, “That is a little high even for Portland.”

It took about twenty minutes to clear the machine and get our card back.  I paid the real $80 bill in cash—no way was I going to stick my card back in that machine.  Friends or Park-n-Fly are preferable to PDX’s high parking fees any day. 

Rumbling Bridge (falls) near Birnam.

Hilton Park GC

Duff House Royal GC on the Morayshire coast.

Loch Morlich in the Cairngorm National Park.

River Lineage in the Cairngorms

Ancient Scottish Pine on the Rothiemurches Estate in the Highlands.

Next: We spend another week and a half in the Highlands, touring and golfing.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip, Part Two

Day Two (continued)

Once we got back to Hwy 101 from Hurricane Ridge it was a relatively short drive to Lake Crescent.  Guide books say that there are plenty of turnouts along the lake for viewing, 
Lake Crescent
but what the guides don’t say is that it is basically the same view from each pullout—rocks at the water’s edge, a pretty lake, shore and trees on the other side.  One stop for photos was enough. 
We were going to stop for a some lunch snacks until I saw the Hungry Bear Cafe. 
Hungry Bear Cafe at Bear Creek

The owners of the Hungry Bear Cafe certainly fit the place.
With a quick U-turn we pulled up at the rustic cafe which advertised home cooking.  The chicken noodle soup of the day was definitely not Campbell’s—it was delicious.  So too were the two giant chocolate chip cookies we got for the road.
Our stop at LaPush, WA, fourteen miles off Hwy 101 was our second experience with Olympic beaches.  The name LaPush comes from the French for “mouth” and it is the largest village on Quileutae Indian Reservation and sits at the mouth of the Quileutae River.  
LaPush Harbor

At the harbor we were lucky enough to watch an eagle grab a fish from the small bay and fly practically over our heads to its forest nest.  The beach (named Beach One) was crowded with families enjoying the seventy degree weather.  
Beach One at LaPush
We enjoyed the views of the island or sea stacks just off shore.  We skipped Beaches Two and Three—Two was just the other end of One and Three was a long hike—and drove on to Rialto Beach six or so miles away.  
Rialto Beach was about eight miles north of Beach One at LaPush.

The view north from the parking area at Rialto Beach.

A driftwood forest at Rialto Beach.
We hiked from the parking area at Rialto for a serious climb over massive piles of driftwood to get to the beach.  
After our beach adventures it was only a short drive into Forks where we had booked the last room available at the Pacific Inn.  Forks was originally a lumber town, but now is more famous as the setting for the vampire-themed fantasy-romance “Twilight” novels by Stephanie Meyer and the movie saga that came later.  Since the release of the first “Twilight” movie in 2008, tourism in Forks has increased 700%.  The pizza at Pacific Pizza was fairly good, but nothing else about the place was: disorganized staff (they tried to give us the food of three different groups) and out-of-control grandparents (who screamed louder than the kids).  A highlight was the after dinner drive back to Beach One at LaPush for sunset photos.  

We ended day two completely exhausted.

Day Three (Wednesday), Forks to Rochester

As bad as Pacific Pizza was for dinner the night before, the Forks Cafe was good.  Not a fancy place and definitely in the category of diner, the Forks Cafe had a friendly, efficient waitress who hustled with a full house.  
Forks Cafe

Food was plentiful and tasty. After breakfast we drove eighteen miles off Hwy 101 following the Hoh River to the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park.  This was one of out most anticipated stops.  I at least had pictures in my mind of lush forest dripping with mosses and shrouded in mists.  Not this year!  
Anne hiking the Mosses Trail.

The rain forest was pretty , but not very unique to us.
The forest was dry and dusty and the mosses were dry and dusty.  Much to my disappointment the Hoh rain forest was just like almost any trail in the Oregon coast range (Drift Creek Falls) or most trails in Cascade foothills (Butte Creek Falls).  I guess if you were from Iowa or Kansas and had never seen a coastal forest, the trails at the park might be interesting, but it was quite a disappointment to drive inland 18 miles to find nothing interesting.
Our next stop made up for the Hoh disappointment.  When Hwy 101 turned back to the sea we pulled off at Ruby Beach.  
View of Ruby Beach from halfway down to the beach from the parking area .
From the parking area we hiked down to the beach and found it to be a lovely stretch of sand and driftwood punctuated with sea stacks and islands.  We walked about a mile up the beach taking pictures of the sea and the rocks.  
Island and sea stacks at Ruby Beach.

Fisher-people getting ready to try their hand in the surf.

Approaching a large sea stack (island) getting cut off from the beach by the incoming tide, I saw an eagle circling the island and snapped a picture (from long distance) as it landed in the top of a tree.  
The eagle is landing.

Both Anne and I kept photographing the eagle sentinel as we got closer to its perch.  I was sure it would fly at any moment, but it never did (at least not while we were on the beach).  
The sixty or seventy photos I shot at Ruby Beach made up for the ten or twelve I shot at Hoh.  

The rest of the trip past Hokuiam and Ocean Shores and through Aberdeen was fairly mundane—not much interesting to see.  We stayed overnight near Rochester, breakfasted again at Country Cousin in Centralia, and had about a two hour drive home.  There were some highlights and some disappointments, but I’m glad we did the trip…once.   

Next Post: The next post will come from Scotland where we will stay in Central Scotland for a few days before heading to two weeks in timeshare in the Highlands and finishing the trip back in Central Scotland.  Lots of golf and sightseeing; so, there will hopefully be good stories and photos.  Until then, I hope you enjoy these couple of warmup photos.

Perthshire Highlands