Friday, October 28, 2016

Champoeg Park, a Couple of Stories, and Some Photos

Fall in Canby

Historic Champoeg Park
Visitor Center


Often we (meaning me) look at the long view and forget to look in our own backyard. Anne and I have spent plenty of time in Scotland trying to see everything there is to see, but I’ve never really explored some of the fascinating places close to home.  Champoeg Park, less than twenty miles from Canby, is one of those places. On a recent morning I drove over to the park and found that I loved wandering the paths and trails of an autumn wonderland.

The 1860s Barn

A little history is in order.  Champoeg (sham-poo-ee) in the 1840s was the site of the first provisional government of Oregon Country.  In 1861 it was flooded under 17 feet of water by the swollen Willamette River. The park, sited in the north French Prairie area of the Willamette Valley, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. 

Bluebird, but I don't think he will grow up to be a Camp Fire Girl.

Today, the park’s main features are a pleasant Visitor Center (with bookstore, gift shop, and interpretive exhibits), the historic Newell House and Pioneer Mothers Log Cabin, the Butteville Store (the oldest operating mercantile  in Oregon), the restored 1862 Manson Barn, a campground (with hookups, tent sites, yurts, and cabins), picnic areas, 15-hole disc golf course, and plenty of hiking and biking paths. More historical information can be found at

Rufous-sided Towhee

I had a lovely time on a cool fall day wandering the hiking trails and photographing the fall foliage as well as a few of the more than 130 bird species in the park.  If you are in the area, a stop at Champoeg Park is definitely worth your time.      


Whitemoss Golf Club Owner

Early in our golf writing we had the opportunity to play Whitemoss GC off the A9 not far from Gleneagles in central Scotland. I had written to the owner and arranged permission to play the course complimentary. When we arrived to play we met the owner—he was friendly, but reminded me of a Hell’s Angel biker. As we set up to play we asked about the course. He told us how he bought the land, designed and built the course by himself, and was now both managing the course and doing all course maintenance.  Then he asked us about our writing project. We explained that we were starting on our second book of Scotland golf and how we’d play the course, take some notes and photos, and then write up a few holes that were characteristic of the course.
He looked seriously at me and then said quietly, “You’d better say only good things or I’ll come after you with my gun.”
Anne and I talked about what the owner had said as we walked down the first fairway. We hoped we were wrong, but agreed that this guy might mean what he said.
The course was in fairly well-kept condition, there were a few interesting holes, and the price put the course in the very inexpensive category. We did write up the course in our second Scotland book, and we did make only positive comments (it’s not our practice to write about courses we can’t recommend). Just after our book came out in 2009, though, we heard that Whitemoss GC had closed and the land was sold off. At least we know it wasn’t our writing that did the course in,so….Don’t Shoot!
Pardon me, but your bird feeder is getting low.

Anne, Hide Behind Your Clubs!

Several times on golf courses Anne will end up with her tee box significantly in front of mine. I’ll leave my clubs by her tee box and walk back to my tee with the admonition to her to “hide behind your clubs” while I hit. When I get back to my teeing area and look down the fairway, there will be Anne bent down behind her clubs which are facing perpendicular to the fairway—in other words, she’ll be bending or crouching by the handle of her trolley and directly in back of her clubs, and completely exposed to my shot.

Anne is great with directions. She’s a wonderful navigator of the small roads in the car. When she has a caddy she will hit exactly where the caddy tells her to. But “behind your clubs” is a direction she has yet to master.     

Ironmonger in Callander, with an attitude.



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Scotland Fall 2016: Glasgow, Fireworks, and Stone Circles

Welcome to the new readers from the OEA conference workshop.  Hope you enjoy the journey.

Picturesque Shiskine Golf Club

This is the road that circumnavigates the Isle of Arran.

An Afternoon in Glasgow
Glasgow Building Reflections

Jacky, our Scottish adopted sister, drove, so I got to look at the scenery as Anne, Jacky, and I went into Glasgow (an hour drive) to spend the afternoon with our adopted niece Ailsa, a second year Uni student majoring in Business. We parked at Ailsa’s dorm/apartment and walked the 20 minutes to Glasgow’s vibrant main shopping street Sauchiehall. Starbucks was our first stop—the first Pumpkin Spice latte of the season. 

Ailsa and Jacky on the down escalator.

Then it was across the Sauchiehall (a pedestrian mall) to the Apple store crowded with hundreds of Glaswegians struggling to get their hands on a new iPhone 7.  Is there enough difference to justify the expensive upgrade?  It seems there certainly is to many.
Street People

Street Art
Leaving the throngs to ogle the sparkling 7s, we walked down Sauchiehall to Buchanan Street (still a ped mall) where the ladies shopped at Primark, a clothing discounter.  For forty minutes I wandered outside the shop watching a steady stream of customers file empty-handed in and come out with bags of treasure. 

At one point, huddled against a display window under a small overhang, I pressed against the glass to avoid being drenched by a quick moving downpour. Anne, Jacky, and Ailsa eventually found their way out after the rain had ended; they were tightly clutching their Primark bargains.
I wasn’t as interested in shopping as I was in eating—it was 5:00 and we hadn’t had but a bite of cheese for lunch.  Ailsa promised us good food and great prices at a restaurant in the Italian section of Glasgow only a few blocks away.  

She made good on her promise; Amore offered a two-course dinner for £9.95 and my bruschetta and spaghetti with meatballs were quite tasty. 
A Glasgow Selfie.

Even the parking garages are well decorated in Glasgow.
It was a mile walk back to see Ailsa’s apartment and an hour back to Crieff.  Glasgow will be on our agenda in future trips—for the shopping, the food, and the people watching.  

Pladda Island off the southern coast of Isle Arran.

The mountains of Isle arran from the cross-island String Road.

Be Careful What You Say…

We were having a cuppa at the Corrie GC tearoom on the Isle of Arran and doing some writing. The tearoom manager was friendly and chatty with those of us in the room.  She commented about a group of young people who had just left saying, “They startled me. I hadn’t heard them come in and when I came from the kitchen they were there quietly fiddling with their mobile devices not saying a word. Just think, they’re the ones who will be in charge of us when we’re all in those special homes.” 

      She notice me writing and asked what I was doing.  When I told her that I was working on my notes for the golf guides we write she said, “Oh, I’ve got to watch what I say when I don’t know who’s in the room.” She laughed and went into the kitchen.
The village of Corrie.

A couple of minutes later she came out and told us a story of another time she should have held her tongue.  She and one of her regulars were talking about fireworks for Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s celebration.  The customer was bemoaning the fact that you couldn’t bring fireworks over to the island on the Caledonian MacBryne ferries from the mainland.  The tearoom manager said loudly enough for the whole room to hear, “I just go over to Ardrossan, buy about £400 of fireworks, cover them with a blanket in the back of my car, and drive right on the ferry—to hell with CalMac rules.”  One visitor said sort of quietly to her, “Young lady, you ought to be careful what you say in front of strangers.”
She gasped and said, “Oh my god, you work for Calmac ferries don’t you!”
“Yes, I’m a ship’s Captain.”
She said he wrote down her car registration (license plate number) and that her car now gets regularly checked.
Island post box or island art? Or both?

I found a tiny graveyard off the main road around Arran.  When I hiked to the graveyard I found stones commemorating members of Clan MacAlister, which is my clan. Notice the dates -- 1961 and 1783.

The Stones of Isle Arran

It wasn’t a long drive from our B&B in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran to Brodick and then over the String Road to the small parking lot on the west coast of Arran about three miles north-northeast of Blackwaterfoot.  At one end of the ten car lot was a gate with a sign pointing inland to Machrie Moor.  Through the gate, Anne and I started the one and a half mile hike that would take us back four or five thousand years.  

The view back down the path to Machrie Moor.
We started our hike along a well-worn cart track through fields of sheep who weren’t very interested in us, unless we got too close.  We passed several small groups of people hiking back to their cars and by the time we reached the first ancient site along the trail, we were alone with the stones.
The first ancient monument on the way to Machrie Moor is probably a cairn with kerb stones around it.

Most impressive of all the archeological sites on Arran are Moss Farm Road circle and Machrie Moor which has been called “the best group of architecturally varied circles in western Europe.”  The path is a dirt and gravel cart track which climbs gently through pastures to the Moss Farm Road stone circle (labeled “Circle X”).  The “circle” is a type of burial cairn which is surrounded by a series of upright stones.  Ancient people passing the cairn would have been impressed by the family’s importance shown by building such a fine monument to their dead.  
Moss Farm Circle

Old Moss Farm

Continuing past a couple of significant standing stones we came to the ruins of Moss Farm.  Here was the first of six stone circles in the care of Historic Scotland which make up the Machrie Moor stones.
Machrie Moor is an area of approximately five square miles of flat fertile soil called low blanket bog.  The name machair means an area of flat sandy land.  This had been an important area of human habitation far before the 1800 to 1600 BC date of the stone circles we see today.  
The main stone of Circle No. 2.

The wide moor hosts numerous prehistoric monuments, tombs, and hut circles besides the six main megalithic stone circles.  The moor was abandoned at the end of the Bronze Age (about 2600 years ago) because of climate change and poor farming practices.  
Three stones of another circle on Machrie Moor.

Of the six circles Circle II contains the largest stones reaching almost 18 feet in height.  Circle V, a concentric ring about 60 feet in diameter, is known as Suidhe Choir Fhionn or Fingal’s cauldron seat.  Legend says that Fingal, the mythological Scottish giant, tied his dog Bran to a stone in the outer circle while he ate a meal in the inner circle.  Circle XI is the most recently excavated being uncovered in 1985-86.  

Diggings at the various circles have unearthed a smattering of human remains, arrowheads, a bronze awl, a food container, a beaker, and several flint flakes. The stones may have served a variety of ceremonial and/or astronomical purposes. Archeologist John Barnatt suggested in 1978 that the circles aligned with a notch of the Machrie glen skyline and that the notch is split by the rising sun on Midsummer’s Morn.  
The view back at the parking lot for Machrie Moor.

Anne and I noticed an interesting juxtaposition on the moor—the contrast of viewing the crumbling ruin of Moss Farm, probably only 200 to 300 years old, and the permanence of the stones placed there by primitive people more than 4000 years ago.  As we walked back to our car we again passed small groups, this time heading up to view the stones.  It was nice to have had the moor to ourselves at least for a little while. 

The Birks (birches) of Aberfeldy

A fitting good-bye to Scotland from our home course at St Fillans.