Saturday, October 28, 2017

Fall Scottish Trip, Part 2

Hunting for Fall Colours (since we’re in the UK)

Urquhart Castle

One of the reasons to take a late trip to Scotland was to hunt out fall or autumn colours. The latest we’d stayed previously was about the tenth of October, about the time the trees were starting to turn. This trip that date was our first day in Scotland. Hopefully, we thought, we’d see the trees and plants turn from green to red, yellow, brown, etc. We’ve succeeded beyond our hopes. The yellows, golds, browns, and even some reds have graced my camera lenses. In this photo essay, I’ll take you to an isolated and lonely glen, into the Highlands, up to one of the highest village in the Scotland, to an inn surrounded by colourful mountains, and a few more places where Scotland shows its colours. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as we enjoyed the hunt.   

Glen Lyon (Gleann Liomhann). The glen is the longest enclosed glen in Scotland—25 miles from Fortingall (supposed birthplace of Pontius Pilate) to Loch Lyon. The glen is the traditional home to clan MacGregor, Menzies, Stewarts, and others.  

The first part of the glen is very tight.

Named the Roman Bridge, this packhorse bridge was really built in the 1600 or 1700s. 

Fall colors even invade the Glen Lyon kirkyard.

Bridge of Balgie has the only tearoom in the glen.

The deepest part of the glen opens up.

The Spittal of Glenshee. The Spittal of Glenshee is the head of Glenshee. It’s a small village with a hotel, golf course, small kirk, and one of Scotland’s few ski areas.
Behind the kirk at the Spittal of Glenshee is a 3000-4000 year old standing stone.

The Old Manse at the Spittal of Glenshee kirk.

Braemar and Deeside. At 1112 feet elevation, Braemar is one of the highest Highland villages in Scotland—beaten only by Tomintoul (in the Highlands) and Wanlockhead (in the south). It’s also home to the Queen’s Highland residence, Balmoral Castle. Braemar is at the top of the River Dee valley which extends to Aberdeen on the east coast, thus the name of the area is Deeside.
A Highland croft near Braemar contrasts the green of a crop with the brown of the heather.

Braemar Golf Course or Gold Course

Trees above Braemar.
Near Ballater in Deeside the pine forest turns into a birch forest.

Five Sisters of Kintail. An area of mountains in the northwest Highlands is known as Kintail. Three of the five main mountains are Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000’). Nestled in the valley between the Five Sisters is the Cluanie Inn, originally built in the late 1700s as an Arms House for British officers. The inn was refurbished in 1990 and has a whisky bar with more than 200 malts.

The Cluanie Inn

Other Colourful Spots.

Autumn reflections along the River Doe.

The ivy turns a bright red on this house in Pitlochry.

The fall colors are outstanding on our golf course, St Fillans.

NEXT: We travel north and the hunt for fall colors continue.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fall Scottish Trip, Part 1

Mt Rainier as we fly out of PDX.

A rainy greeting in Crieff, Scotland.

Crieff and About. Our first stop on each trip to Scotland is the village of Crieff in the county of Perthshire. Besides being the home of our adopted family, the Cliffords, Crieff is central to many interesting attractions. In this post I’ll present a photo essay of some of the attractions that draw us back—waterfalls, mountains, forests, ancient sites—and end with a more complete description of one of the more unique of Perthshire’s tourist sites.
The Highland Hills around Crieff

The Falls of Dochart, the River Dochart in Killin. The river flows into Loch Tay and ends up as the western extension of Scotland’s longest river, the River Tay. 
The River Dochart drains from the eastern side of Ben Lui and the north side of Ben More.

The village of Killin is on both sides of the Bridge of Dochart built in 1760 and rebuild after a major flood in 1831. All these photos we taken from the bridge.

The Clan McNab Burial Ground is on an island (Innes Bhuidhe) in the middle of the river; there are graves there of nine clan chiefs.

Ben Lawers. This mountain is the highest in the southern part of the Highlands. The name in Gaelic means “Claw Mountain,” and it’s a Munro at 1214m (3983 feet)—a Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000 feet tall. 
Bronze Age remains have been found at various locations on the mountain.

Sheep freely roam the lower slopes of the mountain.

Ben Lawers is now a National Nature Reserve with many species of protected flora and fauna. Most of the south side of the mountain has been owned by the National Trust for Scotland since 1950.

The Birks of Aberfeldy. The Birks is a circular 1.5 mile nature walk along the Moness River in the Moness Glen. The birks were made famous by Scottish national poet Robert Burns’s poem of the same name:

Bonnie Lassie, will ye go,
Will ye go, will ye go, 
Bonnie Lassie, will ye go
to the birks of Aberfeldy!
The Birks is a site of Special Scientific Interest for botanic plant life. 

The circular trail is most scenic when walked clockwise.

The path leads to Moness Falls which drops in three tiers a total of 380m--difficult to photograph, but lovely.

Croft Moraig (Mary’s Croft) Stone Circle. On A827 between Aberfeldy and Kenmare is a compact grouping of stones which is actually a complex double stone circle dated to around 2000BC. 
The site was officially excavated in 1965.

Robert Burns mentioned visitors exploring the stone circle over 200 years ago.

A least one survey lists the circle as one of the 20 best prehistoric sites in Scotland.

Cultybraggan Camp. This place has a reputation for being haunted. People say they get strange feelings about the place, they see figures in the shadows, faces looking through the broken panes of glass, ghostly figures about. It’s not surprising that Cultybraggan Camp has that reputation if you know its history.

The camp was built in 1941 to house 4000 Category “A” POWs. Named Camp 21, it was  a “Black Camp” holding the most committed and fanatical Nazi POWs. It was the camp that held the ringleaders of the Devizes Plot—a scheme to break 250,000 POWs out of camps and attack Britain from within.

After the war the camp was opened in 1949 as a training camp for Regular Army. Later, several of the 100 original Nissen huts (quonset huts) were removed to make room for a firing range. Then in the 1960s, the camp was made into an ROC (Royal Observation Corps) monitoring post. An underground Regional Government HQ bunker—Cold War survival bunker designed to be used by the Scottish Secretary of State—was added in 1990.

Finally, in 2004 Cultybrqggan was sold to the Comrie (the closest village) Development Trust and is now used for local small businesses, agricultural uses, and sports fields. There are plans to renovate the camp into a 4 Star hotel complex, but the ghosts have yet to give their approval.
Two photos of the Amulree area about 17 miles from Crieff.

Also 17 miles from Crieff, in a different direction, is St Fillans GC where we are members.

NEXT: We hunt for fall colors.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Southwest Adventures, Part 3

Rio Grande Canyon
Our Southwest trip now continued with Santa Fe, New Mexico, as our base. Santa Fe has changed greatly since I started summer teaching at the College of Santa Fe in the late 1980s. For one thing, the college has folded, reopened, and folded again. The city has grown, of course, but the feel of the “City Different” has basically stayed the same. 

Our digs in Santa Fe were at the Santa Fe Worldmark (timeshare) where we had a pleasant one bedroom unit in the oldest part of the facility. 

From there we looked forward to a week of adventures. 
The first full day we stayed in town visited a few of the main attractions. First was the downtown Plaza with its art and souvenir shops. 
Outside art in the Plaza area.

The shop that got our serious attention was Starbucks—we’d been too long without our fix. Shopping was at the Governor’s Palace, 

an area under cover set aside for native crafters to sell their wares—you’re guaranteed of handmade native goods there. Anne found a couple of sellers with earrings she liked 

and I found a native couple who will make me a special bracelet. 
It was a short walk from the Plaza to the Basilica Cathedral St Francis of Assisi. 

Built in 1886 by Archbishop Jean Batiste Lamy, the church serves as the mother church for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. 

Lovely outside, the church has a beautiful interior highlighted by historic stained-glass windows. On the other side of the Plaza from the church we enjoyed the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Andrew Smith photo Gallery next door. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, opened in 1997, celebrates the artistic legacy of one of America’s premier  artist, called the Mother of American Modernism. 

An iconic O'Keeffe image.

The museum exhibits tell the story of O’Keeffe through videos, her art, and photographs by contemporaries such as Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, and others. Not cheap (but then very little in Santa Fe is), the tour of the museum is worth both the money and the time. 

Photo of dog in photo shop.

Next to the museum is a small photography gallery that used to be exceptional. Now, much of the lower floor is converted into an antique shop, but the upper floor still had some nice photography on display—and there’s no fee to visit.
Before golf on our second day we drove out to the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph site on the edge of town. We expected a short hike and lots of accessible rock art, at least that’s what various guidebooks said. 

The hike to the base of the rock cliff with the art was 15 minutes and then we began the climb up a 200 yard boulder field. We were ill prepared for this type of trail. I managed to get up to the art, but Anne struggled more with the rocks and uneven footing. Talking to other visitors, I found out that the art extends along the cliff face for about a mile. 

The Cieneguilla area is famous for Kokopelli images--Kokopelli is the humpbacked flute playing fertility god.

I settled with what I could see at this first site and then helped Anne back down through the rocks. This will be a place to come back to with more time and better equipped with boots and hiking stick.
Saturday [End of the World Day] was our Taos Day. We took the High Road to Taos which is longer and more scenic than the freeway and would take that road again. We made several stops for photos at vistas and local historic churches, but our best stop was at El Sanctuario de Chimayo in that small village. 

This early 19th century church has become a pilgrimage site attracting almost half a million visitors each year. The main adobe church with two bell towers is lovely both inside and out (no photos inside). 

The whole sanctuary village is a photographers paradise with interesting shrines and architecture. In Taos we did a little spending at a local artists’ market and then wandered in the shops in the old town square. 
Photo gallery in Taos

Taos art Kokopelli.

We ended our Taos trip paying homage to famous photographer Ansel Adams when we visited one of the spots he and Georgia O’Keeffe made famous, the San Francisco de Asis Church. 

Completed in 1816, the adobe church is recognized as a fine example of Spanish colonial mission architecture. The church is a treasure inside and out and has been an inspiration for numerous artists. 

I spent about an hour trying to get a good set of photos. This is one of my favorite places to visit in the world.
On Sunday, after wandering in the artist area of Santa Fe known as Canyon Road,  
Canyon Road Art Shop

An average house on Canyon road in Santa Fe.

we met our adopted New Mexico niece, Jasmine, her husband, Zach, and their 10-month old girl, Zea, at Kakawa Chocolate Shop. Between hot chocolate and sweets at Kakawa and lunch at Cafe Pasqual’s, we had a wonderful visit. 

Jas is the daughter of  Bill and Cat Bennet whom I taught summer debate camp for; we watched Jas grow up and have managed to keep in touch. Look up Zach and Jas’s “natural farm” website at
Our last touring day was spent at Bandelier National Monument about forty miles from Santa Fe. We arrived at White Rock Visitor Center, but had just missed the shuttle bus to Bandelier. During high season, to limit auto traffic at the monument, White Rock provides a free shuttle ride to the monument. The shuttle takes 25 minutes and runs  every half hour. At Bandelier we hiked the main trail up to and past ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

 There was even one set of pictographs (painted images instead of chipped)

—usually, pictoraphs are only seen in extremely inaccessible locations. Anne hiked the main trail back to the visitor center while I hiked an extra mile to Alcove House. 

Alcove House--takes four ladders to get up to it.

After spending two hours in the park, we boarded the shuttle back to White Rock. 
Our flight home ended up being delayed by about five hours due to storm damage to the plane we were supposed to board in Albuquerque. 

The delayed flight gave us plenty of time to reflect upon our great trip and start planning the next trip to the lovely Southwest.

NEXT: Greeting from Scotland as We Enjoy Our 30th Trip since 2000.