Friday, August 17, 2018

August, 2018: Stories

     As we prepare for our fall trip to Scotland I thought it might be a good time for me to post some new stories (at least new to this blog). In many cases the photos aren't directly from the story, but I tried to find images that at least relate to the subject (less successfully on the "plane" story).
Jacky Clifford in Crieff makes one of our favorite meals, paella.

Retirement Dinner in Las Vegas
Not as fancy as the restaurant in Vegas, the Black Boy Inn in Caernarfon, Wales, is still quite nice for a pub.

Wonderful fresh bread is the attraction at the Watermill in Blair Atholl, Scotland.

In The Granary in Portree, Isle of Skye, I am happy as a clam with my mussels.  

For our retirement from teaching in 2000, Anne’s sisters got us a generous gift certificate to Emiril Lagasse’s restaurant in the Venetian in Las Vegas, the Delmonico Steakhouse. We made our reservations for the dinner and showed up anticipating a great meal. We weren’t disappointed. The restaurant had our reservation and a special table for us in a prime location. We had delicious drinks before dinner and service that was over-the-top—a waiter or two by our table the whole time. The food was outstanding with portions too large to finish. We thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the service. We told the waiter we had no room for dessert and asked for the bill which would almost be completely covered by our gift certificate.
One of Anne's most interesting travel meals was the Hot Bed (lettuce) Soup at Acorn Gardens in England.

A typical dinner in our Aviemore timeshare apartment in the Scottish Highlands.

The Horn on the A90 just east of Dundee has the best bacon rolls we've had in Scotland.

When the bill came the waiter said, “All you have to do, Mr. Gatti, is sign it.” But wait, it was for the Gatti party. We told the waiter that he had the wrong party, we were the Joneses. Suddenly the staff was in a panic. And just as suddenly we had no service with manager and staff all looking for the Gatti party who had suffered through their meal with just ordinary service. I could have just signed “Gatti” and walked, but I would probably forever have been looking over my shoulder.
The famous seafood platter from the Old Inn (hotel) in Gairloch, Scotland. The huge platter is not listed as a meal for many, but it certainly is.

Happy patrons at the Kinneucher Inn (pub) on Fife.


Playing an Out-of-the-Way Golf Course in Scotland
John Clifford and I (along with much of the male Perthshire population) hit the links instead of watching the wedding of William and Kate. And while there weren't any ladies on the course that day, there were two young buck red deer at St Fillans GC, the course where Anne and I are members.

St Fillans GC, like many of Scotland's out-of-the-way small courses is a lovely track. This is the view back from the green on the 5th which is named Bothy.


Anne tees off at Dalmunzie GC in the Spittal of Glenshee (village)--it's a wonderful highland course designed by the famous James Braid.


We’ve played many small out-of-the-way golf courses, particularly in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. A few come to mind: Cruit Island GC in Co. Donegal is miles from even a small village, and though Connemarra Isles GC is less than an hour from Galway, it takes backroad after backroad to find it. At St David’s City GC in Wales there’s nobody about except on Saturdays. In Scotland we’ve played Harris GC on the isle of Harris and Lewis—the clubhouse is buried into a sand dune and the strong island winds blow the flag sticks out of most holes. One of our favorite out-of-the-way golf adventures, though, is playing Durness GC in the far northwest corner of Scotland—a fifty mile single-track drive from almost any direction.
Here Anne is teeing off on the 5th at Dragon's Tooth GC near Glen Coe.

At Harris GC on the Isle of Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides the wind blows so hard that the flags on many holes pop out. The setting on empty pristine white sand beaches is jaw dropping. 

Cullen GC, set along the North Sea, is a fun small 18-hole course.

In May of 2016 we took a trip to Durness for the interesting links golf. When we arrived at the course, Anne stayed in the car while I walked up the fifty yards to the clubhouse to inquire about playing. There was a gentleman in the clubhouse who asked if he could help me. I looked closely at him and said, “And who are you?” Sort of indignantly he replied, “Someone who could help you.” I said, “No, I mean what’s your name?” Questioningly he said, “Martin.” I commented, “You’re Lucy’s husband aren’t you? And I met you a few years ago…” I reminded Martin of our meeting when Anne and I first came to write about the course for our books. His attitude completely changed—from defensive to extremely friendly. I got Anne and we visited with Martin and club secretary Lucy who had just come in off the course. 
Located in the far northwest corner of Scotland, not far from Cape Wrath, Durness GC is one of the most isolated courses in the country. Here Anne tees off on the 8th hole, a downhill par 4 with the green set on the edge of Balnakeil Bay (out of sight from the tee). 

Number four at Durness GC.

The tee shot at the 9th/18th is a shot across the Atlantic, and although the shot is short and should be easy, the constant wind and sound of the ocean waiting for your ball makes it much tougher than it should be. 

When it was time for us to go out, I offered to pay, but they wouldn’t hear of it. With thanks, I gave Martin a twenty for the club’s junior program and we headed to the first tee. We were the only ones on the course—one of the most spectacular in the world—for the entire round.
With the Cuillins in the background and ferries to the small islands going by, there are always grand views at Isle of Skye GC.



The church in the background of the first hole at Tarland GC in Aberdeenshire makes an interesting photo, especially with Anne so bundled up on a cool fall morning.
Aggressive Lady Getting Off the Plane

Anne with a light lunch at AMS on our way to Scotland.


Our flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam in the spring of 2017 was thirty minutes late leaving, so we knew it would be tight to make our connection to the flight from Amsterdam to Portland. After we landed and were okay to unstrap and get up, I stood in the aisle and reached up for our Rick Steves carry-on bag in the overhead bin. Just as I grabbed our bag a lady from a row behind shoved through to get her bag from the bin in front of mine. In the process she actually pushed me hard twice knocking me off my feet onto a passenger still seated. He yelled at her, I yelled, Anne yelled, other passengers started yelling as the lady continued to push forward. Finally, she got the message and backed off. Anne said her husband had been winding her up the whole hour flight about how they’d miss their connection if she didn’t hurry off the plane. In Amsterdam's Schiphol Delta terminal I saw the husband butt another person out of the way to ask a question at a Delta desk. The clerk, to her credit, didn’t let him get away with the rude behavior—she made him wait his proper turn. There is some justice.
At Moray Old GC in the north of Scotland, the NATO jets take off and land right over our heads.


A commuter train passes as we are playing one of the local golf courses. 

I'm glad nobody shoved me on this particular train trip from Aviemore to Boat of Garden in the Scottish highlands--those are very nice tastings of Speyside Whisky he's passing out. The train trip was a special event which was part of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.



NEXT: Images from Oregon's hottest summer.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Canada, June/July 2018

When I was about seven my grandmother bought me a book for my birthday, an encyclopedia-style photo book called (something like) A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words. The book had the coolest pictures of all the coolest places in the world (at least to a seven-year-old). Thinking about it now, the book had a lot of black and white snapshots of locations someone thought were important. The book did hold my attention for quite a while and I still remember it (vaguely). I would say now, though, “a good picture can generate a thousand words” is a more accurate statement. So, with the 30 plus photos on this post, I’m hoping to generate a book’s worth of words.  
Our June/July trip to some of the great national parks of Canada (particularly Kootenay, Banff, and Jasper) presented me with the opportunity to take a multitude of photos. I’ve chosen to share our trip through some of those images in categories—eating, waterfalls, people, flowers, rivers and lakes, animals, and mountains. I’ll provide short captions on the photos, but will be glad to answer questions for those wanting more details. I hope these give you a sense of a trip we loved.

The Joys of Eating. We tried to revisit past favorites and find new places to add to our favorites list. We were more successful with the tried and true.
Frank's Diner in Spokane and a great rail car breakfast.

The fish burger was a great sandwich to split (Hogshead Pub, Canmore).

The rainy day coffee crew at Moraine Lake Lodge.

Poutine is a Canadian favorite--this one at Baker Creek Bistro near Lake Louise was wild boar, cheese curds, gravy, and fries. 

A new favorite is Cassio's Italian in the village of Jasper.

Waterfalls and More Waterfalls. All three of the parks we visited had numerous waterfalls or cascades. Here are few of our favorites.
This cascade is at the entrance to Kootenay Park.

This impressive falls flows into Grassi Lakes in Canmore.

Johnston Creek's Lower Falls, Banff National Park 

Tangle Creek Falls in Jasper National Park.

Sunwapti Falls in Jasper
The important People We Met. Although most of my photographic subjects were nature, there were a few people pictures worth revisiting.
A very colorful tourist at the overlook to Mt. Rundle outside Canmore.

Legs were in in Banff.

This vendor at the Canmore street fair was there four years ago...same shirt and hat.

My favorite people, Anne, was bundled up as she braved the elements (wind and sleet) at the top of the Jasper Mt. Gondola.
Flowers. At the turn to summer there were some lovely flower displays.
On the short hike to the Grassi Lake Falls, I spotted what looks like a type of orchid in the wilds.

At Brewster's Kananaskis Ranch GC we found these lovely day lilies. 

Wild roses grow beside the burned out logs along a section of the Bow Valley parkway (between Banff and Lake Louise).

Rivers and Lakes. Water is the dominant force in the parks. The light blue color is caused by glacial silt in the rivers.
Canoeists launch into the Vermillion River in Kootenay Park.

Mountains, forest, and river in Kootenay.

Rock reflection at a manmade lake along Spray Lake Drive from Canmore.

Lake Louise may be more famous, but we think Moraine Lake 14 km away is more picturesque.

Johnston Creek Canyon is one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park.

Mountains reflected in Hector Lake north of Lake Louise.

One of several roadside streams we saw on the way to Jasper. 
Wild Animals. The wildlife sometimes seems quite tame, but rangers are always warning people to remember they are wild animals--cute though they may be.


Ground squirrels at a mountain overlook. 

Ravens are one of the dominant species in the parks.

The first bear we saw was the only grizzly (identified by a ranger) we saw.

A nesting pair of osprey was spotted by Anne when I was photographing snow fields.

Most of the mountain goats we saw were in the process of "blowing their coats," but this mom and kid were still in pretty full coat.

We saw several black bear.

Large male elk with full rack of antlers just outside Jasper National Park on our way to Kamloops, BC.
Mountains. Obviously, the Canadian Rockies are impressive. Everywhere we looked there seemed to be a new range of mountains. Every once in a while we could put a name to a mountain, but most were just beautiful--named or not.


Mountains surround Spray Lake near Canmore.

We pulled in to a turnout to turn around, but I saw this view and we stay for photos. We think the mountain is called Cascadia.

Bow River and Castle Mountain

An edge-on view of part of the Columbia Ice Field.

Mt Athabasca
Next: With Highland Games coming up and a central Oregon camping trip just after, I should have plenty of material for the next post.

Commercial Announcement: Remember, you can order the limited edition (100) book Scotland in Black and White: 90 Photos from me for $25.00 plus $4.00 shipping. Buy from me rather than Amazon which charges $10 more plus shipping.