Monday, December 27, 2021

Missing Our Travel to Scotland


Footbridge over the River Tweed in Peebles.

When we think about Scotland (which is often), what first comes to mind is Crieff in central Scotland. This is our second home, but as nice as Crieff is, I think of Peebles in the Scottish Borders an hour south of Edinburgh as a more iconic village. It was the first village we stayed in and our base until we were adopted by our family in Crieff. When I decided to tell you about Peebles as part of this post, I found that my supply of photos was woefully lacking—converted early print and slide photos from bad cameras, lost files of photos from early travels, and an inexperienced photographer (me). I think, though, I can still give you a feel for the typical Scottish village despite the weakness of the photos.

High Street, Peebles

St Andrews Tower is the oldest building in Peebles. The rest of the church was destroyed by Henry VIII.

Peebles (Na Puballen in Scottish Gaelic) is an ancient village at the confluence of the River Tweed and Eddieston Waters dating as far back as 600AD. The village, now of about 9,000, was made a Royal Burgh by King David I of Scotland in 1152. The town’s wide High Street attests to it being a market town. It was strong in the woollen trade in the 19th and 20th centuries—the last mill closed in 2015. Tourism developed in the late 1800s and continues to be the most important industry along with agriculture and particularly sheep farming.

Kailzie Gardens along the River Tweed is one of the main attractions in Peebles.

On our first day in Scotland (September 2000) we stayed in a B&B in Peebles (Lindores House) after visiting our first Highland Games just down the road. 

The annual Highland Games in Peebles ends with a clan parade from the playing field to central High Street.

That night we ate our first pub meal and were befriended by all the locals in the pub who were as curious about us a we were of them. Walking into town (about 10 minutes) from the B&B the next morning we were introduced to Scottish village life—shopping at the local butcher’s and bakery for the day’s fare, 

and watching from a pub as the school children dressed in classy uniforms visited downtown for their lunch of chips and Irn Bru. Dinner the second night was at a local hotel, The Crown, where we ate at one table while a lady and her Yorkie terrier ate at the next table, the dog in his own chair. A mile out of town is Niedpath Castle, built in 1370 and now lived in by the Earl of Wemyss.

Tour guide and print-maker, Amy, explains the older printing process at the nearby Robert Smail's Print Shop in Innerleithen village next to Peebles. Now under the care of the National Trust, the print shop has a copy of all printed material since the 1850s, including receipts for tickets on the first sailing of the Titanic.

Over the years we’ve visited Peebles several times, always reinforcing to me the friendliness of Scottish villages and towns.

A Walk too Far (from 16 Years of Travel in Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales, available on Amazon)

Sometimes we bite off too much and too often I think I’m younger than I am. Such was the case in Cork, Ireland, on our first visit. That morning we played golf at the wonderful Cork Golf Club, known as Little Island. The course is a lovely forest or parkland track which is fairly easy to walk, but a round of eighteen holes is still an average of five miles of walking. When we got back to the B&B in the afternoon, Anne, smart person that she is, decided a little rest or nap before dinner was in order. I, being the dummy that I am, decided I would not waste the afternoon in frivolous rest, but would instead wander down to the main shopping area of Cork. A mile of pavement walking to town, at least a mile of wandering the downtown area, and a mile back to the B&B put my day’s total up over eight miles. Done yet? No. For dinner our B&B hosts suggested one of a couple of good Italian restaurants in the downtown area, but said it was best to walk since downtown parking was poor. Besides, it’s only a mile to town. By now my feet were beginning to hurt just a bit, but I was game for a walk to dinner. As I limped toward town, Anne asked what was the matter. I had to fess up that my feet were on the sore side. What I really should have said was that my feet were absolutely killing me. Dinner was delightful, but the walk home was excruciatingly painful. Even after a good soaking, my feet throbbed all night. 

By morning I could count the blisters on top of blisters with both hands. We searched the local chemist’s (pharmacy) for the best blister plasters they had. Even doctored up, at Waterford Castle Golf Club I had to take a buggy (electric golf cart) to make our round. Back in Cork for dinner I drove to downtown and to hell with the poor parking. 

    The Rest of this Post is a small compilation of some special Scotland photos that I haven't posted before. I hope you enjoy the eye candy.

The River Braan near Amulree at the foot of the Highlands

Harbour light at the village of Anstruther on Fife.

A birch forest out of the Highland village of Ballater near Balmoral Castle, the Queen's Scottish residence.

A picture of a small Highland church shot from the Harry Potter Train--the Jacobite Express which has daily runs between Fort William and Mallaig. The trip is considered one of the best steam rail trips anywhere. 

Hie'lan Coos (Highland cows)

Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven near Aberdeen

Glen Etive and the mountains of Glen Coe. The mountain on the right is Buachaille Etive Mor, 1021 meters.

Barn on the Isle of Skye.

The Quiraing (Old Norse for "round fold") is an attraction on the Trotternish peninsula of the Isle of Skye.

Kirkmadrine Church in the Rhins of Galloway (southwestern Scotland) holds a collection of early Christian stones, thought to be the oldest in Scotland.

NEXT: We will be taking a four day trip to the Oregon coast soon and I am giving myself a photo challenge: each day I need to take at least three presentable photos. The photos should have some artistic merit and should be of a variety of subjects (little repetition). The blog will be about how well I meet my challenge. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Going to the Dogs

This post comes in two parts, but both parts come from rummaging through old files and finding old slides not converted to digital. Both also refer to our Dog Time, the 14 years of the 70s and early 80s when we owned a kennel of Siberian huskies. First, an article I wrote which was published in the late 80s.

Elke: The Lessons of a Beach Dog

Oregon Coast Magazine, January, 1988

Without the slight breeze blowing in off the ocean the day would have been uncomfortably hot. The sun had finally burned away the accumulation of gray that is the usual morning on the Oregon Coast. Kids were splashing in the incoming tide and parents were enjoying the sand and surf of Neskowin as much as their children. Frisbees were as thick as sea gulls and almost as graceful as they floated, dipped, and dived on the breezes and currents.

Anne and I were enjoying this beautiful day from a blanket about halfway between the tideline and the beach grass. We had owned a kennel of Siberian huskies for several years, and found it an interesting diversion from our books and the sand fleas to watch the beach dogs interact with one another. Rituals of tail-sniffing were performed with medieval aplomb. Dogs would approach each other, circle, sniff, and then trot about their business. This pattern held for all manner of dogs—from the pampered poodle getting sand in her ribbon and still smelling of foo-foo to the Heinz 57 mutt whose last bath was a dip in the creek. 

One dog, however, didn’t fit this pattern. A small female elkhound made her way up the beach avoiding other dogs as much as possible. While the other dogs seemed to lack purpose in their meanderings, little Elke showed marked determination. Her beach wanderings were punctuated by stops at all human beach-toweled encampments. As she approached our enclave, she got a whiff of our tuna sandwiches. Instead of circling us at a distance and then moving on, she circled once and then lay down looking directly at us. With head up and ears erect, she watched us eat our lunch. After a couple of minutes she moved to our left and lay down not more than twenty feet from us. She watched us as we discussed the obvious ploy she was making to join our picnic. She continued to move closer until Anne could have stretched out and petted her.

Elke was a pretty thing. She had no collar and lacked the fat look of many pampered pet elkhounds I’ve seen. At the same time she didn’t look particularly hungry. She seemed healthy, bright-eyed, bouncy. When she realized we weren’t going to be taken in by her act, as cute as it was, she headed off to find some easier mark. Before she abandoned us completely, she gave it one last shot. Elke stopped about twenty feet away with her ears pointed back as far as she could get them. She was giving us a final chance to call her back to join in some potato chip munching. When her last effort failed to elicit the desired effect, she trotted off, checking each beach blanket picnic in turn.

I spent a delightful hour enjoying the creative, purposeful antics of Elke. If she belonged to someone, she had certainly found an effective method of supplementing her meals—not everyone could have been as hardhearted as we were. If she were a stray, her physical condition gave a good account of the effectiveness of her begging behavior.

Elke also helped me realize something about my own pets. She pointed out the manipulative behavior of which most of our pets are capable. I thought of our oldest husky, Myko, who knows the surest way to get all the petting he wants is to jump up, lick my face, and bounce down to be chased. No matter how hurried I am, Myko knows that this routine will turn me into putty in his paws. Our 14-year old cat knows that lifting a paw that was once hurt will get some extra snack—or at least a sympathy pet. And if the “hurt paw” doesn’t get our attention, he puts it down and lifts the other one.

Much that has been written about human psychology probably applies to pets as well. Elke had a purpose to her manipulative behavior—she wanted food. Our pets have purpose in their behaviors. By being aware of these purposes we can better care for the emotional health of our dogs and cats. 

I may have resisted Elke’s advances the first time we met, but after I realized what she had shown me about my own animals, you can bet that the next time I’ll invite her to join our picnic as an honored guest.

 Dog Days


The second find was a large set of slides from our sled dog running days. Now converted to digital, the pictures are of our dogs, pictures I took of other racing teams, and some extra doggy photos. Most of these photos were slides taken by a fairly ancient Petri fixed-lens rangefinder camera or my first Ricoh interchangeable lens 35mm camera. Captions will help fill in the details. Hope you enjoy.

The Dogs

Our second husky, Gromyko of Kolyma Creek, a great wheel dog and companion.

Myko, a good backpacker dog, carried as much as 15 pounds (about a third of his weight). He's resting at our camp spot at Green Lakes.

We'd take the team out for runs near Hoodoo Ski Bowl.  Mt Washington in the background.

When we lived in Brookings (1980-84), we'd often take the team out for run at Pistol River and stop for coffee break. We had eight dogs much of the time and as many as 14 with puppies. 


Lee Muller, Albany, racing at Sisters with his team of Siberian and Alaskan huskies.

Anne raced a few times. Her best race was this one at Beaver Marsh.

I raced in 3-dog, 5-dog and 7-dog classes (3, 5, and 7 miles). This was at Sisters. I don't remember the photographer.

Art Christensen, Turner, always had a fast team of Chilkoot hounds, his own mixed breed. They were fast and strong, but got cold quickly.

Me with a five-dog team at a Sisters race. In a normal year we'd attend 7 or 8 races in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California. Photo by Mally Hilands, Canby.

Not all our races were on snow. This is a photo of Darell Stewart, Canby, at a cart races at the Painted Hills in Mitchell, OR. Most of us would train our teams on gravel roads with wheeled carts. In racing season I'd try to get two days of training during the week and go to the snow on weekends to race or train.

I was much younger then and had hair.

Anne, seated on the left, was head timer for most of the Oregon races.

Running the Dunes

The Oregon Dunes Mail Run was a non-competitive event that I ran in from 1978-1983. The run was 72 miles in 2 days over and through the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area from North Bend to Florence. This is Phil Armstrong of Eastacada negotiating one of the tall dunes.

This photo of Linda Robertson, Bandon, has won numerous awards in photo competitions.

The first year of the Mail Run we booted up to run into Lakeside at noon on the first day. The boots were to protect the dog's feet from the rough pavement. Most teams lost their boots in the first couple of hundred yards, littering the roadway. Anne had had to handmake all our boots. We found that the dog's feet were tougher than we thought. My team front to back, left to right: Waveet in lead, Malenski  and Attica in point, Tamarmick and Laca in swing, and Myko and Amorak in wheel.

It was difficult and expensive to own and work the kennel of Siberians, but it was worth every penny and ounce of effort. Some of the best years we ever had. And yes, the dogs absolutely loved to run.

We tried Tigger in lead, but he was too independent.

NEXT: Happy holidays



Thursday, November 18, 2021

Central Oregon -- Photos and Stories, Part Two

The fried ravioli we had at the Eagle Crest Resort cafe was a delicious small surprise.

Our Big Surprise

The last post highlighted the first days of our trip to Central Oregon. This post details some of the rest of the trip, including our biggest surprise. As we were getting close to Mitchell from Redmond and bemoaning the fact that the better photo opportunities were further on (where we weren’t going), we saw a sign which read, “Painted Hills 6 Miles,” pointing to the northwest off Hwy 126. 

Coming into the Painted Hills from Hwy 126.

I thought the Painted Hills were much closer to John Day and thus beyond this day’s drive. So, now I had my missing photo op.

The Painted Hills are the western most unit of the three part John Day Fossil Bed National Monument—Painted Hills, Sheep Rock, and Clamo units. Nine miles northwest of Mitchell, the hills are considered one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon,

along with Crater Lake, Smith Rock, the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast, the Wallowa mountains, and Mt Hood. The Painted Hills are definitely a geological wonder known for the colorful layered hills. 

The colors developed in the hills as early as 35 million years ago. The colors we see today correspond to both geological eras and chemical composition. The red represents a warm and humid climate and the predominance of iron in the soil. The yellow, in contrast, comes from a drier period and the presence of the building blocks of aluminum. Darker or black veins are from vegetative matter, while the gray is from sandstone or shale. The colors will change in intensity with the amount and intensity of light—the hills can look very different morning to night. I think the colors are better for photos in the muted light of cloudy weather, but I’d never pass up a sunny day in the hills.

This circular opening in the sandstone hill shows the layers beneath. Kind of freaky looking, almost like an alien eyeball peeking out of the hill.

The Painted Hills Unit has several different viewing areas. On this visit I photographed from the main vista point (and partially up the viewing trail) and from the short Painted Cove trail. 

The Painted Cove quarter mile trail is part boardwalk and part gravel. 

This is the view from the top of Painted Cove trail.

There are numerous trails in the unit, and you are strongly requested to stay only on official roads or maintained trails to protect the Hills from unnecessary erosion.

Being able to photograph the Painted Hills with almost no one else around was a grand surprise.

The view from the small visitor center parking area.

An Interesting Museum Visit

Just out of Bend, Oregon, about a half hour drive from our digs in Redmond, is the High Desert Museum. 

The museum was very Cove aware and responsible--masks in all areas, reserved seating in the Bird of Prey demonstration area.

Opened in 1982, funded by members, donors, visitors, and grants, the museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian Foundation. Open all year, the High Desert Museum presents the high desert landscape (flora and fauna) and its relationship to the people through both permanent and changing exhibits. 

There were snakes also, but Anne didn't want any pictures of those.

We were impressed with exhibits relating to indigenous peoples—my background includes a bit of Apache. And, although I’m not a fan of zoos, I enjoyed the presentations of native species—mostly creepy crawling things. 

Shy bald eagle.

Menacing golden eagle.

She could be at Hogwarts.

Outside the main building is a well done display of rescued birds of prey and inside was a fine flying exhibition of a small falcon. We could have spent much more than the two hours we did, but my legs sort of said, “Enough.” 

The High Desert Museum is well worth whatever time you can spend. More information is available at

Story of the New Ride

I know I mentioned a new car in the previous post, but this is the story of that new car. We sold our hot 2007 VW Fahrenheit GTI (#914 of 1200 made) to get a truck to pull our mini trailer. Then we bought a 2017 Ford F150 with very low mileage. The truck was fun to drive and great for pulling the trailer. We found, though, that we really weren’t cut out for the trailer life—our camping out is in a five star Worldmark timeshare resort. So we sold the trailer and kept the truck. During the early part of Covid times the truck mostly sat. When we did take it to the coast on a rare several day trip we had trouble parking and getting around where we wanted to go. That trip convinced us we didn’t really need a truck either. Since used trucks were in high demand, it seemed a good time to trade it in on something more useful. Thus, the new ride.

A Subaru Forester fit the bill for what we wanted. Wilsonville Subaru had one Forester Sport in the color I wanted and with a lot of extras I didn’t know I wanted. The car comes with standard Forester equipment including AWD, but it was also set up for off-road—raised suspension, larger aggressive tires, skid panels underneath, and more. I fell in love with the car immediately and Anne liked it well enough to indulge me.

On this trip the Forester handled the highway driving and the mountain roads just fine. It carried all our gear and had room for more. It’s comfortable to drive and is set up to handle winter conditions—besides AWD it has two other traction settings, called X-modes for dirt, mud, and snow. On the trip we got several appreciative comments and lots of looks. The Forester (named Lewis) is far more of a “rig” than we need, but like my beloved 2007 GTI, it’s just plain fun to drive. 

Fall colors at the High Desert Museum.

Next: Victoria, BC???