Thursday, September 30, 2010

Glen Coe

One ferry, one lift from fellow travellers, three buses and a three mile walk landed us in Glen Coe, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

We lucked out with decent weather the following morning and set off on a hike.

(Yes, that's two adults in matching outfits.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scotland's training grounds

Scotland's Isle of Arran, oft described as 'Scotland in miniature,' was a useful training ground presumably for the rest of our trip. Arran showed us that despite the cost of getting there, internal public transport would be exorbitantly expensive and lack useful transfers, the weather could change on a dime and stunning, challenging walks were waiting further along the valley.

Mimicking Scotland, Arran has lowlands in the south, dramtic highlands in the north and breathtaking off shore islands to explore.

On advice from a Glaswegian in a pub and against the visitor centre's wind and weather advisory, Orion and I set out to tackle the highest peak on the island while Robyn wisely opted to take a sick day.

(Goat Fell from Brodick)

Visible in Brodick, we began at sea level and climbed through fern-shrouded valleys that agev way to exposed meadows where the last of the year's heather lingered. Our final summit push was delayed as a squall passed over, forcing us to take shelter underneath a precariously balanced rock for its duration.

(Orion and I taking cover)

The howling wind quickly dried out the rock staircase to the top that Orion equated with the intensity of Vancouver's Grouse Grind.

(Views from the summit)

After an uneventful descent, we popped into Brodick Castle grounds, passed the cheese factory and brewery and made for home in our waterproofs as the rain rolled over again.

Satisfingly sore and tired from the day, the three of us retired to the pub for folk music, tasty pints and bargain pizzas before travelling to the north of the island the following day.

(Orion enjoying refreshment in the hills)


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sleep-starved Canadians do Loch Lomond

Two's a couple and three's a love triangle. Male and female friends, many incorrectly assume Orion and I are dating. Female cousins, Robyn and I have been taken for lesbians and even received tank tops as apologies when the real story, not the two of us, came out.

Happily and non-sexually together for a month, the three of us are set to tour Scotland. I'm confident we'll be a content and complimentary threesome until their early October departures after we took an exploratory day trip to Loch Lomond outside Glasgow.

Why we caught the early bus and relinquished a sorely needed hour of sleep by all is still a great mystery. Robyn was nursing a massive sleep debt from a wedding-filled week in Prague. Orion had been out at a house party til the morning and was likely still very loaded. I was exhausted from a late-night snog sesh.

We walked about and punctuated the stunning views and exercise with long boats of sleeping and eating. The former saw us curled up on picnic tables, luxurious castle lawns and pub tables. The latter was accomplished in cafes overlooking the loch and pubs that served up much-needed sustenance.

Bench litter

Thoroughly exhausted, all three of us slept on the bus home before showering and heading out for another late night on the town (Orion) or responsibly retiring to our allegedly smelly, ten-bed dorm (Robyn and I).

Balloch Castle - its luxurious grass made an excellent napping location

View from the castle

Looking out onto Loch Lomond

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Peace out

"We'll be here when you run out of money," my woods manager told me in front of the full-time woodlands staff on one of my last days in Chetwynd as I excitedly described my fall and winter travel plans.

Keen to leave the Peace and later Alberta for Sun, Place Else before the dreaded S-word materialized meant saying several goodbyes to co-workers, friends and lovers. Otherwise even-keeled with my emotions, I am terrible and often dissolve into a blubbering mess when bidding farewell.

I misted up shaking my supervisor's hand at work, I unsuccessfully blinked back tears as I hugged my roommates, I couldn't form words as I held my summer lover one last time, I wiped my eyes on my friends shoulders as we wished each other well for the winter, I bawled uncontrollably driving up the hill that heads out of town.

Even though my transient lifestyle lends itself to frequent goodbyes, I still allow myself the pleasure of becoming embedded in the comfortable ease of daily life with those around me.

It continues to surprise me that I'm terrible at them given how often I do them.

The tears though aren't a bad thing, Marc from the Sharklab told me in the Bimini airport as we waited for our flight. They're an outward sign that a good time was had and that I genuinely cared about the people I spent time with.