Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The alarm went off at an unearthly hour for someone who is still suffering every so slightly from jet lag. . . 5:30 a.m. which would have been 12:30 a.m. your time! You were all still tucked in your nice warm beds, or perhaps not even in bed yet! After checking our Facebooks really quick to look at more delightful comments from you all, we headed out on the road towards the Highlands of Scotland. We started in Edinburgh, through Perth, up through the mountains, stopped at Culloden Moore Battlefield, stopped in Inverness for a bit, continued on to the Loch Ness, headed through Oban and then back through country roads and mountains to see Edinburgh Castle and spend the night here! All in all it was quite a trip; breathtakingly beautiful with a few terrifying moments along the way!

Today's Major Events:

1. Spotting a fox in downtown Edinburgh. At around 6:30 this morning when we were driving through town on our way to the Highlands a fox ran across the road. Rather shocking for in the middle of a big city!

2. Seeing that our ancestors were part of trying to protect the Scottish clan and highland way of life. Never mind the fact that the entire battle was a complete massacre and the final defeat of the Scottish highlands. The English government disbanded clans, striped chiefs of their clan power and made bagpipes and kilts illegal. They ended up deporting many of the Scottish people to North America and other parts of the world. This outraged Ben and he is threatening to re-build Scottish pride in our family by wearing a kilt to our next family reunion!!

3. Driving down more little (by little i mean narrow, death traps!) scary, windy, winding country roads! However, Ben has really started driving like a local which is wouldn't be so bad except they all drive like freaking idiots here. We encountered snow, ice, rain, high winds, falling trees, sheep, stags (which are very, very BIG deer), huge buses (who really couldn't stay in their lanes!), and many more terrifying things!

4. Seeing the AMAZING mountains in the Highlands! It really was a beautiful sight to see!

5. Spending some time in Inverness, it was quite beautiful situated on a bay by the North Sea.

6. Looking for the Loch Ness Monster. I have to admit that i'm a skeptic of the whole idea. . i mean come on "Nessie" walked across the road? Yeah, so this creature can not only swim, but also climb up the mountains to get out to the main road. Maybe he was hungry for a sheep. . who am I to judge? Despite my skepticism, there is something about the place that gets a person like me all excited! After snapping pictures by the Loch and searching in vain for Nessie we headed on our way. Only to have me make Ben turn around so we could go in one of the many "Loch Ness Monster" gift shops or as my brother and Rick Steve's travel books call them a "complete tourist traps"! Ben struggled in vain to keep me from buying my very own stuffed Nessie! He was just too adorable to leave behind!

7. Ben's mountain road passing abilities! Amazing! We would get stuck behind huge semi's and piles of cars , in the dark i might add and he with thrilling deftness would manage to pass them with three or so locals following close behind. It really was really quite a site to see! Without his courage to lead them, those poor locals would have been stuck for miles behind slow moving vehicles!

Museums we passed up today:

1. The Scottish Deer Museum
It really sounded quite delightful. :-) I was sad to miss it! I am thinking of mentioning it to Rick Steves so he can perhaps check it out for his next book!!! lol!

2. Scottish Whiskey Museum
Since I've never tasted any, i kind of figured it would be pointless to go.

Best brush with a local:

I was sitting in McDonalds finishing up a quick lunch when i got up to throw away my trash. Coming back from the trash, to my horrori caught my foot on this poor Scottish guy's chair, pulling him a good 2 feet (i really had no idea how strong my feet were!)! I quickly turned towards him and said, " I am so sorry!" to which he replied, "Oh that's no problem then, It was great to hear more of your lovely American accent!"

Cheerio mates and hopefully i'll be checking back in with you all tomorrow from London!


Monday, November 24, 2008

The highlight of our day by far was seeing a wolf snatch a little child right off the street! Okay, so perhaps that was figment of my imagination but i can't really help it if i have started to see wolves where they really aren't because Ben has given me the chills with his wild tales of the huge wolves that supposedly ravage Scottish villages! He claims that wolves grow as big as lions here and are twice as mean. In fact he also claims that they are much hungrier here in the Scottish hills and it is not uncommon for them to snatch people right off the streets (i might should note that Ben just looked over my shoulder and stated strongly that this really does happen and that i wouldn't know if it wasn't true since i am apparently not as up on Scottish wolves as he is!).
In fact i have come to also determine that the sheep must be as big as they are so they can fight off the wolves. I mean "holy sheep" these things are the size of horses and come in lot of odd colors. I wanted Ben to stop the car and get out so i could take his photo among a field of very black sheep but he wouldn't stop. I really thought it was a fitting place to photograph him!! lol, just joking!

-We spent the morning navigating narrow country lanes that really were designed for horse and carts and not speedy vehicles. It was a bit nerve racking going around corners and up hills. There were tons of adorable cottages and farms along the way and of course tons of sheep. Eventually we reached Hadrian's Wall. The wall was built in A.D. 130 by the Romans during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. The actual purpose of the wall is unclear however many historians think it was to protect the Roman British empire from invading Scottish clans. The ruins were really neat and it was cool how you could just walk among it something that would never happen in the states.

On our drive to Edinburgh we almost became bird hunters without planning on it! We were flying (really, quite literally!) down this small two land road when i looked up to see a pheasant the size of huge rooster crossing the road! He looked at us and it seemed like he expected us to stop and allow him to cross, unfortunately he didn't realize we were American's used to road hunting. We narrowly missed him and when i looked back to see if he was living i saw him still standing, stunned in the middle of the road and then he quickly darted back the way he had come.

We have now arrived in Edinburgh where it took a bit to find our hotel, but thankfully the lady at the front desk knew of a place where we could get converters so that was a big blessing!! :-)
We ate dinner at a delightful Italian restaurant and then finished up our evening out with walking around for a while. About halfway down a street i started to notice that all the shops were kind of getto and scary. And then i started looking around and noticed all sorts of interesting people. I had to nudge Ben because he was so enamored with the beautiful buildings that he hadn't noticed that we stuck out like sore thumbs and that we were about to be attacked! :-)

Things I've learned today:

-A lot of roads in the Uk were not designed for cars. . .therefore you take your life in your own hands driving on them. Be aware there maybe farmers crossing without looking for flying traffic!

-Apparently it is quite normal for sheep to run loose over the ruins of a site from A.D. 130! So you always have to watch step for sheep doo and keep a sharp look out for unfriendly sheep.

- That Scottish men in general are not the best looking and i feel like Ben has been very blessed in overcoming some of his Scottish genes. The girls over here are quite adorable so now i know where i get it from! (lol! just joking!)

-My single guy friends who are looking for a girl should come over here and look because the girls seem to be settling for some very scary looking guys due to the lack of general good looks!!

-People around here don't like it when your credit card isn't signed on the back. They keep asking my brother to sign his which has tempted him on many occasions to want to say, "should i sign my name or the name of the person who's card this is?"

That's all for now mates, Cherrio!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy times in the Uk

As my brother has told already in his post, we had entertainment provided for us in the form of a British gentleman on our 8-hour flight. Within moments of the flight getting underway the gent across the aisle from us began sipping vodka from a bag under the seat. It became apparent that he was already drunk and he only went downhill from there. He required assistance from the nice guy (whom I’ll just refer to as Saint from here on because I can’t decide if he really was a saint or just enamored by the gents strong British accent) sitting next to him to get his seat belt fastened and apparently never quite figured out how to get the zipper of his pants zipped up after visiting the lavatory. He quickly maxed out what the stewardess would serve him and settled back to drink from his private stash and talk constantly to the Saint. Poor fellow never got to finish ‘The Dark Knight” because the man literally never shut up. I woke up at one point in the night to find him chatting on while moving his empty liquor bottles from his tray to Saint’s tray only to move them back to his own. Breakfast proved to be a total disaster resulting in spilled coffee and muffin crumbs everywhere. Upon exiting the plane, Saint had to help him all the way and pull him out of the way of all of us un-saint like travelers in a hurry to get to customs and around the gent as he stopped in the middle of the way to look out the window and state that it was “a lovely day out.”

“You’re okay with a manual car, mate?” The nice Enterprise car rental dude, Dominick asks. “A manual?” my brother fairly shrieks, utter horror spreading over his features much to the delight of Dominck “Oh no! I definitely requested an automatic . . . . . . ..”
Thus began our time in the United Kingdom. Back into the Enterprise building to fix the paperwork so we could drive a “more manageable” car. We were just about to get into our car when Dominick asks, “Do you have directions then?” Ben gave some vague answer prompting D. to take us back inside the building yet again this time for directions. Apparently our plan to just “wing it and go” to put it in his words would be “a frightful horror.” Once in the car, we drove off to start on our delightful vacation! Well . . . put the brakes on that thought because you have to remember that Ben is driving on the left side of the road, through millions of roundabouts with road signs that are non existent or vague at best! Our journey getting outside of London took a while with a lot of bumping up on the curb and exiting at the wrong spots in roundabouts only to end up right where we started. However, once out of London Ben’s driving improved and I felt like I could look down for a SECOND without worrying that he might knock any poor unsuspecting Brits off the left side of the road.

So far we have traveled from London to Stratford Upon Avon where Shakespeare was from. We wandered around there for a bit and then headed to out of town to Warwick where we visited the beautiful castle there. Back in Stratford we spent the night at nice little bed and breakfast and slept for 14 hours. This morning we drove to York and had a great time walking around a very fun shopping district, visiting Clifford’s tower and eating dinner at the “Living Room,” a great restaurant overlooking a river. From there we headed to Durham where it took us several tries to find the motel recommended in “Rick Steve’s Travel Guide to Great Britain.” Some of our friends (wink, wink) swear by him though I have to admit that at times we have ignored his advice. J I have come to believe that his book is a bit geared towards the middle aged and not so much for the young and adventuresome like ourselves. We were disappointed in the fact that he didn’t mention anything about Nottingham or Nottingham Forest because we were wondering if there was anything to be seen where the great Robin Hood was from! However, Ben couldn’t work up enough courage to ask the man at the BP petrol station if there was anything there, so I guess we’ll never know unless we look it up on Google sometime.

Ben and I have become quite adept at sounding British and when in the car we talk with the lovely accent ourselves. In fact Ben can do it so well that I at times have to ask him “pardon mate, but could you speak a bit clearer, then.” Of course, we refrain from doing it in public because people (at least the younger ladies and gents) seem a bit enamored with our American accents and we wouldn’t want to disappoint them or embarrass ourselves by sounding like dumb Americans who think they can do the accent. However, I think we do it jolly well and I am positive you all will enjoy the new way I sound.

Well, that is all for now so Cheerio mates and I’ll catch up with you all over a cup of tea or a pint of ale soon!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Gone, Gone, Gone. . . .

Well, my laptop is about to be put in my backpack so i guess i'm about to officially leave! I mean if i have to put my computer away. . . . . .

I hope you all have a terrific Thanksgiving!! Try not to do too many fun things without me!! :-) I am hoping to post pictures on here and maybe Facebook so be looking!
Miss you guys,

P.S. The great photo is courtesy of Cory Vetter.
November 21st. . .

1. My trip
I am so grateful to my brother for taking me on this trip! I feel really blessed to have this opportunity and it wouldn't be possible without his generosity!

2. My Christian upbringing
I am so blessed to have been born into a Christian family. I have been protected from so many things and i am extremely grateful to my family for shaping and molding me.

3. Salvation
I have been given the most amazing gift of all, the gift of salvation. The thought that Christ died for ME to save ME from death is amazing. I am grateful that i was given the opportunity to accept this gift and that Christ died so that we might have a new life in Him.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 20th. . .

1. A BIG suitcase
Yay! All my stuff fit in my bag and it only weighs 40 pounds!! :-) The best part is that i really didn't have to eliminate anything that i wanted to take!!!

2. My comfy bed
I'm perched on it right now writing this post and it's really, really, really comfy! :-) Especially with all six of my pillows surrounding me!

3. Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a powerful thing. It heals relationships and fixes hurts. Forgiveness isn't always about how you feel, sometimes it is a choice to forgive and it can be really hard. There are times when you don't always want to forgive and you have to make the choice to do what is right. Is there anyone you need to forgive?