The irony of it all is a little overwhelming, but let me explain. We are in Scotland, as you may have figured out by now, in the home area of William Wallace and many of the famous battles fought in Scotlands fight for independence. Those battles were fought to acknowledge that the people of Scotland wanted to be a free people. These movie memories give cause to mentioning a conversation I had today before I left the church. Since the churches here always seem to have a wee bit of a socializing after the service. Rather than walk around and say hello before the service as we do at home, which is fine, they serve tea and coffee and biscuits which you and I would call cookies. During this get together I had the chance to talk to the Pastor and his helper about Brexit and the Scottish independance vote ( and yes we talked about Christ, the Church and our youth).
So it goes like this at least according to these two fellows. The Scottish people voted overwhelmingly against autonomy and soveriegn Scottish rule in favor of remaining a part of the UK. They also voted as a majority to stay within the EU, rather than leave the EU but remain within the UK. but the biggest irony at least to me, was that given a choice between maintaining its membership within the EU, or a UK that leaves the EU, the larger majority would remain within the EU. The Scots see their own way forward as being a part of the European Community first and foremost.
Back to the house I am staying at, the Alba Guest House. Originally setup as a half way type house for addicts which I did not know about, a few years back they dropped that mission due to the legality costs I cured when that is what you do. Now a simple guest house with shared bathrooms, and okay bedrooms. It was a fun stay, and met some nice folks. So here is Jeremiah a recovering alcoholic and one who has found Chrst. Then there is Nils the fellow from Netherlands and a fellow now dry or off heroin for 18 months now and searching for meaning in life, wondering about a God figure. The housekeeper, 6 years now recovered from alcoholism and strong Christian now. And Gerald the house owner, now 20 years recovered alcoholic and strong Christian walk. Only 2 other peop,e at the house that I don’t know much about. But for it being a simple guest house, sure were a lot of addicts rolled thru at one time. I really think we all ended up there for the sake of Nils who is searching. NILS, let me just say, Jesus loves you brother and he is waiting patiently for you to invite him in.
There was supposed to be big breakfast fryup Scottish style. Everything, sausage, bacon crashers, black pudding, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, mushrooms etc. But I woke at 4.30 and could not get back to sleep. So I monkeyed about for a while and finally rode out headed mosty north at about 6.45am. It was raining, cold, dang cold, then the sun would poke out, followed by an arctic blast and rain, and then kersplat the sun would find its way thru the clouds and heat it all back up again. I was taking clothes off all day long, I know how a stripper feels now by the end of the day. I even checked to see if there were any dollars Bill’s hanging out of my underwear….no such luck……all though it does feel like there is a coin hiding in there somewhere.
On the one hand, I can say I am loving Scotland. That would be the hand that still has a waterproof glove on. But me left hand, he ain’t so smart ya know……and he done lost his glove…..not he’s not to happy with Scotland. Guess he is a wee bit tired da’rain he is. Rode north out os Stirling winding my way up thru to Braco. There was a large Roman fortification here in the day, The Ardoch Fort as it is known is a part of the Gask Ridge defense system built by the Roamns approximately 20 years Head of the Hadrians Wzll a better known Roman artifact. But the Ardock is the best preserved large Roamn earthenworks fortification in existence. Date is approx year 132. It was occupied for a very brief time, abandoned, and then reoccupied by the Roman’s around the year 140..The pack horse bridge which predates the fortification, was at one time a gateway to the highlands. Still standing strong after nearly 2000 years, as does many hundreds of feet of the fortification wall. I can’t help but think how joyous the soldiers were when the Emporer let it be known that they were to a abandon the UK. I am betting that when they had crossed the English channel they all through there rubber gloves and water proof suits at the island. From then on it was going to be beaches and bath towels.
Heading out of Braco, I met 3 cyclists, two were my vintage, and one a very young girl of 17. The girl was doing John O`Groats from northern most point, down to Lands End the furthest southern most point. They were all doing B&B travel, Jay-Dub is far to cheap for that sort of luxury…….I wonder if that’s why my wife refuses to travel with me anymore ??????? Heather on the hillsides, Gorse lines the road with its brilliant yellow plumage on full display like a barnyard peacock. The hills slip in and out of view because of low hanging cloud and rain. The day is briefly laced with sunshine, but only briefly. I round a corner, and the hills all of a sudden step together closing in on me, they have stepped so suddenly that they also captured all the wind for a moment as well as a large portion of a huge rain cloud. The rain is pelting down, sounding like a snare drum on the single lane blacktop road, water is running haplessly down my back, my head is soaked as it everything attached to me that resides under that hat. Decend down thru a small dense Larch forest, it is so. Black inside those forests as if mo light can penetrate within its bounds. I know there is a stream off to my right, I can here it tumbling thru rocks in an effort to escape the cling of the dark dense stand of trees that guard its banks.
Round a corner with a barren hill making up my left flank, the trees suddenly stop and there is a dead flat bank that borders the 30 foot wide river. It’s a fisherman access, so there is a wee bit of a car park and the long grass has been mowed. You can guess where my tent lived that night. Some Aussies drove up and parked, wanting to look at the river. We struck up a conversation, found out they live in Adelaide, and they were both tired of the rain. They had been in Scotland now for 16 days, and had been rained on everyday since they arrived. I assured them that the guy who lived in that tent had told me he was ready for some sunshine as well.
Up early, noonish. All packed up and pedaling. Just a mile past where I had camped, you cross a stone bridge and begin heading up. Nothing to crazy, but up, and up for several miles. To my right the hills are totally tree covered, spruce, and Larch, while to the left, the hills are open and bare but for grass and the ever present sheep. The road, the forested hills, went on for miles and miles. I used to think I could recognize the difference between spruce and larch, but I am questioning my ability now. The tops of the moors are ,essentially empty, oh, you do see farm houses for instance. But even they are to a large extent empty now but for curtains in the windows. The barns I am sure, still get used. But only bay farmers who must live in town somewhere. More rain.
Dropped down into a deep valley, three rivers converge here and they sound magnificent. Rock, covered as if by a seamstress in bri,liant green moss, these rocks line the river course like tapestry hangings that enhance the color of the swift flowing waters. The townspeople are expecting sunshine any time, I notice because they are all wearing their, lighter rain jackets. I hope a Scot does’ina reed this, caus’in he’da skunt me alive and make a Sporran out’a me hide. Well Scotland did not disappoint, it was raining within 10 minutes of my arrival. The town’s folk all cheered, confirming ing they had not lost their innate abi,it to predict Scottish weather…..and they were right again……..aye, it rain’t ta’day a wee bit lad.
Rolling thru town after the rain. stopped, and I met Eric. He is a French engineer who works for BMW, lives in Munich now. Maybe 35 years of age, an avid cyc,its within extra flesh on him like Jay-tub has on him oops, that’s a genuine faux paux that I think I will leave to show my sincere lterary honesty. Anyways, he has done Turkey, Georgia, Azerbijan, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Oman. He is finding the UK tough, between the hill gradient and the cold his knees where giving him fits.
Camped under a huge Sycamore on a tiny 6 foot lane I rode along Lock Rannich towards Pubil. A waterfall serenaded me all night. It was really col the first few hours, but I noticed that with all the running water I sure had to pee alot that night. Not that I am the vindictive type, but today I withheld all water from the big boss just to teach him a lesson. If downhill coming out of that Rannich basin into the valley below. Thankfully it was in my favor. The day has been rain, then larger srops of rain, followed c.osely by road strangler and then after an hour of the rain exiting out the crack of your butt, we had rain dusting for a couple hours and then back to road strangler. Not that I am counting, but the day did have 2 minutes and 42 seconds of sunshine, but of course even that amount of time was broken up.
Roled down into Killin and had genuine fun. Spotted a tea shop and de ided a cup of hot tea would be perfect. Before I got my bike parked, along came Ian on his VERY LOADED bike. I had thought mine was heavy and loaded his made mine look empty. Ian I inherited quite. Sum of money from his mother, may she rest in peace. That was 24 years ago, and he has not worked one day since, and has been cycling since that time. He has, ogged a little over 400,000 kilometers during that time and quite literally worn out 2 Koga Miata Globemasters- maybe the best heavy touring bikes made. He has cycled all over the world, but is fondest of southeast Asia, especially Vietnam and may even chose to retire there.
While Ian and I talked, along came Rvainy from Switzerland. In headed out more or less in the direction from which I came, while he done so I headed in to have tea. I asked if I could join the lady from Switzerland and she obliged. Here is a gal who is a certified AMERICA nut, her first question was why are you here, everyday is the same here, green hills, sheep and rain. In USA YOU HAVE SUCH VARIETY SHE EXCLAIMED. She passed is z tent with her, but o ly uses it on the nicest of nights, if it’s too wet or cold she prefers the B&B or hotel route. Can’t say that I blame her, there is a degree of comfort in that approach thT I think appeals to women much more than the dirty smelly ” hairy legged man tour” where tour success is measured in the number of airfreshners required to be in the same room as the rider……its almost that bad right now……my left eye is really watering.
Something new happened today, and I finally had to talk to a kind Scottish lady out front of. Gro very store to figure it out. I was swarmed by tiny bugs today, yes, even while it rained Nd I rode. At times es they just swarmed my face and legs. Y noon, I noticed I had alot of bites on my legs already. I was swatting the little buggers from my face out front of the store when she came walking out, and she noticed right off. Soooooo air ya lykin thay wee midgets, thay juss hatch’s bu lass week ya’know. Well if they are a week old, I just met them head on this morning. While I am doing a Charlie Chaplin dance routine, my legs and arms flying around like broken parts…….she is. almost and unfettered. WTF I am thinkin – “where’s the flies” of course. Ya godd’a whear thay vanilla, or ya will dew yer’self harm ferr shure. My tent is up, not a great site, ut it’s up and raining all today. Headed for Fort Wiiliam and then south.
Have I mentioned how much bloody rain they get here, in case I overlooked it, they get alot at least right they are having alot. Supposed to snow tonight on Ben Nevis right behind me at the moment. We had 16 hours of strait rain. My tent drowned out last night, I was just off the side of the main road. Tough to find a camp spot, pretty much up on one side a d down on the other.. done my best but lost the battle. Rained thru the night steady, morning awoke with 1 minute 24 seconds of weak sunshine right at day break. Once it slipped into its daily grave, it was solid mist wreathed hills and pouring rain. Still in all of thT I could see a steady stream of brightly dressed hikers working their way along thru the highlands. The midges and mozzie are relentless, you can ride fast enough to be rid of them, but may God in heaven bless you with a natural vanilla odor when you hit a long slow climb. It’s unfortunate, but have been blessed with “Odor de Goat” and it seems to be a natural attractant. Clothes are being washed, even the bag of sleep which I just hope I can get dry by tomorrow. Charging batteries on everything right now, and almost finished with the blog but still have images to work on before I can post it up. Not sure I will get it all done tonight, the eyes are already trying to close. Good night and may God bless our every footfall.