Friday, December 11, 2009

Scotland 2005

Syracuse 16:09 While Ron was giving me a lift to the airport we got into a discussion about how the world only has a finite amount of petroleum and that we have always known this. He is of the opinion that a new power source will be found to replace oil -that what he called "American ingenuity" will win out and we'll all be just fine. His viewpoint must reflect that of most people since we know we're going to run dry in the fairly near future yet we keep running machines on fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow. I think that it is typical human obstinance to continue doing just what we want without regard for the rights of others. Don’t’ worry, our grandchildren will get along. What if lots of people just starve and freeze? Philadelphia 20:01 Called Sadia from Syracuse to tell her that I’d be in Philadelphia but she sent me a text back to say that she was working and to wish me a nice trip. Stan also lives in Philly so I called him when I got here but he is still in Richland, WA. He answered his cell phone from inside a movie theater. They were showing “The Longest Yard.” Met two women here at the airport. One is on her way to Barcelona and the other to London (then to the northern coast of France). I expect to hear from the one who is headed to London since I gave her my email address. She suggested that we go to arctic regions together someday. All I said was, “Sure!” Getting ready to board the plane in a few minutes. 28 May 2005 Glasgow 11:00 Actually on a train bound for Oban. Just before getting on the plane in Philadelphia I met Andrea. She’s from Tampa and she’ll be jumping around Scotland, too. I’d like to think I’ll see her again. Gave her my email address. Then Theresa was sitting next to me on the plane. She’s an audit consultant from LA on her way to Glasgow for two weeks of work and not much play. She said that she’s jealous. I’ve been hearing that a lot. On this train next to me are two young ladies from Colorado (Steamboat Springs and Denver). They went to college together. I just finished Robert Heinlein’s “Starman Jones” and I gave it to a teenage Scottish boy who started reading it right away. When the train had reached Oban he told me that was enjoying it. Maybe he’ll be a Heinlein fan. I hope so. The world needs more of us. Oban 18:55 Arrived here about six hours ago and after walking around town for a while I settled into the Glenbervie guest house. It is a very nice quiet place situated on the hill below McCaig’s Tower. I have a beautiful view of the town, the harbor, and Kerrera. Had a shower and a nap. I noticed earlier that was once called the Star Inn that was run by Eric and Nan Ross when I was last here 22 years ago has been replaced by an establishment of another name. Haven’t noticedany other changes, though. Well, I’m off to have a wee dram and see what trouble I can get into. 29 May 2005 Oban 19:02 Just consumed a salad, spaghetti and coffee at the Piazza located on the lovely waterfront here in Oban. Was waited on by two very pretty girls –which always seems to make the food taste better. The undulating western coast of Scotland is ever surprising and I believe that you could live a lifetime here and never see all of it. Ironic, isn’t it, that while I was at a fish and chips shop last night three teenage girls who found out that I’m from America asked why I’m not in Glasgow or London. They must feel that their little corner of the world is boring but doesn’t that reflect teenage attitudes the world over? Thinking about that makes wonder if I ever grew up. Here I am still trying to get out of town.When guys in pubs ask me where I’m from. I answer with, “West Virginia …and don’t start singing!” But they can’t help themselves, “West Virginia, mountain mama. Take me home, country roads.” It’s been that way since I can remember no matter where I go. John Denver must have made a ton of money worldwide from sales of that song. Oh last night was excellent. I met some folk who remember The Star Inn and the Rosses but they told me that the place closed shortly after I was last here. Eric and Nan were in their sixties then. I don’t think I’ll run into them again in this world. Anyway, I met Kenny, Moira, Robert, Keith, Debbie, Hazel, Dennis, and folks with names I couldn’t be sure of both because they were odd and the music was too loud. Debbie has my email address and it seemed like she is going to play matchmaker. She and her husband have been together for thirty years and she is my age. 30 May 2005 Oban 11:19 Sitting out on the veranda at the Piazza. It’s a wonderful sunny day and lots of folks are about. Scots know to appreciate such a day. Last night Kenny asked me if I’m here on business or for pleasure. I told him that I’m here for fun and that I’ve never seen Scotland in the summer. He said that would occur in the first two weeks of July. I’ve heard that before but it stills makes me laugh. Met four nice people last night. Three of them are siblings –Helen, Angela, and Andy. There was another Andy, Helen’s husband. We started out by having drinks outside but were asked to come inside once it started getting dark outside. This far north the sun sinks below the horizon an hour later than back in New York. At summer solstice in three weeks there may be even more of a difference. Saw a man in a kilt last night. I think he was part of some show. The bagpipes that I presently hear in the distance reminded me of seeing him. I know that most of these things are staged for the tourists but it still reminds me that this is a distinctly different place with its own history and culture. It’s kind of funny that when I’m immersed in a foreign place and then I hear an American speak it is amazing how odd we sound and how obvious it is that we are in the area. Oban 18:00 I forgot to mention that I met a fellow named Alec on my first night here. Ran into him again last night. One of the girls who waited on me yesterday at the Piazza was out and I she told me that her name is Leann. There is a young lady from Slovakia whose name is Ivana. Last night she told me that she understands American English much better than the British –especially the Scots. When she was working at Mackie Dans (where I had a very nice chicken barbeque dinner) a Scotsman was ordering drinks but I could tell what he was saying. Ivana and I glanced at each other and traded knowing grins. There are three cars that are driven around and around town here for the purpose of showing off how loud their owners have made them. They have what I call “coffee can resonators” instead of mufflers. How comforting is to know that Americans don’t have a monopoly on rudeness! We are much worse, though with our dual pipes and our Harleys that can me heard from miles away. In one way, because of this, I can look forward to our running out of petroleum. The world will be a quieter place, at least, and maybe we’ll have grown wiser than to behave like spoiled brats. Look at me! I’ve learned that those who make the most noise are usually the ones you least want to hear from. Let’s just give a megaphone to the village idiot. Same thing. It’s not that I care what people are into but I don’t like it forced on me –and everywhere I go. Staying at the Invercloy guest house tonight that has, perhaps, an even better view. It’s higher up the hill and has a less obstructed vantage point. 31 May 2005 Oban 01:14 My goodness! Eastern European women! First Ivana from Slovakia and then tonight Elena from Belarus and Patricia from Poland. Ivana is a professional model and it’s not hard to see why. I’m trying not to get too worked up. Looks like I’ve stayed one day too long. I might have trouble leaving now. Besides those ladies, I also met Louise, who has family on Lewis. I’m almost convinced that I need to visit the Outer Hebrides and see the standing stones at Callanish. Hmmm …? Met the second Andrea of the trip. She’s from Glasgow but has been living here in Oban for several years. I also met Stuart and his brother, Scott. I think that Stuart resembles Ewan McGregor. He said that I’m not the first person who has told him that. Seems like a really nice fellow. Easy going and easy to talk to. We seem to have some similar interests. He may become a good friend. Oban 23:05 Staying at the Sutherland Hotel tonight. Met an Irish fellow named Sean who is a professional dive instructor. More precisely, he is a dive instructor for professional divers. We talked for hours about such diverse subjects as the continuing religious intolerance masquerading itself in football colors here in Britain and why the same side of the moon always faces Earth. He offered to let me stay at his apartment and sleep on his folding sofa. Might just take him up on that tomorrow. Besides his phone number, he wrote this on my notepad: "haggis & strong beer @ 7:30ish" Here is what Bernie in Raleigh sent me. He brews his own beer. and sometimes he wears a kilt at highland festivals. So, he is an expert these matters. If you want to try a truely wonderful beer (among the many there), try the Traquair House Ale, a Scotch (wee heavy) Ale. It's not going to be as hoppy as you usually prefer, but it is a perfect example of a traditional Scotch Ale. Sip it with a sweet Lass under your arm while the cool evening breeze teases the kilt off of your knees, reminding you why you decided to "go regimental" beneath your man-skirt. Taste: Full-bodied with a fat chewy malt backbone, low carbonation that leaves a nice smoothness throughout. Lots of flavour dancing around ... ripe fruit, sweet alcohol, a heavy hand of malt and a touch of butterscotch. A perfectly balanced hop bitterness leaves a small bite towards the end. Mocha, toasted malt and carob are in the finish with a fading hop character and a mellow earthy / oaky flavour. Perhaps later, when you get the chance, have a wee dram in honor of our brothers and sisters in arms that have gone before us and those that will follow. Then, back to the Lass you go... 1 June 2005 Oban 11:47 Having breakfast at the Café Caledonian -sausages, ham, eggs, black pudding, tomatoes, toast, mushrooms, and coffee. They call it “The Crofter’s Breakfast”. I was hungry this morning. Today the weather is not good -unless you are a duck. Speaking of ducks, the little feathered fellows here are just about the tamest things I’ve ever seen. Two days ago I walked by a duck pulling my wheeled suitcase and all and he didn’t so much as flinch. I must have passed within six inches in front of him. Yesterday I met an Australian guy named Tim and his Czech girlfriend, Ivana. Yes, that’s the second Ivana of my trip. Tim showed me a very funny bit of video he captured on his digital camera. Apparently he had been taunting a duck and it attacked him and all you could see was this very agitated duck snapping at the camera lens as Tim backed away. He has my email address so there’s always hope that, if nothing else, I can get him to send it. Met a fellow from Granville, Ohio yesterday. He has an insurance business back home but he’s here taking a break much as I am except that he’s also working with a construction crew. They are renovating a structure in order to make it a seafood restaurant. The man who is having it done owns a seafood shop here in town and the restaurant is a new venture but a fairly reasonable one, I would suppose. Sean told me about how, on a dive yesterday, an octopus enveloped his hand. It turned the color and shade of his glove then it left him and shot some ink at him as it shot away. It was the first dive for the folks who were with him and he’s afraid that they’ll expect such an experience every time. 3 June 2005 Oban 12:09 Didn’t write anything yesterday but I had a very good time. I’ve forgotten to mention meeting Lindsey and her dog, Stitch. And I also forgot to write about meeting Jo from Leeds, a friend of Andrea’s. I told Jo about how when I tell people that I’m from West Virginia I also ask them not to sing. She said that she knows what I mean because her name is Jolene. I had to laugh. I was sitting out by the waterfront in the middle of town having some fish and chips and Jo strolled by with her dog. She said that she might be out later. So I had something to look forward to. Then a minute later Lindsey came by with her dog. She asked me how I was liking my fish and chips. I replied that they were great. When I finished I ran and caught up with her and then walked with her to the war memorial. She let Stitch off his leash to let him run. I chased him around and had a ball. When I was finished Lindsey asked me if I was knackered. I answered that I was. Then I asked her what Knackered meant. She laughed and remarked that I had answered in the affirmative without even knowing what it meant. I guess figured it out from the context. I left Lindsey to walk Stitch some more and walked back towards town. Stopped in at Markie Dan’s to visit with Patricia and have a bottle of orange juice. Then I went by the Piazza where Scott was working. Said hello to him and then he pointed to where Stuart and Ivana were walking so I ran over to say hello to them. The three of us tried to find an internet café that I was told about. We never did but we settled into The Lorne for a couple of beers. Sean’s place is right by there so I came back to his apartment. We listened to some music and watched some of the movie, “Snatch.” We laughed about some of the lines that Brad Pitt has like, “Do ya like dags?” I told Sean that Jo said she might be out so he and I decided to go to Markie Dan’s. When we got there Elena was there and I introduced them. Sean told her that he’d never met anyone form Belarus before. Scott was there playing pool and eventually Ivana and Stuart showed up. Sean and I met Anna from Holland. Then we talked with a couple of guys, Christian and Eric, who had just sailed from Stockholm. Then talked to a guy from Denmark –don’t recall his name. I think he was in town on business. We were invited to Stuart’s house so a half dozen of us walked up the hill to his place. His place is very nice –a three story home with a great view of the city. Met one of his friends from Norway whose name is Astril, I think. It was a very pleasant time just sitting and talking. Ivana was sleeping on the couch and it seemed like a cue. When Sean and I left there we went by a youth hostel and looked inside and saw that they were having an enormous party. We sneaked in and tried to act like we belonged there. Met a young woman from Toronto and one from Vancouver. One guy from Australia was playing a guitar with a missing third string. He kept playing tunes that he thought I might recognize but I never did as much as I strained to hear them. When we decided to leave one of the Canadian girls had to hug both of us. We walked back to Sean’s flat and talked about the evening. He served some chili that he’d been taking a few days to cook up. I was very good and it hit the spot. Lights out. 4 June 2005 Oban 12:05 Yes, I’m still in Oban –but not for long. I’m having lunch at the Caledonian and then I’m planning on getting on a bus bound for Fort William. I remember some really good times there. Met Ian from Perth, Australia there and Karen from Timmins, Ontario. Both of them became long term friends and we visited a lot. Fort William is at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. It draws hikers and sightseers from all over. Said my goodbyes to the friends I made here last night. All Stuart said was, “You’ll be back.” That’s probably an safe prediction to make. There are a few people who I should mention before I forget them. While I was here I also ran into Cory from South Africa a few times and Roddy, the fellow who owns Markie Dan’s who showed me a great amount of hospitality. There was Spike, Patricia’s boyfriend and Chris, Elena’s boyfriend. Fort William 18:17 Talked to a young lady who sat near me on the bus from Oban. Her name is Kirstie and she is a friend of Andrea’s. In fact, while we were riding she sent a text message to Andrea to say that she met me. She also knows Stuart, Scott, and Jo. There’s a guy named Scott from Nova Scotia who’s going to Inverness this evening and I decided to go there too. I’m writing this from the bus. Ben Nevis is off to the right in the distance. Unfortunately this bus has a bunch of loudmouths who are probably drunk. I saw them get on and promptly gave up my seat to them and moved toward the front. I have my headphones on and I’m listening to some light classical music in an attempt to drown them out. It’s not working all that well. It’s because of guys like them that public transportation has never been popular in the U.S., I think. Scott is a maintenance supervisor at some industrial plant and he seems somewhat softspoken and intelligent. His plans are to continue north tomorrow and he might become a traveling companion for a couple of days as I make myway toward the Orkneys. I just noticed that some of the mountains still have snow on them. Very pretty with the contrasting greenery here at the lover elevation. There’s lots of light purple rhododendron lining the highway and the pinesare a nice touch. The weather today has been varied, going from a fairly heavy rain when I left Sean’s to bright sunshine at times and now it is more mist than anything else. I like it all. Fort Augustus 19:04 The bus stopped here at the southwestern end of Loch Ness. According to the schedule we should be here for about ten minutes. Looks like the loudmouths left the vehicle but maybe they are just having a smoke. Not optimistic enough to think we’ll be rid of them for the rest of the trip. Uh, here they come back onboard again. Just as I thought. Oh well. We’re underway again. I must keep my eyes peeled for a certain large reptilian creature in the water to starboard. Maybe I should have my camera cocked and ready. In video mode even. 5 June 2005 Inverness 00:55 Scott was forward thinking enough to reserve a place to stay before he got here. I figured that I’d help him find his B&B and, hopefully, there would be a vacancy either at his place or maybe nearby. He and I figured out where we were from a map at the bus station and saw that we needed to get to the other side of the river. When we did so we found the place in fairly short order and I was in luck –they had a room available for me and for only 20 pounds. I was paying 25 to 28 in Oban. Scott and I deposited our things in our rooms and hit the town. The lady who checked us into the B&B told us where we might find some live traditional Scottish music so we headed there. It is called “Hootenanny”. I had always assumed that it was an Appalachian term but I was told by Carolyn, one of the girls we met tonight, that it is a Celtic word. She is from Glasgow and she was with Cath (from Inverness) and Claire (from Wellington, NZ). They are all psychiatric nurses and hadn’t all gotten together in seven years. One of the girls who was supposed to be out with them is sick from a cold that she must have caught from Cath. What a shame! 6 June 2005 Kirkwall 09:07 Made it to Orkney last evening. Spent the night in a B&B that looks out overthe harbor. I mentioned to the couple who own the guest house that I have ancestry here and they asked of the surname. When I gave it to them they corrected my pronunciation. That was sort of humorous. I left Inverness yesterday about noon and Scott was on the same bus until we reached Brora where he disembarked. He was off to visit ancestral land, too. I was interesting to watch him step out and gaze around so as to gather an impression. When the bus reached Thurso I got off and hauled my things to the ferry landing at Scrabster. The bus driver had told me that it wouldn’t be as far as it seemed. Easy for him to say. The sign said two kilometers but pullingmy wheeled suitcase made it seem like ten. Those wheels will eventually wear out. There was nobody else at the ferry landing when I arrived at about 15:45. Or so I thought –there were two guys walking around and, at first, I thought that they worked at the dock. They turned out to be a couple of Australian travelers. Michael is from Canberra and Paul is from north of Sydney and the two of them are occupational therapists working in London. We thought that the ferry schedule had indicated a 19:00 departure time so we decided to get something to eat and jumped into Paul’s car and headed into Thurso –right back to where I had left the bus. I had a nice pork chop dinnerand it was a satisfying meal. When we went back to the ferry landing there were more cars and more people.The three of us bought our tickets and passed the time by looking at the various brochures and conversing. I had been taking photos of the countryside along the way from Inverness. I think I got some good shots of the North Sea coastline. Toward the end of the ride Icaptured an image of a line of cliffs jutting into the sea and a minute or so later I saw another wall of cliffs appearing in the distance from behind the first. I later learned that second line of cliffs is actually the island of Hoy –thesouthern and westernmost of the large islands in the Orkneys. The ferry wouldmake landfall at Stromness situated to the north of Hoy at 20:30. The ferry ride was pleasant and the ferry itself was very classy with an elaborate restaurant and comfortable lounge. It also had a gift shop and children’s play room. At one point I used the video feature of my new digital camera as theship passed by “The Old Man of Hoy”, a rock outcropping that I’d seen photos of when I had taken the time to look at websites aboutthe Orkneys. I’m looking forward to see how it plays on my laptop. When the ferry arrived at Stromness we decided to try for accommodations in Kirkwall, on the opposite side of the main Orkney island. We settled into the B&B and went out to see what Kirkwall would be like at night. Found a pub that was lively and full of friendly people. After striking up a conversation with one of the women I found out that they a tour group comprised of people from all over. The lady who I’d originally spoken with, Rosslyn, isfrom the western coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Ben is from Sydney. Otherswere from Houston and Montreal. We’ll meet up with them again tonight. Stromness 13:22 After breakfast, Paul, Michael and I went to take a tour of Maes Howe. It is a structure built around 5,000 years ago and deliberately buried under soil. Apparently, it was used for ceremony and the deposition of skeletal remains. After it was abandoned by the Neolithic people who constructed it the site appears to have been undisturbed until the twelfth century when Vikings discovered it and used it for shelter during a particularly bad winter storm. According to my dad, one of my ancestors was among them. They left runes on some the walls inside. After Maes Howe, we went to Skara Brae, a village from the same period as MaesHowe. Skara Brae was exposed by a storm in 1850. Took lots of photos of that site. Makes you ponder on who those people were, how they might have lived, how their concept of the universe might have been, and what ultimately happened to them. Michael and Paul are taking a boat tour around a bay in which several German ships were sunk here during World War One. I’m having lunch in a nice little café in downtown Stromness and we made plansto rendezvous here at 16:30. 7 June 2005 Stromness 12:44 First, let me clarify something that I wrote and sent out in yesterday’s dispatch. I don’t think my father ever told me that he believed that I had ancestors who carved the runes in Maes Howe. It was more that, once I told him the story when I learned it a year or so ago, he let me know that he learned it himself from doing his genealogical research. I think I jumped to that conclusion at the time myself. After I met up with the Aussies we drove to the Ring of Brodgar and walked among the stones. Took plenty of pictures. The Stenness standing stones are right by the road on the way to the ring. I need to tell you that, on our tour of Maes Howe yesterday, we were taken inside the mound and the structure itself. We saw the runes left by the Vikings and were given extensive information by our tour guide. I asked him I could take photos of the interior and he replied that no, I could not. I don’t know the reason for that restriction. Perhaps those of you who are curious can do a web search to findphotos. I can assure you that they indeed exist. I have a booklet with them in it. Michael and Paul left on the 11:00 ferry to Scrabster and I’m seriously considering taking the ferry to Shetland that leaves Kirkwall at 23:45. It’s an overnight trip to Lerwick that arrives at 07:30 tomorrow morning. From there I may decide to gotto Bergen, Norway or to Torshavn. The summer solstice is coming up and it might be fun and interesting to be as far north as possible in order to experience thevery late evening. The sun is setting at about 23:00 and rising at, maybe, 04:00. In two weeks the situation will be even more dramatic. I remembered a concept that came to me about twenty years ago when I was traveling here and noticed such large numbers of folks from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. I think that there might be wanderlust gene that we inheritedfrom the people who left northwestern Europe for the new world. Paul thought it was an interesting concept when I told him the other night. In my case, my original immigrant ancestors arrived in present day Virginia in 1640 and the last of them arrived in America from Ireland in 1811. That might explain why I am so restless. All of my people left when it was far riskier to relocate than it is today. They only had the vaguest notions of what they were going to find across the AtlanticOcean and they almost certainly would never see their home country or theirfamilies again. A story is told about one of my ancestors who emigrated to America from Germany in the 1750s and then returned to Germany in order to arrange for some commerce only to be lost at sea during his subsequent sea voyage back to America. One toomany chances taken, it would appear. A nice little orange and white cat just paid me a visit as I have my laptop placed against a sloping wall facing the bay in Stromness. It didn’t mind being patted but it didn’t want to be held. There seem to be plenty of cats here in this town and so far they’ve all had very different coloration. I’ve yet to see anythingclose to a recurring pattern. That’s surprising to me given that it’s an island and the community itself is rather isolated. In the Caribbean I remember noticing that the dogs on Tobago all looked the same. So much so that a friend of mine and I kept saying, “There’s the dog.” In fact theywere all different dogs but we’d see one along the road we’d wonder how that creature could have traveled so many miles since we had last seen him. Kirkwall 19:39 Booked a cabin on the overnight ferry to the Shetlands. I was a little anxious because there’s no ticket office open anywhere near th epier here in town. I located the office but it closed at 17:00 then I noticed thatthere were people still inside so I jiggled the handle on the nearest door to them. One of the ladies opened the door and asked if she could help me. She explained that the ferry actually berths at a different pier located about three miles away.Then she booked me and for the trip. In other words, I was extremely lucky –nobodyhad been able to provide useful information about how to get the Shetland ferry. I looked at the local newspaper, The Orcadian, this morning. I had to keep it because there was an article about how a local woman’s cat is terrified to go outof doors. Seems that gulls have been attacking it. Poor thing has fur missing that was plucked from it. There was a photo of the owner and the unfortunate feline. Maybe the birds zeroed in on this cat to exact revenge for the injuries and deaths to birds due to tabbies over the years. If that seems quaint then think about how you wish that your neighborhood was so free of crime that such a story would make the paper. It was on page three but there was a bullet for it on the front page. The Kirkwall library has welcome tiles on the floor as you enter that read, “The Kirkwall Library –Since 1668”. It’s a super nice library for the size of thevillage and so is the one in Stromness. I found some Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers which I sent to my hard drive and I’m listening to at this moment.The music collection there was so extensive that I’d be lifting music there all daybut I had internet work to do and I wanted to recharge my batteries but there wasn’t a power point near the terminal. 8 June 2005 Toft 12:50 I’m on a ferry that is taking me from the main Shetland island north to Yell andthen I’m planning on going to the next island north called Unst. It’s a foggy day and the hills here have no trees that I can see. When the ferry from Orkney arrived this morning at 07:30 an announcement was made that we were welcome to stay on board until 10:00. I had some breakfast and went back to my cabin and crawled back in bed until 09:30. I picked up some brochures at the ferry terminal about the Shetlands and the transport available to Norway, Iceland, the Faroes, and Denmark. Upon investigation I found that you can catch the ferry to Norway once a week and the same goes for the one to the Faroes. Looks like I’m not going to either of those places on this trip. I could still do it ifI wished but I think I may just spend a couple of days in the Shetlands and return to Scotland then the Outer Hebrides Yesterday I was writing about the cats of Stromness. After I sent that out I wentto the post office and there was a black cat sitting on the front steps. I was scratching its neck and a lady opened the door. The cat darted inside. Nobodyseemed to pay it any mind. As I was placing some things in a padded envelope to send to my parents the cat jumped up onto the counter and walked all over my things so I patted it. Then it jumped down and the next thing I knew it was behind theglass and on the postal employee’s desk begging for attention from her. Obviously the beast felt perfectly at home in there and must do this every day. Uyeasound 23:31 I arrived at the ferry landing for Unst at about 14:15 and I toted my things for the next 45 minutes to the Gardiesfauld hostel. One of the wheels of my suitcasefinally seized up but luckily it happened just as I got here. When I arrived the place was empty but there was a note board that had the warden’sphone number. But the phone here is out of order and there’s a note that says thatthe local shop has closed so the nearest store is in Baltasound (too far to walk). I decided that I needed to shave before going back in public so I took care of that and then I went for a walk down by the little harbor. There were two women leaving a little building and getting into a van. I explained my situation and the driver asked if I might like a ride. Of course I did. She introduced herself as Frances and took me to the grocery shop and told me that she’d be back to give mea lift to the hostel. It’s getting scary because of my string of good luck. I got some groceries and waited for her outside. Some young mother who had beenwrestling with her children in the store came out in order to imprison her kids inher van. They were screaming as if they were getting sentenced to Alcatraz. Shewalked by me and muttered, “Kids.” Frances arrived and she took me back to the hostel and told me that I’m welcome to stop by for tea any time her van is parked out front. That was a generous invitation from a person who has already shown their generosity. This might be a good time to tell you about the ghosts of the Shetlands. I would but I might scare myself given that it is now midnight and the sky is still lit enough to see the distant horizon. Enough light to let my imagination run away with me. One of my taxi drivers told me to do a web search for “wind house legends”. We were going by the Wind House on the island of Yell at the time and I saw the house. He told me that “wind” in Norse means “ridge”. When Frances was giving me a ride back from the grocery she told me about the stretch in the road that we were passing through. Story has it that youngmale drivers are visited by a ghostly female passenger from time to time. I just looked outside to see that I can still tell that the flowers are blue and it is ten minutes past midnight. While sitting in the empty hostel and taking in the spectacular view from the sunroom the front door opened and closed. I turned to see who had come in and it was a young woman. I said hello and she said hello. I could tell that she was either an American or a Canadian. We introduced ourselves. Her name is Emily and when I asked her where she is from she said that she is from upstate New York. She is from Saranac Lake. All I could say was that I was there in her hometown two weeks ago. Emily is studying neuroscience at Colgate University and I remember that Franceshad mentioned that her niece is in college in New York doing work from the Christopher Reeve Foundation. Hmmm…I think. A short time later as I went for a walk down by the pier I saw that Frances’ van was there again so I stopped in to say hello.There was a couple who were seeingFrances in her pottery shop. The man and I had a nice conversation. When they left Frances asked me if I’d like some tea and I told her that I would. Then I thought of Emily. I asked her if it might be alright if I go get her and she responded, “Only one other person?” I assured her of that and I told her that I’d be right back so I went right next door to the hostel. Emily was excited about the prospect of having tea with one of the local artisans. 9 March 2005 Uyeasound 10:17 Continuing from what I was writing about Emily, Frances, and me, we had a verypleasant visit at Frances’ pottery shop. The products that she sells are underthe name of “Spindra” and I would buy some now except for the fear of breaking it on my travels. Besides, they plates I looked at would be heavy additions to my already cumbersome belongings. When Emily and I returned to the hostel we were met by Nicole, who Emily had metearlier in the day. Nicole is from Switzerland and attends college in Iceland.For some time the three of us sat in the sunroom that looks out over the loch, Emily knitting, Nicole writing her journal and I playing on my laptop. I did manage to get some photos of the Shetland pony who resides next door. He has taken to eating grass that I give him. Well, I’m off to go on a walk with Emily. 10 June 2005 Uyeasound 01:35 Blue skies all around and the sun is just below the horizon to the south. A group from Oslo blew in this evening –about a dozen I think. They had been out all day fishing and they had a huge load of mackerel. Emily and I had a very nice feast of very fresh fish. We saved a bit for Nicole but when she arrived from her walk se reminded us that she’s a vegetarian. Good for her and good for us. Weate her portions. Emily and I walked an hour each way to reach the Atlantic Ocean side of the island from the hostel. We are invited to join the Norwegian group tomorrow to go to the extreme northwest corner of the island. Emily and I are excited because we were planning on going there tomorrow anyway. To catch a lift here is a special thing. There are only about 400 people on this entire island. I think I could live here all of the time. It’s wondrous! Visited the fellows who are trying to work out the wind power to fuel cell thing here and I let them know that I had worked with fuel cells for a while. They asked me some chemical stuff and I responded that I only did the automation side of things. Sorry, but I can’t get past having blue skies at 02:00. It’s astounding and it’s still a week and a half until the solstice. Uyeasound 21:45 The trip to Herma Ness was incredible. It was the North Atlantic full on and there were thousands of birds there -gannets, puffins, gulls, skues (which we were toldwill fly at you and peck at your head, just like in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”). The shore is rocky. The wind is gusty. The fields are sheepy. Emily and I had to walk/hitch back. It’s not hard to do here. You never have to wait very long to get a lift because it’s understood that they all have to rely on each other for assistance from time to time. And, for us here at the hostel, the closest store is in Baltasound because the shop that used to be near here closed. Emily is leaving tomorrow and I’m really going to miss her. She’s smart, articulate, and a good hiking partner. Did I mention that she’s also pretty? Nicole is pretty, too. It’s been a pleasant two days here at the hostel because of them. Frances is driving to Lerwick tomorrow and I had almost forgotten to tell Emily. Luckily I did remember and they are traveling together. A fellow named Dan showed up a little while ago. He’s from Yorkshire. Seems like a nice guy. He told me that he has over 2000 music cds. That’s astounding! I think that I have maybe 400 –which is way more than most folks. He must be a serious collector. It’s dark and stormy here tonight. No blue skies, I’m afraid. 11 June 2005 Uyeasound 01:56 I found out ysterday that the pony next door has a name. It is “Apache”. TheNorwegian boys were trying to befriend him at around midnight –I watched all of this from the lounge. Since Apache has discriminating taste, he decided to avoid the adolescent humans who had invaded his field. One of these hominids was seen by myself to drop his pants and moon the pony. This is similar to what I think the pony thought, “Whatever.” Uyeasound 21:11 Maybe if one were attacked by a skue (the locals call them bonxies) they would know how Olga’s cat on Orkney feels. I said my goodbyes to Emily today but she’ll be in Lerwick and I’ll be there soon, too -possibly tomorrow or the next day. We exchanged email addresses which is very cool. Her friendship is important to me. Patrick gave me a lift to Baltasound this morning so I could mail the box that contains the coffee mug that I bought from Frances yesterday. She told me that it’s her first sale of the year. After I sent off the package I walked up to the windmills north of town where the fuel cell company is. It’s also where I get online to do my internet stuff. Sandy Macaulay was there and we had a nice conversation. He actually drove me allthe way to the hostel to get my laptop and things and then took me back to hisoffice. He has a wireless system but I didn’t know it. The lady who sat me up twodays ago gave me a dialup connection which was painfully slow. If I’d know thatthey had wireless I’d have taken my own laptop there and just sat outside their building. Sandy showed me that they were in TIME magazine last week (June 6th edition). He and his rock band are cited as being the first hydrogen powered group in Europe since they use fuel cells to power their amps and things. His company also has the only licensed fuel cell car in the U.K. Emily had bought a cd by an Unst fiddle player whose name is Steve Spence. I mentioned this to Sandy and he smiled and told me about a secret track on that cd that is at the tail end ten minutes after the last song that’s listed ends. I had recorded it onto my laptop last night and I found it and we listened to it. It is a song called “I’m Just Knackered” and it was obviously recorded at late night in a pub sung by at least a half dozen men. Some of them are even in key. Sandy was one of the singers that night and he grinned all the way through our listening session. So, dear readers, you’ve read the word “knackered” twice -sent by me from two different locations. Emily, if you are reading this, don’t turn your cd player off at the end of what you think is the last song. The best is yet to come. I also found out that one of the people who was recently visited by the White Wife was Steve Spence, the fiddler. I’m told that, upon his arrival home that evening, he was white as a sheet and greatly disturbed by something. That comes from his father. Apparently, Steve was driving along when suddenly there was an old lady sitting in his passenger seat. She turned to him and gave him a toothless grin and then vanished. I asked Sandy if he ever worries about being visited by her when he’s driving at night and he said, “Not really. It seems that she only rides with bachelors.” That would be a good reason to get married if ever I heard one. I asked Steve that, since I’m a bachelor, should I be concerned if I were walking the road at night. He told me that she’s always reported riding in a car or wagon. I asked him that if she’s been reported as riding in a wagon then have the sightingsbeen going on for hundreds of years? He said at least a hundred. I told him that it gives me the shivers. Sandy told me that the folks he works with think that their office building hasghosts and nobody will work in the corner where his desk is because it seems to be where odd things happen. He said that he’s never experienced anything. I responded that maybe it’s because the ghosts don’t like him or because they do like him. We went back to his office after I’d retrieved my laptop. I was sitting by his desk and working away online and he said he had to go away for a few minutes and left me there alone. As soon as he left it occurred to me that, given our recent conversation, I wasn’tsure I was comfortable being there alone. And I have to admit that I looked over my shoulder a few times and felt goosebumps. But that was just me –or was it? Tonight at the hostel there are people from New Zealand, who I’ve talked to a good bit. There is a couple from Holland and Monday is her birthday –she said that she can’t think of a better place to spend her birthday because it is so beautiful and peaceful. Aye, ‘tis. There is a family here from mainland Shetland with a sweet little girl about four years old. We fed Apache grass and sugar cubes. There isanother couple here who I haven’t heard a peep from and I have no idea where they are from. I have to assume that they don’t speak much English. Something Sandy told me to day is somewhat poignant. He told me of a Faroese poet who had supposed that people go to locations on the fringe for spiritual reasons. I would have to say that I agree with that. The “civilized world” seems to either push you around or try to suck you into it. It will tell you what to think, how to feel, and what to buy. It will tell you what is cool this week and make sure thatyou spread the word. Memes used to be ideas that passed between people by word ofmouth or other forms of human to human communications like body language. Now there are things that I think of as “dangerous memes” that seem capable of infecting the minds of humans very much like computer viruses can spread and, like computer viruses, they can now proliferate at nearly the speed of light. I truly pity the person who doesn’t have the ability to take some time to stand outside of society and evaluate their true core values and then see if that matches what they do and how they live. Obviously, we all have to conform in order to live together to some degree. The individual has to decide for himself or herself whether a calibration is necessary. Do I really like the people I hang with? Am I really one of them? Can I somehow change them to fit into my ways? How can I distance myself from them? Can I leave? Please!? I’ve decided that I don’t like what much of what America has become. People seem to have forgotten that with freedom also comes responsibility. You can’t have an all night party with the sound system blasting and not expect your neighbor to do thesame thing to you the next nigh when you are trying to have some quiet time. It’s called social responsibility. It’s also known as being considerate of others. And in some circles it’s known as “The Golden Rule.” Ever heard of the term “the ugly American?” Well, it comes from Americans beingabroad and thinking that everyone should bow to them. I’m deeply afraid that theway we act is contagious because it’s easy to sink to the behavior of the lowest common denominator. If everybody else is doing it then it must be okay. We have way more influence on the way the rest of the world sways than we realize back home. Americans tend to be very introverted as a nation. We generally don’t even think about the rest of the world in our daily lives. That is one of the biggest ironies that I can think of. We want to stay down on the farm and be left alone and yet much of the rest of the world sees us as a swaggering giant consuming resources and ready to stomp anyone who might get in our way. I know that international affairs are sticky and interests are difficult to satisfy.But how has it come to this? How could a country so opposed to empire from the beginning end up with this monstrosity? Nobody wants to call it the E word. In Riyadh and Tehran kids want to live just as they perceive Americans. And American kids just want to get off the farm. It seems that the dream depends on the lens you view it through. Uyeasound 00:26 Daniel and I spent some time telling jokes but he rode his bicycle around the island all day and I’m used to staying up until at least 02:00 so I left the bedroom we now share and came to the sunroom where it’s the darkest I’ve seen it at this time due to the dense cloud cover. It’s still beautiful and I can see out over the water and see the small island called “The Ward.” Beyond I can see the much larger island of Fetlar. I walked to Muness castle this evening. That may be about three kilometers away. Along the way I was accompanied by plenty of birds and sheep, some of which I’vecaptured on my camera in both still and video modes. I got rained on a few times but that passes. The Columbia raincoat that I wear is something I bought in Lincoln City, Oregon because I thought I’d be working and living near there in Newport –butthat’s another story. When I reached the castle and I was taking some photos I looked to my left andthere was a beautiful border collie. She has sneaked up on me. I patted her and then she walked with me down the road toward the sea. She is one of the videos that I took while on my stroll. I guess she went too far with me on my way back because a guy in a van stopped just in front of me and scolded her. It must have been her master. I felt bad in a way for being so nice to her because maybe she isn’t always treated so well by him, her owner. I get the same impression from another border collie (they are everywhere here) who is close to the hostel. She barks and makes a lot of noise because it’s her job but when I get closer she becomes very submissive and then she always rolls onto her back and becomes a licking machine when I pat her. I suspect that she has been abused. It’s become a daily thing to visit Apache and the collie nearby. I think that they are largely neglected. Neither of them have any shelter that I can see. My sensibilities might be skewed, however. Something that seems to be interesting and pervasive to me is that when I come upon young lambs and their mothers, the lambs instinctively seek protection and refuge behind their mothers. And the mothers seem to be trying to run further as if they are preparing their young for independence. I’ve never had kids but I imagine that raising them is the most challenging thing one could ever undertake –if you care at all. Some people seem not to care. How can they not? Maybe parenthood came upon them unwantedly. That’s their own fault. Control your hormones people! No, wait, I’m guilty of that myself. Maybe I wasn’t planned. That may make me a minority even though I’m a W.A.S.P. but I doubt it. I mentioned visiting the fringe but I didn’t expound. From where I’m sitting at the moment and to where the northernmost point of Britain is amounts to about 15 miles. It is where Herma Ness is located. Emily and I were there yesterday. As I took a photo off the northern edge I told her that here’s a photo of the end of theworld. The only thing from there is the north pole. Tomorrow I may hike a little further on from where Emily and I walked along the Westing road. Supposedly, there are some Viking relics there. If nothing else it will be a nice stroll. Lerwick 17:54 Decided to return to Shetland’s capitol for a couple of reasons. I think I’ve seen about all of Unst that I need, Daniel was riding his bike here today, I’ll be nearer to the ferry terminal if I decide to get back to Orkney or go somewhere else, I haven’t seen much of Lerwick, and Emily is here. Lerwick 21:38 It’s after dinner and we are gathered round the piano. A young lady from Sarnia,Ontario, and a woman from Sydney are taking turns playing classical pieces from memory –Chopin, Mozart, etc.. They are doing a pretty good job. Lerwick 23:08 Daniel and I left the hostel in Uyeasound at roughly the same time in the early afternoon, he on his bicycle and me hitching. Today was rainy, windy, and cold. We wished each other luck and happy trails. See you in Lerwick, dude –with any luck. We arrived at the hostel within five minutes of each other. I kept seeing him on the road when my ride passed him and at one point I was concerned that he wouldn’t make the ferry only to see him standing next to me, grinning, onboard. If it was a race then I won but I expended way fewer calories in the process. I’d had my eyes on them from when I left Unst. They boarded the ferry at Belmont and I saw them at the Wind Dog café at the ferry terminal at the north end of Yell.Noticed the Faroes flag on the license plates on both of their vehicles. Saw them again on the ferry from Yell to the Shetland mainland. And I saw them again when Iarrived at the hostel here in Lerwick. I struck up a conversation with them in the dining room as the Australian andCanadian ladies, Emily, and I were having drinks. They came and sat with us. I hadmy laptop and, luckily I had a map of their country in a file of the places that I thought might eventually end up on my itinerary. That sort of broke the ice alittle and I found that the Australian woman (Joann) had been thinking of going there too. Emily and Joann have to stay in the same room as a woman who snores so the two ofthem were hoping that, by drinking tonight, they might be able to sleep through it.I also gave Emily some ear plugs that might come in handy for her tonight. I can remember being on a ski trip and being assigned to a room where there were three other guys, one of whom snored loudly. The rest of us were miserable and at one point I shook the guy and yelled, “You need an operation!” The next night we tried to barricade him out but he broke in anyway and when he started snoring all three of us just gave up and slept in the living room floor. Emily told me that she tried to do something similar last night but she couldn’t find a comfortable spot. Sweet dreams, Emily. 14 June 2005 Thurso 13:21 From the hostel in Lerwick I summoned a taxi to take me to the ferry terminal. Iknew that the B&B on Orkney would want cash and not a credit card so I asked thetaxi driver to take me by a bank machine. I collected the money from the ATM and was getting back into the car when someone called out my name. I turned to see Frances standing there in the center of Lerwick, smiling at me. I had to get out the car and hug her and give her a quick peck on the cheek. The meter was running so I didn’t elaborate about what I was doing and where I was headed. I have to email her soon. My, how things in the islands seem connected! On the ferry between the Shetlands and the Orkneys who did I run into but Sandy.He must have seen me walking through the ship because I had found a place on one of the lower passenger decks that had a power point near some comfortable seats in a quiet location. I needed to recharge the batteries for my digital camera and my laptop. I turned around and there he was grinning and saying hello. He asked if he might use my laptop in order to transfer something from a cd to his memory stick. His cd drive wasn’t working. Of course he could use my computer. We were concerned that he might not me able to fit all that he needed onto the relatively small memory on his stick but it turned out that he could. He is on his way to Indonesia for some humanitarian work for Save the Children. He’s to be gone for two weeks. We decided to go to the bar and have a pint. Whatdid he order? The Unst beer called “White Wife” produced by the Valhalla brewery –where Steve Spence works (owns?). Sandy and I actually had two of those togetherwhen he said that he had to get some work done and then he went to another locationon the ship. We saw each other again just before I disembarked the ferry at Kirkwall. On Sunday I had called the B&B in Orphir to reserve a room for Monday night butthey told me that they’d be full up. When I told them I’d called them because I knew that they had the same surname as my ancestors from Orkney the lady said that she may be able to fit me in after all. She did. Margaret and Eion and I sat and each had a beer in their kitchen after my arrival. I showed them some of the photos and videos I’ve taken while on my trip. It was a nice visit with them and they seemed genuinely interested in keeping in touch and working out where our ancestries might be connected. I gave them my mom’s email address. Took a photo of them outside their B&B and shot a short video of Margaret speaking to my parents. She then gave me a lift into Stromness so I could catch the 11:00 ferry to Scrabster. There’s my family’s connection to one of the places our ancestors passed through on their march through time. My objective at the moment is to get to Ullapool tonight by way of Inverness. I’m on the bus between Scrabster and Inverness. There is about a two hour wait in Inverness before the bus for Ullapool departs. That should still put me into town early enough to get a room in the hostel, if nothing else. Tomorrow I want to go to Stornoway on the island of Lewis, one of the Outer Hebrides. Then I’ll head south through Harris, North and South Uist and, ultimately back to Oban. Looks like Stuart will be proven right. As if there was ever any doubt. 15 June 2005 Inverness 13:46 Stayed at the same B&B as a week and a half ago when I was here last. Went to Hootenanny again. Met a guy named Ian and we had a good time talking and having some drinks. We met two women –one from Lewis and one from Finland. I had been concentrating on the one from Lewis and Ian on the one from Finland and then, suddenly, the women decided to switch. I ended up talking to the Finnish girl and Ian to the Lewisian. We were getting along fine with them and, at one point but I left to go back to the B&B in order to sleep and catch the 08:05 bus. My eyes opened at precisely 08:10. D’oh! Ian gave me the name of his work place, a book shop, so I went there at about noon and the first thing I asked him was, “So, what were their names?” He couldn’t remember, either. It had been a good night out, though, we both agreed. I’m at the bus terminal awaiting the 14:35 bus for Ullapool. I’m not going to miss this one. Not going to miss the ferry for Stornoway, either. Ullapool 19:02 I just remembered something that happened to me in Lerwick on Monday. I was ata fish and chips shop and I when I was paying for my food I accidentally gave the girl a US quarter instead of a 10 pence coin. She looked at it and said, “I’m sorry but we don’t take money from New Jersey.” I had a private chuckleover that. I guess that only Americans will understand why that’s funny. 17 June 2005 Castlebay 19:02 A few minutes ago I boarded the ferry for Oban. We are supposed to reach our destination at 23:45. Tried to contact Sean a couple of times today only to get his answering machine. When I was in Inverness this week I emailed him to tell him that I’d be in town this weekend. This is Friday evening. When I got into Stornoway two nights ago I looked at two of the three hostelsand I wasn’t impressed. The third one was a hike but it was worth it. It is called the Laxdale bunkhouse. Went into town and ran into some guys having drinks and when that bar closed wewent on to one that they knew would be open. Had a pretty good time and some laughs. Took a taxi back to the bunkhouse but I could have walked. Yesterday I took the bus to the Garenin Village on the western coast of Lewis not far from Carloway. It is a group of reconstructed crofter homes situated on a bay that looks out over the Atlantic. When I was getting off the bus there was a young lady also exiting at the village. There was a Canadian flag flying from the pole. I thought, “Oh great, the Canucks have taken over.” The girl from the bus is Swiss and her name is Lydia. After a quick reconnoiter of the village and meeting some of the folks there (from Kitchener, Ontario having a family reunion) Lydia and I struck out on a hike. We went all the way to a beautiful sandy beach on the ocean. The hike was steep at times but it was along steep rock cliffs and grazing land. Lydia scared and chased some of the sheep at one point. The beach was pleasant and Lydia and I took off our shoes and waded into the water. It was readily apparent that swimming would be out of the questionso we just sat in the sand and relaxed. Upon returning to the hostel, we met Peter from Holland, Lauren from Seattle, Janek from Germany, and three young women from Aberdeen University. Lydia and I walked to the rocky beach in the cove nearby where she knitted some and I tookpictures and videos with my digital camera. There were thousands of dead jellyfish washed up for some reason. The glittering waves that reflected the sinking sun was intoxicating and it wasone of those times that you wish could somehow go on forever. The only sounds werethose of the birds in the sky, the sheep along the hillside, and the surf. Later, when the people in the hostel had settled in for the most part, I decided to capture some photos of the sinking sun from a vantage point on the cliffs. I found a pretty good spot and enjoyed the serenity and the solitude. The golden light splashed against the ancient stones around me much like the waves splashed the cliffs hundreds of feet below. A half moon hung in the darkening sky. I arose this morning in time to shower, dress, and wait for the 09:15 bus to take me away from the village and to points south. Caught the ferry to North Uist then the bus to the southern tip of South Uist then take the ferry to Barra where I caught the ferry that I’m on now. Met a fellow that I’d seen on the ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway two nights ago. His name is Joe and he’s from London. Very interesting guy who claims to know many of the giants in the art world. Here in the ferry lounge bar I saw him get a pint and stroll over to where I sit. Then he said that he was going to gather his things but that was a good fifteen minutes ago and the ship isn’t that big. He must have gotten waylaid. 18 June 2005 Oban 10:24 I used Joe’s cell phone to ring Sean last night about an hour prior to arriving in the harbor. Sean told me that he’d leave the key under the mat in the event that he wasn’t home. Sean was watching TV when I arrived but was preparing for bed. I told him that I was going to Markie Dan’s to see who was out. He mentioned that I needed to get there by 00:30 or else I’d not be allowed in. I’d forgotten about that. The lawstates that you must be inside a pub by half past midnight in order to stay there following that time. Well, I made it there at about twenty past and as soon as I walked in I saw Ivana and gave her a big hug. She seemed verey happy to see me. Roddy got me a pint and then I saw Stuart who also seemed glad to have be back, fulfilling his prediction. Saw Scott, Cory and Elena, too. Then I made the mistake of leaving there as soon as my pint was done in order togo to O’Donnell’s, forgetting the law that I mentioned. Couldn’t get in, of course, so I just went back to Sean’s. Checked my email and found that Ian sent me a note telling me that he ran into the girl from Lewis again and he still doesn’t know her name. We’re hopeless! He told me that I forgot to mention the Japanese film crew that was at Hootenanny the night we were there. They were filming the musicians performing traditional Scottish tunes.I had remarked that the title of the Japanese TV program might be “Primitive Culture of the North Atlantic.” Oh well. I’m just looking forward to tonight so I can spend some time with my new old friends. Sean said that he will probably go out tonight, too. Should be fun. Dear Dad, Happy Father’s Day! I forwarded the information about our ancestors on Orkney to Margaret and Eion. Margaret wrote back to say that she’d be looking into any ties that we may have. It’s nice to have made acquaintance with them and to be able to email. 19 June 2005 Oban 11:36 The bus leaves for Glasgow in about an hour. I’m having breakfast at the Café Caledonian. My vacation to the Scottish highlands and the islands is coming to an end. Yesterday afternoon I saw Andrea and she told me about a huge party that was taking place about ten miles north of town. I was invited. Makes me feel like I’m one of the “in” crowd. What a great town and a great bunch of folks! They treat me as though I’ve lived here all my life. I ran into Bob from Ohio again yesterday. He was walking to the train station to greet his brother, Scott. I decided to walk with him and meet his bro. I told them the story about the New Jersey quarter because I was dying to relay that to a fellow American. They thought it was pretty funny, too. It wasn’t hard to talk Sean into going out last night. I had told him about the party and he said that he wouldn’t be going because he had to work today. So wejust ran around in town. While at Markie Dan’s, Sean looked around and decided that we should go to Mondo’s where there were more women. When we got there we sat with two young women –one from London, Ontario and the other from Northern Ireland. They left us for the dance floor.Sean then told me that he’d gotten a phone call telling him that Ivana and Elena would be coming to Mondo’s to join us, apparently, because it was my last night in town. 20 June 2005 Philadelphia 15:15 My flight for Syracuse leaves in less than an hour. Madeline is picking me up at the airport. I don’t think I’ve ever met her but she is one of Ron’s friends and she is one of the folks who got on the borealis email list by request while on my journey through Scotland. She sent me a note thanking me for adding her and telling me that she enjoyed reading my stuff and seeing the pictures. Looking forward to meeting her. Called my parents to let them know that I’m back on my native soil. They seemed glad to know that and to finally hear my voice again. 24 June 2005 Manhattan 21:42 Got back to Central New York on Monday. Stayed at Ron’s. Spent Tuesday night at Sandy Pond. Watched the weird Yankees/Devil Rays game in which the Yankees scored 18 runs in the eight inning. That was a strange one. Stayed at Tyler’s at Greek Peak Wednesday night. Went to see Kirsten Thien’s band in Albany on Thursday night.. I used to see them perform on Ocracoke Island and became friends with Kirsten and Robbie Seahag. Kirsten was surprised to see me in Albany, for sure. Came to Manhattan to visit Lauri and her daughter, Angi. We strolled down Broadwayand got some Italian Ice treats. Helped set up an inflatable pool on the roof for the Angi and the neighbor kids this afternoon. I have to admit that I jumped in and got cooled off, too.

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