Spending Rebellion Day in Scotland (July 4)

Both us and our luggage arrived in Scotland Wednesday morning.  It was hot. Not hot for Scotland, but hot. Period. Chad had decided early on that we were not messing with the bus system to get us to our lodging on the Royal Mile, since last time we’d drug three heavy suitcases up a myriad of steps, like these…

only more worn, more weirdly pitched and more of them. This time he wanted front door service, and after being greeted by a blast of hot air, I was in complete agreement about it. 

We were staying at a place called Aparthotel. Leading up to the trip I could not remember the name and kept calling it the Apartheid Hotel which Chad suggested I stop doing, lest I accidentally say it upon arrival. At any rate, the place had some interesting decor going on…

I was so taken by the very judgy red deer staring at me, that it was quite some time before I walked by, stopped, turned to look at the collage and said….”Is THAT Sean Connery?” (Which obviously I knew it was, but it none-the-less left me a bit flummoxed, until I remembered we were in Scotland he was Scottish.) 

Refreshed and somewhat oriented, we set out to explore and find some food.  

Things were hoppin’ for sure! We wandered around, just taking in the sites and sounds. And believe me, there was a lot to see. Including this lovely bit of street art which literally stopped me in my tracks! I love finding weird and random stuff like this. It’s such a fun surprise! (The art…not Chad, just to clarify.)

Not far past this high quality display, we saw this…

We sort of saw it, kept walking, and then once it registered what we had seen, we went back to get a better look. There’s nothing like seeing your country from another one’s eyes. Fourth of July = Jack Daniels & BBQ. I’m kinda surprised we got that much credit and it wasn’t Coors & hot dogs. 

We’d had a rather lengthy discussion trying to determine if we’d ever been to The National Portrait Gallery. I said no. Chad said yes. We’ve been to a lot of portrait galleries in a lot of places, but I was certain we hadn’t done so in Scotland. Chad said yeah….it was that place on our first trip. Nope. That was somewhere outside of Glasgow and required a bus transfer and it was the only day it rained on that trip. (Which is pretty good recall for me since I usually don’t even know what day it is.) And then we pulled up photos…nope, we’d definitely not been to the one here. And so we went. 

Because we were partly tired, and it was starting to sprinkle, and the museum was free. And the atrium was, as you can see from above, lovely. Just lovely! Also…some high quality images depicting Scotland’s past…

You have to embiggen this one…it took all I could not to laugh out loud at the look on this guy’s face. Oh man. 

And then there was her….

“Does he not know any other song?” The poor harpist, I’m sure it was quite difficult to get a wide variety of sheet music that wasn’t Wonderwall. 

In all seriousness though, the Gallery had some amazing pieces. Chad found me happily oogling the portraits of the early Scottish rulers. It’s one thing to see them in books, it’s another thing all together to be standing right in front of them. I was really very happy that we’d popped in. However, it had been a long day (night? somit ething) and I was running out of steam, so we had a little nap before hitting the town again. 

First stop on the pub crawl….The Jolly Judge, of course!

I’m pretty sure the gent sitting at the corner of the bar reading a newspaper was the same guy we’d seen in 2015, doing the exact same thing in the exact same spot. And I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted to do the same if I lived or worked nearby. 

We’d tried to get into the Cannon’s Gait earlier, but it was packed with tons of folks in fancy clothes – loads of hats and fascinators for the ladies – since apparently the Queen was having a garden party. In the end it worked out quite well for us. When we managed to get in later, there was a jam session going on – fiddles, a concertina, accordions, guitars, recorder, flute. 

We accidentally horrified the very nice lady behind the bar by asking here, at 10:30 pm, where we might get dinner. She visibly started and then said, well no, everything is closed. (Ok, Morgantown, you’ve got that up on the Royal Mile, but that’s it.) We did decide to take a look on some of the side streets, but even the take away places were closed. 

What to do? What to do? 

Head down to the World’s End for one last beer and return to our for a dinner of food bars. 

chris on July 4th 2018 in Geocaching, Travel

There’s No Rain, Until There’s Rain

On Thursday the forecast for the next several days was dry, dry, dry and hot, hot hot, culminating in temps reaching hotter than the surface of the sun on Monday.

So, it seemed like no big deal to leave the Edmund the Jeep’s sunrider top flipped open and the side windows laying in the backseat. It would give Edmund an opportunity to air out. Plus, I’m lazy and even putting the brand new trail cover on seemed like excessive effort, considering the forecast.

Saturday morning found me sweating like a beast, fighting poison ivy vines and shouting loud, nasty things at Mother Nature for even allowing it to exist. It was hot. It was dry. I was sweating like a maniac. There were no clouds in the sky. It was a lovely shade of blue. 

We spent the afternoon and evening at the Tri-Stage Wing Off in Cumberland, eating wings and enjoying some fine live bands. It was hot, but with a lovely little breeze; even after dark the temps were still up. Hot and dry.

Sunday morning I staggered out of bed much later than usual. Between being out in the heat for most of the day and staying up way later than usual, I was not moving too fast. I noticed the pond capstones looked damp. And then I saw that the firepit was full of water. Huh, it rained. HUH? IT RAINED? OH SHIT!

More rain was suddenly in the forecast. More? I’d obviously missed the earlier bulletin that rain was even a possibility. Probably should at least put the top up and windows back in. Not really thinking, I grabbed the top and flipped it forward…water cascaded from the happy little pouch formed by the top, what didn’t drench me poured into the jeep. Of course it did.

Prior to the top drenching, a brief peek inside revealed puddles in both the front floor pans and one back floor pan. Seriously. Not just some dampness, but so much water that I could not drive without the water going over the top of my shoes when getting in. It was a lot of water.

Lesson learned. Next time, use the fancy new trail cover or just put the damn top back up.

Today’s episode brought to you by #firstworldproblems!

chris on June 17th 2018 in Blogroll, Vehicles

Mammoth Cave Grand Avenue Tour

In which I can’t remember the name of our tour and we do a good deed on the water.

9:00 am tour means wake up, cram some breakfast and get to the Visitor Center. Fortunately we our adorable little cabin was right outside the park entrance.

While the previous day’s tour was a relatively small group, this one was 79 people, plus a ASL interpreter and two Rangers. There were A LOT of people.  Now, yesterday our instructions from the Ranger were for all the slow walkers to go to the front, that way the group pace would be dictated by them and not get all strung out. So, going with that idea, we figured we’d stay towards the back because there seemed to be a wide variety of folks on this tour, including families and some older limping folks. (And no, I’m not being judge-y YET.)

So, we end up behind a lady with two children, maybe in the 6 – 10 age range. I mean seriously, I have no idea. I was going by size. Anyway, we end up being WAY strung out clear at the back. Chad was stopping to take photos, but mostly the folks in front of us were not going at a pace that was quick. The Ranger doing the sweep says to Chad, if you want to take photos, you’re better off being up front. Good to know.

Once the group reassembles into a group, not a line, we jockey for some space behind folks who’s appearance indicates they would keep pace with us. We were wrong. Just because you order from REI does not mean you are not slow, meandering walkers. Duly noted.  Repeat jockeying for a better spot. At this point I have seen enough of the group as it starts to stretch out to know who I’m going to run over walking at my normal pace, and where we should be for maximum walking efficiency. The key is to get there.

Somewhere between miles 2 and 3, I realize that I need to start some calm breathing because I am going to start shoving people out of my way, leaving Chad in my wake if they don’t A. hurry up and B. shut the hell up with their inane prattling about everything under the gosh darn sun except this cave. I don’t care about your boyfriend & your new job. SHUT UP! Yes, I know I have issues.

The slow walkers aside, the Grand Avenue Tour was incredible. It really way. We say huge, cavernous rooms that were on some level almost unbelievable. We walked through long tubes that had ceilings so high it was shocking to think about the water that had carved them. There was what I can only describe as a slot canyon where being my size really paid off! The Cave was in every sense of the wore awesome.

And then we got to the stalactites and stalagmites portion of the cave, Frozen Niagara. WOW! What a finale. Just so impressive and wonderous!

Obviously our photos did not do our tour justice. They could not. This was most certainly an experience where you put the camera away (which we did), and take in what you are seeing so you can remember it.

 

Intermission

Having popped down to look at the Green River by the Ferry yesterday, we were eager to put our kayaks in the water. The river looked to be moving pretty well and we’d heard there was a cave you could explore via kayak. Sign us up! The only dicey part, was that today, like every other stupid day, possible thunderstorms were on the horizon.

The livery service said they were still doing trips, which was good enough for us!

Small or not, kayaking in a cave was so very amazing! Fog rolled out from the mouth onto the river, as we drifted into the mouth. It was cool and quiet inside. Dark, but not frightening.

no images were found

Alas, that was the best part of the river, which turned out to be slow. Very slow. Sweet Jesus did was paddle hard to keep moving at a decent pace.

The livery driver, Joe, had asked us to look for a new blue cooler that someone had just recently lose when his canoe tipped. He told us it would be tangled in some roots, close to the end of the trip. I figured there was no way we’d see it. But sure enough, right about the spot he said to start looking there was a blue cooler, wedged under the roots of a tree! Chad managed to wrestle the cooler from the roots! I tethered it to his deck and we headed for the Green River Ferry take out!

We never did find out what the mystery way, however. 

 

chris on May 30th 2018 in Geocaching, Travel

Mammoth Cave Violet Lantern

In which I can’t remember Violet City and keep wanting to call it Violent City, because apparently I have issues.

Forecast for today: rain, additional rain, possibly some thunderstorms, following by high levels of mugginess. Then more rain.

The Plan

Get a virtual cache

Hike a few miles

Grab lunch

Cave tour

How it shook out

Nice little half mile hike around a pond, gathering information from the signs to complete the virtual geocache.

Drive up to a different section of the park, near the horse trailer camping area and head out to do some hiking. To get there we had to take the Green River Ferry. Which could hold 3 cars at once. It was fun! 

Light sprinkles. Rain jackets on. Sweat. Rain jackets off.  We were under tree cover, so it wasn’t that bad as far as us getting wet from the sky, as opposed to use getting wet via sweat. And then RAIN JACKETS ON!!!!  We clocked in at probably around 5 miles. Someone hadn’t properly cleared her GPS tracklog, so it was an educated guess going on a trail map and the feeling of our legs.

Lunch. This included Chad having a heated discussed with our contractor about the wall project that was going on at home. It was not the most relaxing of lunches.

Violet City Lantern Tour. If you go to Mammoth Cave, do yourself an enormous favor and take this tour before you take any others. To see the cave by old school oil lantern light is such a distinct and different experience. As our guide said, this is the tour where you don’t so much learn about Mammoth Cave. You learn about what Mammoth Cave means to you, personally; how it affects each person differently. He was right. Seeing the Cave vaguely lit by the glow of the lanterns made the full reveal the next day far more impressive.

 

chris on May 29th 2018 in Geocaching, Travel