Aren't you relieved? I have had a wonderful time but was ready to enjoy this final day in Scotland and bring all these memories home with me.
Who remembers those slide carousels of their youth. My parents would invite friends over for cocktails and snacks and show the slides from their "last trip". They (or we/family) would sit in the darken room and have to sit through every. little. thing. and be polite. Then again the cocktails and wine probably helped. We were young. We didn't get any of that wine. Between the photos all having been taken on film with no chance to crop, delete or play with in iPhoto, some of those photos were more special than others. I personally really appreciate the current situation. I love my delete button and knowing that no one has to sit at their computer and "like" a single things if they don't want to. But these will be my memories and someday remind me that my hips and knees did work once upon a time....or they will until some "delete" button in my brain turns traitor to my spirit and starts to fog out the synapses.
The rental car got returned with all major car parts still intact. I am glad that I had the car to drive myself around. It allowed me to stay in places and the freedom to visit parts of Scotland I would not have otherwise, particularly this time of year when many of the the "day trip" offers are not available. On the other hand, I think each country and trip might be different and there are many areas that have different networks of mass transportation and different road conditions that might make other decisions more practical and economic. Having the car did make eating economically much easier. I had more choices.
As I stood outside the Cincinnati airport waiting for my ride home and watching the gentleman in bright safety vests sort the mass of assorted vehicles wheeling past the arrival/pick up zone like herding feral cats, I also recognized what I didn't see much of on the roads of Scotland. I saw few huge, monster SUV. There were Transit vans and Sprinter vans but most of the daily driver type cars were of a modest size. I also didn't see many huge pickup trucks. There were plenty of farms but just driving down the roads I passed or were passed by few trucks. Then again the price of a liter of gas probably is a great motivator of driving smaller gas sipping cars. I know that the Ford Fiesta that I was driving had the electronic engine that turned off when the car came to a stop and turned itself back on when you touched the gas. It is strange to sit at a light or stop sign and not hear or feel an engine.
Well, anyway, here are the pictures of the last road trip.
Again, on the these final legs of the journey I was reminded of how many areas of Scotland resemble the rolling valleys, small farms and mountains of the Hudson Valley, or Virginia or North Carolina. The stone fencing is distinctive but my son's home in NY state also has old stone fencing but then the first section of his home was built in 1750. Then you notice the plethora of sheep. The difference is the number of sheep and how the land is used. Old stone homes spot the landscapes of the older east coast colonies in the US but again not nearly as many as one drives past on the roads of Scotland. And back to observations regarding driving issues, the posted speed limits seemed to be more suggestive than anything else, though I had been warned I was responsible for any tickets I should get. Most roads were posted at 60 kilometers (40 MPH) and the highest limits were on the large two lanes that mostly crossed through eastern Scotland and they were all the way up to 70 kilometer. Speed limits, as expected, fluctuated for small towns and school areas. As might be imagined, this touristy driver had no trouble staying under most of the limits but I also spent time frequently using the "passing areas" so that others could go on their merry, much faster way.
Farms with with their own historic ruins
Before I headed toward Stirling I drove into St Andrews and drove around a bit. The weather was drizzly and I knew that my tank of energy would not last forever so I just waved at the St Andrews castle and the famous golf course with its impressive hotel and grounds and then headed west.
I made it to Stirling with plenty of time to explore and the energy to make the walk. Information on the Internet had warned that parking at Stirling Castle was limited and that visitors should be prepared to park and walk or park down in the city somewhere and take a bus.
I found a parking spot right a good hike away from the castle but just around the corner from where the signs required paid parking. I took stock of my surroundings, pulled out a walking pole and headed off up hill.
Street scene in Stirling on the way to the castle.
The walk takes you higher and higher.
This Scout Troop has been here awhile.
Just a sample of the small, rental caravans that are available over here. Just a reminder to me how happy I was to not have to find parking for a caravan.
A pause in our castle programing to show the different to me, neat sink and hand drying combination. I had used these in the Edinburgh airport and found them again here at the visitor center. You place your hands directly under the faucet for water and then hold you hands under the side bars for the twin jets of drying air. Made by Dyson.
The old barracks. After the last of the royals and other important people moved off the place, the castle was used by the military for many more years.
Something about sitting on the high ground maybe?
This raven and his friends were busy flapping around and having a loud discussion of important castle business.
Don't tell OSHA, but do be warned to walk at your own risk.
And those little white spot off in the far off distance are sheep, of course.
The restored chapel that was built in 1594 because the protestant faith couldn't have used the old chapel used by Catholic Mary Queen of Scots .
The Great Hall
Large hearths lined both sides. How many people did it take just to maintain the fires in these castles in winter?
The castle gardens
Just in case a guard wanted to shoot or drop hot tar on someone they didn't like walking through the gate.
King Robert the Bruce, 1314
Autumn is coming and it is time to go.
An the walk back I passed the Argyll's Lodging just down from the castle. The sign on the gate said it was currently not open for tours but then again the gate was open so it was open for at least one picture.
Then I started my journey back to the car which turned out to be an adventure of my own making. Yes, I found it but I did have to back track up a road or two until I got it right. I told myself that I needed the exercise and the shops I passed were all so interesting. Knowing that I had parked in a more residential area and the angle of the road heading up to the castle on the GPS helped. What will help more in the future is if a drop a "pin" in the car location. We are a continual learner.
I found some dinner and then found my last B&B which was located east of Stirling and only about 30 minutes from the airport.
Someone took time to add the lace around the bath towels.
Another first made available in the room, going beyond the usual tea an coffee room options.
And in the morning the same attention to detail to the breakfast table. My hosts insisted on getting up early so that I left for the airport with breakfast. They usually served between 8-9 but when I told them that I wouldn't be staying for breakfast in the morning in order to head out to the airport told me that wasn't going to work for them. They had me eating at 7:15 so that I wouldn't have to worry about traffic or airport delays.
Silver butter dishes with silver butter knives.
And then it was off to find the car rental return at the airport which my GPS was not as helpful as I would have liked. No added excitement moving through the airports and customs. The plan was late leaving Edinburgh but the stop over in Philadelphia was generous enough to allows for delays and working my way through customs and over to the concourse for the flight to Cincinnati. Only hold up was when I realized that I had on orange in by backpack that had been picked up a couple days earlier for a possible snack. I had to declare it and then head over to Agriculture and confess and turn it in and have all my bags rescanned. I had realized my dilemma on my own and self reported as soon as I stepped into the bathroom and saw all the signs warning me not to thrown any food or agricultural products in the trash. The nice young lady in a hurry to make her connection was reminded of her apple in her bag by the agricultural searching beagle.
But compared to traveling the border crossing between Canada and Alaska with Nan sitting in her RV ahead of mine eating her banana and grapes while being asked if she had any fruits or vegetables on board, it wasn't as funny.
So if you are still here reading thanks for staying awake for the entire slide show. Stay tuned for future adventures or turn around and share some of your own.