Monday, August 20, 2007

Logbook: An Almost Perfect Day

Almostperfectday1Having arrived back in Edinburgh last night -- a day earlier earlier than I had "planned" -- I had all of today with nothing to do until my Mom arrives tomorrow morning. Since she and I will be "on the go" for the next two weeks, I decided to use the day to take care of "chores" and inquired at the front desk about the possibility of doing some laundry. I was informed that the Inn has no laundry facilities and the only laundromat they could think of was the one back in downtown Edinburgh that I had used when I stayed there before. I wasn't about to go back into the city and deal with the traffic, etc., just to do laundry, so I went online to search for alternatives. Believe it or not, you can find laundromats online, and I found one in Falkirk, a small city some twenty miles west of Edinburgh. I figured this was a perfect opportunity to combine chores with exploration, so I grabbed my day pack and my laundry bag and headed out the door.

Navigating to Falkirk on the M9 was easy and shortly after entering the town I spotted a sign for Camelon, the "suburb" where the laundromat was located. A few arbitrary turns later, I stumbled across Union Street, spotted the laundromat, parked the car and went in. Rachel, the laundress, informed me that I was welcome to do my laundry or, for two pounds more, she would do it for me. I was in a new place on a nice day, so I handed over my bag and was told to come back in a couple of hours. I asked her where I could get some lunch and she sent me down the street to a little deli where I picked up a chicken sandwich and a bottle of juice. I asked the ladies behind the counter where I might find a nice place to sit and eat, and they suggested I walk to a park about twenty minutes away. A guy in overalls who was also picking up his lunch said, "Nae! Go to the corner and turn left. There's a little cemetery just down the block. It's a nice, quiet place to sit. My mates and I eat there all the time." The ladies were horrified at the notion of eating lunch in a cemetery, but the guy and I exchanged looks that said "It's a guy thing" and I thanked them all, grabbed my lunch and headed out.

I never actually made it to the cemetery because I found a quiet spot along the way to sit on a bench overlooking a nice recreational field. Good enough for me. On my way back toward my car I happened to walk past a barber shop and decided to stop in to get a trim so that I'd look tidy for my Mom. Unfortunately, my specific, repeated request for a "wee trim" was mostly unheeded so I ended up with a really, really short cut that you can see in the Haircut Chronicles. (Note: I'm not really bummed about it -- it's just part of the deal when you get your hair cut in a different place every time -- but it was the thing that made the day "almost" perfect.)

Almostperfectday2I still had some time to kill before Rachel would have my laundry ready, so I wandered into town and stumbled onto a lock belonging to the Forth & Clyde Canal. I struck up a conversation with a couple of guys who were working the lock and they asked if I had seen "The Wheel" yet. I hadn't, of course, so they pointed me down the canal path and said, "It's about a mile that way... You can't miss it!" So, off I went down the path and pretty soon came upon "The Falkirk Wheel." In a nutshell, Falkirk is where two canals come together to continue their way east on the Forth & Clyde. One of the canals arrives at a much higher level than the other, so its boats have to be raised/lowered quite a bit. Instead of using a series of closely spaced locks, the Wheel takes on boats at the top/bottom and spins to release them at the other level. The basic concept is pretty simple, but it is interesting and fun to watch so I hung out for a bit, seeing something entirely new to me.

From the Wheel, I walked back into town, picked up my laundry and drove back to the Inn at the airport. The point of the story, I guess, is that even "chore day" can be "explore day" if you choose the path of the unknown, let things unfold however they may, engage strangers in spontaneous co-creation and follow your instincts. This is really what The Voyage is all about, and it helped make today an almost perfect day!

(Note: When my Mom arrives in the morning, we will be heading west on our two week road trip. Internet facilities along the way are unknown, but I will -- as always -- strive to keep you up to date!)

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