Thursday, August 09, 2007

Logbook: Back To Pitlochry

The weather in Ullapool turned very, very bad.
When I wrote in my last Logbook entry that I was not worried about missing the opportunity to explore Pitlochry because "I expect I'll wander back to that lovely little town again some time," I didn't expect it to be quite so soon. I am back in Pitlochry now, and here's what happened: I had planned to leave Ullapool on Monday morning, but the weather there -- and throughout the northwest of Scotland -- was rainy, windy and cold. So, I decided to stay an extra day and spent most of a bleak Monday productively back in the internet cafe. Tuesday morning was even worse than Monday, with torrential rains, gale force winds and bitter cold. Still worse, the forecast for the week promised more of the same. I figured there was no sense in pursuing my plan to drive around some remote areas to enjoy the scenery if I wouldn't be able to see it -- not to mention probably getting blown off the narrow, windy roads in the middle of nowhere -- so I decided to bag my little roadtrip on the moors. I also decided there wasn't much point in hanging around the area in bad weather, so I called the nice folks I stayed with here in Pitlochry and they said they'd be delighted to have me back. A couple of hours drive out of Ullapool I emerged from the horrid weather into clearer skies, stopped for a bowl of soup then drove on into Pitlochry. I walked into the inn and said "Hi, Honey, I'm home!" to the hostess and was rewarded with a warm welcome. Okay, now you know why I'm back in Pitlochry so soon!

A tourist gets "up close and personal."
Although I did spent some time yesterday doing more R&D on this weblog -- I even wrote my first original snippet of Java to create the "Today Is..." box you see in the upper left sidebar (go ahead, view the source!) -- I spent much of the day cruising around the town of Pitlochry. Admittedly, it is a tourist town, but it is a pleasant one with not too much touristy stuff. There are, of course, a number of tourist oriented shops, but there are also "normal" places. During the day you can see plenty of tourists wandering around and making fools of themselves -- like the woman you can see getting up close and personal with a sidewalk bagpipe player -- but they don't seem to get in the way too much and are pretty well back in their buses and on their way by evening. After strolling the length of the town and enjoying the "show" I sat in the local park and had a little picnic then walked around the tiny "suburbs" for a while, happy to see they are quiet and tidy.

Just one of many fabulous views on my drive.
The weather was just beautiful this morning, so I decided to go for a drive and planned out a route that would minimize time on the main roads and maximize time on the little ones. Actually, "little" doesn't do justice to them, and "unbelieveably narrow and twisty one-lane paved surfaces with occasional turnouts" is more like it. If you've ever driven here, you know what I mean. If you haven't, well, they're really an adventure. Along the way, of course, I was treated to an almost non-stop succession of beautiful views. Up and over the hills, through the valleys, along the lochs... This is fantasic countryside and the scenery is worth every point of blood pressure elevation that the roads have to offer.

There are sheep everywhere... To say the least!
While the scenery has a great deal of variation, the livestock does not. There are sheep everywhere around here and you can spot them in flocks both large and small on practically every open piece of ground. The almost abject lack of trees makes the terrain seem even more wide open and also makes the white dots of sheep stand out even more. It's hard to capture in an image, but I think this photo does a pretty good job of showing the terrain, the sheep and the absolutely amazing blue sky that made this a fnatastic day for driving the highlands.

What's up with my luck and closed roads on The Voyage?
Okay, here's something I'd like to figure out on The Voyage: What's up with my luck and closed roads? I mentioned above that I "planned out a route" for my drive. This is because there really aren't that many roads around here and if you're going to do a drive with any hope of getting back to where you started -- without going many, many more miles than you wanted to -- you pretty much have make a plan. So, you can imagine my dismay when I encountered this sign just about half way through my circuit. I have a thing about back-tracking and/or repeating roads when I drive -- probably a "therapy issue" right? -- and I was a little bummed about being miles into this tiny road and having to turn around and go back the way I came. You may recall when this happened to me in France and I actually got to the closed bridge because I couldn't read the "route baree" sign umpteen miles back. In this case, I could read the sign just fine... I just didn't want to stop.

Ignoring the sign scored me my best view of the day!
So, I forged ahead for a few miles, knowing full well that I was going to have even more road to back-track. I'm very glad I did, because I was rewarded with one of the most spectacular views of the day! Sometimes it pays to be a little bit stubborn on The Voyage! So, all in all, while I'm disappointed that my trip to the northwest hinter lands was rained out, I've had a great couple of days back here in the heart of the highlands. I am still "on hold" about my Arctic sailing on the Polar Star, and won't know anything definite for another couple of days. So, I intend to hang out in this area and enjoy more of what it has to offer! Stay tuned!


Mark said...

WTF where is my previous comment?

Macgellan said...

Your previous comment is on the "Site Note: Care To "Comment"?" post where you left it!