Vicki's Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland September 1, 2009
Mark and I left Rebecca's for Tokyo one year ago today. We have packed so much into this year that it seems much longer. We are enjoying Edinburgh and the festival. August is definitely the best time to be here though everything is crowded. But it feels more exciting than overwhelming. I am sure Mark will post pictures of the Tatoo (which was wonderful) and the the Book Festival. Our commute to town takes 40 minutes each way plus walking 15 minutes to the bus stop. Cities are hard to tour from campgrounds. Edinburgh is putting in a new tram so the roads are torn up which makes bus travel very difficult. Also only the sightseeing busses are allowed to drive on the Royal Mile—if you ever come here one of those passes including the castles would definitely be worth it.
Glamis, Scotland September 7, 2009

Visited the castle of MacBeth today—though MacBeth never lived in it since he lived over 250 years before it was built. Shakespeare is full of poetic license! However, it was very interesting anyway. We went to the Royal Braemar Highland Games on Saturday and the Queen, Prince Philip and Charles and Princess Ann all attended. They drove in about 20 ft from our seats so it was all very exciting—as was the caber toss, the 58 lb weights, tug of wars and about 5,000 men in kilts.

We are headed to Scone Castle tomorrow and then north to the Orkney Islands and then Mackay (McCoy) country in far northwestern Scotland. My ancesters were about the bloodiest clan in Scotland and one of the first to be sent to Ireland when the English took over. We have had very little connectivity and it will get worse as we head north. It reminds me of rural Montana—even the cell doesn't work well. So I may not be able to post again till we leave the Highlands.

Ft. William, Scotland     September 21, 2009
It is raining like crazy so we are just spending the day (and 2 nights) in the parking lot at the foot of UK's highest mountain--Ben Nevis.  Mark climbed it yesterday and only one hour slower than he did 20 years ago, so not bad.  I decided that a 4,000 ft climb on a gravel path with rain guaranteed for half the 9 hours was not to my liking so I did the wash and reorganized the camper.
We have been in the camper four months now and are really quite satisfied with it.  It is small--21ft. RoadTrek Adventurous--but well laid out and after spending 6 months living out of a suitcase and then 3 1/2 weeks in Ireland in a tent, it feels quite luxurious.  I am sure we would have not felt quite the same if we had moved directly from our 2,000 sq ft house on five acres!
Scotland has been cool and wet but today (and the rest of the week) have been the only all day rains.  We loved the Orkney Islands and also the Isles of Lewis and Harris.  They were bleak and desolate but packed with prehistoric sites--Mark's blog will have all the details and pictures.  We have had plenty of opportunities to free camp so that has helped with the budget.
 Groceries are also very reasonably priced--I know we are not spending more than we would have at home and we are eating out much less.  That will change when we get to France and Italy, but right now we haven't really missed it.  I do buy a lot of semi prepared meals.  The grocery stores have a tremendous variety of Indian, Chinese, etc. meals to just heat up and they mark them down to half price just before dinner time.  I can just switch on the generator and then we can use the microwave.  Generators aren't allowed in most campgrounds as they expect you to plug in--but we usually don't need the electric so why pay the extra $5-6 a day for an electric hookup?  Propane has been easy to get, except in northern Scotland.  We are using about 1 tank a month right now--about $35.  It runs the refrigerator, hot water heater, generator, and the furnace.  We pretty much use the furnace every morning and on and off during evenings.  At night we have a DC electric mattress pad with dual controls that makes sleeping quite comfortable and so far we haven't had to even use it much as the travelsac sleeping system we have is warm enough.  So as long as we can find propane we can manage our energy needs pretty easily.