Posted on March 11, 2017
This post is more on the “happy” side of Happy Healthy PDX, so if that’s not your thing, I won’t be offended if you skip this one and come back later (though my fitness endeavors have been pretty lackluster as of late). I’m running a 10K tomorrow that I’ll recap soon!
Last Saturday was a total YOLO day. I love the Outlander books and TV show. They inspired our trip to Scotland last summer. Every once in a while, I get REALLY into something (like Star Wars and Harry Potter) and Outlander has become one of those things. I love me some literary escapism, and after devoting about a year of my life to reading all 8 Outlander series novels currently available, it’s my JAM. Back when I tried to time travel in real life at Clava Cairns standing stones which were part of the inspiration for the series.
So when I found out that the Outlander stars would be at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, I considered buying tickets. Then I didn’t buy tickets. Then, the night before, FOMO set in. So last Friday, I bought a last minute one-day badge off Craigslist and hit the road at 6 am on Saturday to meet the human embodiment of my favorite fictional man, Jamie Fraser. It was the best, most expensive five seconds of my life. The only words I remember saying were “OHMYGODCANIHUGYOU?” And it was really loud in there but obviously he said yes and I’m pretty sure he called me “darlin,” and then I blacked out from happiness and walked away with a 8×10 glossy of the above photo.
While that experience alone was worth the six hours in the car and a few hundos, I tried to absorb as much ‘Con as I could get in that day. The expo was overwhelming, both because there were SO MANY PEOPLE and also because I wanted to buy all the things (I settled with Explodif Kittens, a new piece of Outlander jewelry, and some Millenium Falcon decals for my husband’s car).
I spent most of my time people watching/cosplay-ogling. Look at this sweet tauntaun costume!Carrie Fisher was also supposed to be a guest this year **insert sobs here.** In the spot where she would have been signing autographs, they placed a memorial wall which I obviously signed. Princess Leia was one of my favorite Halloween costumes. I also got up there early enough that I was able to brunch with some of my besties. And I drank so much coffee that I was a jittery, sweaty mess for a while.
I totally get it now. I get why Cons are a thing. I’ve always loved fantasy stories/movies/fandoms, but reading and watching still leaves you feeling “outside” of it all. The comicon experience really lets you go all in with other people who also embrace fantasy. No one is judging, and lots of friendly people are more than happy to talk to you about their experiences. I’m already planning on Rose City Comicon in September. Will I dress up? Doubtful, but I’m not ruling it out. Mostly I love the camaraderie of like minded people. And it was so wonderful to hear stories of people who were able to go to other Outlander events last weekend and know that Sam and Cait are just as delightful in real life as they are on my TV.
So here’s to the authors and actors and actresses that create fantastical worlds. Worlds to which I can escape when my real life is feeling too mundane. Thanks for creating characters and places that are constant and timeless. I’ve always loved you, but never celebrated you as much as you deserve. That changes now.
Posted on February 21, 2017
Slowly but surely, I’m getting back in the swing of things. After ruminating early last week (because I had been using every excuse in the book to NOT workout), I realized I was worried that after so much time off, hopping back on the training wagon would SUCK. Surely I wouldn’t hit the paces I wanted, I would have to walk, I would get frustrated.
BUT, and my dear husband can attest, my attitude has absolutely stunk this winter. Despite the lack of work stress, I’ve been super irritable, tired, and lazy. Last Thursday, I finally said “NO MORE” and hit the track for a workout. I have a half-marathon on the calendar in May, and I want it to feel GOOD. I PR-ed my half last year, but didn’t feel like I raced it particularly smart, so I’m using some of the principles and workouts from “Run Less, Run Faster” to develop a training plan from now until race day. Last week, I started with 8×400 on a drizzly evening. Lessons learned? Well, I kind of stink at pacing. I’ve done casual track workouts before but never with a time goal; I was aiming for 2:20 400s and, as you can see, I was all over the place.
But also, I came home feeling AWESOME. And I had zero guilt going to town on some Parmesan garlic wings at Buffalo Wild Wings afterward (that’s what happens when I get to pick date night).
I rode that running high on Friday and Saturday. Then, I had six miles on the schedule for the weekend, and a friend that agreed to partner up with me for said six miles at a women’s running meet up downtown Portland yesterday. I wanted to keep it at a 11:20ish pace but it’s been AGES since I’ve done six consecutive miles without significant walk breaks.
You guys, it was like a dream. Aside from that first mile where I’m not quite sure what was happening. I forgot to grab my watch on the way out the door, so I started up a run on the Fitbit app, put my phone back in my belt, and then didn’t pay attention at all. I had no idea what pace we were going (my friend was kind of paying attention to her watch but mostly we were chatting). I felt awesome the whole time, no walk breaks, and didn’t even get lead legs until the last mile.
I don’t want to say I’m completely out of my running funk, but I’m definitely feeling much better about things than I have the last few weeks.
In other news, I went snowshoeing for the first time and loved it! It was a PERFECT day on the mountain; it snowed a little bit and then there was crazy gorgeous blue sky and now I just want to snowshoe all the time. So I guess that’s my story for the week. I’m no longer scared of running and I love the snow.
Your turn: any snowshoeing fans? Any snowshoe racers?! I can’t even imagine!
Posted on January 29, 2017
We’ve finally thawed out here in Oregon. Somehow, while no one was looking, we’ve become a winter state. The meteorologists thought maybe we would get a few inches. Then we woke up to this:TWELVE INCHES OF SNOW. The Portland area was literally at a standstill for a week, as temps stayed cold and the snow stuck around. Husband didn’t have school, I worked from home a day or two and had him drive me to the office on the other days. I’m still too new to want to waste PTO days and thought it would be good to show my face. It probably was the right decision, but it sure was quiet in the cubicles.
When I wasn’t working, we were playing in the snow (and relaxing). How cliche is my dog?I can’t lie, I love this picture of Ramsay looking a little bit like a drowned rat. This is basically how I got my cardio in for a week. After the snow finally melted (which took a week) I ran a few cathartic miles on Friday night and then took a little stroll with 100,000 ladies (and badass dudes and children) downtown Portland last Saturday morning. It was cold and it rained the whole time and I needed to be there and it was important to me. It might not have done anything in the long run, but it’s not the only thing I’m doing. It was just something. My favorite sign:And since then, it’s been a rough few days physically and emotionally up in here. I was going to go to a group run tomorrow; at the moment my intestines are saying “not so fast.” It’ll be a game time decision.
Frankly, that’s all I’ve got right now. I’m going to try and get some scheduled posts up this week. Considering how dusty my blog is…pray for me!
Updated on January 7, 2017
I’m still alive. I just made it through what is supposedly the busiest annual week of my new job, and I’m still alive. This space has been quieter than I wanted, but I’ve been living life and adjusting and catching up on sleep. This new job has me feeling like a new Marge; I’m sleeping better, I’m (more) excited to get up in the morning and go to work (there’s only so much daily excitement you can get from being in an accounting/analytics/finance profession) and learn new things, my skin is clearing up, I have more energy, I’m cooking more. My quality of life has definitely improved. I come home and I’ve left work at work. It’s an absolute delight. It also helps that I really like everyone I work with. And that my commute is now 10 minutes. Blogging has definitely not been at the forefront of my mind. Frankly, I’ve been enjoying holidays with family, and playing a lot of Candy Crush while my stress dissipates. Also this election cycle has left me feeling very political, and I don’t want this space to be about that. So I’ve been quiet.
Since I STILL am not in the swing of blogging (was I ever?), I thought I’d recap three of the best things of 2016, and share three things I’m looking forward to in the fresh new year. I’ve had three large glasses of wine tonight, so that should really help the creative process AMIRIGHT?
Highlights of 2016
- Went to Scotland. Spent 8 days eating and drinking and walking and soaking in the country. Ended our time wanting to move there. Successful international explorations!
- PR-ed my half-marathon. Had a decent (not great, based on pacing) race at the Vernonia Half. Decent enough to PR by nearly 10 minutes. PERFECT weather, overcast and cool. Plus my momma surprised me at the finish line.
- Went on my first trail run with a few lovely ladies back in late November. We did 7-8 miles on the Wildwood trail through NW Portland, and it was muddy and awesome and very hilly. I was SUPER sore in the subsequent days. It rekindled my urge to run. Plus I shot this unattractive picture of myself showing off my new Atlas Cider hat that I picked up at the end of the Bend Ale Run.
Hopes and Dreams for 2017 (how’s that for cheesy dramatics?)
- PR the half-marathon…again. I want to hit 2:15. I’m still in that sweet spot of paces where it’s relatively “easy” to make big time gains with standard, consistent training. I have a half-marathon on my schedule Mother’s Day weekend, but I don’t know if I’ll try to PR that one or earlier…I’m hoping to follow the training plan in “Run Less, Run Faster” and I may join up with a new running group as well.
- Another trip…somewhere? We haven’t decided where yet, however. Is Zika still a thing? I’m torn between wanting to go back to Europe and explore another country for a week, or hit up an all-inclusive in the Caribbean. We avoided all Zika-related countries last year because we want to start a family…but I haven’t heard much about Zika lately. Caribbean countries on the table include Jamaica and the Bahamas. As for European countries, we are looking at anything and everything.
- My Favorite Murder’s live podcast tour! Don’t be put off by the title, My Favorite Murder is an awesome comedy/true-crime podcast and I can’t WAIT to see it live in Portland in March. I love everything true crime, and I’m pretty sure that these are my people. My husband is not so convinced.
I’ve been hitting the ground running (somewhat literally) in 2017. I went for a run this week (in below freezing temps), I’ve been doing BBG circuit workouts (and my abs and arms are feeling it), I’m starting to come into my own in my new job, AND I’ve been cleaning the kitchen every night (because I am trying the Commit30 planner this year and I made sure to set an attainable goal for January). I’m trying to spend more time and energy on my health this year, make some strides in my running, and focus on family and some home projects. And less time on Candy Crush. Damn you, Candy Crush.
Your turn – What are you looking forward to in 2017?
Posted on November 21, 2016
Hello internet friends, I’m alive! I know, I know. It’s been a while. In my defense, I’ve been working 50-60 hours a week (+1.5-2 hours of commuting every day) and when I get home I just don’t want to be on the computer anymore. Plus half the time, I cook dinner when I get home at 7:30 pm, watch a teensy bit of trash TV, and fall asleep. BUT, I think things are on the up-and-up! I start a new job the Monday after Thanksgiving which is a 10 minute drive from home, and I can’t WAIT to get my work-life balance on. I’ll miss all my coworkers, and my awesome job in general, but I think my new gig is going to be a little more balanced and my quality of life should improve a bit.
Now, on to what I really wanted to talk about – the Bend Ale Run 10k! Shayne had a long weekend for Veteran’s Day, so I took two days off and we took a little vaycay to Bend, which has become one of my favorite places this past year. Since I was signed up for a race at home that weekend, I forced us to sign up for a race in Bend to make up for skipping the Beaverton race. Because paying two race registration fees for TWO different races makes complete sense. I’ll recap our time in Bend in a subsequent post, but in terms of the race itself, we had a GREAT time.
It had been a while since either of us had done a 10k, but whatever. We were excited to be in Bend and excited to run. The weather was GORGEOUS, but we huddled for warmth at the start because the high desert breeze left us chilled. Neither of us had any idea what to wear, as we hadn’t ever run in Bend. I had a tech tee and capris, Shayne had a tech tee and shorts. We were both fine once we got going, but as we waited for the half-marathon to start before we corralled…we shivered a bit in the wind. Here’s a starting line-selfie:And the hubs stretching in out while we waited. There was construction happening. It was loud.The 10k was an inaugural distance for this event – previously they had only done the half-marathon. Inaugural distances or events can always be chance-y…and wouldn’t you know, we were directed the wrong way the VERY FIRST CORNER which was a block away from the start. We knew we would be going through the starting arch twice, but when we showed up at it again only 1.5 miles in, everyone was a little concerned. Rightly so, because we had all managed to immediately go off course. The race director clearly felt terrible, and was very apologetic (refreshing after reading about the snafu at this year’s Portland Marathon) and promised us extra beer at the Ale Fest finish. He said no one was obligated to start again, but we are all Oregonians and we’ll be damned if we aren’t going to run the true whole race, so it seems like almost everyone queued up to start again. We’re hardcore here.
Honestly, I think the “warm up” really helped me during the actual race. Bend is at a higher altitude than home, and I’d figured out my breathing and my pacing by the time we started again. We headed out through a park and what I think is a future housing development but right now is beautiful high desert country. It was hilly, but gorgeous. I mean COME ON, that rainbow?! It was so completely different from our usual scenery…replace piles of leaves and overgrown rhodies with tumbleweeds and juniper and ponderosa pine.
My pace was all over the place, but I had a blast. By all over the place, I mean I had a mile in the 10s, a mile in the 13s, and the rest of the miles somewhere squarely in the middle. I knew when we started the final mile (because it had been our warmup mile) and was so excited to head to the finish and the Bend Ale Fest!
Shayne and I finished at the same time. Literally. As in identical clock and chip times (for the second time this year). I tried to get him to run across the finish line holding hands, but he wasn’t into it. As soon as they handed me my medal and a bottle of water, we found ourselves in the line for catered lunch and our beer tokens. Due to the 10k snafu, we each got extra beer tokens, good for tasters from 15 different breweries in the Ale Fest tent! We didn’t partake in the lunch, but they had a great looking spread: pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, cookies…it smelled tasty but I just wasn’t hungry.
We took our celebratory pint glasses (the swag was ON POINT) right on into the beer tent and each tasted 6-8 brews from local breweries. Bend has a LOT of breweries, and although we’ve been to many of them, we discovered some new gems. We left tired, happy, and full of tasty suds. Honestly, we could have cared less about the mileage mess-up, because we had an AWESOME time. The race director also offered all the 10k participants 50% off race registration next year, so I’m hoping we’ll be back! I would consider our first race in Bend a smashing success and can’t wait for more!
Thanks for reading! I promise it will be less than 6 weeks before my next post…
Posted on October 8, 2016
We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled Scotland updates in a bit (because, believe it or not, there’s SO MUCH MORE), but I’m working on getting back to the “healthy” aspect of this blog so let me recap this recent race!
The inaugural (only?) PDX Runway Run 6k took place two weeks ago at the award winning Portland International Airport, which most people call by it’s three-letter airport code, PDX. Travel + Leisure has named PDX the best U.S. airport 4 years running, and to celebrate that AND the fact that the airport is turning 75, the Port of Portland closed the north runway for a Saturday morning 6k.
I talked Shayne into this race long long ago, because it was capped at 2500 participants and it just seemed so cool! So we woke up early on a dreary looking Saturday and made the 40 minute drive to the airport. It was $10 to park in the economy lot and totally worth it because it was right next to the expo/packet pick-up area and easy to get in and out. For some reason, Shayne and I both decided to wear shorts…it seemed like a good idea the night before.
Because the race was within the confines of the airport, all participants were subjected to background checks prior to the race, and we all had to provide government issued ID to get to the actual starting line (which was a little bit of a walk from where we picked up our bibs). Likely due to the fact that this was a first-time race, the race organizers (Hood to Coast) had been very clear in saying “GET TO THE RACE EARLY.” They made it sound like we had to go through TSA screening to get to the starting line. So we showed up at 7:15 for a 9:05 start. Well, we had our bibs and were ready to race by 7:30. The TSA line was 5 people checking IDs against names. And then we had nothing to do but take pictures. It was freezing and we had left our warm things in the bag check area. So we paced the runway and took a lot of selfies and I jumped up and down a lot while Shayne told me to stop being a weirdo. I ran into a few coworkers and said hello but mostly we just tried to stay warm. There were a lot of informative signs about how to land an airplane and what the different runway markings are for. I learned so much about airports! Also landing an airplane just seems like such a feat. Sometimes we walked up to this light up “X” because it felt a little warm. I was happy for the giant “X”s because they let all the planes know to not LAND ON THE RUNNERS. IS IT FINALLY ALMOST TIME TO RUN?! After the national anthem, the air horn sounded and we slowly funneled through the start (there were lots of walkers and not a very clearly staged seeded start), over the timing mats, and off we went. The plus side of a runway run is that it’s flat; hills + landing an airplane = not deal. The downside of a runway run is that it’s flat and there’s not much to look at, especially when it’s cloudy and you can’t really see airplanes taking off.We literally ran to the end of the runway, turned around, and ran back. There was one water stop in the middle, so water could be passed out to those headed out and back. There was a taiko drum group (and after the Portland Marathon, I LOVE me some taiko drums while running). I was listening to a podcast and trying to keep my tummy tame after waking up with it feeling a bit jumbled.
I felt good about the race, and didn’t do any walking except through the water station on the back half. And since it was a new-to-me distance, automatic PR. But I was still hoping to be a bit faster than my 39:36. Oh well. It was fun and I’ve barely been running so I have to do races in order to get my a$$ out the door.
This one beat me, of course. I was proud of him! We started off together and I slowed down and he sped up. We were rewarded with medals, shirts, and shortbreadish cookies from Elephant’s Deli, which were delicious. We also took a picture with a giant tree, because we love Friends of Trees! Mr. Shupe picked up lots of stickers for his classroom, so thanks for that Mr. Tree!We both agreed that we loved this race, and would totally do it again if they decide to do it again, but we would get there basically an hour later. Going to chalk it up to inaugural race jitters on everyone’s part. It was a bummer that it was so foggy, but we were able to catch occasional glimpses of planes taking off, and it was cool to be in the airport atmosphere. I am wondering one thing though – is runway concrete harder that your run of the mill asphalt? Because I was HELLA sore the next day. Like more than I should have been. But if being sore is your only complaint after a race, it was probably a good race.
Posted on September 17, 2016
Within an hour of our arrival, I was sure of the fact that Edinburgh was going to be my favorite place in the world ever of all time. I was right. We only spent two nights there, and we wanted to figure out how to stay longer (but we flew in and out of Glasgow so we were responsible and stayed on our original schedule). I mean, I want to MOVE here. The mix of old, historical sites with an awesome food culture and beautiful parks, hikes, and culture was incredible.
For starters, this was the view from our Airbnb:
Having only done the Airbnb thing once before, Shayne didn’t want to commit to booking rentals for our entire trip through the site, so we agreed to do our two days in Edinburgh through them. I found a “instant reservation” flat with high ratings that I booked, and it was the BEST accommodations of our entire vacation. That view? Yeah, that’s Arthur’s Seat, commonly known as Edinburgh’s top urban hike, overlooking a giant park. The owner of the flat, who met us with keys and to give us her parking spot, said that, when the Queen visits Scotland, her helicopter lands in that field. The one bedroom flat was perfect for us, allowed us to do some laundry (sorely needed at this point), and the owner even stocked us up with some fruit and bread. Though it was a little pricey compared to our other accommodations, it was walking distance for everything and allowed us to drive in, park, and not worry about our car until we were ready to head back to Glasgow. Just some casual abbey ruins adjacent to Holyrood House, the Queen’s Edinburgh residence. From across the park full of dogs. At sunset. #Iwasinheaven Since we arrived right before dinner time, we got settled in our flat and then set out to wander up the Royal Mile in search of food. We had noted a few pubs from Rick Steves and figured we would just wander into a place that looked good and had space for us. We ended up at Number One High Street, where Shayne had a tasty burger with Scottish cheese and bacon, and I had a chicken sandwich and salad that were both a pleasant surprise, as I had been anticipating heavy pub food. Everything was light and fresh and we accompanied our food with a few pints of Scottish beer and some delightful live traditional music that started shortly after we got there. They played my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song, America, and despite the fact that only one of them REALLY knew it, I was borderline drunk and got super emotional about it. Classy. We also made friends with a couple next to us from Wales.
The next morning, we slept in a little bit (the flat was SUPER comfy) and then took off on foot to explore Edinburgh. We ended up walking 14 miles that day per our iPhones (I was dumb and left my Fit Bit charger at home so I lost all those steps…). Our first stop? The Elephant House cafe, where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. According to every piece of JK Rowling lore, she sat at a table by the window with a view of Edinburgh Castle. Much like this one.
The bathrooms are FULL of Harry Potter graffiti. They finally gave up trying to get people to stop writing on the walls. I’m ok with it. It was amazing.After coffee and shortbread, we headed out to visit Greyfriars Bobby.
And paid our respects at his grave.
Then we had heard of a great viewpoint at the (FREE) Scottish National Museum, so we took a quick spin through some of the exhibits. Helllllloooooooo Dolly (the first cloned sheep)! And found their rooftop terrace, which did not disappoint. Then we went to get a closer look at Edinburgh Castle (but did NOT pay to go in, because it was expensive and crowded AF). We stopped off at a bookstore we had put on our must-see list and picked up an antique book for our collection. We hit up so many delightfully jam-packed little stores full of books but I always felt super awkward taking pictures in there. So I didn’t.We stopped for a late lunch at Oink. We had read about this place in every guide and it was a must-eat for us. Each day they roast a pig and serve sandwiches from it until it’s gone.The medium size was perfect…I had mine topped with a fennel-apple sauce and it was DIVINE.
Then we continued our Edinburgh wanderings, popping in and out of shops and museums as we felt like it. And occasionally re-upping on coffee. We stopped in this old church that had been turned into a crafts market (mostly so I could get a latte) but I LOVED these lights juxtaposed over the stained glass windows.We also stopped for a few pints. The Last Drop was at the square where Edinburgh used to hold all their public hangings. Deacon Brodie’s was along the Royal Mile.Frankly I just thought this sign was clever.Then, we wandered over towards the newer side of the city as the sun started to set.And all of a sudden, we were at Calton Hill! I had wanted to stop at this gorgeous park full of monuments but had resigned myself to the fact that we would probably have to skip it. Then randomly, there it was (I don’t believe in maps…I just trust my sense of direction to get me where I want to be).
Sunset from Calton Hill was amazing (and full of other people who felt the same way, but still super peaceful). You get a 365 degree view of the city from up high as the sun sets and it was absolutely beautiful and I loved everything about life.With 14 miles of walking, I was super hungry. We had heard about Ting Thai Caravan and I had been craving good Thai for a while so I talked Shayne into the long walk over. Ting Thai is cash only (we managed to just scrape by with what we had left) and we split some pad thai and green curry crammed into the cozy window bar. The place was packed. It was delicious. It reminded me of Pok Pok in Portland (which is saying something, because Pok Pok is ridiculously popular and I’ve never waited LESS than an hour and a half for a table there). Oh man was this place good.And now that I’ve exhausted you with the highlights of our 48 hrs in Edinburgh (I literally could not narrow it down anymore, I loved everything), you should all go visit immediately. Seriously. This is my favorite city in the world now. I dream about it often. I look for jobs there that will sponsor a visa. I LOVED how walkable everything felt, it seemed easy to get away from the crowds of tourists, there were lots of peaceful outdoor spaces to explore, and the food scene was on point. I couldn’t get enough. Next time, I want to plan at least 5 days there, and it still won’t be enough. Edinburgh completely won my heart.
Posted on August 28, 2016
Both Shayne and I really wanted to see the Isle of Skye, the largest island in the Inner Hebrides, off of Scotland’s western coast. It’s known for absolutely incredible scenery, as well as it’s strong gaelic roots. It was a little bit of a drive from Inverness (2-3 hours), but we were determined to see as much as possible on our trip and broke up the drive with a few other touristy stops.
Stop #1 – Eilean Donan castle. While we didn’t pay the entry fee to go in and take a tour (Rick Steves said it wasn’t worth it, and what Rick says, we listen to), but we did pull off and take some atmospheric photos of this old, well maintained castle that lays on the banks of three lochs. Super arty shot of the Audi starts now…Stop #2 – this little roadside cafe. We lived on coffee the entire week we were in Scotland, which really kept us going. Aside from the first day, straight off the plane, we didn’t really feel any jetlag, but we also continuously pumped ourselves full of lattes. This little cafe was first and foremost a bathroom stop, but we each ordered a coffee from the sweet older gentleman running the counter. I wanted a pastry, because they looked incredible, but I was still stuffed from the full Scottish breakfast I was eating every day at the B&B. Another reason we stopped at the cafe is that right across the street were HIGHLAND CATTLE! Also called “hairy coos,” I had been wanting to get close enough to these giant shaggy cows to snap a few photos. The cafe even sold food so that you could feed them through the fence! They were so sweet (if not a little stinky). Total hipster. So Portland. Much bangs.There’s a variety of great, renowned hikes on the Isle of Skye. Shayne was tired after a harrowing drive on a 2-way lane that was about the width of half a car, so he took a much deserved nap while I hiked up to explore the Fairy Pools, a series of waterfalls that stream down from the Cuilllins, jagged green mountains on the western side of the island. This hike was JAM-PACKED with other people, so I don’t know how I managed to capture this whole set of photos that don’t show other people. It was beautiful, and, despite the other hikers, kind of peaceful. It started raining while I was exploring, and I returned to the car soaked after about an hour and a few miles of exploration on a muddy, occasionally treacherous looking footpath.
The hike was near Talisker Distillery, on the shore of Loch Harport. The full tours were booked up for the next few hours, but we did a few tastings and pick up some bottles for ourselves, and to take back as gifts. After Talisker, we headed into the largest town on the isle, Portree, a quaint and colorful harbor town. There was an international market happening in the town square, so we picked up a bite to eat (German sausage for Shayne, filled foccacia bread for me), and wandered around the town taking pictures and looking for some souvenirs. Look at these colorful little harbor-front buildings!Portree has a delightful park, lovingly referred to as “the Lump,” that looks out on the water and has this delightful apothecary’s tower (it’s been rebuilt, but it mimics the original structure). Think of it as a lighthouse for pharmacists. We climbed up top and enjoyed the view.After our adventures in Portree, we headed back to the B&B. I fell fast asleep in the car, and when I woke up we were on a one-lane road with two-way traffic, and Shayne was saying “um…I think the GPS is taking us a different way.” It was remote, it was pretty, it was a tad scary. But we made it.
I would highly recommend Isle of Skye for ANYONE visiting Scotland. I wish we could have spent more time there. If we go back, I think I’ll plan a few days there, because there are a lot of little cafes, B&Bs, and amazing looking hikes in the more remote areas. It’s truly a magical place.
Scotland Part 3 coming soon!
Posted on August 28, 2016
So we absolutely fell in love with Scotland. 100%. 110%. 1000%. Like I would up and move there in a heartbeat. And since I love all my pictures and there’s a LOT of them (thanks to the Canon Rebel we bought as an additional anniversary gift to ourselves right before we left), I’m going to split our trip into a few parts.
We arrived in Glasgow on a Saturday morning, gritty eyed and tired but ready to hit the ground running (with the help of some coffee). We had rented a car for a week, feeling like pros since we drove a manual in Ireland (and had upgraded to an automatic for this trip) and were given this AMAZING Audi wagon that we both now want to own, complete with a built in GPS system that definitely had a learning curve.
We were actually able to check into our hotel room immediately upon arrival, which was a pleasant surprise considering it was 9:30 AM. We dropped off our bags, took quick showers, avoided laying down at all costs, and set off ASAP to a nearby highland games I had found in the town of Airth in order to fend off jetlag, which kicked our trash on our last trip abroad. The games kicked off officially with a great procession from a pipe band and the local clan chieftain.We honestly planned almost the entire trip with the help of the Rick Steves guidebook. Now, we LOVE Rick. A few years ago, we went to his yearly travel festival at Rick Steves’ headquarters in Edmonds, Washington. While he recommended taking in a highland games if you were able, he didn’t give specifics. I had found the games in Airth on my own. And it was literally one of the ONLY things on our itinerary that wasn’t delineated specifically in the guidebook. And look who we happened to run into while we were there:Yup, that’s Rick with his camera crew, filming for an upcoming episode. When we first entered the games, we took a stroll around the big grass track that stood as the centerpiece of the event. And Rick walked past us. And Shayne and I looked at each other and went, “Nah, it can’t be.” But it was. HOW WEIRD AND AMAZING IS THAT?! Contact me to plan all your European vacations. K thanks.
We were hungry after 24 hours of travel with random airplane food, so we pounded a latte and then delved into a bacon roll. Shayne took the attractive photo of me below. Fresh bacon straight off the flat-top on a King’s Hawaiian roll. Nothing else. It was incredible.There was SO much going on in Airth. Scottish dancing, solo piping, and all of the heavy events were going on simultaneously from the beginning. The piping venue wasn’t super picturesque, but I LOVE BAGPIPES so it was ok.
Watching the heavy events competitors was incredible. Everyone was super strong (and kilted) and just casually threw 50-70 pounds around like it was nothing. And javelin, and hammer throw…I wish we could have stayed awake until the caber toss, but we couldn’t quite hold out that long. Just casually throwing 56 lbs over a bar getting progressively higher like it wasn’t no thing. The games also had foot races on the grass track, as well as cycling. When they announced a special “International Visitors 200m” I knew I had to participate. I came in 4th out of 5 and didn’t win the bottle of whisky, but I had a blast. Also, at least two of the girls I competed against were wearing legitimate running attire, and not skinny jeans and hiking shoes, so **cough cough** UNFAIR ADVANTAGE **cough cough**. Whatever. Still fun.We went back to our hotel after spending a few hours at the games, walked a bit and found a place to grab a few beers and some food, and then laid down to take a brief nap at 7:30. We woke up from our brief nap three hours later and said “screw it” and just brushed our teeth and went to bed.
The next day, we woke up ready to take on a drive up to the “Capital of the Highlands,” Inverness. Thank you Shayne for basically letting me plan a vacation around all of my Outlander fantasies.
The drive itself was close to three hours, but we made a lot of stops on the way. The Highlands scenery was absolutely incredible, with huge craggy mountains (really probably hills by Northwest standards, but “munros” in Scotland) and a lot of green and fog. Our first stop was the Glencoe Visitor’s Centre, commemorating the Glencoe Massacre, in which Scottish clansmen were murdered by the English soldiers they had welcomed into their homes in 1692. There was a great little nature path with some outstanding views, and they were doing a little talk every half hour about traditional Scottish life. It was very informative, and we snapped this fun photo of Shayne with a traditional highlander. Then, we detoured a bit to head towards Glenfinnan, a quaint little village that not only holds significant historical import, but also served as a filming location for Harry Potter. We waited…but the Hogwarts Express didn’t come. I was sad, but maybe I’m too old to get my acceptance owl? Not sure. If you know Hogwarts’ policy on older students, please fill me in. Glenfinnan was also where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard to officially kick off the Jacobite Rebellion. The monument below marks the place. It was absolutely beautiful on a cloudy afternoon. Just outside of Inverness lies the ruins of Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness. Built up in various stages since the early Middle Ages, the castle was reduced to ruins by 1715. After watching a quick, impactful video, guests are allowed to explore the ruins in their entirety. It had been raining off and on all day, and the atmosphere was amazing to explore such an ancient, historic place (plus great for playing with the new camera). I definitely had my fill of narrow, slippery stone stairs on this trip. I used to love spiral staircases. Not so much anymore. After Urquhart, we drove into Inverness to check into our bed and breakfast. Leanach Farm B&B was the home base for three nights of exploring the Scottish Highlands. I mean, just look at the view from breakfast! And then look at breakfast! I forgot how much I love a full English/Scottish/Irish breakfast until we came to stay at the B&B. Those eggs…just LOOK at the yolk color. And I love broiled tomatoes, as they remind me of my mom’s stewed tomatoes. European sausages are always my favorite, and here, we were introduced to something magical: the potato scone (the quesadilla-lookin’ triangle on the left). It’s like a thick potato pancake, but not shredded like a latke. Literally like a pancake that tastes like potato. I want them always.We celebrated our actual 5th anniversary in Inverness. I found a Caribbean restaurant with good Trip Advisor reviews (Caribbean Bar & Kitchen) and made us eat there in honor of our Caribbean honeymoon. I loved our pitcher of rum punch, our saltfish appetizer, and my curried skate(??? I think that’s what it was but because of the rum punch I can’t remember 100% and they have no current menu online). Shayne thought the flavors of his oxtail stew and red beans and rice were good individually, but perhaps not in combination. Either way, we left happy. And walked around the corner to a pub with live music where we witnessed a brawl so that was cool. On our first full day in the Highlands, my number one stop was Culloden Battlefield (because Outlander. And history). This was, without a doubt, THE best historical monument I have ever seen, anywhere. We spent a few hours inside the museum/exhibit, looking at artifacts, reading about the events leading up to the battle, which was the culmination of the Jacobite Rebellion, and learning about what happened to prisoners from some delightful historical reenactors who were working there that day. One of the most amazing things (for us) about Scotland was that almost every single place is dog friendly. We sat next to dogs at restaurants and bars all over the country. This historical battlefield had poop bag dispensers in the middle of it. HOW WILD IS THAT?! THIS COUNTRY IS MY DREAM LAND! After you tour the museum, you collect audioguides and head out to the battlefield itself to walk through all of the major points of the day. One highlight is the clan memorial stones, as the aftermath of the battle was a significant tamping of traditional Highland ways. People still lay flowers and clan tartans upon the stones, which mark gravesites of whole clans of Jacobite soldiers.The Clan Fraser stone was especially popular #outlander #jamiefraseriloveyou
We spent the rest of our day exploring the town of Inverness. Did you know that the national animal of Scotland is the unicorn? I didn’t. Did you know national animals could be fictional? I didn’t, but I like it. Along the River Ness. Leaky’s Bookshop, aka Marge & Shayne’s book wonderland. Books upon books upon books. After exploring town on foot, we stumbled upon a new taproom for Black Isles Brewing Co and had a DELICIOUS pint. This was some of my favorite beer we had the entire trip (I’ve even stopped at a good bottle shop since coming home to pick up an expensive bottle to share). Shayne had the Scotch ale, I had the blonde, both were amazing. They also had wood-fired pizzas and other bites, but we were still stuffed from breakfast.
Eventually we ended up at Culloden Moor Inn, right down the street from our B&B, for a few pints and some nibbles. Another Outlander must-see: Clava Cairns. Again, right down the lane from the B&B (did I mention that it was an AMAZING place to stay?). This ancient pagan burial ground served as the inspiration for Craig Na Dun, the standing stones through which Claire travels back in time. I tried (unsuccessfully, sadly) to time travel. Shayne was a sport and took my picture (but told me if I disappeared he wasn’t going to follow, NOR would he send the dog through, because he’s seen how they lived back then and isn’t super keen to experience it). It was super peaceful, not crowded at all. Definitely a mystical feel, as there were a number of burial cairns and numerous rings of standing stones.I’ll be back soon with more recaps of our Scottish adventures!
Updated on July 20, 2016
Life lately has been…hectic? Sad? Happy? Busy? I’m not sure how best to describe it, so here’s some pictures (aka iPhone photo dump) and some brief sentences.
Lots of mediocre runs. Not much in terms of long runs (except a half I’ll do a short recap on later). A few decent runs (including a 5K PR and two AG 4th place finishes).Lots of ducks on my neighborhood runs. I watched these babies grow up over the course of a few weeks. I stopped every time for pictures.A few Timbers games from our 1/3 of a season we share with friends. I get more and more excited every time we go. This last Sunday’s was especially exciting as we beat our West Coast rivals, the Seattle Sounders. A great time at a family wedding in Sedona, AZ, over memorial day weekend. This view doesn’t suck. Neither do these puppy snuggles with PuppybabyJoeybaby. He likes to jump in your lap like a cat and I didn’t argue with it. I was also hella hungover in this picture. Cousin time is always the best time.Returning home from Sedona and picking up a sick dog from the kennel, who then infected another dog we were dog sitting. I spent a week making homemade dog food (white rice, boiled chicken, and canned pumpkin) and steam cleaning the entire house.Celebrating the life of this lady: my grandma. I already miss her terribly, and had an all too brief trip to Iowa to attend her funeral. I love her lots but I hope she is now in a place where she has her vision back and can quilt and knit to her heart’s content. We ended her funeral by singing “You Are My Sunshine” and she always called me her sunshine girl so that made me smile, and it was nice to have some aunts from my mom’s family, as well as my maternal grandma and grandpa, there to support us as well.Spending some QT with my boys. Went to a Hops game for date night, had some nice evening chats on the front stoop, and shared some beers at our favorite local taproom when it’s nice enough to sit on the patio.Bought plane tickets to Scotland for our 5th wedding anniversary. I’d been reading a lot of Outlander at the time, but really it wasn’t a hard sell. We leave Friday. Back to your regularly scheduled blog program (keyword REGULAR) after our return. Thanks for putting up with my slacking! I’m getting my head back straight on my shoulders after a few crazy months, and I’m looking forward to 10 days with Shayne exploring the highlands (and maybe going back in time through some standing stones…I mean, I won’t say no).