Saturday, August 31, 2013

Scotland, Rain, Oban, Rain, Loch Ness, Rain, Castle Uquahart, Rain....

Dear Family & Friends,

Thank you for all your emails last night suggesting we ride south to warmer and dryer weather.. That is really the responsible thing to do.... So that is why  today we rode north east instead.. Further north but towards the east where is is supposed to be dryer... Well they lied.
We got up this morning and rode into the town of Oban, Scotland. A small quaint fishing village and tourist town.. We spent an hour or so walking around and trying to find souvenirs for our families... My problem is that I have been to the UK  so many times there is absolutely nothing left to bring home to my family that they have not gotten twice over already. Certainly no more Scottish woolens!
The weather in Oban was beautiful and the sky reasonably clear so we decided to spend a few more days in Scotland. We came so far we hated to give up now. The weather report said 9 days of rain on the west coast but the east side was more reasonable so off we went! At first the weather was perfect, cool and dry. The roads were all wet so the storms must have been just clearing out... we thought.
Well this is Scotland and what they say about the weather changing every ten minutes is absolutely true! Rain, clear, clouds, clear, rain, repeat...  So dramatic were the changes at one point is was pouring heavy rain and we went around a small bend in the road and it was sunny and dry like it never had seen rain... all in the space of 50 yards or so!
Never the less today was FUN! The roads were perfect twisty motorcycling roads, the traffic not to bad, and even though it was raining we dressed right for it and stayed dry. Also even though it rained off and on all day the clouds were high so we could see some spectacular landscapes. 
Eventually we rode the entire length of Loch Ness ( I even got a good photo of Nessy the monster, see it on my blog!). Along the way we stopped at Castle Urquhart, a 13th century castle with a lot of history.. Beautiful views of the castle and the lake. 
After the castle we had about a half hour ride to the next town where we would stay.. At least the last half hour the weather was great so we did not end the day on a sour note... all smiles..
This evening we ended up in Inverness Scotland... I have a real hankering for some Chinese food tonight and I hear their Haggis Chop Suey is to die for...
All and all a great day...
My crankiness is gone and I am excited to ride again tomorrow..
Great motorcycling and sports car roads in Scotland!

It rained off and on all day but Duane was Mr. Happy with his water proof riding suite on!

The first new Jaguar F type I have seen on the road.. In Scotland registered in Germany.

Castle Uquhart, built in the 13th century. Did I mention this country is OLD!!

Lord Leib overlooking his castle. Needs a bit of work

These stairs were NOT designed for my size 13 motorcycle boots!

Rain one minute, sunny the next..

See the currents in the water?? Stair at them for about 10 minutes and you can see the Loch Ness monster just below the surface! National Enquirer is buying this photo from me!

Duane will be out in 5-7 months.. they don't like noisey Buells.

I laughed at Daune so they gave me 6-8 months!

The first air mail system... They would strap a large boulder with mail wrapped around it and send it flying over Loch Ness to the people on the other side!

The inside of the old in we stayed at in Oban..

See, the weather looked good this morning....

That was sunny blue sky at 10 am this morning, 30 minutes later pouring rain..

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cold, wet, and cranky

Cold, wet, tired, and cranky... a long day of riding in the rain...

At least we have a nice room in an old Scottish hotel..

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Scotland, Castles, and Port PatrickA stop

I have been on many long motorcycle trips and there is always a point after say four weeks and  4000 miles where you get tired, the ride that day was not that good and you just say to yourself  "what the hell am I doing here??" But I have learned to ignore that feeling because all it takes is one perfect day like today and it brings back all the enthusiasm for the trip……
Today we got up excited to finally see Scotland. We had heard so many good things about it.. We left the town we stayed in and I explained to Duane we needed to ride north on the M6 freeway for a short bit and we would be in Scotland… I explained once we reached the center of town it would be sign posted. Duane took off into the lead. With in five minutes we came to an intersection that was sign posted "M6 North" straight ahead and if that wasn't enough right in front of us on the street where we stopped were 5 foot white letters painted onto the road saying "M6N" with an arrow straight ahead… So to my amazement Duane decided to turn right!!! Some people just seem to resist the obvious!! I decided to go straight across the intersection and just wait by the curb… Five minutes later Duane showed up and we exchanged some heated words…  After I finally convinced that the road signs were probably right we continued on our way and in less than 5 minutes we were on the M6 North heading to Scotland.
Ten minutes on the M6 and we were in Scotland… It was just like people told us to expect,,,,, cold, wet, and windy.. So we stopped for gas and put on our full wet riding gear.  It is amazing how well modern riding gear works, even in the worst weather you can be dry and warm.. When I first started riding 45 years ago I read in a motorcycle magazine that the best way to keep warm was to stuff old news papers down you pants and shirt ( I think the article was written by Clement Salvadori) anyways we have come a long way since then…
Now one of the first rules of motorcycling is that as soon as you stop to put on rain gear it will soon stop raining and you will be way to hot. So of course it did stop raining in 20 minutes so we stopped for breakfast and took off our rain gear. 
The second rule of riding a motorcycle is as soon as you take off your rain gear it will start ranining again… Which of course it did.. As a local told us if you don't like the weather in Scotland wait ten minutes, it will change… As we found all day it would rain for a few minutes and clear and we would quickly dry out and then it would rain again… cycle repeat..
All morning we rode along the south coast of Scotland right along the ocean. It could not have been better. The roads were twisty and fun and very little traffic. The views were spectacular.. The little villages are literally the "land time forgot" and the coast line while beautiful I would say rugged and dramatic better describe it. Great motorcycling. 
After a while we saw a sign for "Castle Douglas" and we thought it would be fun to take a little detour and see a castle.. Well of course when we got there Castle Douglas was a town not a castle… Makes sense? The next town we came to was Threave.. That town had a castle from the Earl of Douglas… makes perfect sense right?
So we decided to go see that castle. We followed the signs and wound up at a farm in the middle of nowhere.. From there we had to hike a couple plus miles across Scottish Mores and finally came to a small river where a small power boat took us to an island where the castle was! An easy find. The young girl manning the boat was so excited to hear we were motorcyclist. She and her brother both rode and she even knew what a Buell was!
Once we got to the castle it was worth the trek.. It was built in 1347 by the Earl of Douglas, Lord Galloway who was affectionately known as "Archibald the Grim"! What could he have done to earn such a grim title, we had to find out.. Well it turns out for entertainment on his island he used to hang the locals..  Needles to say it did not win him many friends… Life was tough back then. The castle stood for about 100 years as it was originally built but then had to be remodelled due to some new fan-dangled invention called gun powder. It appears that a castle that can with stand  bows and arrows could not withstand the blast of gun powder so they completely remodelled it… After that it was occupied for another 150 years when it was finally over run and whatever lord that was occupying it at the time was run out of town… The locals removed the roof which made it uninhabitable so the castle has spent the last 400 years just sitting there. Amazingly the first three floors of the castle are still structurally sound and normally you can go in and tour it but unfortunately when we got there they were doing so structural repairs so we could not go in…
After the castle we rode another hour or so to a small seaside town call Port Williams..  All I can say is life is not easy in these towns.. Rugged fishing towns where people work very hard to earn  a living. The tides were quite dramatic and the harbour went up and down 25 feet or so. When the tide was out the harbour was completely dry, well muddy. The boats there all have three keels so they just sit up right in the mud waiting for the water to come back in.
After that we rode another hour or so up the coast. Again very dramatic, great roads and I don't think we passed one car the whole way!
It was getting mid after noon so we decided to stop for a cup of tea.  Out in the middle of no where was the "Cock Inn".. The Scottish seem to have a thing for cocks…?
We went in and warmed up over a cup of tea. I over heard the table next to me, which was a grandmother, her daughters, and grandchildren, excitedly talking about Grandma's up coming trip to AMERICA!! So I turned around and asked them where she was going… Turns out one of her stops is San Luis Obispo!! What a small world!
As we left I noticed a glass sun room attached to the main cafe. It was completely filled with elderly ladies having a luncheon. I was parked right in front of the room and as I geared up to get on my motorcycle I noticed every women in the room was looking at me.. So I smiled and they all smiled back so excitedly. When I got on to my motorcycle I waved good bye and I practically got a standing ovation… I am really hot with the 75+ year old women!!
From the Cocks Inn we rode about another 45 minutes and we arrived at Port Patrick. This place was recommended to us by our new friend from the IoM, Ian. We would have never found it since it is very remote. What a find!! A beautiful seaside village. We found a great little hotel and restaurant right on the water.. It has everything we need, warm cosy rooms, wi-fi and    a bar down stairs so we can't have to ride our motorcycles..
We checked in and I walked from one end of the town to the other taking photos, so check out my blog. Lots of good photos tonight! After my walk I had a tall glass of wine and a afternoon nap.. Does life get any better?? Later Duane and I will meet for dinner and finish off a perfect day!
A brief stop along the south Scottish coast.

Definitely a rugged and dramatic coastline.

Another "Happy" day for Duane, no traffic and no cities...

Why would they put Castle Douglas in Threave and not in the city of Castle Douglas??

Duane giving his best impression as "Lord Duane, the Grumpy". This was the trail leading to the castle.

The castle of Archibald the Grim.. not a happy fellow I guess?

Our captain of the boat taking us to the castle. She was an avid motorcyclist and even knew what a Buell was!

This is the "Trump Towers" of 1347....

The story of the castle, rather grim..

Look Bonnie, our new summer home!

Port Williams.  a bit of tider there. The boats all have three keels to keep them up right in the mud wen the tide goes out!

I don't think it is an easy life along this coast line.

What is it with the Scotch and their cocks??

In that sun room was my fan club,, I am VERY popular with the 75+ year girls..

From here down is Port Patrick, a lovely old seaside Scottish town.

That land in the distance is Ireland...

Kayak lessons in the bay..

A monument to a famous ship rescue there 60 years ago

This village is not a fishing town.. It is there as a rescue center for ships in trouble.. This wall had engravings of all the rescues and the local who died trying..

This is along the coast, a major shipping lane so lots of shipwrecks..

I have no idea who this woman is,,, when she saw me taking photos of the local sites she insisted I take her photo...

The inn we are staying in tonight... delightful!

Proof we are here... :)

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