May. 6th, 2015

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I remember John O' Groats, the northeast corner of Scotland. I remember we arrived when everything had closed up. Knowing the importance the point had once had, I expected more. A museum or something. We continued up the road.

I remember driving the northern coast road and there still being traces of sunlight reflected in the sky past 9PM. It gave me a moment of wonder.

I remember the little B&B, which I haven't been able to find the location of. Gills, maybe? Thurso? Not sure. Run by that older couple who welcomed us in and were so concerned over our wellbeing after the accident. They apologized for dinner having been put away, but they'd be happy to make us some sandwiches? And then we had to tell the story again, at their behest, to the rest of the guests. They all laughed at the cop's "Next time, get a MAP!".

I remember the Castle of Mey. I hadn't really thought before that about the connection between modern British Royalty and the… Well, the dirt. All the agricultural things that happen out in the hinterlands that they connect very directly to. I was impressed.

I remember RSPB Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of mainland Britain. I remember stopping well before the lighthouse at this tiny little building that was the Tourist Office, the Post Office, a Tea Shop, and three or 4 other things, all in this tiny building that was only manned a few hours each week. I remember stopping by the lighthouse and reading all the plaques they had there. I remember driving around in the area on the inland side of the lighthouse, right there at the edge of the coast. I remember abandoned pillboxes and other concrete buildings from WWII, now just shells. I think there were one or two plaques there too. The whole area was open, empty, desolate, and rich in history and hospitality.

I think I remember staying a couple of days in Thurso… Tho I may be mixing up Thurso and Gills in the mists of time. I remember very clearly staying a couple of days, and having a window that looked out onto the bay. I remember the window was the first one I'd seen that could open at 3 different angles. And I remember the view onto the bay.

I remember countless small stops along the way at places that had tourist places with history and gifts, some made in Scotland, some in China. They've all kind of blurred together in my memory. How many different boot knives can really distinguish themselves before they blur together, eh? Scraps of tartan? Cute little signs with this or that witty saying about Scotland? Is there any part of the world that doesn't have that at this point (with it's own local bent, of course)?

I remember Smoo Cave. I think the name was nearly as amusing as the location. I remember the cave itself was pretty neat, with dramatic lighting and a tour on a boat. I remember learning all about the geology that created it and the history of the site. None of which I have retained through the passage of time.

I remember Durness, and how we found little internet booths we could use (rent maybe?) and catching up on some email with the kids. I remember you shopping at the crafts booth and finding something or other for Victoria… And seeing more things that would also would have been neat, but we didn't have the room.

I remember wanting to see Point Wrath, but it was only accessible via scheduled tour bus and we'd missed the last one. I remember we couldn't drive out there ourselves because it was MoD property, and used for training and testing on munitions.


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Akien MacIain

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