Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pond Hop

So I'm stuck in the lovely Atlanta airport again. Did a quick run to Scotland. Delta was kind enough to seat me and my cousin the pilot in business class to and from Edinburgh. But now's the hard part... getting to and from Atlanta within the US.

The trip was a quick one - Thursday we took an evening flight and landed in Edinburgh. Due to a line marginally shorter than the one I found in the Beijing airport, we missed our morning train to Oban. Instead, Nathan and I ran around Edinburgh. Nathan had been born there and was there visiting just 6 months ago. We walked the Royal mile, sorted out the mobile phones and dropped into the National Gallery. That and a pint and we were on the early evening train to Oban. Was an easy ride. I got some sleep but was able to enjoy some of the scenery on the way out.

We were lucky - we had super warm weather after some rains and so it was a bright blue sky, green, green foliage and beautiful vistas. Everything I saw was beautiful. I didn't realize how glorious Scotland is.

We stayed in a little town called Connel Ferry. Right where a bridge crosses the entrance to a loch. Our host was a wonderful woman named Margaret who was friends with my Aunt and Uncle when they were living in Scotland. Her house is the oldest structure in town and so cozy.

Saturday we went to Glencoe where we visited the information center and did a hike. So green. The highlands are full of hills that rocket up 1000 feet and drop down the other side. Created by volcanoes and glaciers with some erosion thrown in. The rest of the day was spent driving through the hills and seeing the natural beauty of the land.

Connel ferry is quite far north, too west to see the Northern Lights but it is light until 11:30 every night. Which made sleeping a bit difficult, as we were naturally up until 12 or 1.

Sunday we hopped a ferry to the Island of Mull and visited Duart Castle. The first of two castle visits. I got to learn a lot about history of Scotland with an emphasis on the Jacobite problems. Nathan got himself addicted to Irn Bru ( - a Scottish drink that is like a cross between Red Bull and bubble gum.

Monday we were off to visit other friends who live in Dunblane. The afternoon we spent at Sterling Castle - built by a succession of Scottish kings and so was a bit grander than Duart. Both had charm and gave a hint at what it would have been like living a couple hundred years ago. Thinking of what life was like in a castle while it was under siege is just frightening.

Now in Dunblane we had delightful hosts, Sheena and Graeme and their sons were home from school. We took them to Indian food Monday night and I just gorged myself. The menu there was different. I was curious as to whether it was a different region of Indian food than what we get in the San Francisco area. I was once told that we in San Francisco have only food from a specific region of India. Hmm?

Tuesday was a day in Edinburgh with the boys. We visited the New Town which was built only 200 years ago. Kinda like the "New parliament" building that has been superseded by a New New parliament building...

Anyway, must check flights. Will write more soon.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cape Cod

Time is blurring... Between the 4th and a red-eye flight on the 5th I'm not sure where or when it is. Actually it isn't that bad. I got in to Boston yesterday at 5:30 AM and am already adjusted to East Coast time.

After all the problems getting to Europe, I grabbed a jetBlue ticket to Boston. What a good decision. I made it here for a perfect summer day. My aunt and uncle have a house in Falmouth, MA - on the bottom elbow of Cape Cod. My cousin Nathan was here yesterday and we went over to Martha's Vineyard. The weather is such a contrast from San Francisco.

I spent the 4th of July shivering on Greg's roof viewing the tops of the fireworks in boots, jeans, a shirt, wool sweater and down jacket. I should count my blessings as we had a clear night and we could see the explosions not just colored fog. However, the knowledge that the rest of the country is enjoying the show in shorts and t-shirts makes me feel even colder.

Today Nathan and I ran around Main Street, this place is almost to picturesque to bear and then took a dip in the ocean. I'm hoping that the water reflects those pesky sun rays - as I'm not sure I want yet another sun burn. This not working and visiting friends/family in good locations is really working out for me.

But all that good does not go unpunished. I saw that the New York legislature stuck down an attempt to legalize gay marriage. What is so wrong with equal rights? Now, I realize the verdict was that gay marriage was neither allowed nor banned by their constitution - which does have an upside. But I really believe that when I'm in my rocking chair, that I'll be trying to explain to my great-grandchildren how there was such bias back in the early century.

Well, I'll have to get involved once I get back to San Francisco life.

Oh, and I finally had time to get the China photos up online. Drop me a line if you want the link.