Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rocks of Solitude

Actual date of this event: 27 & 28 July

Today, we woke up with hopes to finish what we needed for banking in the UK, get me a cell phone and look for a vehicle. That quickly changed when the weather was nice and some people we had met yesterday called us with different plans.

Our air shipment came yesterday morning. We had gone to bed around 8:45 and woke up (by alarm) at 8 since we knew the shipment would be arriving between 9 and 10. It was terrible waking up and not having good coffee to drink. A lady came by yesterday and dropped off a few food items for us including instant coffee. After having a bad instant coffee experience at Disney World, I was extremely hesitant to have a cup. We were both desperate, so we used the electric kettle to boil some water plugged out noses and gulped it down. When the air shipment arrived, the guys brought piece by piece up rather than the whole big box. I had been up for over an hour and was feeling okay, but one of the guys made a comment that I could go back to bed now. Hmm, did I look that bad?

Luke: "Why did I put cable cords in here?"

We met a few other expats living in Aberdeen that evening. I had spoken to Laine on the phone a few weeks ago and we have been communicating through facebook and email since. I called her yesterday to see what her plans were for the day. She offered to take us to Asda (Wal-mart) so I could get a hair dryer, a hair straightener, a coffee pot, and beer and wine... things that were too big to be able to carry home from the express store. She drove around the town a little bit and showed us where some car dealerships were. She is a super friendly girl, and we actual have the same exact engagement/wedding rings. So weird! In the evening, I went to the AWA (American Women's Assiciation) happy hour at McGinty's with a few people while Luke went golfing with Laine's husband, Jonathan, and another expat, Ryan. After both events were done, we all went to Ryan's house along with his wife Jillian. We hung out and talked while Ryan cooked us some steaks for a delicious midnight snack! Luke and I had slept 11 hours the night before so we weren't feeling too tired, but staying up til 2:30 was not helping me get on Aberdeen time!

Views while Luke golfed

Saturday morning, Laine called us to see if we wanted to go on a hike with them. Like I said, we could not pass up the opportunity to be involved in a new experience. So, the only time Luke and I have hiked before was on our honeymoon. We dont have boots, backpacks and really didnt know what to wear. The weather seemed to be warm so I decided to wear capri jogging pants, Luke chose jeans and we both wore waterproof jackets. We were able to get our bank stuff situated after a super quick 2mi walk as we passed a Tartan Day Parade (see video on Luke's facebook).

The crew picked us up about 11:30, and we drove about an hour to Edzell where we would hike The Rocks of Solitude (click here for website). Along the drive, we saw some beautiful hills with farms in all different colors. Absolutely beautiful!

Jillian was our director during this hike, so we parked and tried to understand the directions she got from the Walk Highlands website (not the easiest to understand). We walked around for about 30-45 minutes before we figured out exactly where to go. During this time, it started raining pretty good on us, which wasnt a big deal... it wont be the first time I will get rained on. We walked by some of the cute homes in Edzell in which Jillian decided it was best to knock on a door to ask where to go to start the hike.

Trying to find the beginning to the hike

Walking by home in Edzell after asking for directions.

We found the start and were on our way. Like I said, I did not have boots and actually I had nothing else to wear besides by jogging capri pants and shirt. I was just hoping that I would not twist my ankle and not step in water. We walked down a small slope to some the river which we actually followed the whole hike.

The dogs played a bit before started the trek.

We walked through a forest of tall trees following the river. One one side of us, we had a steep slope down to the river and on the other side, we saw farm lands and hills. It wasnt the greatest idea for me to wear capris because some parts of the path were extremely narrow and plants rubbed on my legs. I didnt get any scratches, and who knows if poison ivy exists here, but I didnt experience any of that either.

The tall trees gave us shade when it was sunny and covered us from the rain.

Farm lands and Hillside to our left

The river eventually squeezes through the Highland Boundary Fault which was so amazing! It almost made you dizzy looking down at it. The pictures dont come close to showing what it was like person.

We crossed a road bridge to the other side of the river where we saw some insanely beautiful rapids. We stopped here for about 15 minutes to take pictures and just to enjoy the unbelievable scenery.

Top of the road bridge
Looking up at the bridge

Along the way, we saw several small waterfalls and more rapids. One of the most amazing things to me was the tree roots. I didnt grow up around big trees, so it is fascinating to me how old they are and how they stay standing with barely anything holding them up. The walking path was beaten down and the roots were popping out of the ground. The roots almost looked fake and made of plastic

Small bridge over a waterfall
More rapids

Here is a video of the rapids and some scenery:

One of the trees that is standing by its roots

Like I said earlier, the directions from the website were pretty difficult to understand especially when you are unsure if the same words in the UK mean the same as in the USA. So, we did get lost quite a few times and had to turn back. Not a big deal though because we got to see more such as a random castle. If we had followed the directions exactly, Luke and I would not have been able to see a castle on our third day! It was super duper cool!

The second half of the 6.5mi hike was on the other side of the river. We walked on a road for a little bit, then walked farther away from the river than the first half. We also had a more difficult terrain in some parts. It rained pretty hard for a while, but we didnt feel a single drop since the trees covered us. At the end, we passed a pretty scary bridge. I was already a quarter of the way across before I thought that we shouldnt all be on the thing at the same time. It was okay in the end, but freaked at the time.

We finished at 5:30 and all six of us were starving and ready for a drink, so we headed to Stonehaven which was on our way back to Aberdeen and right on the North Sea. I had heard great things about the town from many people so I was excited to experience it... again, on our 3rd day in Scotland! We ate at The Ship Inn which is right on the harbor. I got some fish and chips, and Luke tried Jonathan's uneaten piece of Black Pudding (oatmeal soaked in blood). The six of us ordered 2 Sticky Toffee Pudding plates since it is the best. It tasted just like Bread Pudding but with a toffee flavor which makes it even better! Stonehaven is a cute little town with apparently one of the best castles. We did not get to visit the castle, so we will be visiting again soon.

Small boats in the harbor pull and tie up on the sand

Black Pudding... looks like a sausage patty
Sticky Toffee Pudding

We arrived back home around 9, and we were beat! We still did not get to bed very early that night (around 1:00), but at least we were getting earlier!

The pound sterling coins are heavy and bulky, so some men have coin purses in their wallets.


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