West Highland Way: Drymen to Rowardennan

Sunday, August 30, 2015:  Day two…WWW_Day2-1090332Glenalva B & B near Drymen, Scotland provided a restful sleep and we go downstairs to another delicious smoked salmon and egg breakfast. Shared a breakfast table and delightfully, entertaining conversation with two Scottish gentlemen, Thomas and Allan, who are also walking to Rowardennan today. We chat throughout the day while walking, so we are slowly making new friends along the trail. Fascinating people and their stories add another dimension which makes the hiking experience rewarding on a social level.

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Glenalva B & B displays the spirit of the trail with boots as flower pots.

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Early in the day, we miss a sign and take the wrong path (along with other hikers), which means we must backtrack. Many hikers are now passing us, including a large group of Austrians on a group hiking tour. About an hour and a half later, Randy looks back and notices our starting point is right across the meadow as he points with his walking stick. Slow progress…

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The trail climbs through a section of forestry before crossing moorland to reach Conic Hill.

We spend some time today visiting with a college girl from Colorado who is interning while going to school and traveling in the U.K. I enjoy listening to hopes and dreams of young people as they explore and discover their paths in life. I guess that’s the optimistic teacher in me.

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Up, up and away, we climb…

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We finally reach the top and the views of Loch Lomond are spectacular, although it starts to drizzle. (The video at the bottom of this post will show the panoramic view from the top of Conic Hill.)

 


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Sunday is a popular day for hiking. We meet many day hikers who must have parked at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and approach Conic Hill from the opposite side.

 

WWW_Day2-1090462eOne of many “kissing gates.”  It allows people to pass through but not livestock.

WWW_Day2-1090494eWe hike along the banks of Loch Lomond as we proceed along the trail. We find the last stretch today to be quite rocky and somewhat challenging.  We are thinking that today is about as challenging as it gets. (After all, the Youtube videos look pretty tame!)

Towards the end of the day, we strike up a conversation with a lovely couple (Belfast, Northern Ireland/Ukraine), which makes the path seem less severe. Thank you, Michael and Stacy (Anistacia).

 

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The last couple of miles seem to take forever as we sludge past the Rowardennan Hotel, envious of those stopping here for the night. Wondering…  will we ever get there?  Exhausted, we arrive at the Rowardennan Youth Hostel  (Yes, old people can stay in youth hostels!) after our hilly hike and happy to have beds. It does appear as though our backpacks exploded upon arrival.

WWW_Day2-1090509eLucky for us, a bar and food are available a few feet away from our beds, so life is grand.  We are invited to sit with two new trail friends from England, Mandy and Karen. Such fun and interesting gals and both have travel tales from around the globe!

Bonnie N’ Blonde is a locally brewed beer from Loch Lomond Brewery and hit the spot after walking 14.5 miles carrying a backpack up and down hills and scrambling some rocks.  Tomorrow will be MUCH easier, right?

Below is a short video/slide show featuring highlights of day two on the West Highland Way:

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…for the love of the game

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. ~Helen Keller

Looking for some action? Try attending a sporting event at your local high school. Here you will see the sport in its purest form; no huge salaries (in fact, no player salaries), endorsement contracts or plush player buses transporting them to games. A good old school bus will do just fine, thank you.

You cannot be a fair weather fan at the high school level These fans, which include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors (pretty much anyone that knows a player on a first name basis) are the most loyal fans a team could ask for and hang with the players through the ups and downs of a season.  The fan base remains constant no matter what the win/loss record shows and the teams provide plenty of subject matter for conversations at local coffee shops and businesses.

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A community has such an influential role on local school activities, whether that be athletics, music, theater, arts, or other organizations. Providing support through attendance, following  the school news in the local media and supporting fund-raising projects, helps these programs exist to provide opportunities for our youth.

Overemphasis on the performance results of any high school activity, including sports, can have a negative effect, but learning discipline, hard work, teamwork, and social skills WILL have a positive impact on your life as an adult.

Click on the link below for an interesting article in the Huffington Post regarding the value of sports in the schools:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kai-sato/high-school-sports_b_3997391.html

Photo info:  Canon 5d Mark 2, Canon 70-200 L lens, 6400 ISO, 1/500 shutter, 2.8 aperture, custom white balance

Collage info:  10 x 20, Photoshop 5.0, Albums DS base template with mask edges, flames from Shutterstock. Lancer text layer utilizes a photo I took of a basketball to give the textured look.

The art of being a sibling

sib·ling
[sib-ling]
noun
1. a brother or sister.
2. Anthropology . a co-member of a sib, a unilateral descent group thought to share kinship through a common ancestor.
adjective
3. of or pertaining to a brother or sister: sibling rivalry.
Origin:
before 1000; late Middle English: relative, Old English;
Verhelst-5187
Such an efficient way to learn life lessons such as give and take, tolerance, and benevolence when growing up with siblings.

You don’t choose your life… you live it.

~The Way

Another phase of my life goes by… taking a career break from traditional portraiture.

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This has been in the planning stages for the past 4 months and I was going to wait until mid October to announce my future plans, but I guess now is as good a time as any.

It’s been 16 years of growth and transformation, starting with 35mm and medium format film, darkroom processing and now the digital age with Lightroom and Photoshop. It is time to move on, so I will be closing the traditional portrait studio as of October 15, 2013.  All sessions scheduled up to that point will go on as planned and the current website will be up until May 1, 2014 to facilitate senior orders.  After that, I’ll start working on a new website reflecting the art of both Randy and myself.  The studio will then be transformed into Randy’s painting studio and workshop.  It’s his turn now.

I still love photography and hope to continue learning and exploring new, unusual techniques and push for a more and more creative style. Maybe even try an impressionistic painting style of photography.  I also plan to continue showing art work in galleries, promote the arts,  and hope to find time to put together other products using images.  (Greeting card line?)  I may ask to borrow some of your kids if I get an idea for some prairie photography because, after all, southwest Minnesota/Eastern South Dakota is a great place to raise children and that is a theme near and dear to my heart.

I will not be twiddling my thumbs and eating bonbons by the truck load, as I move into this phase of my life.  I’ll need to complete this year’s photo orders, try to be Randy’s farm hand/gopher, occasionally Granny Nanny (Grandkid #2 is expected in March 2014), clean/organize/paint inside the house and sheds (long overdue), continue involvement with community and art organizations, garden and go back to the classroom environment as a substitute teacher – look out, G-D!

Then, in my spare time, I’ll learn Spanish, how to knit/crochet, bike/hike or maybe even jog, work on songs with Randy (maybe my sister will dust off her accordion and we can hit the nursing home circuit!), read the books I haven’t had time to read and travel / hike anywhere I can, as well as visit friends and relatives.  Yep, lots to do.

Don’t worry, I’ll still blog about whatever trail I’m on or something that wanders through my mind and conjure up some “thought for the day” to amuse myself and the world from time to time.  Hey, I may even bring back “Photo Friday” with educational topics.

Thank you to all who have been on this journey with me…  It’s been a good ride.

Camino Day 9 ~ Living in the present

One day at a time…Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering. ~Unknown Spain-1040094dmvWe are now out of the town of Arco do Pino as tall, weathered trees line our path through the Spanish forest. Spain-1040100dmvThe moss and vines give the woods an eerie appearance. Spain-1040165dmvWe find the orthopedic surgeon and fiancé along our way and discuss history. He could be the next Rick Steves type tour guide. The path seems to be cut down into the ground with a wall of rock alongside us. Spain-1040111dmvcrA gentle haze settles in the bottoms. Spain-1040112dmvcrThe path lends itself to variety today as we hike though thick woods, open valleys with gentle slopes, easing our way toward the end. Spain-1040121popdmvcreI could speculate that the red, white and blue circle on the photo is an orb of some paranormal being, but I know it’s only lens flare from the sun trying to pierce through the clouds. Spain-1040123dmvpop Quiet walking today as we culminate our journey with reflective thoughts. Spain-1040131crI really should start raising my own chickens, but I’m not crazy about the butchering part of the process. Spain-1040133dmvFunctional or decorative? Spain-1040141dmv Here come the Spanish girls! We take one of  their “last day” group photos for them and we all go on our merry way. Spain-1040158dmvCamino on a bike?  Nope, not for me. Spain-1040177dmv Getting closer…anticipation.  Slow down!  I don’t want this day to end, quite yet!

Camino Day 8 ~ Meet South Korea, poultry and more.

It’s the afternoon of Camino day eight and we continue down the path.

Spain-1030952dmvOur new friends this afternoon are from South Korea. (From now on referred to as Korea) One is a software engineer for Samsung (My tablet is a Samsung) and the other works at the Seoul airport. They requested a photo with us so we reciprocated.  They started the Camino at the border of France and have been walking for 37 days.  I don’t know how they did the Pyrenees during the winter let alone O Cebreiro.  Tough cookies!

Spain-1030964dmvGrapevines are found on many of the fences. Homemade wine, perhaps?

Spain-1030968dmvSmall, elevated buildings appear in this region. A horreo holds grain and some are quite elaborate with crosses on the top.

Spain-1030973dmvFamiliar scene for those of us from the farm.

Spain-1030977dmvSomehow this character trying to entice me into the bar creeps me out.  Looks like something out of a horror movie!

Spain-1030980dmvYep, still creepy.

Spain-1030983dmvAre you sure this is the way?

Spain-1030988dmvLeft or right?  Hmmm…

Spain-1030989dmvA quick shower of rain, but the temps aren’t too bad. The path winds through old, old buildings in a small hamlet.

Spain-1030993dmvI’m surprised to find so many trees and flowers blooming this early in the spring.

Spain-1030996dmvI tried to find information on Outeiro, Spain but all the pilgrims must be too tired, at this point, to care.

Spain-1030999dmvIt may not be raining right now, but creeks are still running at full speed.

Spain-1040004dmvcrPretty poultry brighten our Camino experience.

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My grandma would say that the Bontons live here. Must be an affluent resident to have a palm tree growing in the yard, landscaping, security fencing and a nicer house than the neighbors.

Randy and I are lagging behind the rest of the group, as usual.  Randy checks in with the 2-way radio.

Randy to Hot Cross Buns… bleep!  Nothing

Again he tries to make contact:

Randy to Hot Cross Buns…bleep! 

Contact is made:  Garble, mumble, rumble, waa-waa-waa…boom,boom-boom, boom… RANDY!!!!

Randy looks at me with a puzzled look,  It sounds like a bar…

Camino Day 8 ~ Walkin’ on sunshine…

Day eight…. really?  We’ve been walking THAT long!

Spain-1030867dmvWalking through Arzua takes some time with streets, traffic and so much to look at.  We stop at a grocery story for snacks and look forward to a short day of only 10 miles.

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The old kilometers marker contrasts the modern setting.

Spain-1030873dmvIt’s interesting that centuries old walls still stand and buildings are built alongside and  around them.

Spain-1030879dmvNot too many pilgrims this morning.

Spain-1030883dmvThe tired remains of an old stone building is a reminder of earlier days in this city.  Follow the yellow arrow…

Spain-1030884dmvMeet our new friends from Germany.  A mother, father, and two children in their late teens spend their holidays on hikes throughout Europe and the UK.  Favorite hiking destination?  Ireland.  That may be worth checking out!

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Finally out of town and enjoy the company of a few pilgrims this morning.

Spain-1030892dmvThe path takes us through woods reminiscent of old fairy tales with winding vines, while the countryside seems to explode with the vibrant greens of spring.

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Spain-1030907dmvcrWhy does the tractor have a 40 on the back?  Slow moving vehicle sign?

Spain-1030911dmvWe see a few modern Camino highway signs, but even these seem weathered.

Spain-1030915dmvThese connected buildings appear to be one home using the old stone walls, but installing modern doors and windows.  I’m guessing the round attached building may be a grain storage facility?

Spain-1030920dmvcr The street name is Preguntono, house number 15Bars on the windows… is that a security system?  Hmmm…not everyone means well on the Camino?

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Mo-o-o-o…

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Lugar means place,  and Pregontono, I believe, is the street name spelled slightly differently from the other house.  Albergue in the busy season?

Spain-1030926dmvThe yellow flowers are providing gorgeous scenery today and the sun is trying to shine.

Spain-1030928dmvLooking back over the village of Rua as we trek up the hill.

Spain-1030938dmvWe visit with the Dr. and his fiancé as we stroll along. Randy is answering their questions about farming / livestock and the Dr. is answering Randy’s questions about sore knees and the like.

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Looks like they didn’t use all of their chopped wood this winter.  Grapevine is ready to do its thing.

Spain-1030949dmvFollow the arrow to find the right path.  Some of the Camino markers don’t have numbers, so they just mark the path.

Spain-1030950dmvcrThis is the most pleasant day of walking so far. Temps are warming up, as well.

Maybe too pleasant…