Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Wee Camping Trip In The Highlands: Part 12 - In Which We Gain Some Pounds

On Friday, we found ourselves still hanging out in Fort William at the Ben Nevis Campground. Our campervan rental company took pity on our plight and had a driver deliver a new van to us…a four hour drive for them from Edinburgh and then a four hour drive back with the problem van. This meant we needed to stick around for a day, and we had a grand time, finally figuring out the driving and parking situation in Fort William and managing to  spend our whole day walking High Street, a street closed to traffic and full of really cool shops and pubs. Many of the people we saw in the street were serious backpackers, all of them sporting rain covers on their packs. The day was cold, but not windy, and if it wasn’t raining, it seemed to be getting ready to rain. We went to clothing shops, bicycle shops, Outdoors shops, and many, many bakeries. We also managed to exchange some American dollars for British pounds, and found out just how bad our money was here. $50 American got you 31.65 pounds. This has been a real problem for Pam, who kept finding clothes that were bargains until she realized that the prices were in pounds not dollars. Still, some things like food and drink, were about the same when all was said and done.

We toured a church from the 1700’s and spent not near enough time in a museum of Scotland that filled in a lot of blanks concerning the version of history that we got from watching Outlander.

Our new van was delivered around dinnertime and although we were hoping to have a problem-free experience, we were amazed to find how much nicer the new van was. Our first van was only 7 months old, but the new one was less than a week old. Besides just being newer, there were many improvements made in the design. Just about everything in the camping part of the van seemed to have been upgraded. The refrigerator for example, was twice the size, and seemed to keep things really cold. It also had an option to run directly from AC instead of draining the battery. The stove was bigger and nicer as well, and now sported an oven! The windshield on the first van had pleated blankets that covered the front and the two front side windows that required snapping. The new van had disappearing shades that were built into the frame. The differences weren’t only in the camping options. The new van had a beautiful gray paintjob and sporty wheels. Pam found the upgrades to make the ride a real A+ experience.

 By the time we finished up moving our stuff, we decided it was too late to move on and went back to our Glen Nevis restaurant to see if our wee lass was still working and if they had even more good food for us to try. Even the trip to the restaurant was a treat. First you had to be bundled all the way up with rain gear on top, just in case the drizzle decided to come down hard, and then it was a pleasant walk down a path through a cow pasture, hoping to get a close up gander at the two long haired Scottish cows that lived there. Once there, we found our waitress was working and once it was determined that we were not “boooked”, we sat down and asked to try something new. A discussion ensued over which of us was going to try “Haggis”. It was decided by a split decision that I would be the one that got the Haggis, while Pam was quite satisfied with fish, prawns and rice. My meal was a breast of chicken over Haggis on mashed potatoes with vegetables. The Haggis looks a bit like a black congealed mass and tasted something like that. It was best with some potatoes. Pam was looking ill, and wanted to tell me what Haggis was made from. I told her she was a little wuss, and had one few times in life that Pam had the “my hero!” look on her face as she watched her brave husband tear into the Haggis.

We had a laugh with our waitress over that and I became increasingly aware, that once again I had figured I could know what I needed to know about a person in a few minutes, and be quite wrong. Her name was Claire, and even though she had large glowing eyes, jet black hair, and snow white skin, she had never heard of Outlander. Claire was in her early 20’s and we were pretty sure that her mother was a fan of the book series, since Claire very much reminded us of the heroine of the series. Pam was in disbelief that anyone that lived in Scotland could not know about the show, but this was a young girl that was raised on a farm on an island in Scotland and was working as a waitress while on spring break from University at Glasgow. She told us stories about her pet sheep Charlotta and how she got into trouble for letting her into the house and up on the couch when her parents weren’t home. She took a photo and put it up on Facebook and somehow her mom saw it and was furious. She was especially excited that evening as she had help birth Charlotta’s twin new lambs the same day. I started getting the feeling that the farm was large and the island belonged to her family and this work was serving the purpose of getting her out socially.

We left the restaurant in the twilight of the evening, with the ever present Ben Nevis and it’s snowcapped peaks right next to us. It was so quiet and calm, it started to seem impossible that one would ever want to leave a place like this except that it was cold and wet. Always cold and wet...and Skye was calling us. 

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