|The waterfall is steeper than the angle of this photo indicates.|
|We moved to a second observation platform, closer to the falls, for a better vantage point to look for salmon leaping up the falls. Molly, with that worried look, was not happy about being so close to the water.|
In order to spark some interest, we stopped at the Tarbat Discovery Centre in Portmahomack. It's a small museum in the refurbished interior of the Tarbat Old Parish Church and displays bits of Pictish sculpture revealed by ongoing excavations at the site. The excavations, by the University of York, have revealed an 8th century Pictish monastery, its stone buildings, farm and metalworking shop. The Centre has interactive touchscreens with information on the Picts and shows a video on the Picts of Easter Ross. Paul chose not to go in, but the rest of us did and I, for one, learned a little about something I previously knew absolutely nothing about.
|The Tarbat Discovery Centre has a lot more to offer than the exterior suggests.|
Due to a variety of projects such a folks taking showers (10 pence for 6 minutes) at our bargain Woodend Caravan Park, folding laundry, finishing the prior week's blog, the kids finishing their allotted computer time and lunch (might as well have lunch before we start out), we did not get moving until 13:00. We left in our usual formation, Vince driving LandShark and me following in the Prius. Paul was my copilot. We drove for about 6 miles and when we came to a turn that my GPS instructed me to turn, Vince kept going straight. That added another 15 minutes to our trip. Then we came to a second road where my GPS instructed me to turn but Vincent continued straight for about 100 yards. I asked Paul to call Vince (on my new phone) and, as it was ringing, Vince pulled into a parking lot. Paul asked, "What the heck is going on?" There was a moment of silence and then Paul turned to me and said, "The oven door fell off". Maybe there just isn't enough humor in my life, because I just broke into hysterics. I've tended to gloss over the day to day RV issue trouble-shooting efforts that have engaged Vince. (On a related side note, we did receive the solenoids that Vince had shipped to John O'Groats Caravan and Camping Site but it has not been dry enough for him to replace that part. In the meantime, he has been opening 3 of the 4 slides using jumper cables. Unconventional but effective.)
So I parked the Prius and went inside the RV to see what had happened. Turned out the oven door didn't fall off. It was the large front-facing door to the drawer under our stove top that holds all the pots and pans that popped off. Well, that was still good enough to fuel my fits of laughter. Having just visited the Falls of Shin the day before, I had visions of a waterfall of pots, baking pans, frying pans, lids, bowls, tupperware and strainers pouring out. Molly leaping for cover. James scrambling to catch things as they hit the floor and commenced their scattered, rolling journey throughout the RV. The images in my head kept me laughing for the next 15 miles.
About the time, I had pulled myself together, I arrived at another roundabout and the GPS sent me on a different route than the one Vincent took. Mine took me into south Inverness to an old town district and sent me in loops. It was very frustrating, but I think Paul was enjoying "getting lost with Mom". With the help of my good ol' fashioned road atlas, we eventually figured out to ignore the GPS and follow the direction to Dores. We drove about 12 miles on a one lane road to our final destination at Lower Foyer. I kept thinking Vince must be on a different road but when we met at the end of the day, he too had to drive down that single lane road and negotiate trucks, buses and other oncoming vehicles. Pretty stressful.
|The view of Loch Ness from our camping site.|
|Once we got settled, Paul and I walked down to the lake. Paul had a go at skipping stones.|
|If you ever find yourself in the Inverness area, the Culloden Battlefield, a National Trust for Scotland site, is well worth a visit.|
|Another photo of the battle field. The building to the left is the old Leanach Cottage and is believed to have served as a field hospital for government troops following the battle.|
|A zoomed-in photo of the Craigdannoch Hotel from the Loch Ness Holiday Park.|
|Vince had just worked through two blades with his jigsaw to cut this hole. He planned to add a vent to help keep the inverter cool.|
|Molly and the kids overlooking the Loch Ness Holiday Park and Loch Ness from the Craigdannoch House Hotel.|
The James Pringle/Holm Mill was pretty disappointing but I did manage to find a cashmere v-neck sweater for £49 which was a pretty good price, even by US cheap import standards. Sarah got a navy cardigan for £8 and James got a watch for £12.
|James Pringle Weavers: Not worth a stop unless you are a looking for a simple cashmere jumper or enjoy sifting through kitschy stuff for a find on a rainy day.|
|I figure that balloon dog that Sarah received was valued at about £9.|
|There were quite thick clouds much of the afternoon but here the sun was trying to shine through.|
|This photo looks like it was taken as a black and white but it is in color. The dark clouds cast a greyish tone to most everything. The exception is where the sun is shining through; the hills below are green.|
|A last shot of Loch Ness, trying to capture it during a rare sunny patch (not an easy task). It looked very different with more sunshine than clouds.|
|If you visit Brodie Castle, you receive a tour with the cost of entrance. The tea room is cozy and inviting and offers table service.|
|Sarah has a gift for quickly making friends. Give her 5 minutes and she's gotten two other girls to push her in the swing saucer.|
|The Banff Links Caravan Park has a super playground. The zip line was the first piece of equipment to try. Paul's giving James a push. An oil tanker can be seen on the horizon.|
|Post broken screen, Vince was trying to put recent events behind him throwing the ball for Molly. Beautiful evening. No need for tv.|
|"Hey, I can see my reflection."|
|On the beach looking towards Banff. The light-colored waves in the bottom half of the photo was sand blowing across the wet beach. It was fantastic to see.|
|Paul constructing some sort of reservoir that of course would be futile against the North Sea when the tide rolled in.|
|This was the view of the beach from LandShark's front window at about 9:30am. Just lovely.|
|Sarah carving a road in the sand toward the sea.|
|I loved the colours and textures of the water and sand. Tried to capture it, but was difficult with my pocket camera.|
We walked through the center of the village, checked out a couple second hand shops and a "bargain" store and then went to the tourist office. Upon leaving the tourist office, Vince said he needed to use the WC. He pointed out that the toilets won "Loo of the Year Awards", so I had to take a photo of the certificates in the window. Upon taking a couple photos, a lady emerged from the building and said, "You missed an award around the corner." At first I thought she was being sarcastic; I was a little embarrassed getting caught taking these loo award pictures for the blog. But then I realized she was serious; I should make sure I go around the corner and not miss capturing the other 2013 Loo Award. Keeping the loos clean was this woman's job and she was proud of it. That was great. We talked for a bit about other foreigners coming by her loos. Not too many Americans this year, but some Canadians and New Zealanders; people who were researching their family ties.
|Need a clean WC? Check out the Banff Tourist Office Toilets!|
|We arrived back to the Banff Links Campground after our 2+ hour walk to find the kids all accounted for and still having a great time.|
|I went out to take some photos of the beach and sea at sunset but arrived a bit too late to catch the best light. I love the muted colours at dusk.|
|This is the view from the 2nd hole green. The tee is not visible, but one has to hit upward onto a plateau to a tight green, which is hidden from view. This was the first indication that the course would be a challenge.|
|Sarah proved to be a great caddy. Good at locating lost balls, retrieving left clubs, finding lost head covers and fishing out balls from water hazards.|
|Sarah discovered that the creek through the course went out to the sea.|
|Unusual in a golf course, trees aren't really a problem here, but rocks are.|
|This photo was taken on top of the rock on the 13th hole. The 12th hole green is to the left and the 14th hole green is further in the distance to the right.|
|This photo shows the 13th green to the left and the crazy rock over which one has to hit.|
Here I want to comment on a few things that have really helped make life easier on the road (for the parents). Paul expressed a keen interest in making extra money so he struck a contract with Vince that he would wash all the dishes and put them away (with one day off every fortnight), refill the fresh water tank and dump the gray and black water tanks, for a certain weekly allowance. In the meantime, the other two also wanted to institute a weekly allowance for themselves, so Vince created a detailed weekly chart of chores that needed to be completed to keep LandShark clean and tidy and to maintain individual hygiene (ie points for teeth brushing, showers, brushing hair etc....These are kids, afterall.) Every task has one or more points attached to it. Paul needs to achieve 115 points a week and James and Sarah 80 points a week in order to earn their respective weekly allowance. So far this has worked out brilliantly with Vince and I having to do very little with respect to the daily upkeep of the RV. We now have more time to research destinations, prepare or review school work, write blogs and, particularly in Vincent's case, research why something isn't working and prepare for upcoming repairs.
We decided to head towards Aberdeen and Vince booked us in at the GreenPark Certificated Location (£10/nt) near Banchory, Aberdeenshire. This is a small park that only takes 5 vehicles and is for Caravan Club Members only. Vince thought we were members but later discovered we were members of another club, the UK Camping and Caravanning Club; they're all very similar in name. Oh well. Most importantly, we got in.
En route to our camping site, we drove along the coast to the Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse and Museum. The Frasers built the castle in the 16th century near, what is now called, Fraserburgh. Then in 1787, the castle, having been abandoned for about 30 years at that point, was turned into the first operational lighthouse built in Scotland by the Commissioners of Northern Lights. While the first light was designed by the Edinburgh engineer, Thomas Smith, most of the following lighthouses and lighthouse mechanisms were developed by several generations of the Stevenson family. One of the Stevensons, who did not become an engineer and pursue a career concerning lighthouses, was Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote, among many works, Treasure Island; it's clear his acquired family knowledge of the sea and shipwrecks helped in the writing of this novel.
|The Kinnaird Lighthouse Castle and Museum provides a good history about the implementation of lighthouses in Scotland and details on the inner workings of the early lighthouses.|
|The tour guide and Vince walking towards the original castle lighthouse. A newer, automatic lighthouse, to the left, was installed in 1991.|
|A third view from the castle lighthouse overlooking posts where fishing nets were laid out to dry.|
|Taking in the view from the top of the light house.|
|Bungee cord: Truly a versatile gadget with no limit to its uses.|