Day 11

Stoer, Ullapool, Stromeferry, Staffin (Skye)

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or, the joy of one lane roads

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img0055.jpg (80209 bytes)img0045.jpg (72613 bytes)Although the radio announced that we will have a full moon, there was no white spot to be spotted on the night sky. Nights tend to be rather cloudy to say the least here in Scotland. In the morning, the hygiene thing had to be postponed due to life threatening monsters: already millions of these small flies were waiting outdoors, prompting me to leave without opening the door. Finding it a windy enough place to keep myself safe, I spent a good hour walking around an isolated lighthouse; except for a few sheep and hairy cows I was all alone. Soon afterwards I found a tree suitable for a shower by attaching my water container onto it and standing under the drizzling water. Finding a tree at this latitude (or is it longitude?) is actually not an easy task, other than trees in people's gardens or right next to the water (then again with the flies). This shower made me feel really good again, especially as the sun was shining. This surprisingly lasted throughout the whole day.

img0056.jpg (55412 bytes)img0057.jpg (73784 bytes)(note the sheep) For today I planned relocation towards Isle of Skye, which meant quite some driving. Out of the exceptional 455km the vast majority was on one lane roads with the occasional passing places because I decided to avoid the main through roads and mostly to follow the coastline. Among others, this opened the wonderful sight of good a dozen sheep lying at the beach in the morning sun. The water could not have been more blue and the sheep seemed to be truly enjoying themselves by rechewing the wonderful grass they ate earlier. My culinary experience for the day was however not quite as pleasant: being both lazy and sick of self-prepared meals, I visited a restaurant in Ullapool, the biggest town on my today's route. The menu featured the mandatory Fish & Chips, which I learned to avoid years earlier in London, so I opted for the alternative Chicken & Chips. Both the appearance and the taste of food reminded me of Roble food at Stanford. For those who don't know: all university food is said to be bad, but the Roble dining hall is so bad that students went on strike and nobody showed up for an entire week. I lived in Roble and hence know what I am talking about.

img0033.jpg (80046 bytes)img0036.jpg (70241 bytes)With an upset stomach I headed more south. Repeatedly I ran into a retired English couple, and so after a while we started to tell each other fun stories. The gentleman said that since he is retired he became so really busy; all the travelling, home video editing, etc. This strongly reminded me of my grandfather who all his life collected books, scientific ones most of the time, saying that he will read all of them once he retires. Through his retirement till now at age of 90, he hasn't read a single of them yet, but he has built a house, renovated it, traveled around Europe and has kept himself otherwise busy. But he is still buying new scientific books. Hence I guess I understand.

img0060.jpg (55241 bytes)img0061.jpg (74150 bytes)On the way to Skye I picked up a German hitchhiker. I brought him to the castle of Dornie, which was partially opposite to my way but then "changing cars" is for him more of a problem than returning some 5 miles for me. It was at any rate interesting to listen to his stories. Soon again alone, I headed across the Skye bridge to the isle. The bridge is one of the biggest rip-offs I have ever seen: 5.20 or around $7 each way, yet it is maybe 200m long. This suddenly makes the Golden Gate appear like a true bargain. Once across, however, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Especially the east coast with its steep cliffs which are green from pioneer grass growing at unbelievable locations represent one of the most spectacular sights of the entire trip. So the bridge toll may seem cheap after all.

img0064.jpg (40034 bytes)img0065.jpg (68422 bytes)In the heat of photographing these cliffs I got onto a road which is actually none, forgetting that my car may well have 4WD but still has only standard ground clearance. Crawling in 1st gear around rocks and mud I got into places which have not seen a tripod before. I was also happily expected by a swarm of the now famous flies. Those few which made it into my car I am now attracting by the interior light, squashing them there once they settle. Unfortunately they are rather swift and hard to catch. Hence I fear that by the morning they will have altered my appearance again.


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