"...In addition, this must be the saddest email message from anyone just returning from a trip. Where's the gloating? jeez."
Okay, but you asked for it:
The one consistent pattern to my trip was that sitting in a pub or bar, writing (letter, journal, notes, whatever) lead to meeting locals. These locals would then talk, bullshit, drink, invite me into their homes or to go surfing with them, to hike a mountain, to go on a 2-day bender in Aberdeen (sadly, I had to turn that one down), or to ride with them to where I was going anyway.
I hiked to the top of the tallest point in all the UK, hiked it again 2 days later to skinny dip in the coldest lake that ever will touch my skin, searched for the teeth of an elderly Irishman, sailed a 15 meter Dutch fishing boat with a team of biologists looking for sea-mammals, danced at a ceilidh, played guitar and sang at a bardic circle, poured the drinks at an all night gathering, sighed over a harpist, debated politics for 3 hours with 2 Scots and a South African, literally eavesdropped on a sermon at the Free Church of Scotland, met a band that I want to bring to Boston, got an impromptu and unofficial tour of a distillery, broke into a castle, caused rain, walked 3 miles singing only train songs, gave advice to a fire and rescue team, learned how to pronounce Ullapool, was propositioned by a prostitute (in London), went surfing at a latitude of approximately 59° north latitude (farther north than Moscow), met a seal named Sammy, climbed a pine tree that was at least 150 feet tall, won a game of pool, listened to bomb disposal training stories, observed a strange raffle (I didn't win the large object covered in shells), watched the Eurocup2000 soccer finals, ate wild salmon (so much tastier than farm raised), was nearly swept out to sea on a rip tide, met a Mom & Pop ambulance team and was treated with salve from a cold-cream jar marked only "magic mixture" in ball point pen on cloth-tape, walked between layers of cloud, drank Irn-Bru (the Bubble-gum flavored local soft drink that sells more than Coke or Pepsi in Scotland), circled the standing stones of Callanish, read about using "Phaseoli Moluccani" for Marian amulets, listened to a Scot speak Yiddish and another identify me as a Jew after hearing my name, sank up to my calf in peat, marked a trail mistake that led to a 500 foot cliff, met a dog that drank whiskey and beer, sang with a group of drunken Swedes, discussed the possibility of an American-Scottish military alliance against England, saw puffins up close, avoided Safeway-brand Scotch, saw 2 locks of hair from Bonnie Prince Charles Edward Stuart, took 11 rolls of pictures, and came back in one piece to tell about it.
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