Thursday, July 31, 2008

Where in the world are the Murphy's?

Not Scotland, America. Virginia to be exact. We flew in July 16th and are flying back to Scotland August 4th. It's amazing to be here, we're having a fabulous time. One of the coolest things about this trip home is we brought 7 Scottish friends with us! They're having a blast

We're running around like chickens without heads doing tons of stuff. It's lots of fun, but really tiring and busy. Unfortunately we won't have time to visit all of our friends and family while we're here, which is a huge bummer, but this trip is actually more of a work trip as opposed to the last trip which was totally personal and completely determined by us.

So if we don't get a chance to hang out with you, our good friend or family member, know that we are so incredibly sad and have thought about you while we've been here, wishing we could hang out for hours.

There isn't much time to add stuff to the already full itinerary, but if you'd like to come to an already scheduled event, we'd love to have you at a cookout tomorrow! It's on a pond in Powhatan at 6:00. Send me an email (it's in the sidebar on the left) if you'd like directions.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Not that camping trip again

Yup, I decided to dwell on that week I spent in the wild just a bit more. In case you missed it the first time around, you can read about it here, here, here, and here. I took so many photos, it'd be a shame if I didn't share them with the world!

We saw a bunch of wildlife during the week. How cute are these highland cows; especially the little babies!

This little guy's mom died during childbirth so he's being cared for by the people who work on the Alladale Reserve. I just wanted to cuddle him and bury my face in his furry coat. But then I realized he probably had a bunch of ticks that would jump on me and suck my blood. (But don't worry, some ticks decided to attach themselves to me another time during the week. yuck.)

One morning we woke up to a heard of highland cows taking over our camp and trying to get into our food.

We fed some horses,

And got really stinkin' close to some stags

The whole time I was thinking, "My dad would so love this." Meanwhile, the kids are like, "Stag, schmag. What's next, I'm bored"

One day, the kids learned about teamwork while scaling a pretty intense rock face (that big patch of boulders in the middle of the photo). We all warned the climbers behind us of "wobbly rocks" about a bajillion times.

The rocks, post climb.

Replacing the trees that used to cover Scotland's landscape before the devastation that happened to the people of Scotland during the Highland Clearances is a focus of the people who run the reserve we camped on. In the span of about 4 hours, the 22 kids planted 300 trees. My co-chaperone and I were sure to do our part: we planted a whopping 6 trees and made sure to get it on film.

There was also fly fishing that day, but no one in my group was successful so I'll just omit those photos of failure.
There was much hiking, and a few times we carried all of our earthly possessions (that we had during the week) on our backs. Those were the days I was grateful for the mild Scottish climate.

The view across a Loch at our campsite (those blue tents on the right) and the summit we were about to hike up (the highest point on the left side of the photo).

At the summit

Looking down from the summit at our itty bitty tents. Can you barely make them out? Look to the left of the Loch about 1/3 of the way from the bottom edge of the water.

On the last night, some person who must have been an angel let me borrow their midge net, it was a lifesaver.

We agreed to remove them for just enough time to get a photo of our faces, but not a second longer!

One final photo of the beautiful landscape. I promise, no more references to the camping trip, at least for a few months.

Bright Nights

That's how Scots refer to the glorious summer days when the sun hangs out in the sky all day and most of the night. The super long summer days almost make the 3:30 pm sunsets during the middle of winter worth it. Almost; but the thought of all that darkness coming in a few months makes me cringe.

But the long days, oh, they're so fabulous. You never get sleepy; suddenly you realize it's after 11 and it feels like 6. What would make those nights near to perfection is consistently warm weather so you could actually spend time outdoors without wearing a jacket. Oh well, can't have everything.

I took these pictures right around summer solstice at 12:30 am, without a flash. The camera didn't do a great job of recording the true color of the sky; it was actually an even lighter and brighter blue than what it looks like in the photo, but you get the idea. During the longest days, it doesn't ever get completely dark, just hovers around twilight for a few hours until the sun starts coming up again around 2:30. It's pretty amazing.

Come visit us next summer and see it for yourself!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

You know what's kinda awkward?

Celebrating American Independence Day in the country we celebrate independence from, and with people who are from that country.

But, we have some awesome friends here, because a few families threw a BBQ in honor of July 4th. Granted, no one had the day off work, we didn't see any fireworks, there was no reference to the "Fourth", (except for my one, inappropriately timed, very awkward comment)and no one wore red, white, and blue, but it was still a great time with good friends and lots of delicious food.