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or. "Why is that Chicken Wearing PANTS?"

Every time we go on vacation, I try to take copious notes, annotate the photos, and try to write at least a summary of the trip in the hopes that someone laughs, or is inspired to visit some of the places we did. We headed to Scotland for our 20th Wedding anniversary (after spending our 10th there, as well) and this site is the "post-travel" project that I do for all our trips.

I hope that you enjoy it (Actually, I hope that people actually read it, to be honest, since I'm quite sure that my ego doesn't really need to know that I only have two loyal readers).

What trip?

The month of May 2009 in Scotland, driving roughtly anti-clockwise from the Borders to the Orkneys Islands, and down the western coast. With a short detour to Speyside for the Whisky Festival, and a final few days in the heart of Edinburgh. Thirty-one days, about 2500 miles, over two hundred castles and abbeys, and four thousand pictures.

Don't worry! I didn't post all of them!

Who we are

I am an Oracle programmer, my husband (Mark) is a nurse - we're both about forty and have been married 20 years. We live in Colorado, although we're both originally for Minnesota. We have done the 'rent a car and drive around' sort of vacation a couple of time (and even still like each other) to Scotland and Ireland before.

He drives, I navigate. My job is to figure out how to get where we need to go, and his job is to a) get us there without mishap, and b) make sure we make forward progress and don't spiral around the same town for six days. It works for us.

How do we do this?

We're picking up the rental car when we arrive, stocking up on Diet Coke, and driving off without any sort of itinerary. I've got roughly three thousand castles marked with dots on the map, and we're just going to set off each day and see what we see. Sort of the "anti-tour-bus" vacation.

We don't really make reservations, except for the first few days (so we aren't looking for a place to stay while jet-lagged) and we usually book a bit ahead for the last day, so we're not frantically rushing to the airport.

This trip, we also had a couple of days at the beginning where we booked ahead in a hotel in Speyside for the Whisky Festival, and a few special tours while we were there. Otherwise? We picked up the tourist office guides to B&Bs and Guest Houses and call for a room at lunchtime each day. We stay mostly in B&Bs (that Scottish Breakfast will keep you going for hours), eat sandwiches for lunch, and find a local pub or restaurant for dinner each night. We don't really have much of a budget, but we avoid the extremes on either end - no extra-cheap hostels for us, nor uber-expensive hotels or B&Bs.There are thousands of places in the middle. I doesn't mean we don't splurge once in a while, but as long as the place we're staying has flush toilets and hot showers, we're good.

I absolutely love the castle ruins and crumbling abbeys that are everywhere in Scotland, you trip over them every time you make a turn. Mark likes battlefields and distilleries and relaxing at the end of the day with a pint of local beer. We'd rather spend a couple of hours talking to a stranger we just met in the pub or on the hiking trail, than go out to a club. Pretty low key, mostly.

So what's this, then?

But, here's what to expect -- a TON of photos of castles and abbeys in Scotland (Mark accused me of trying to get a picture of every "pile of rocks" in Scotland, as much info as I can track down about the sites. Suggestions for the best sites to see (in my opinion) and things that you could miss. Info on Scotch Whisky and the various distilleries we visited. A day-by-day itinerary and list of the sites we vsiited, along with commentary and notes. A daily log of our travels, linked to the sites, the pictures, and references.

Lots and lots of photographs, and I've been told that I'm a bit verbose, so you've been warned.

And finally, the small print

I'm not a professional or an expert in Medieval history or architecture, or Scotch, or any of the other things I ramble on about, of course, but I have tried to research things and be as informed as possible -- reading dozens of books to prepare for the trip and write the website afterwards.

Any mistakes in dates or definitions on the site are mine alone, I'm sure. If you spot an egregious error, please let me know and I will correct it as soon as possible.