Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sterling Castle

Below is Sterling Castle taken from the road during the bus tour mentioned below. It's not the best of shots, but it at least it provides a sense of scale in relation to the surrounding countryside.

Village and River Forth

Below is a shot of a village with the river Forth in the background taken during the bus trip around Scotland a week ago Friday. The town may have been Culross, though I am not absolutely certain of this. Somehow it was omitted in my travel notes from that day.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Memory Lane

Does this ever bring back the memories of the single digit years: rushing home from school and turning on the television for the next installment...

Unfortunately the song is one of those that gets stuck in your head...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Linlithgow Palace

The two images below are of Linlithgow Palace ruins which turned out to be one of my favorite travel stops whilst in Scotland last week. Mary, Queen of Scots, was supposedly born here in 1542.

The image below was taken from the top of one of the corner turrets which, in the image above, would have been at left rear of the image.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Just a quick note to let everyone know that I am back home. Slightly jetlagged this morning, but nowhere near the degree to which I was after the flight over to Scotland last week. Another cup or two of coffee should be sufficient to fortify my mental faculties for giving the talk at the university early this afternoon. No guarantees at all after that as I am still on UK time. Ugh.

The trip was a lot of fun and my sister's wedding was very nice. More on all this later (including post various pictures. 375 to choose from!). Now I need to take a look at the Powerpoint presentation for today. Never got around to doing this before the trip, so it's going to be a last minute scramble.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Outta here

Though a bit early still, I am heading on out to the airport. Tired of waiting around at home and afraid the desire to take a nap might overcome me. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to post from Scotland, but if not, I should have all sorts of pics and perhaps a few stories of interest to share once I get home Sunday evening.

Hope everyone has a good couple of days.

Outta here

Though a bit early still, I am heading on out to the airport. Tired of waiting around at home and afraid the desire to take a nap might overcome me. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to post from Scotland, but if not, I should have all sorts of pics and perhaps a few stories of interest to share once I get home Sunday evening.

Hope everyone has a good couple of days.

Day of Departure

I'm not leaving for the airport until around three this afternoon, so now it's the "hurry up and wait" thing. I'm just now back from a run to Target for a few travel-related items and there's not much to do between now and then other than packing. That certainly won't take long.

Excitement about the trip to Scotland is finally beginning to build, though the level is far below that for previous adventures. The shortness of the trip may have something to do with this. By the time I get adjusted to things over there I will be heading back home. However, I think enthusiasm for the trip will build further once things are underway. There is much about which to be excited with this trip other than my sister getting married. This will be my first trip to Scotland, so I will be able to shade in another country on my travel map when I get home. Also of note is this will be my first international trip where the destination is not tropical. I'm not sure how I am going to cope with the absence of palm trees and the heat and humidity of my usual destinations.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Busy as an Apidae

Having an afternoon coffee whilst waiting for the laundry to dry. It's been a busy day and it's a good feeling scratching things off the day's list. Bank. Check. Haircut. Check. Barnes and Noble. Check. Buying Shoes. Check. Laundry. Check. And so on. The critical item remaining for today is working on a Powerpoint presentation for Monday. I've been asked to give the lecture I do every fall semester and will reuse the same presentation, but with a few modifications. Changes (if any) should not take long which is ideal since it will leave time for an afternoon nap.


Though my flights are not until late tomorrow afternoon, I took off from work today primarily to ensure a leisurely pace for travel preparations. I don't have a lot to do beyond a few errands and laundry and packing, so it's going to be a relaxing day and a half until departure. Packing won't be that involved of a process as it will be a short trip (I'll be back Sunday night).

The first order of business today will be drawing up the prioritized list of preparations which will be relatively short compared to the pre-Thailand and Honduras lists. Despite the fact that I'll be in-country but four days (only two full days) and the ininteary is largely already set, I'll most lilkely acquire a Edinburgh/Scotland travel guide at Barnes and Noble to familiarize myself with the country during the flight over. This always enhances the experience and provides the necessary information for a better informed travel journal notes. [As an aside: I have been thinking of creating a second blog to post travel-related notes and essays and a few photographs. Sill mulling this over, but it would make for an interesting winter project].

Anyway.. will post more later. Need to get moving on a few things.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Staying the Course

Today marks three weeks since last I had a cigarette. Altogether the journey has been a rough one, but after twenty-one days of anxiety and doubt and determination, the path grows ever more smooth. The shadow of temptation that haunted my steps and threatened to surge forth with overwhelming fury during moments of weakness has dissipated to the point where it no longer elicits fear. It is now but an occasional annoyance, a barking dog in the distance that soon falls back to sleep.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Observations of Nature

With the exception of a protracted contest of wills with a black snake over control of a dry path through a bog (it won), today's trip to the ecological preserve was mostly uneventful. The Blackwater River had receeded to the point where the lower reaches of the preserve were once again accessible, although a bit soggy. The ground down by the river was covered witth this muddy silt deposited during last weekend's flooding event. The usual shades of brown and green of fallen leaves and pine straw and the occasional low plants were masked with black. As I traversed this seemingly foresaken area on foot I noticed a large velvet ant ambling across the muddy terrain, its brilliant red contrasting wonderfully with the black substrate. It would have made a great photograph, but the camera I left in the Jeep and did not have the desire to slog back through the fluvial debris to get it. So the ant, photographed only in memory, ambled on it way undisturbed.

Velvet ants (which are, of course, just flightless wasps) are common at the ecological preserve, though are always encountered in the high sand lens area and along sandy paths a good distance from the river. I can't even begin to speculate why this one was in such a disagreeable and unfamiliar environment. While the flooding may have had something to do with it, the most logical explanation is that velvet ants occur in this part of the preserve as well, but are usually not as visible in the mottled ground clutter. Change the backdrop to a solid color (in this case black) and one begins to see things they did not notice before.

Anyway..the image below is of a velvet ant taken a few weeks ago at the preserve.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday Afternoon

The ecological preserve was rather the mess yesterday as expected. Much of it was flooded and ane section of path was washed out to the extent that it was transversable only with four-wheel drive (weeee!). The Blackwater River had left its banks and spread out through the lower part of the preserve, covering sections of study area (and paths leading to it) under several feet of water. This precluded the possibility of the scheduled fieldwork in that area this weekend. This activity was postponed until next weekend. I still had a couple other things to work on out there yesterday and by the time I left in the mid-afternoon I was soaked from the knees down. Normally dry trails had become bogs and my hiking boots are still drying out.

Due to the postponement of research, today is an unexpected free day and thus far I have spent the time well. As is customary I was up early (sleeping in is a habit not yet aquired) and began the day updating my journal over a couple cups of coffee, followed by the usual weekend activities of a run to the grocery store, assorted cleaning, as well as a trip out to my lab to check up on a few things. I also finished This Earth of Mankind this morning. It has been among the most productive of days.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Nothing of Interest

As it turned out, the commute to work this morning was a real pain. Various points of both main routes were flooded, so I ended up threading a maze of side streets to get to work. A couple times I had to backtrack (including going the wrong way down a one-way street) due to impassable intersections. At least they appeared to be impassable. I rwasn't in the mood to try my luck with the Jeep today. That will come tomorrow with the research trip out to the ecological preserve. I should be able to get onto the preserve unless the river as left its banks. If that's the case, it will be a riot of mud and water.

Must remember to bring the camera tomorrow.

Anyway. The rain stopped early this afternoon and most of the roads dried out sufficiently for the commute home. i had planned to finish the current book, This Earth of Mankind, soon after I got home, but about a page into it I summarily fell asleep. This was not due to the book, but the lack of caffeine and food (both defficiencies have since been corrected). So here I sit in the study early on a Friday evening, finishing off the glass of wine from dinner. Not sure what I'm doing this evening. Most likely it will be a quiet evening here at home.

Tropical Storm Ernesto

The rain driving against the bedroom windows had me up and about well before five this morning and stumbling towards the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee before anything unfortunate happened to the electricty. This deluge of near Biblical proportions will make the commute to work a bit of an adventure. Sections of the two primary routes flood easily during summer thunderstorms and are probably lakes this morning. Will need to roll out of here a little earlier than usual.