Jacobite Steam Train and the Isle of Skye

After a delightful night at the Inverlochy, Mary picked up up and delivered us to the train station in Fort William,   We did not have a chance to see any of Fort William, but we probably didn’t miss much.  The main attraction, other than some long hiking routes, is the museum dedicated to Bonnie Prince Charlie, more about whom later.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_William,_Highland

We were at the train station preparing to embark on the West Highland Line between Fort William and the small fishing and ferry port of Mallaig. The West Highland Line is called the greatest railway journey in the world, maybe a bit of hyperbole but as you will see from the pictures coming, passing through some of the prettiest scenery in the world.  And, to add to our barely contained excitement, we were boarding the Jacobite Steam Train, a steam powered train made famous in the Harry Potter films (none of which I have seen) as the Hogwart Express.  http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/jacobite-steam-train-details.cfm

Jacobite Steam Train


Proud of their train, the whole engine and coal car were polished before departing.

Polishing the train   TRain Medalion


Stoking the boiler.

Stoking the fire


Rady to go.

REady to Go  Conductor


The day was overcast as we started out, but as you will see, it quickly cleared up to give us a beautiful ride  The pictures below were taken hanging out of the window on the platform between the coal car and our first class car, with the smoke and steam blowing in my face as the steam train barreled along.  I wound up with a face and head full of grit and cinders, but it was worth it.  Some scenes from the train ride.

Scenery 1 WHL tonemapped

Loch Eil  WHL


In the distance you can see the bridge we cross.

Bridge in distance bw WHL

On the bridge seipa paper WHL


A couple of views from the bridge. The first in the style of Georgia O’Keefe.

From the bridge Georgia okeefe WHL

View from the bridge bw WHL


A couple more pretty vistas.

Scenery 3  whl

Scenery 2  WHL


We left our steam train in Mallaig, and caught the ferry to the Isle of Skye.  Donnie Nicholson picked us up at the ferry terminal and took us to our lodging for the next two nights, the Kinloch Lodge.

Kinloch lodge


View from the front of the Lodge.

View from the kinloch lodge


Tomorrow we will embark on a tour of the Isle of Skye.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Glasgow, Scotland

It has been a desire of mine for a long time to visit Scotland.  We finally started our trip with a flight from Orlando to Glasgow aboard Virgin Atlantic.  We flew Premium Economy, and the service was outstanding. Comfortable seats with plenty of leg room.  Highly recommend Virgin Atlantic.  We stayed at Hampton by Hilton in the center of town, and were only in Glasgow for two nights, basically a day and a half.  We weren’t expecting much but found we liked the city immensely.  From Wikipedia: 

The area around Glasgow has hosted communities for millennia, with the River Clyde providing a natural location for fishing. The Romans later built outposts in the area and, to keep Roman Britannia separate from the Celtic and Pictish Caledonia, constructed the Antonine Wall, remains of which can still be seen in Glasgow today.

Glasgow itself was founded by the Christian missionary Saint Mungo in the 6th century. He established a church on the Molendinar Burn, where the present Glasgow Cathedral stands, and in the following years Glasgow became a religious centre. Glasgow grew over the following centuries. The first bridge over the River Clyde at Glasgow was recorded from around 1285, giving its name to the Briggait area of the city, forming the main North-South route over the river via Glasgow Cross. The founding of the University of Glasgow in 1451 and elevation of the bishopric to become the Archdiocese of Glasgow in 1492 increased the town’s religious and educational status and landed wealth. Its early trade was in agriculture, brewing and fishing, with cured salmon and herring being exported to Europe and the Mediterranean.[21]

Following the European Protestant Reformation and with the encouragement of the Convention of Royal Burghs, the 14 incorporated trade crafts federated as the Trades House in 1605 to match the power and influence in the town council of the earlier Merchants’ Guilds who established their Merchants House in the same year.[21] Glasgow was subsequently raised to the status of Royal Burgh in 1611. Glasgow’s substantial fortunes came from international trade, manufacturing and invention, starting in the 17th century with sugar, followed by tobacco, and then cotton and linen, products of the Atlantic triangular slave trade.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow


Glasgow became a major industrial center, particularly in shipbuilding, being one of the biggest ports in the British Isles, and after the decline of industry, became a vibrant financial ad business services center.

As usual, we took the hop-on hop-off bus around Glasgow to get a good overview of the city.  Before jumping on the bus we walked along the shopping district on Buchanan Street.  

Buchanan street glascow


Here is the concert hall.

Buchanan street concert hall


A bagpipe band playing along the street

Clandonia pipe band


One of our first stops was the Glasgow Cathedral.  The cathedral is built on the site where the first bishop of the ancient British kingdom of Strathclyde, St. Kentigern or Mungo is buried.  It  is the only originally Roman Catholic cathedral on the Scottish mainland to remain intact after the Protestant Reformation. It now belongs to the Church of Scotland, an Presbyterian denomination. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow_Cathedral

Glascow cathedral

Glasgow cathedral from necropolis BW

Glascow cathedral crypt

Inside glascow cathedral


St. Mungo’s tomb. The patron saint of Glasgow.

Saint mungo tomb


An interesting site looming above the Glasgow cathedral is the Glasgow Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow_Necropolis


The Necropolis is approached by the “Bridge of Sighs” pictured below.

Bridge to necropolis


A couple of shots from the cemetery.

Glascow necropolis

Necropolis 2


Some more from around Glasgow.

Spire of the University of Glasgow through the trees. One of the four oldest universities in the English speaking world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Glasgow

Univ glascow through trees


A restaurant near the University where we grabbed some lunch. (Cottier’s Restaurant) In the basement of an old church.

Entrance to Cottiers Restaurant

IMG 1539


From the Riverside Museum of Transportation.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverside_Museum

Steam powered tractor

Old street scene riverside museum


Unfortunately, we only had one full day in Glasgow, leaving the next day for a one night stay in Fort William.  We caught the West Highland Line train from the Glasgow Queen Street station to Fort William.  The trains are the way to travel in Scotland, clean, comfortable and run on time.  We both love traveling by trains, and that would be our whole trip this time.  A driver named Mary picked us up at the Fort William train station and took us on the 15 minute drive to our palatial residence for the night, the Inverlochy Castle Hotel.  The hotel is truly elegant with a fine restaurant to boot.

Inverlochy castle hotel

Drawing room at Inverlochy

Parlor at Inverlochy

Chess set on lawn of Inverlochy

Lawn at Inverlochy


The menu for our five course gourmet meal at the Inverlochy.  Notice the slow cooked duck egg.  If you have never had the chance to savor a duck egg floating in a brown sauce, consider yourself lucky.  Looked kind of like an eye floating in soup, and tasted slimy.  But obviously a delicacy which we were too pedestrian to savor.

IInverlochy Menu.pdf


After our night at the Inverlochy, Mary picked us up for our trip on the Jacobite Steam Train.  More to come.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Travels With Caroline – Part 4

The drive from Ft. Bragg (Mendocino) was beautiful, and some of the scariest driving I’ve done.  Winding, narrow roads, along the cliff with no  guard rails in many places, hairpin turns.  In several places the road had washed out on the cliff side, and it was down to one lane, temporary traffic lights regulating flow.  My palms were sweating for much of the drive.  But the vista were amazing, when I could look at them.


California coast nik

California coast impressions2


We stopped at the Point Arena lighthouse, a stop well worth the time.  The site features a small museum and gift hop and tours of the lighthouse, requiring a climb up 140+ stairs up a circular staircase.  The climb was well worth it for the views, and the guides were very informative.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Arena_Light

Pa lighthouse

Port arena lighthouse

Califofnia coast from lighthouse


Caroline on top of Point Arena lighthouse.

Caroline on lighthouse


Leaving Point Arena, we continued south on the coast highway, slowly I  might add.  Conditions did not allow for driving much over 25-30 mies per hour for long stretches.  We had a very forgettable lunch at the Lucas Wharf in Bodega Bay, then shortly after lunch  CA 1, our highway, turned inland and the driving got easier.  We then cut over through some very pretty farming and wine country and joined CA 101 and headed into San Francisco.

In San Francisco, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf, conveniently located to the tourist attractions of Fisherman’s Wharf and to the bus stop for the tour bus, Big Bus.  We ate dinner at a mediocre Italian restaurant then called it a day.

Next morning we hit the bricks early, actually the hop-on hop-off Big Bus, and started to see San Francisco.  the first stop was the Ferry Building. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Ferry_Building

Ferry building

Ferry bldg clock tower

Inside ferry bldg

Near ferry bld 1


Caroline outside Ferry Building.  Shopping of course.

Caroline at ferry bldg


The Big Bus was a popular way t get around San Francisco as a tourist.  This is the crowd waiting to board two full busses stopped at Union Square.

Line waiting for hop on bus at union square


I don’t think this guy was waiting for the bus.

Catching a nap


We rode the Big Bus across the Golden Gate Bridge, sitting on the open top of the bus.  at 50 or so miles per hour, it was a windy, cold experience, but great views. Heer is a view of Alcatraz in the distance as the bus went across the bridge.

Alcatraz from bridge


Some other views from the bus:

Another view from the bridge

Bay from bus in parling lot


We spent some time in Chinatown of course.

Entrance to chinatown

Chinatown 1

Chinatown 3


Caroline loves socks.

Sock store


A couple of other shops in Chinatown:

Shop in chinatown

Shop in chinatown 2


Some other views around the town:

Land of the sun 


Sf 1 park

Sf 2

Sf 4

Sf 5

Change in the world


We rode the cable car up to the top of Lombard Street, the most windy street in the world, or at least in San Francisco.

View from nob hill 1

View up nob hill


Finally a pencil sketch of a gnarled old tree that caught my attention.

Tree oft pencil


Unfortunately, we had to return to reality.  A really great trip with my daughter.

Posted in Photography, Travel | Leave a comment

Travels With Caroline – Part 3

We had an uneventful drive south from Leggett to Mendocino.  The weather cleared up as the drive went on, turning into a beautiful day on the California coast.  As we approached the turn to downtownMendocino, this view assaulted our senses:

Mendocino bay 1

We arrived in Mendocino about lunch time and starving, so our first stop was the Goodlife Cafe and Bakery.  A sign on the front door welcomed us, saying the Cafe welcomes all races, creeds, colors, genders and sexual persuasions, all were safe there.  We felt good about ourselves and entered confidently.  The food was excellent.  Fortified and safe, we ventured out to explore Mendocino.

Some views from around the town.

Mendocino bench cham texture signed

Mendocino pond and towe signedr

Museum and water tower Mendocino

Entertaining the kids.

Entertaining the kids Mendocino

Taking it easy in a bookstore.

What you do in a bookstore

This nice lady is homeless, begging for lunch money

Homeless lady Mendocino

I painted this as we walked by.  Another example of fake news.

Mendocino alley impression signed

This lovely model posed for me on the bluff.

Caroline in Mendocino

Mendocino does have a church or two.

Mendocino cburch nik

After Mendocino, we returned to Ft. Bragg, 10 miles north where we were spending the night.  We had dinner at a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant, Luna’s Trattoria.  The food was excellent and the service was just as good.  We then went to see the sunset at Glass Beach.

Caroline at glass beach Old man on glass beach

Glass beach signed

Glass beach sunset nik soft colors

Glass beach driftwood

The next morning we headed south to San Francisco.

Posted in Photography, Travel | Leave a comment

Travels With Caroline – Part 2

Leaving Portland behind, we headed to the Columbia River Gorge.  About an hours drive on I-85.  We went first to the Bridal Veil Falls. It was overcast and misting rain, great day for a walk on the trails. Below is a view of the Columbia River from the trail at Bridal Veil Falls.

Columbia river from bridal veil falls trail

The Bridal Veil Falls:

Bridal veil falls 3


There has been an unusual amount of rainfall in the Pacific Northwest this winter, and the falls were flowing mightily.  Below is Bridal Veil Falls as J. M. W. Turner might have imagined approaching it along the trail:

Bridal veil falls 1 turner


Multinomah Falls is more spectacular, as one would immediately note from the crowds there and not at Bridal Veil.  It was misting and there was a fog as you can see at the top of the Falls.

Multinomah falls soft


We ate lunch at the Multinomah Falls Lodge (which was a good choice) and then headed back past Portland to the Oregon Coast.  Our first turnout on Hwy. 101:

Coast1 okeefe


As one can see from the brilliant photography, the Oregon coastline is dramatic and beautiful.

Oregon coast 2


We spent the night in Newport, Oregon, a charming little town with an attractive harbor.  It was an overcast evening with showers spitting at times.

Newport harbor


The weather got worse as we drove south along the Oregon coast.  You can easily see the conditions from the following shots:

Oregon coast 3

Oregon coast 4

Oregon coast 5


Quite a storm had blown through Newport during the night and early morning, and little did we know at the time the effect it would have on our plans for that day.  Sitting at lunch in Coos Bay (at Sharkbites Restaurant, not recommended) I received a call from the Holiday Inn Express in Klamath where we were to spend that night. The coastal storm had knocked out power in the area, and the young lady suggested we stay at the next Holiday Inn in Eureka.  That would make what was already going to be a long coastal drive an hour and half longer. So, we trucked on.  Caroline did most of the driving through the bad weather, rain and high winds that morning..  

Crossing the California line, we were soon in the redwood forests. The only word to describe the redwoods is magnificent.  Redwoods can grow to 300 feet or more, and can live over 2,000 years.  The oldest know living coastal redwood is over 2,200 years old.  Most of the redwoods we see are 50-150 years old, and can grow to 100 feet in their first 50 years. Writing this blog entry the day before Easter, I am reminded that the oldest living redwood was probably over 100 feet tall when Christ was on earth. 

We spent the night in Eureka, California and continued south early the next morning.  We intended to turn off of Hwy. 101 onto coastal California Hwy. 1 ay Leggett, Ca. Arriving at the intersection the road was closed.  There is a redwood tree attraction in Leggett on Hwy. 101, and paying for the entry fee, the attendant , who works for Catrans during the week, explained that there were two major landslides a week apart that completely blocked the road.  Sp we too a small detour.  First, a drive through redwood.

Chandelier tree


The weather finally cleared as we drove south toward our next stop at Mendocino, Ca.  But that’s another story.

Posted in Photography, Travel | Leave a comment