Passing Ben Nevis, the Visitor and Community Center was in the same building as the Ben Nevis Distillery.Very characteristic of Scotland.Alcohol is symbiotic with all most of Scottish life.Onthe bus ride to Inverness, the early morning site of the highlands is, as always, magnificent.The clouds rest over Ben Nevis' peak, but every now and then a view of the climb peeks out through a foggy break.I think it's one of the hardest or highest climbs in Scotland.Had I known or did my homework, I would have stayed longer in Fort Williams and climbed to the top.Then again… maybe I wouldn't have.My right knee is currently wrapped in tape and I still have a dull headache from last week's adventure.My knee (and left ankle) would've made it difficult to climb with.One could say I'm just being a wuss, but my body just isn't the same as it used to be.When I get sick, I really get sick.When I hurt something, the pain tends to linger longer and more intensely.I tire a lot more quickly and deeply now as well.I wish it was just a matter of saying, "Get over it Summer and toughen up."But… contrary to popular belief, I am not the Bionic Woman.Not even Wonder Woman.If only I could be as hot and as indestructible as her.Yes. That would be fantabulous.But I'm not.I'm just Summer and Summer has got to be a bit more mindful now.
Inverness was a very busy city, but one I only passed through.No regrets, though.I am not interested in the noise.I wanted to see the real Scotland - the one people live in.Driving from Inverness to Egrin (?) to catch a train, the landscape changed drastically the farther I traveled away from the highlands.There is farmland all around… rolling green and golden hills lined with pine woodlands and purple… something-or-other flowers.The sky is bigger out here and you can see for miles.There isn't a mountain, or 'Ben' I should say, in sight. Even the cows change shape, size and fluffiness.In the highlands, the cows and bulls are longhaired and big-horned.In the farmland, the cows are much like the norm… your regular garden variety.This is such a rich and varied country.Oddly enough, the woodland areas and overgrown greenery everywhere make me miss Florida - the backwoods parts.Come to think of it… everything makes me think of home.It's just that I miss home all together. Now, I don't wish to be anywhere else than right here at this very time in my life, and I am very happy to finally see the country that I've dreamed of traveling to… but it's not home and I'm alone.Don't get me wrong - I don't mind being alone.Not at all.I'm enjoying my freedom of movement and independence.Plus… whatever hang-ups I experience are mine alone.Meaning, I can only get frustrated with myself thus realizing how ridiculous it is to be frustrated in the first place.Good life lessons.However, I don't have anyone to share this with.Aside from the past week where I shared a unique experience with a group of, now, very good friends, this trip is just me, myself and I.Oh… and my traveling troll buddy, Norm.But he doesn't talk back.Just silently creeping people out with his big grin and glossy eyes.But being alone is not really a big deal.It's an awesome opportunity for reflection and introspection.I need this time to let the things I learned about myself while canoeing and camping sink in. It's good to just be.
From Aberdeen to Rattray (Peterhead).
After finishing the two-hour bus ride to Inverness, I lugged myself and pack(s) over to the train station where I was put on another bus to be taken to a different train station.Why the train didn't come all the way to Inverness and pick us up is beyond me, but whatever.I following directions like a lemming and did what I was told.That bus ride was another 45 minutes, and then onto an incredibly crowded train towards Aberdeen.Arriving in Aberdeen, I now had no clue what to do, where to go, or how to get to my reserved hostel.So I grabbed a cab.Cabbies always know what's up.Well, this one didn't.I told him the city nearby the hostel and his eyes got real big."That's about a 45 minute drive (the other direction)… it'll cost about 70 pounds."No way Jose."Take me to a car rental place."Not thinking about Saturday business hours, we pulled up to Enterprise and it was closed.Uh-oh.He knew another one.So we drove to a local company - by back roads, I might add.Those kinds of routes make me a bit nervous.But it was "all good" and we arrived safely.This one was still open.I ran inside and asked if I there was a car available.Not quite a 'car,' but a vehicle was definitely available.She pointed out the window at "the van."It was a tiny two-door cargo van with no back window and one sliding door on the side.It was a smaller version of the kind kidnappers roll up to people on the street to pull them inside.Good I enough.I waived off the taxi.Boy was I filled with a whole lot of different emotions: nervousness mixed with excitement.I was excited that I'd finally have control over my own movement, but nervous because I'd never driven on the left side of the road.If that wasn't enough, I found out upon getting inside that it was - a stick shift.EVERYTHING is switched around.Muscle memory had to go out the window along with my ego.I'd driven a stick shift many years prior, but now the clutch and controls were 'backwards.'Not to mention I hadn't driven, really, in about 6 months.Oh joy, Oh joy… and it really is. What an experience it's been driving around in that 'precious' little thing.Granted, I turned the wrong way on the traffic circle and veered into the right lane with oncoming traffic, but it was just once and I learned my lesson… I hope.Three more days of this… we shall see.However, the majority of the roads I am traveling on are country roads and usually empty.It's the small neighborhoods that make me a big sketchy.But driving through the countryside is such a treat!I've really grown to love more simple things in life rather than the fast pace of the rat race.This is small-town country.It's quiet, slower and peaceful.I couldn't be happier.This place was a good choice.