12mph America At The Speed Of Sanity

29Jun/101

Greetings from Lochcarron, Scotland

We arrived in Lochcarron two nights ago from Edinburgh. Between driving on the opposing side of the road as the U.S. & Sweden, we also encountered many skinny, windy two-way roads with other drivers who wanted to go much faster than us. Within the last 10 miles, we were down to a one-lane road to be shared with others. Passing ways a.k.a. pull-offs, can be found for one car to wait on the other. But, sometimes we just wince and hold on!

We are staying at The Old Manse Lochside B&B. It is lovely. Trevor and Fiona (the owners) have provided delicious Scottish Breakfasts. Most amazing though is that Steve & I have a view of Slumbay from our bedroom window. Slumbay is at the southern end of Lochcarron and is mentioned in Great-Grandfather Lachlan's journal. Slumbay is where he enjoyed going as a child to skip stones across the sea water or to throw in stones and watch the widening circles from these tosses. I brought a nice flat stone that I found on my parents' tombstone a few weeks ago. I decided that it would be the stone that traveled with me to Scotland and would be the stone to be skipped as Lachlan once did.

We introduced ourselves to the local buther, Roddy MacLennan, who was in the midst of business when we popped in. After a 10 minute visit with him, he recommended that we drop in on Roddy MacKenzie down the street. Roddy was the former undertaker in town and seemed to know quite a few people. Our attempt to drop in was not successful, so I wrote a note to Roddy MacKenzie and left it in their maildrop. He called last night and we set a time of 3:30 p.m. today for a visit.

Roddy and his wife Janet invited us in to chat. We discovered as we talked with Roddy that any remaining MacLennan's in Lochcarron are likely very, very distant relatives. MacKay as well. He and his wife suggested that we pay a visit to the Highlands Archives Center in Inverness, where parish records, birth, death, and marriage records are now kept. The old Lochcarron cemetery may be the site of my great-great-grandfather John MacLennan's burial, but poor families often were not able to purchase a gravestone. Knowing that they were quite poor, I shall assume that we'll not find a headstone. However, tomorrow or Thursday we will stop by the cemetery.

Great-great grandfather John MacLennan was born in Middlestrom, Lochcarron. Today we learned that Middlestrom is to the south of Slumbay. So we will make a visit to the area with its ruins in the next day or two. There are also ruins from Strome Castle there.

Tomorrow we will drive to the Isle of Skye. There is a very challenging road, "Path of the Cattle", which is supposedly the highest road in Scotland. We've read of the hairpin curves and very narrow roadway. However, reading also of the magnificent views that await us, we may make the attempt.

Friday we leave for Durness, which is way north in the Highlands. Cape Wrath will be a spot we'll try to visit. The views of the cliffs that are 920 feet high are said to be outstanding. From Durness we will head south to Fort William along the Caledonian Canal, which was the waterway that great-grandfather Lachlan, his mother Catherine, and a couple of his siblings took on their immigration route. We will spend a couple of nights in Fort William.

We canceled our stay in Ayr as it will push our schedule too much. We will fly by the seats of our pants that last night and hope to find a hotel room near Edinburgh airport for July 6.

Internet access is definitely a luxury right now. The local library in Lochcarron is opened three days a week with limited hours and 30 minutes of internet use each visit. So, for now we wish you all well.

If you need to be in touch via phone, we can be reached on Jeremy's international phone, which is working in Scotland! It did not work in Sweden so we purchased a phone for that portion of our trip.

Love,

Diane & Steve

Filed under: All Posts 1 Comment
26Jun/101

Greetings from Edinburgh, Scotland!

We arrived in Edinburgh last night after a frenzied time getting through Ryan Air's baggage weight restrictions. While we think it saved us some money to fly Ryan Air, the verdict is still out. Given all of that, the flight was fine and quite fun to look below at the passing clouds and sea.

I am thrilled to be in the land of my ancestory!!! I look forward with great anticipation to actually walking in the Northern Highlands along the shore of Loch Carron, where my great-grandfather Lachlan MacLennan was. His 112 page journal was photocopied by Steve for our trip. I anticipate walking the area where he walked and relishing in the pages from his journal written of Slumbay and Loch Carron, etc. My cousin Bonnie and her husband Michael did this on their trip to Scotland and I loved the idea.

Today Steve & I took a city bus to Waverly Station in Edinburgh. Then we walked Old Town and New Town, including a self-guided tour of Edinburgh Castle. Today was National Armed Forces Day in Scotland, so we witnessed a parade of the forces, including the traditional Piper's playing. We walked The Royal Mile, stopping at St. Giles Church and the home of John Knox, who turned Catholicism on its ear in Scotland as part of the Scottish Reformation towards Protestantism. We took a hike toward Arthur's Seat to take in the view of parts of Edinburgh. The peak was a little too strenous of a hike than we were after today as we'd like to save some hikes for the Highlands as well.

This evening we will dine at the recommended Fisher's Inn, highly acclaimed by our hosts at the Hotel Ceilidh-Donia.

Now for a little break from the day, we shall rest a bit, change into the dress clothes that we brought, and catch an evening bus back to Waverly Station for a 3-4 block walk to dinner.

Blessings from us to you!

Diane

Filed under: All Posts 1 Comment
25Jun/100

Scotland here we come

Eight minutes on my internet connection to go. This will be quick. We leave for Scotland later today on  Ryan Air. Looks like we may have enough British pounds to hire a taxi for our first stop in Edinburgh. If not, we at least hope they accept Visa. Rain forecast for the next 10 days is calling for rain in Scotland. Perhaps it will only set the stage for a very dramatic landscape. We understand that there are very few trees in the Northern Highlands.

I've taken roughly 1400 photos in Sweden. Scotland will likely provide more picturesque opportunities. We will be staying in Edinburgh for two nights, then onto Lochcarron, where my great-grandfather Lachlan McLennan spent part of his childhood. There for 5 days then onto Durness in the very north of the highlights in great-great-grandmother MacKay territory as far as I can tell. Two nights along that rugged coastline with a family that raises Border collies. Then a long day's drive to Ft. William to stay in a B&B. Bikes are rented in that area so we hope to at least get a bike ride while in Scotland. We are now debating our final night. Originally it was to be in Ayr, but I fear that we'll be pressing ourselves to much for time, so we may just find a room near the airport in Edinburgh for our trip back to Sweden. One night back in Sweden before we fly back to Chicago.

Okay folks. About out of time on this computer at the hotel. Must run.

Love to all,

Diane

Filed under: All Posts No Comments
23Jun/100

Finally….a computer!

Staying at hotels with wi-fi is one thing, but having one with a computer sure is better! We have enjoyed a whirlwind tour of the mid-section of Sweden. Mora in the Dalarna region was most beautiful with its tall, slim pines and white-barked birches. Our stay was enhanced by a cousin's dear friend, Ann Marie, who served as our personal guide. We saw the Swedish countryside with its red barns and homes, painted with a copper-ladened paint and crisp white trim. Little lamps in every window provide a warm glow at night.

From Mora we made our way to Goteborg about 8.5 hours south. En route we stopped for an hour of research at the Swedish Emigrant Registry, where we were able to locate four records on the family. As they closed, we were not able to research beyond that 60 minutes, but we have been equipped with the knowledge for further searches.

Goteborg was enjoyed by Lois, Evonne, and Beth. Unfortunately our rental car sustained damage to what we presume is the oil pan as we drove over a curb. Steve & I spent most of the afternoon negotiating through the language barrier with Avis to get a replacement vehicle. We were quite fortunate to be in a large city with an Avis, otherwise we would easily have been stranded for days if we were out in the countryside. The 2nd day in Goteborg (Gothenburg) we drove up the coast, past fjords, seaside villages, and crossed just into Norway to say we made it to Norway. The coastline drive was quite scenic.

Two days ago we drove towards Norrköping from Göteborg. Along the drive we took what we presumed would be a quick detour to possibly see where the Bengtson side of the family may have lived. Despite several attempts to call a distant relative two days prior, we decided to be bold and just knock on the door. Well, that knock on the door then led us to a 6 hour visit with 9 relatives! Included in that visit were two wonderful sessions around the table of two different homes. We made it to the home where Steve's great-great grandparents lived!

We greeted the midsummer's midnight sun that evening as we drove for several hours to our hotel in Norrköping. We arrived just after midnight and fell into bed as very tired travelers. All yesterday we shopped, strolled, and soaked in sunshine in Norrköping. Today we drove onto Stockholm again to a hotel within 10 minutes of Arlanda Airport. Our three traveling companions leave in the morning for the U.S. so we will be up early and off to the airport by 6ish. Steve & I will continue to Stockholm's 2nd airport later that evening for our Friday flight to Edinburgh, Scotland.

We hope that you are all enjoying summer now that it is here. We understand that the midwest is getting some summer storms and that Nebraska's had an unfortunate amount of rain and flooding.

Please feel free to leave any comments or email us so we know how you are doing too.

Love,

Diane

Filed under: All Posts No Comments
15Jun/102

We’re in Sweden!

We made it to Sweden. Three days in Stockholm were lovely. A boat tour under 15 bridges for 2 hours gave us a better grasp of Stockholm and its main archipelagos. We walked many footsteps during our 3 days as we needed to walk to bridges to cross water rather than just down the corner and across streets. Gamla Stan is the Old Town with its narrow streets, colorful storefronts, pastel siding, window boxes filled with large-faced pansies, and patterned walkways of stones. We toured the Vasa museum, where a ship built in 1628 sank within 1200 m of setting sail. Lacking the necessary ballast and weighing more than typical due to its 500 ornamental carvings, it quickly listed when wind gusts caught it in a vulnerable state with an open port hole. We also took in the National Museum, with its outstanding collection of art, including that of Carl Larsson. We were quite amused by Rembrandt's, The Conspiracy of the Batavians, since our most recent address for the last 20 years was Batavia, meaning we were Batavians! Sunday evening we were graciously invited to the home of Steve's 1st cousin, once removed. Kathleen and her husband Victor live in a fantastic older home constructed of granite, heavy wooden planks, grand doorways, and a million-dollar view of Norrmalm and Gamla Stan areas of Stockholm.

Yes, we have enjoyed herring, Swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam, and breakfast Smörsgabords. The coffee is very rich and satisfying. Breads are a big hit at breakfast as is yogurt, museli, boiled ham, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, & cheeses. Our breakfasts are quite filling and help delay our next meal each day. Seems as if we eat a later evening meal too and not so much. In fact we have the tendency to be the last customers in the restaurants each night!

Yesterday we negotiated our way from Stockholm to the Dälarna region of Sweden, about 3 hours northwest of Stockholm. We are staying in Rättvik at the SE end of Lake Siljan. Very tall pines similar to lodgepole pine in our country as well as birch are thick along the roadways. The closer we came to the Lake Siljan region, we began to see low mountain ranges off in the distance. These ranges are similar in size to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. Last night we quickly made our way out onto a pier in Rättvik to take in the setting sun with its brilliant colors dancing across the water. Ironically, being so far north we actually witnessed a two hour sunset! In fact, we made it back to the hotel with plenty of time to continue watching it plus Steve and I decided to leave for a walk. It was nearly 11 p.m. before we could say the sun was set.

Today we spent 7 hours with cousin Kathleen's dear friend, Ann Marie, who is from the local area. Ann Marie's hobby is that of a geneologist. She also has helped Kathleen discover more information about the Anderson family over the years. Steve's Mother's maiden name is Anderson. Today Ann Marie took us to several key locations in Mora, where Anderson predecessors once lived. It was quite powerful to walk the ground that great- and great-great grandparents once walked. We even discovered that the Anderson's are somewhat related by marriage to the great Swedish artist, Anders Zorn. Tomorrow we will return to Mora where we will tour Anders Zorn's home and museum.

We hope that everyone is doing well back in the states. We will be here until the 18th, when we will make our way to Götenborg about 8 hours south! Göd Jul.

Diane and Steve

Filed under: All Posts 2 Comments
9Jun/102

Tick…tick…ticking

Tick..tick...ticking...time is ticking as we prepare for our trip to Sweden & Scotland. Less than 24 hours from now we'll be en route to Stockholm, Sweden on SAS airlines for a much anticipated trip of a lifetime. We look forward to catching some shut-eye on the flight as we try to recuperate from a whirlwind month. Preparing to move our household, moving our household to Denver, putting our household into storage in Denver for 3 months, & traveling back to Batavia with stops to see family &  friends along the way, have all made us feel like we're spinning. Copies of pertinent family history are made, travel documents prepared, and a month away has been carefully managed.

Sweden will involve a tour of Steve's heritage including Olson (Felt), Ericson, Bengtson, & Anderson. Perhaps we'll return to the states with a St. Lucia crown as a souvenir. Steve has carefully copied family history that cousins have provided so that we can more readily search for more information or at the very least know where family once lived. After 13 days in Sweden, we will fly to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Scotland will be the place to capture my McLennan heritage in the Scottish Highlands. With great-grandfather Lachlan's journal in tow, I hope to discover more information about him and his family, who immigrated from Slumbay, Lochcarron. Additionally we'll stay at locations along their immigration route. Perhaps from Scotland we will return with a kilt!

Our Swedish stays maintain that we'll have internet access, whereas our Scottish stays may be hit and miss. Therefore, we'll update as time, language challenges, and internet access permit.

Please keep in mind that if you post a comment, this is a public site. We would encourage you not to provide information that would breach your privacy. That being said, we do hope you'll keep us posted as well.

Blessings!

Diane

Filed under: All Posts 2 Comments
5Jun/100

It is 2010 – and we are back – again!

Hi! www.12mph.com, America at the Speed of Sanity is active again. We set up 12mph.com in 2005 to keep track of us during the bike trip summer. And now the next adventure has started. No, not another bike trip. We have not come up with a catchy name, so here is the long explanation. We are in the process of moving to Denver. Our stuff is there, but we do not have a home yet. Diane left her pre-school teaching job of six years. I left my software development job of 22 years. We left our volunteer youth ministry of 18 years. And all this because I am enrolled at the University of Denver seeking a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution. Diane is deciding her direction. Diane and I would like to do something together - as the studies progress we are sure the path will become clearer.

Life has been very hectic the last 18 months. We sold our home of 19 years and moved across Batavia into a duplex. We started the process of downsizing. And despite the move into the duplex last year and the recent move into storage space, we have a long way to go. Then college applications and deciding on a school occupied a lot of time and angst. Saying good-bye to work, friends, community, church, and family was emotionally draining. So it seems a bit ironic to relaunch the blog whose title asks us to slow down a bit. Still, that is our goal - to slow down, enjoy life, and try to follow God’s calling.

Diane and I struggle with what to call this adventure. Nothing as simple as 2005 Bike Trip comes to mind. We will post travel adventures, updates on life, reflections, and perhaps even some conflict resolution stuff.

Stay tuned,

Steve

Filed under: All Posts No Comments