Monday, July 13, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation, Part 1B

So, we left Fort William and headed northwestwards to the Isle of Skye. You can drive to the island, but from where we were it made more sense to go to Mallaig and take the ferry.

We drove up to Portree, the largest town on the island, and wandered around for a bit trying to find a place to stay. We had great luck for Fort William and Inverness by using the help line, but had struck out in Portree. But no matter - with a bit of searching we found a place and got settled. That evening we wandered down to the harbor, got soaking wet throwing rocks in the water, had fish and chips for dinner, and listened to the local pipe band playing in the town square.

Some of us (me) love bagpipes, but the girls were not quite so convinced!

The next day, we continued our attempts to indoctrinate our children into the "joys" of backpacking by driving north from Portree to climb the Quiraing. We actually ended up going up on the other side of the road from the actual Quiraing, but the girls enjoyed it immensely. Devil walked most of the way up by herself, and when the rain started (practically the only rain on the entire trip), she put on her new pink raincoat and carried an umbrella on the way down.

We made it back to Portree in time to go for a boat ride out in the harbor and were lucky enough to actually see a sea eagle in flight.

Our boat captain injected a fish with air and threw it out into the water, while the sea eagle perched high up on a rock face and thought about it. Just when we were going to give up, he launched and swooped down to grab it. Apparantly, out of four trips that day, this was the only time he'd moved. The captain also told us of taking out boatloads of photographers, 4-6 times a day for three days, and the birds never even budging. So we got really lucky.

And then he let the girls drive the boat coming back into the harbor. They were thrilled!

Skye was a beautiful, barren, wondeful place. It reminded us of Alaska in geography and flora, only a bit warmer (gotta love the Gulf Stream!). Alaskan fauna was, thankfully, absent*.

Up next, the trip from Skye to Inverness and back home. More castles, monsters and dolphins!

*The badger is the UK's largest predator. Makes a big difference when you don't have to sing as you hike to warn the bears!