A Highlander Returns Home. 200 Years Later.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Humunn, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Heading further east then south into whisky country I find myself on an official "whisky trail" marked on the roads in the Speyside region. So many distilleries yet so little time! I was glad to be able to see the Glen Ord but I had to at least pass through this place. The Macallan was my choice of scotch back in the day.
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  2. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Continuing south on the A939 up into the Cairngorms I pass the Lecht ski area. The base is about 2,100 feet and the road is one of the highest main roads in the UK. The feeling of elevation can be relative. While it seemed like I was on top of the world it was odd to realize that back in the states my house sits about 1,000 feet higher.
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  3. NickW1

    NickW1 Been here awhile

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    Yes altitude is deceiving if you're at sea level looking up too 1000m.

    There is so much to see and so many roads. Humunn, if you have time one of my favorite motorcycle roads is the A83, in good weather :baldy from Arrochar all the way to Campbeltown. In good weather its a corker especially from Furnace to Lochgilphead; but be careful, there is no room for error as too many bodachs (old men) have lost their lives running the Kintyre TT.
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  4. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    I see that on the map. Looks fantastic and I just missed it. Next trip!
  5. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    En route to Ballater I nearly have an uncomfortable meeting with a car on one of the old blind bridges. What are the odds of that?!
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    Arriving in Ballater I don't have a room so I ask for suggestions at the restaurant where I'm parked. They gave me a couple and said, "or the hostel is right there" pointing across the parking lot. Wasn't super interested in that after my group camp experience earlier in the week but I also wasn't fond of getting back on the bike and I wanted to get out of my riding gear and get a drink on ASAP. These factors pushed me to at least inquire at the hostel.
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    Super nice host tells me they have a single room and it is five feet away from the reception desk. Getting out of my gear and getting my drink on is getting closer by the minute. Bam, I take it and am getting on with my life. And the room name works for me too!
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    A few new thoughts about hosteling from a middle-aged motorcycle rider. I'm glad I stayed here, it changed my opinion, and will do it again for these reasons: I don't spend a lot of time in the room, just need bed and shower, but don't want to spend a lot of money. I'll lean toward getting my own room (unless I'm traveling with a moto buddy). I have too much stuff that I don't want to worry about or have it get in the way of someone else. Must be clean. I can't handle the evidence of someone else's visit.
  6. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    A quick shower and I'm off to find a local pub. A couple blocks away is the Balmor Bar. Has a sports bar feel to it. The World Cup is on and there is room for me at the bar. A few Danes are sitting on one side and Croatians on the other. Perfect.
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    I strike up a conversation with this German couple. I expressed my condolences that Germany was out and surprisingly she said, "they deserved it." She pulled no punches. I ask them if people ever say he looks like a well known celebrity. They answer before I can finish the question. Guess who?
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  7. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Monday July 2. Last ride day :-(

    Local intel tells me to have breakfast at the Bothy Ballater and it was great intel! Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, my favorite meal of the trip.
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    It is about now that reality is trying to push its way back into my life...and I'm resisting the best I can. But in the end I know I'm no match for it and it will eventually win. So I go with the flow and ponder the days on the bike, the great people I've met along the way, the history, differences between here and home, work, my family...and maybe when I can come back again.

    I need to be back in Edinburgh by 5 to drop off the bike but until then I'm still free and riding a motorcycle in Scotland on another beautiful sunny day. A few miles down the road is the Balmoral Castle. I stop in to visit the Queen but she must not have received the memo that I was in town. Pretty nice place for a summer retreat!
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    Since the castle is still used by the Royals only the ballroom is open for viewing. Lots of interesting history and the grounds are expansive. From the parking lot the castle is short walk (or by cart). On the way back to the parking lot I took the dirt road by the river and stopped and pondered how long it had been since this had been in use and who may have used it. If the walls could talk. IMG_20180702_115514.jpg
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  8. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

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    Very cool. My fathers' family came from Ireland. It would be cool to take a trip to see if I could find any O'Nicholls there.
    "I ask them if people ever say he looks like a well known celebrity. They answer before I can finish the question. Guess who?"

    Andre the Giant?
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  9. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    So happy you had an excellent journey! Thanks for sharing it with us!!
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  10. mattoid1

    mattoid1 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for sharing, I'm envious.
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  11. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Yes, very cool. Hard to explain the feeling of setting foot on the land where your ancestors lived...and to do it on a motorcycle!

    Andre the Giant. Hadn't thought of that but you are spot on. He does look like him. When I asked if people say he looks like a celeb they immediately responded "Tom Jones" which is who I was thinking. I asked him if he could sing a few lines of "Hello Pussycat" but he said it didn't have the same effect with a German accent. :0)
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  12. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    To wrap up the ride I headed south out of Braemar on the A93 to Blairgowrie then the A923 west to Dunkeld. At Dunkeld my original plan was to head north on the A9 up to Pitlochry then head west on the B8019 out and around Loch Rannoch, drop south on the B846 and make a similar westward out and around Loch Tay and then head south on the A826 to the A822. But I was worried about time so at Dunkeld I cut out the two Loch "out and arounds", crossed the A9 and jumped on the A822. While I had to cut out a major section, and not see the two lochs, the A822 road and scenery were fantastic (just like all of Scotland)!

    From here it was a casual cruise into Edinburgh on the major highways M9 and M8. The BMW dealership is in Dalkeith, a suburb to the southeast of Edinburgh. It was easy to navigate back to although I blew a couple roundabouts (again) and almost got stuck in rush hour traffic leaving the city.

    Made it back to the dealership about 20 minutes ahead of time and they were already waiting for me. This is normally a day off for them but they were great at accommodating my schedule. Miles for the day 160, miles for the trip 915.

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  13. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Reality really set in when I had to pack my bags for the trip home. This trip was at the tail end of another trip and I had packed as efficiently as I could (read: no extra room for anything) but I bought a few things along the way and had to find a way to get my motorcycle gear (boots, Klim Badlands coat/pants, helmet, etc.) all back into a small suitcase and 55L backpack. My suitcase was packed so tight it blew out a zipper.

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  14. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    But my trip wasn't over yet. I still had the evening in Edinburgh. The dealership called a cab for me and two other riders. We were going to the same general area of town and split the fare. My first day in Edinburgh I stayed on the south side of town and spent the day seeing the castle and Royal Mile. Tonight I stayed on the north (or new) side of town here on Castle street.

    The guest house was on the fourth floor with no elevator. I had read reviews where people complained about having to climb the stairs. Even with all my gear I just counted it as more exercise. Room was small but clean and perfect for me.
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    I was a block off of Rose street which is now a walking mall. No vehicles. Lots of great shops and outside dining.
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  15. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    I live in a small town in Central Oregon. We have lots of dining options as long as it includes beef in the form of steak or hamburgers and chicken as long as it is BBQd or deep fried. Oh, and you can get salads too. When I travel I long for something else...anything else. So, when I heard there was a highly rated Indian restaurant I was all in. This place was great.

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  16. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    It was well after 9pm by the time I got back to my room and I needed to get some rest before my 30 hour trip home. Up at 2 am I gathered my things and headed for the airport. Local intel suggested I take the bus to the airport instead of a cab or Uber. Good advice. It was a short walk to the bus stop and cost about 5 pounds versus 30. Here's what Edinburgh looks like at 230 am.
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    At the bus stop the scene was a little different. My frame of reference was morning...early morning but still morning. The bus stop was next to a couple bars and there were young 20 somethings everywhere milling around smoking cigarettes. It was definitely not morning for them.
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  17. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    Here are my top "take aways/thoughts/highlights/what I'd do different next time" of the trip:

    1. The people are super friendly. I like to chat up locals and it was easy to do. We even talked politics!
    2. The weather was amazing. I was told not to expect that next time!
    3. You really can't cover the same miles in the UK that you are used to in the US. I'm not an iron butt. I usually cover 300-400 miles/day in the US. In the UK I would say the equivalent is in the 200-250 miles. The roads are much narrower (but the cars aren't) and many have almost no shoulder. 45 MPH is fast on many of these roads.
    4. The motorcycle rental experience at rentamotorcycle.co.uk. Fantastic!
    5. The route. I made up the route myself mostly because I needed to wrap in Colonsay. I spent a lot of time working on this ahead of time. Some of this time was well spent in terms of gaining some knowledge about the area I was going, but I spent hours researching and working on it. I met two other riders who were dropping their bikes off at the dealership same time as me. They bought a route plan from the dealership which included the route and all lodging. They were talking about some pretty spectacular not well known roads that were part of the route, and when they arrived at their destination each day their lodging was already waiting for them. This would take away a little of the ability to change plans along the way but in trade would provide presumably the best road, site seeing, lodging and restaurant options. If I had to do it again I would buy one of their tour options.
    6. The food. #1 scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, #2 indian food, #99 blood pudding. Ha ha.
    7. History. The area I live was settled post Civil War times (1860s) so my context for what is "historic" is less than 200 years. This pales in comparison to the history in the UK which goes back thousands of years. It was a mind stretching exercise to get my thoughts around this difference in time.
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  18. NickW1

    NickW1 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the ride Humunn.... Black Pudding is the best, my favorite!
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  19. Txjack

    Txjack Been here awhile Supporter

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    Hey Humunn, Thanks so much for the RR! My kids were about a week ahead of ya& covered much of the same area. They said everyone there went on about how great the weather was:1drinkThey wanted me to join them for at least part of their vac. but I'm retiring in Oct.& just couldn't work it in. Your RR gives me the incentive to do the same. Thanks again. btw I'm Irish/English
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  20. Humunn

    Humunn Agent Provocateur

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    It really was a great trip. The people were fantastic and the weather was definitely a pleasant surprise!
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