Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day 11: Election Day!

When I woke up in the morning, I found this stowaway on my groundsheet.
Sept 18: I woke up to some of the thickest fog yet which limited my visibility to about 20 feet. Views of Lock Ness would be lacking today! Unless, of course, the fog burned off or the trail dropped below the clouds. I couldn't tell if the fog went all the way down to the water level, but I suspected it did.

The trail passes a lot of clear-cut areas along the route and today was no exception, but today I actually saw the logging operation in action--a single machine that could chop a tree down, strip it of branches and leaves and cut the trunk into convenient lengths. It ate up the trees one at a time, but was remarkably efficient and it fascinated me to no end. I took several videos. They aren't exciting videos, but maybe you'll find it interesting too....

Late in the morning, I arrived in the small town of Drumnadrochit. Don't ask me how it's pronounced because I have absolutely no idea! Immediately as I walked into town, I remembered that today was the BIG DAY! It was election day in Scotland! And it was kind of an important election since today would decide if Scotland was going to break off from the rest of the British Empire--or not. If the polling station I passed wasn't enough of a clue, the newspaper rack filled with election day coverage should have been a clue as well.

But I couldn't vote, so I just amused myself by watching the proceedings. According to the latest polls, the vote was a statistical dead heat. Those for Scottish independence seemed certain that they would carry the day, while those who were against it seemed certain it would fail. Based purely on the banners and signs I saw along the trail, the "Yes for independence" signs far outnumbered the "No thanks" signs. I didn't really give such a crude count much credibility, though. Just because the "Yes" signs far outnumbered the "No" signs didn't mean more people wanted independence--it just meant that they were much more vocal and probably had much stronger opinions about their views. A vocal minority doesn't win an election--just the war of signs!

I absolutely hate those stupid signs for or against propositions or politicians. It seems incredulous that anyone has ever seen an election sign in a stranger's yard and think, "You know, I was going to vote no, but because this person I don't even know posted a sign on his house and a bumper sticker on his car, I've changed my mind. I'm voting yes now!"

Seriously? Does that happen? I suppose it does since those signs come out year after year and, as evidenced in Scotland, in countries besides the United States. Worthless heaps of paper.

But strangely, being in Scotland where I couldn't vote, I found them more amusing than annoying. Especially those Yes and No signs on the exact same pole. I still think the GDP of Scotland probably went down by 0.0001% with all of the time and money they spent making signs and posting them, but hey, it wasn't my money or time being wasted this time. =)

At the market, I resupplied food and noticed that they had Kinder eggs. I remembered Karolina first telling me about these eggs with a toy inside, and I also remembered Amanda telling me that they're actually illegal to take into the United States. Illegal! A simple chocolate egg with a toy inside? Apparently, the United States considers it a choking hazard for children, and therefore Kinder Eggs are banned in the United States. Nevermind all of the other choking hazards that are allowed into the United States, but Kinder eggs? Nope.

To be fair, it kind of makes sense. You put little plastic toys that kids can choke on inside actual food, it probably makes the choking hazard more significant than if the toys aren't in a food item.

But because I knew they were illegal in the United States, I wanted one! I wanted to buy something a little dangerous and illegal. A black-market toy industry. At least it would be if I were in the United States.

So I bought myself a Kinder egg and a "Ryan" Coke bottle (they had my name--how could I not buy it too?!) I parked myself on a pretty bench in an adjacent park and ate an early lunch then tackled the Kinder egg for dessert. =)

I photographed the whole process. Unwrapping the egg, cracking it open, opening the container containing the toy, then putting the toy together. There's also a video of me using the toy since the photo doesn't really show the toy working, but it's an awful video since I had one hand on the camera and the other trying to work the toy. And... well, it's a stupid toy anyhow. I grew bored of it after using it twice.

The fog was thick and spooky in the morning!

But still, I felt a little sleazy just using it at all, and I decided to keep the toy. =) I figured it was probably okay to take the toy into the United States minus the chocolate egg. It's still a choking hazard for children, but at least it's no longer in something edible! And come on, I don't even have any children! And Amanda should know better than to choke on this toy!

On my way out of town, I passed by Nessieland then left town on a horrible, busy highway. At least there was a sidewalk to walk along, but that might have been the worst mile to walk of the entire Great Glen Way. No views are boring, but a busy highway with fast moving traffic and no views is even worse!

Once I got off the road, though, the trail improved with a few small views of Loch Ness before heading over a ridge away from the Caledonian Canal and Lock Ness. All-in-all, it was an uneventful walk and I set up camp about 7 miles from the end of the trail. Which was great since I could hike into Inverness the next morning and take the train into Glasgow in time to catch up with Amanda during her layover there. That was my plan, at least....

Lock Ness is out there in the distance somewhere!
These signs have all sorts of interesting information about the history, people, geology and natural history of this area. Here's a few facts these information boards have about Loch Ness:
  • Lock Ness is around 800 feet (244m) deep at its deepest point and about 23 miles (37km) long.
  • Has a surface area of about 21 square miles (56 square km).
  • Has about 263,000 cubic feet (7447 million cubic meters) of water—enough to keep a city the size of Inverness supplied for around 18 months.
  • A depth of 500 feet (152m) only 60 feet (18m) from the shore at Foyers.
The Great Glen Way actually goes over this creek on the bridge, but I went down to get some water. I was running a bit low and wasn't sure I had enough to make it to town at the time.
This gate made me laugh since it's impossible to close! It doesn't reach out far enough to latch onto anything to close it! =)
Sheep on the trail!
One of these animals is not like the rest....
Stupid sheep are still on the trail.... I swear these animals are some of the stupidest you'll find anywhere. They could have stepped off the trail and I would have walked right on by, but I "chased" them down the road for the better part of a mile before they finally figured that out!
Lots of cobwebs lit up with condensation!

Logging operations along the trail.
I found myself engrossed at the efficiency of this tree-cutting machine!

The "goal posts" over the road are so vehicles with high loads don't accidentally hit the powerlines between them.
Overlooking the town of Drumnadrochit.
I thought these black dots on the leaves were a bit odd... that can't be good for the trees!
It's election day!!!!! I predict that the turnout is going to be high! =)
Seems like something important is happening today. But what could it be? =)
When I found this cute little bench in the park by the market, I knew I'd have to eat lunch here!
Yep, got the Coke bottle with my name on it. Check!
Got the Kinder egg--my act of rebellion against the United States. =)
Inside the Kinder egg is THIS!
And inside the capsule in the egg is THIS!
But what could it be? (Besides a choking hazard, that is!)
The toy from the Kinder egg in action!

They need to train every Tuesday and Thursday for a tug 'o' war? Seems to me like one practice session ought to be enough! Maybe even one practice session could be considered excessive....
Drumnadrochit must get a lot of tourists from outside of the United Kingdom if they have to remind drivers to drive on the left side of the road in six different languages!
They don't call this Nessieland for nothing!
You get the feeling that we're near Lock Ness? =)
Watch out for spiders on the trail! (I've gotta admit, I never would have thought my camera could take such an awesome spider photo!)
The sheep are always watching....
If you can't find Nessie by Loch Less, it's because you aren't looking very hard! =)
"Across the bay you can see the ruins of Urquhart Castle, a highly important fortress which gave control over this part of the Great Glen. For at least the last 1,500 years there has been a stronghold on this site." (As seen on one of those informational signs.)
These were pretty much the only views I saw of Loch Ness today.
It's a questionnaire about the trail I can fill out! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! =)
(Yes, I really did stop to fill it out--I'm not being sarcastic.)

The highest point of the trail! Actually, those two "high route" I followed yesterday did go pretty high and it wouldn't surprise me if they were higher than this point. But since both "high routes" are new, it's possible that this marker hasn't been moved to the new high point--if, in fact, one of them went higher than this point.

This is just an adorable little playground!
I sense that there's a cafe not far ahead....
I sense that the cafe has refreshments too.
And 100% cocoa. I'd never consider visiting a cafe without 100% cocoa!
And what about something to eat? Like sandwiches? Oh, you've got that too?
Some hot chocolate might feel good on a cold day like this, eh? =)
But what if I eat a big meal, fill up with hot chocolate and get tired. Then what? Vacancies at a campsite too?! You guys think of everything! (But I still passed the place by. And please note that I didn't even include half the photos I took of their signs on the 1 kilometer walk to the cafe or all of the signs facing the opposite direction when leaving it! They went a little crazy with signs!)

The clouds never did burn off. They did lift a bit to provide better views, but at no point during the day did it ever clear up.
Caterpillar on the trail!

The last sunset on the trail....

No comments: