Tag Archives: travels

Day 6 – Meandering into Scotland

Today marks our final day in England and our last morning at Fenham Farm Coastal B&B. In preparation for the day, we headed for the breakfast room to fill up on another delicious English breakfast before a busy day of exploring.

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The main house is in the background…the lovely breakfast room…in the foreground.

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All set up and ready for breakfast.

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A wonderful room with coastal accents and lots of information for the curious traveler.

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The innkeepers – Watty & Gill Curry – a lovely husband and wife team…and part of the family of Christ!

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Saying goodbye to Fenham Farm – our favorite place to stay!

Farne Island - Glad Tidings 6

If today had gone as planned, you would have found David and I aboard the Glad Tidings – a tour boat harbored in Seahouses, England – that would have taken us to the Farne Islands for a day of bird watching.

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Located right off the Northumberland coastline near Bamburgh, the Farne Islands are one of Europe’s most important seabird sanctuaries. The islands are home to more than 20 different species, including puffins, eider ducks and three species of tern. Many of the birds are extremely confiding and visitors can enjoy close views. 

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Both David and I were hoping to see our first puffin, but this was not to be!  With rain in the air and wind whipping up a lot of wave action in the North Sea, all boat tours were cancelled for the day. 

As a second choice, we decided to meander through the English countryside, starting our day at Bamburgh Castle just south of Holy Island and offering a commanding view of the Northumberland coastline.

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Coming around a bend in the road, this is the first view we got of the massive castle.

Spanning nine acres of land on its rocky plateau high above the Northumberland coastline Bamburgh is one of the largest inhabited castles in the country.

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Once home to the kings of ancient Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle is one of Northumberland’s most iconic buildings. 

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Entering the castle grounds through the impressive gatehouse.

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A small section of the inner ward…heading towards one of the many entry doors!

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A bronze cast of the entire castle and extensive grounds.

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One of the displays in the China Room.

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More china…very similar to the Spode Tower I use at home.

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Entering the King’s Hall.

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What a spectacular room. You don’t see this everyday!

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North end of the King’s Hall.

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Helmets from the armory.

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Can you imagine this? Even the horses wore armor at one time!

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You can’t really tell from this angle, but the people who wore these suits of armor must have been very small.  Most appear almost child-size to me.

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A lovely sitting room with spectacular views.

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Deep in the lower levels of the castle…the main well is located right behind David’s right shoulder.

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An amazing array of weaponry – spears, swords, rifles and crossbows.

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And of course….every castle must have it’s dungeons.

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These torture chambers were much more gruesome than I had imagined they would be.  I was happy to leave this sight behind!

To see an aerial view of Bamburgh Castle, you can watch the video below:

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With the weather getting more blustery and the rain now falling in earnest, we decided to head inland to the small, rural village of Wooler.  We were hoping to visit a local art gallery, brimming with photos and handicrafts from local artisans. 

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Hmmm? Do we drive through this flooded roadway or don’t we? Of course we barreled crept through, but wondered what other surprises waited for us up ahead!

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This very ancient bridge most definitely was a surprise and could be accessed only one car at a time. Notice the sign…nothing wider than 2.0 meters could pass over the bridge.

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The lovely village of Wooler…looking down High Street.  Finding the art gallery closed for the day, we opted to walk around town and found a delightful place to eat lunch before heading north.

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Just a short way up the highway, we came upon this welcome sight… Scotland…we’re  finally here!

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Shortly after arriving in Scotland, the sun decided to show its lovely face!  It turned out to be a perfect day for visiting Eyemouth Harbor and Gunsgreen House – a historic house like no other.

Built in 1753 by notorious smuggler John Nisbet, the architecture included a number of secret hiding places where Nisbet housed his smuggled goods. The most smuggled item was tea, and the house contains a ‘tea chute’ right through it’s core where the leaves were stored away from prying eyes.

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Sunny day, but still a little chill in the air.

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Looking back up the River Eye towards Gunsgreen House.

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A friendly harbor seal that came in for a closer view!

Leaving Eyemouth, we headed a few miles inland to Coldingham where we would be spending a couple of nights at Rhovanion B&B.

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What started as a gray and gloomy day, had now turned into a beautiful and sunny evening and a perfect time for a stroll to the beach.

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There’s nothing better than a light supper by the seaside…

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…especially when this is the view before you!

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TO BE CONTINUED…

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Go West, Young Man…

For those of you who’ve come to this blog post expecting to read about Horace Greeley and westward expansion – harshly depicted in the photo below – you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

I don’t even know who Horace Greeley was, and I don’t remember anything much from Mrs. Nygard’s 6th-grade social studies class regarding westward expansion, other than the saying, “Go West, young man”.  But even this I got wrong.

According to a reliable source, the real quote is, “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country,” from Hints toward Reforms (1850) by Horace Greeley. There. You learned something new today. So did I!

Actually, I’ve been sorting through dozens of folders from an old Mac computer and finding hundreds of photos that had been downloaded, tucked into folders and sadly, forgotten.

I’m having a wonderful time digging them out and transferring them to my desktop computer; reminiscing about yesteryear and completely awestruck by the natural beauty of the West.  Some of the photos are just too beautiful to view alone, so I’ll be sharing them with you here. Photos like this:

And this…

In an earlier post, I spoke of our van’s propensity to always travel West. Well, these photos are living proof that we’ve been there many times and have fallen completely in love with the mountains and streams of western Montana.

One day soon, my husband and I are going to celebrate his retirement by pulling our little pop-up camper to the edge of the Madison river and set up camp for a month or so.  And the only noises we’ll hear, will be the gurgling of the mountain streams, the hoot of the great horned owl and howling of coyotes each evening.  Oh yeah…and the chattering of our teeth as we wake up in our unheated camper each frosty  September morning!

After 35 years of teaching, my husband will consider it pure bliss! I will too, as long as the grizzly bears keep their distance…miles and miles away from us!

This travelogue is a compilation of several trips we’ve taken in the past 8 years, so don’t be surprised when you see how our kids (and big D. & I) have aged!  Sit back and enjoy…

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Our trips out to Montana always start the same.  The plan is to be packed the night before;  exiting our home at the crack of dawn. In truth,  we’re lucky if we’re on the road by mid-morning!

As we’re driving through Floodwood, Walker and then Detroit Lakes – it doesn’t yet feel like we’re on another road trip. But once we’ve reached the North Dakota border, everything changes.  The pine and hardwood forests disappear, the plains open up before us and the world becomes this huge open expanse where we can see for miles and miles in all directions. It’s quite an awesome sight!


Like death and taxes, our first stop in North Dakota is always at the Wal-mart in Jamestown, where we pick up our supplies for the road – sketch pads, colored pencils, bottled water, Kraft “squirt” cheese and crackers!  I’m not kidding!  No vacation is complete without these road-trip survival items…especially the Easy Cheese!

When we were young and foolish, we’d drive like fiends and try to make it to Miles City, MT on the first day.  Now that we’re older and wiser, we stop in Mandan and camp at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.


Located right on the banks of the Missouri River, the park has dedicated itself to the reconstruction, development and interpretation of the historical sites of old Fort Abraham Lincoln and the On-a-Slant Indian Village. There’s lots of history here and it’s a great educational experience for the kids. Who ever said that learning can’t be fun too?

In the summer months, there are also historical reenactments for the history buff and horseback riding for the adventurous.

The girls and I took the horseback riding trip one hot summer day. We plodded slowly along  a well-worn path and about 40 minutes later, had reached the top of the butte and the site of the original fort.  The views of the surrounding countryside were spectacular!


For those of you who thought that North Dakota was a boring state…I hope I’ve correct your erroneous thinking!  The beauty of the West starts before you’ve even reached the Montana border!

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After Mandan , our next stop is the wayside rest near Medora, in western North Dakota.  It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve pulled into this rest area and seen the same sights…the natural beauty of the area still takes my breath away!

The views of the painted canyons are breathtaking!

One of us always poses for a picture at the scenic overview;

and the picnic tables are a perfect place for us to take a break and grab a bite to eat!

One year, as we were returning home from our annual Montana pilgrimage, we were fortunate enough to see these here for the first time ever.

Truthfully, they were a bit too close for my liking AND they disobeyed the traffic signs!

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After we’ve refreshed ourselves and walked the dog, we’re back in our vehicle and headed towards the Montana border.

Upon crossing the border, we’re about to embark on the most difficult part of our journey – the drive through eastern Montana.  For the next 5 hours, we’ll be following the path of the Yellowstone River which we can see from the interstate, as it meanders for hundreds of miles.

Scrub and semi-arid to desert conditions cover large areas of eastern Montana. It’s pretty desolate here and all you’ll be seeing is sage, rabbitbrush, shrubby cinquefoil, snakeweed and prickly pear cactus. We’ve now entered rattlesnake county and are especially diligent to watch for them when we stop along the way.

Since all of our travels involve our children, I try and make sure to have something for them to do while in the car. If  I forget to bring something to keep them occupied, they will eventually stare at me like this,  thinking “Why does my mother keep sticking that camera in my face?”

But I don’t despair…our first glimpse of the mountains is only 334 miles away!  By the time we’ve reached Big Timber, the snow-capped Rockies are looming straight ahead.

Another hour on the road and we’ve arrived in Bozeman.  This is a fun and somewhat cosmopolitan city and there’s a lot to see and do. Often times we’ll take a walk down Main Street and window-shop or stop for lunch at a local eating establishment.  Our favorite is Burger Bob’s with their perfectly cooked burgers and waffle fries.  Mmmmm!


Occasionally, we’ll make a full day of it, heading on over to the Montana State University campus and the Museum of the Rockies.

There’s  something for everyone here – Dinosaurs under the Big Sky;  the Taylor Planetarium; a living history farm; the Northern Rocky Mountain History exhibit and several traveling exhibits.  There’s also incredible photo archives of the native Americans and pioneers that settled the West.  We loved it!

After leaving Bozeman, our route now takes us in a southward curve, towards Yellowstone National Park.

There’s a couple of highways that’ll take us there…we prefer Highway 287 through Four Corners and Ennis.  The roads here are wide open and the views are spectacular.  We’ve also gone due south out of Bozeman, on highway 191 towards Big Sky. The drive is lovely, but most of the road winds through tight canyons and the two lanes are very narrow and have no shoulders…not my cup of tea!

Whichever way we decide to go, we almost always end up at the West Fork Cabin Camp, located on highway 287 North, about 35 miles south of Ennis, MT.  We know we’ve reached the right place when we find this bridge to cross…

For those of you reading this blog…if majestic mountains; clear blue sky; sparkling , pure rocky mountain rivers; and (oh yes) large, beautiful trout excite you, then the West Fork Cabin Camp on the Madison River is the place for you!

We found this campground by accident and it really is a hidden gem! The camp offers 20 tent sites, 24 RV sites and 11 cabins.  Within 30 minutes of your cabin you can fish 13 of Montana’s finest streams and 13 lakes. We’ve stayed here on a couple of separate occasions, and as you view the following pictures, I’m sure you’ll see why this is such a great place to visit.

A cold, misty morning on the Madison river. On this particular day, we woke up to 30 degree temps and frost in the camper…in August. Come prepared!

The kids are fly-fishing for the first time and seriously ready to catch some trout!

Yes…ones that look like this!

Making sure the boots don’t fall down!

He’ll figure this out yet…

The smallest catch I’ve ever seen! “Mom…is it a keeper?”

Livvy…first time out and looking good! My advice: bring boots…the water is freezing!

Caught in the middle of a caddis fly hatch!

Second trip to the river and working the riffles…

A tired fisherwoman taking a rest.

Joining the group….our own Montana Mary!

She’s got the knack…this one IS a keeper!

Great day on the river!

Sunset over the Madison

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If it’s too windy for fishing, we’ll often take a ride over to West Yellowstone for an ice cream treat or take a ride through the Park.  It’s a quick 37 miles jaunt.  On our way there, we pass the famous Quake Lake. There’s a sad story here but if you want to learn more about the origin of this unusual lake, you’ll have to stop at the Visitor Center and discover it for yourself!

Upon entering the Park, we usually find an out of the way road to drive and if we’re lucky, we may even see some wildlife…

This elk was so close to the truck that I almost hit it!

I don’t know where this coyote was heading, but he wasn’t disturbed by our presence.

New tree growth after the last fire…

We take these warning signs very seriously!  Our life or health may depend on it! If we’re lucky enough to see some buffalo, we always view them from the relative safety of our car.

Take a look at the size of these creatures…

After we’ve seen enough wildlife and have tired of fighting the summer traffic jams in the Park, we’ll head back to West Yellowstone and join the hoards of folks that are buying their fill of official Yellowstone souvenirs…all made in China.  Not our family…we prefer the green foam buffalo horns that are made in Taiwan!


All joking aside…it really is a fun if not kitschy town with an old-fashioned candy store on every block, hundreds of overpriced hotel rooms, and enough Yellowstone  National Park t-shirts to clothe all the folks West of the Mississippi!

If this travelogue has encouraged you to plan a trip out West and you find yourself near Yellowstone National Park, make sure to plan a visit to the town of  West Yellowstone.  No trip out West is complete until you do!

You just never know what you’ll find there…




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Filed under Montana, My Travels

My cup runneth over

I was recently looking through some pictures that my daughter had pulled from one of our family photo albums. She was putting together a picture board (of herself) for her high school graduation party and wanted to include some photos of her growing up years. And because digital photography had not yet hit the mainstream of modern life, she’d made scans of hard copies and sent them (electronically) to Wal-mart for reprinting. Oh what a marvel is this electronic age! The scans, she saved.

With her permission, I browsed through her thousands of stored pictures and came across these select few. They took my breath away! They made me laugh. They made me cry. I remember these times like they were yesterday. And even though the busyness of child rearing almost made me crazy and I was afraid that I would ruin my children’s hope for a normal future, I am thankful that He entrusted me (and big D.) with the privilege and responsibility of raising these three young’ins.

My heart cannot contain the gratitude I feel. My cup runneth over….

September 8, 1996

Nine months later…

An early Spring…April 1998

Wandering together in eastern Washington – August 1999

The list continues…

4. The wonder and beauty of the family unit

5. Grace, grace and more grace to do the job that’s before us

6. My man…strong enough to keep me in line; tender enough to assuage my fears

 

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Filed under My Gratitude