Through the Highlands on to Dornoch!

Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
Trip End Sep 14, 2007

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

   Now the 5th consecutive morning of Cardiac Breakfast, but oh is it delicious.  I got up early to put my things in the car, then had breakfast, avoiding the post meal aneurysm of hauling luggage on a full stomach.  Said goodbye to Blairgowrie and headed up to Pitlochry on "the scenic route" as the lady in the TIC said.  Thanks a lot.  It was a one lane road with more curves than a Victoria's Secret catalog, threaded between hedges and rock walls.  I'm sure it was scenic but I was simply trying to keep the car on the road amongst a gambit of crazed 70 mph locals and carefree sheep who meander out onto the road.  These people do NOT give a shite on the roads - they go as fast as they want, passing on turns and blind roads.  I guess it's not a country ride if you don't soil yourself from fear of death at least once on your journey.

   Once I had enough time to clean out my pants I was able to stop and take some good pictures of the countryside.  It was very scenic, and definitely the road to the Highlands.  There were signs saying "Lamb Crossing" and "Sheep Don't Understand Green Lights" (all hand painted of course.  The sheep were 100% right alongside the road.  Later on there was a man outside of his car with a newly painted sign in red that said "Fresh Lamb Chops".  Interestingly enough there was a dent on the front of his car.  What a vicious man to do such a thing!!

   P.S. The lamb chops were delicious. 

   No, no - that last bit was a joke, but I could see it happening.  Further along the land changed from farmland to heathland, with mountains in the background.  I finally got to Pitlochry and unlatched my white knuckles from the steering wheel in time to get on the A9, otherwise known as the "Road of Death."  It is the deadliest road in Scotland.  Why?  BECAUSE PEOPLE PASS AT ANY TIME!!!!  You have to pay attention for cars coming at you in your lane.  They just don't care.  They will zip in just at the last second - quite exhilarating.  (I soiled my armor!  I did it again!!)  Right above Pitlochry was the "Queen's View", a viewpoint over Loch Tummel.  This was not named after an English queen as you may expect, but after Robert the Bruce's wife.  Even though it was overcast, it was simply another indescribable view.  You can see for miles over the mountains and the loch, and it is a special place. 

  I stopped at a small cafe called Rialta Cafe where I was able to finally send an email to people to let them know I still existed, had some coffee and a snack for some energy.  For the first time in my trip it started to rain, although it was very light mist.  I pushed on through the Highlands and passed through Inverness.  Over the Moray Firth, onto the Black Isle (actually a peninsula), over the Cromarty Firth, and then finally through Tain and over the bridge towards Dornoch.  The bridges over the firths are impressive, as they are usually a mile long, but they give a tremendous viewpoint of the countryside up the firth/river.  I arrived in Dornoch around 2:30 and met Marrell, operator of the Amalfi B&B.  I also met Bruce and Jodi, the two black labs who make Amalfi their home (one of the reason I wanted to stay here).  They are two big softies who love attention and belly rubs.  The moment you walk into the hall Bruce rolls over onto his back and looks up at you like . . ."WELL!  Get on with it!"

   I changed and walked up to the clubhouse of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club which was all of 300 yards away (another reason why I wanted to stay at Amalfi).  I was able to get a tee time at 4:10pm.  I was struck by all the gorse.  Everywhere there is gorse.  This was a very visually intimidating golf course.  I was told that Dornoch is four degrees below the Arctic Circle, and yet I was playing golf in September - awesome.  I teed off by myself, but joined up with a member on the 4th tee.  There is not an easy shot on the golf course, and you can ruin your round on each and every hole.  There is not one break.  It is by FAR the hardest golf course I have ever played.  It has everything - wind, deep bunkers, gorse, hay, blind shots, fast greens, ocean.  What more could you ask for?  I couldn't find a rhythm on the course and it showed, hitting poor shot after poor shot.  Thankfully the course was so amazing I didn't even notice.  I did par the last hole however, which made it all seem worthwhile.  What an amazing place - I don't think anyone can call themselves a good golfer until they can get around that course in under 80 shots.  I get another shot tomorrow morning!
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