Palace Day

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The Perfect Pour! The March of the Penguins, A Smooth Creamy Stout. Yippee! But what do we pair with that? Duane had a Steak and Ale Pie that was to die for. Who knew Pie could be that good? Pie, usually steak and vegetables in a pastry crust. It is basically a “Pot Pie” but really, really delicious! After something that yummy, what next?

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Sticky Pudding! This, when you get a chance to try, will be one of the best things you’ve ever had in you mouth. No, really, just scrumptious!

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Now, all we have to do is stay awake until 10:15. . . Which is, for you international readers, 2215! Paula hasn’t been up that late for years! I think we’re going to miss “The Gorms.” Damn!

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This is NOT Hollyrood Palace, but it is the fountain that is outside Hollyrood Palace. This palace, as you certainly know by now, is the home of the Queen when she is in this part of the world. Normally for some formal event like “Knighting” someone. They had pictures all over of when Sean Connery and Gordon Ramsey were “Knighted.” I would guess It is a dynamite place to spend a day or two.

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And just when I get you all excited about seeing a real Royal Palace they tell us to lock our cameras away. . . Too bad for you! It was a lovely home, and just so you know, the Queen has a dynamite palace. She may not spend much time here, but when she does, it is Royal!

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This is about all we got for a photo. Rather ordinary for a palace, but it was nice inside.

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This is just one corner. Inside that little round section is a staircase that will wear you out! There are no lifts in this place, so we climbed!

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I know how much you enjoy a good, solid, colorful stone wall, so I offer this for your “Wall of the Day”moment. This Wall has a secret door built in. . Nice huh?

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This is a much better picture of the castle we visited yesterday. Remember that one? They wouldn’t let us take pictures there either. We are saving so much on Film we can have two bottles of wine tonight! Wahoo!

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We did go to the National Museum of Scotland today and took no pictures worth sharing. Sorry about that, but no matter how much we enjoyed this massive museum  you would have hated it. It was full of Old Museum stuff and you know how Old Museum Stuff is simply not Photo Worthy. The picture above is simply a photo of Edinburgh from the roof. We love this city!

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They said, “It will last You FOREVER.” . . . Duane said, “Yes, but my forever is probably not going to require me showing up in a Kilt!”

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But then Duane saw this particular outfit and dropped his pants! His new Kilt Suit will be done in just a few weeks. As it turns out, that 600 Pound Price is just a starting price and does not include the shirt, tie, shoes, socks and jewelry. It also does not include the guy that ties the tie, so Duane stopped the sale before it got out of hand.

 

Angels With Bagpipes

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I was a little concerned when I heard the first Bagpipes this morning. Angels?!? And sure enough there they were, “Angels with Bagpipes” . . . This town just keeps on getting better. Now, to be perfectly honest, you had better love Bagpipes as there is, apparently, a law which states, “Someone, Somewhere, Somehow must be playing the bagpipes at all times.

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Even Hume approves and he is a tough one to please. The day will go forward from here and we will have bagpipe music to help pass the time whether we want it or not! Welcome to Scotland!

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Now don’t go getting all, “What’s that?” On me . . . I’m just showing things I thought you’d like to see. You don’t really want to know either. This is a Bell Tower. That is all we know for certain.

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Yesterday, as I approached this magnificent church, I asked a lady in an official looking vest if I could visit her church. She said, “Oh, Honey, the Scots don’t go to church. This is a concert hall and cafeteria.” “Well .” I said, “It’s a fine cafeteria.”

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We had better find something else to visit then. The Duke of York welcomed us to the Edinburgh Castle. This is a giant of a castle and still has some troops here for some reason. We spent 3 hours inside and had a great time. No, I can’t show you much, but  here is a sample.

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Honestly, I thought I had more pictures, but you’ll have to get by with this one. It is a massive complex with all sorts of wonderful displays (That you can’t photograph) all sorts of nifty, mysterious, Castle like rooms ( That you can’t photograph) and a real underground prison (That you can photograph, but you don’t want to)

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Here is a closeup of one of the many walls. Duane liked it and knew you would too.

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I offer this photo as proof that your life is so much better than the guy who has to put this on everyday. Can you imagine the rubbing and chafing and gouging that makes up a day in this get up?

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In addition to William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Hume and the Duke of York, Sir Walter Scott was a BIG DEAL in these parts. So big that he gets the hugest monument in the city. For your homework assignment today, tell us why Sir Walter was such a Big Deal? We’ll wait for your answer. . . . .

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This building, No, we don’t know what it is, is a model of all the other buildings in Edinburgh. Yes, we like it. Actually, Paula has declared, “I love this city!” On more than one occasion and we have several more days to kick around in here. Hurray!

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This gorgeous chunk of land is right in the middle of town, more or less and was packed with hikers today. We know you can’t see them, but there are thousands of people scaling this mountain as we speak. Hike! Hike! Hike!

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We show this picture primarily to prove that we had a spectacular day with lots of fluffy white ☁️ clouds and sparkling blue skies. Also, It is a great picture of a street and we know how you love street scenes.

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Here is Paula getting her Cashmere Fix for the day. This is also to prove that down on the ground floor many of these buildings are painted in lively, bright and sometimes shocking colors. Lavender seemed to be the color of the day for these merchants.  For the record. . . Paula does not need a down vest today! It is beautiful outside.

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You knew that before the day was over we’d find a church. . . . We did and they had a magnificent organ. We are wrangling for tickets to the organ concert, and if successful, we’ll jump for joy.

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The “Glass” in this church is simple extraordinary! We think that this place was never bombed during WWII and therefore much of this “Glass” survived intact.

There, that is all for today. We are so glad that we have 2 more days here as this city has enchanted more than most and we’ve been seriously enchanted before. We’re staying.

It doesn’t pay

It Doesn’t pay to confuse Paula. We had planned a fun filled day in Stirling, but then, when we got there, it was not at all clear that we were welcome, so we drove on. That’s the way we roll. Now, with full fanfare, we are happily bunked down in Edinburgh where they welcomed us with open arms. Perhaps they heard Paula had a new, no limits, credit card. We love it here and plan to stay for awhile. But First:

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They took them out of the oven and Paula grabbed one before it hit the cooling rack. Holy Smokes, these are delicious! We only had one, but that is never enough.

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Despite having a regrettable name “Stalker Castle,” this was a smashingly lovely scene right outside our breakfast place. Sure, it’s been vacant for awhile but I’m sure it could be fixed up in no time if you had $5,000,000 or so.

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Yes, this is the same Stalker Castle, but with different foreground flowers. We thought you’d want two views for your perusal. Puruse away.

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A long time ago, Paul McCartney wrote a song, “Long and Winding Road.” This was where he was when he began to write. Rather lovely, don’t you think?

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It leads to this place, “The Green Welly.” We assume you all know what a “Welly” is, but just in case. . . Here’s a better look at one.

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They originally were called “Wellington’s” but that was too difficult, so they became “Wellys” They are cute and extremely functional gardenwear. Buckle up Buckaroo!

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The Welly Stop is much more than a place that sells garden boots. You can actually buy most anything you need here. So we asked if they had any Scotch. . . They Did! This is about one tenth of the Scotch they had for sale. Duane didn’t buy any cuz he’s driving and the choices were just too vast! He’ll wait until he gets to Edinburgh.

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Yep!

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It is going to be a long few days with all these happy people! We’ve got cashmere sweaters, cashmere coats, cashmere scarves, cashmere socks, we’ve got custom made kilts, we’ve got Scotch Galore and we’ve got time on our hands. Wahoo!

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A quick walk into town and we met this guy. No, we don’t know who he is. We just met, but I’m sure we’ll strike up a conversation tomorrow if he can stay on his horse.

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Edinburgh is full of these guys, some on horseback, some just standing. . . We’ll meet them all as soon as we get some beers. Scotland, in addition to some mighty fine Whisky, has Beer.

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And, of course, if the World really is coming to an end we want another round. There are more pubs in Edinburgh than there are shops selling Cashmere. And there are a lot of shops selling Cashmere! We’re going to try to visit them all. We’ve booked 4 Days here and if that is not enough Paula’s card has no limits.

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Much of Edinburgh looks like this . . . Colorful shops below, standard block and rock construction above. Somehow it all works. We’ve only been here a few hours, but are already thrilled with our travel choices, decision making and eventual destination. Stay tuned for full reports on Edinburgh. This is what we’re looking for. . . The Really, Really Scottish!

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Scotland!

We backtracked a little today to see this castle, Inveraray. The drive, although a repeat, was lovely (Our New favorite word) and the castle was rewarding. As you can see, it was windy and cloudy. . . Not a problem!

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This is one of those rarities among castles. People (Royalty of some distinction) actually live here and call this home. Now, are you ready for the best part??? . . . . We met the Duke!!! The Duke of Argyll was just returning from his morning biscuit run and we ran smack dab into him in the garden. “Hello Duke!” We talked with him about 10 minutes asking how his day was going, the weather in Scotland and how his kids are doing in boarding school and whether we could spend the night (No we can’t) He was everything a Duke I supposed to be, handsome, intelligent, charming and knowledgeable. Very cool experience. The only other Royal person I have ever met is Paula, although we did wave at the king of Norway once and he waved back. We didn’t get to exchange email addresses or anything.

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The Gardens were just as fabulous as the castle and the Duke. It was quite lovely, although we were late for the daffodils and early for the majority of the blooming plants. . . . This place is going to be outstanding in a couple of weeks. We won’t return, but wish we could. Perhaps the Duke can e-mail us pictures.

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This handsome bridge is in the Duke’s back yard, and while we didn’t walk on it, it appears to be everything a bridge is supposed to be (Strong, Sturdy, Sunstantial, and Stunning.) I did mention to the Duke that his lawn could use a mowing. He’ll take care of it.

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Whilst roaming about inside the castle we noticed that The Duke had a few guns and asked, “Do you have enough guns and spears?”

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He said, “Turn around. We have plenty more.” . . . Oh, by the way, would you like to see the kitchen?”

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We would and here is your moment of “Wow! That’s a lot of Copper!

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This castle is somewhat older and does NOT come with a Duke or Duchess or dogs or anything. This guy’s lawn is in real bad shape, but probably in better shape than the castle itself. This is going to require some light restoration. It comes with a loch.

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I’ll bet you thought that as we are deep in the woods and surrounded by lochs, breweries and distilleries we would skip the “Church a Day” requirement. . .You would be wrong as the God Fearing Episcopalians have built this dynamite church right on Loch Awe. Yes, that’s it’s real name . . . Loch Awe! Duane would call them all Awe, but this one will do. This church, unlike all the others, which are built with limestone blocks or bricks, is built out of stones. . . Or as we say in Arizona, Rocks.

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Here is your daily rosette window followed by your daily stained glass. Nice huh?

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I have fought a good fight. . . I have Finished. . . I have kept the faith. You can’t say it better than that? Duane would only recommend that before the next fight they get some more substantial footgear. Fighting in flip flops is never a good idea.

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No more castles, no more Dukes, no more Lochs, no more castle ruins or nifty Episcopalians churches, but there is this. Oban is, for the majority, a stone built town, as you see on the left, stones, bricks, rocks, blocks, charcoal, grey, light brown and a few white buildings. This proud homeowners on the right said, “Screw You! I’ll paint my house any color I like. . . And I like yellow with blue trim. So there! We like it!

This afternoon we toured the Oban Distillery. There are no pictures as the Oban Fire Marshal showed up and declared, “No, No, No, No cameras or phones, the slightest spark from a digital camera could set off a massive fire in the Distillery and burn the whole town down.” Probably a good idea to keep the cameras and phones and pacemakers turned off.  The tour was excellent (By our guide, Kyle) and we got to sample the finished product without the 14 year wait. The distillation of Scotch Whisky really is a finely tuned science (Sorta) and the end product is truly extraordinary. Although offered, I did not buy any Scotch at the Distillery, but I told them I would tell all of you to run out and buy some Oban 14 year old Scotch. You will be glad you did. So, stop what you’re doing and run right out and get some. If you don’t like it just hang on to it and I will be around later to take it off your hands.

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No, this is NOT Duane, but it is his new stocking cap. Despite all the Sun damage and abuse of his body, Duane still has a face. This, however, is not it. This day has been like all other days in Scotland; cloudy, a little dark, drizzley, rainy, dreary, with small patches of sun (occasionally), misty and more sprinkles. With that comes the cold, so Duane bought a stocking cap. . . He now has 3. In this kind of weather one cannot have too many stocking caps.

Paula’s Had It. . .

For a long time Paula’s had it in her mind that Provence, or perhaps Tuscany, was the most beautiful place on earth. No more! After a drive through Scotland she has changed her allegiance to the far North. (She still loves Provence and Tuscany, of course, but WOW this is some gorgeous country!) In fact, given the chance to visit long lost relatives in Hamilton she chose “The North.”

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The Hamiltons will just have to wait. “The NORTH” awaits. It seems a bit iffy to simply declare The NORTH as a destination, but apparently these remarkable people are down with that. We can’t understand a word they say, but they are some lovely people. I think we’ll stay awhile.

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This will be our new home until further notice. Oban is packed full and in accordance with our policy of not making reservations ahead (A Great Policy) we are staying here instead of some fancy schmancy 4 Star. We are thrilled and our new friend, Robert, promises us a superb experience in his hotel. We will report back.

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Guess what we’re doing tomorrow? No second guesses. . . We’re going to the Oban Distillery as soon as they open the doors. This, in case you hadn’t guessed, is why we are in this remote corner of Scotland to begin with. The tour starts at 0900. We’ll be in line at 0800.

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Did they say, “Free Samples.”. . . . Wahoo! Duane loves Free Samples and Oban just so happens to be one of his favorites. A great day is ahead of us tomorrow!

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This! This is what’s in front of our Hotel. Did we say that Oban is a fabulous little town? This little bay is right in front of our Hotel and with this kind of scenery we may stay longer than planned. Our plans are always in flux, so this could fit in perfectly.

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Honstly, it just doesn’t get any cuter than this! That little blue boat if offering Boat Trips and that is exactly what we had in mind. . . After the Oban tour!

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And with this for you to ponder we leave you tonight. I am afraid we’ll repeat ourselves when we say, “We are loving Scotland!

A Day to Remember

We often say, after a few days, what did we do on Wednesday? Today we will not have that difficulty as we met up with great old friends, Mark and Gary, who now live in England. It was great to see them and hear of their new life in Heysham, England.

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Life is just better when you have great friends to meet up and share stories with. Gary and Mark were our next door neighbors in Tucson for years before they decided to see the world. We do miss seeing them every day, but it is even better to catch up with them now. Thanks guys!

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But before we met up with our old friends we made new friends. Here Maud and the kids, Ralphey and Charlotte, are found trundling down this long and winding road in search of new pastures. There is a storm coming Maud! Hurry along or get blown away by the winds from the north. Maud does not seem phased by the narrowness of the road as she apparently owns the road. You go Maud!

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If this city slicker in the tiny blue car bothers Maud and the kids Paula is going to slap him. Also, it must be pointed out, this trespasser is using way more than his side of the road. If this keeps up there’s going to be a collision and frankly Duane can’t afford any more damage to the Hertz brother’s cars. They get real agitated when you scratch their tiny cars.

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Way down there in the distance you can see the little road. Yes, it is narrow, yes it is bordered on both sides by solid, rock walls and yes there are sheep in the road. Some are just laying about waiting to scare the pants off an unsuspecting tourist.

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Lucille is just that sheep, although to be perfectly honest, Lucille does not look like a serious threat! We will keep our distance and get on down the road.

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This looks promising! Where there is water there must be a waterfall.

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Honestly, the first thing that crossed Duane’s mind, “I wonder if there are any trouts in that water?” No time to find out now. We are certain there is a waterfall in our future.

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Knew it! Waterfalls are always up stream of a rambling river. The trouble with photographs is that they only show a little of what is going on here. This is a spectacular walk in the woods and to get the full impact of this kind of wonderfulness you’ll have to go find a waterfall in a forest somewhere. Good Luck!

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Every great waterfall must have a rock bridge spanning the high point of the river. In satisfaction of that requirement, here is that bridge. Outstanding huh? Note the thousands of steps leading away from the bridge. We’re getting our steps in!

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This is simply a bonus photo. . . No trouts, no bridge, no Paula (Although she did climb all the stairs to get to this spectacular spot.) We have no pictures of the stairs, but trust me, there were hundreds and hundreds and Paula climbed them all. She was happy she did!

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I told you Paula was happy! Here she is dancing the Doe-See-Doe with is this guy. Duane, on the other hand, challenged him to a race. . . .

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Duane’s got this race won. He just resoled his Mephitos and with a solid, no slip grip and a clear focus he can’t lose. Besides, this guy seems a little too happy to be a serious contender.

Rocks, Grass and Bushes

Today we head deep into The Lakes District and all, of its wonders. We’ve already told you about some of the challenges and now we can show evidence.

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First, we wanted to show you “ The Green.” This climate does make for some green, green, green pastures. The sheep are not green, they are multi-colored.

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There are no sheep in this picture. We had to drive for miles and miles to find a photo op without sheep. We do Love the sheep, but wanted to show the beautiful countryside without those wooly creatures. Isn’t that a Great Wall?

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Here it is again from a slightly different angle. The countryside is simply stunning!

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We told you about the rock walls on both sides of the road. Here it is. Now, to be honest, this is one of the nice, wide sections of the road. The scary sections have the walls closer to the road and the road itself, much more narrow. This section is practically freeway width compared to most of the roads. Paula is dwarfed by the height of the walls and the walls are in awe of Paula because.

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Weve told you about the rock walls. Now you get a chance to see one up close. Nice!

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Duane couldn’t pass up the chance to be photographed with a big, green wall. I have said before, and will say again. . . They have built these rock walls EVERYWHERE, really.

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Now they’ve upped their game and built a whole bridge out of those rocks. NICE!

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No, we did not crank up the “Green” in this picture. It really is THAT GREEN! Well, maybe I cranked it up a little, but not much. This is some green countryside folks!

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No sheep, no swans, no ducks, no lambs, no holstiens. . . I just thought you’d want to see this. It kinda just takes your breath away.

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Holy Smokes! This is beautiful country. We drove for about 4 hours because each mile was more beautiful than the last. Here you can see the road conditions. Rock wall on one side (Ready to rip your side mirrors off ) and huge trees and a cliff on the other side ready to gobble up your rental car if you make a mistake. We are survivors. We will not be deterred by a few rock walls and sheer drop offs.

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Take care there are baby lambs about. It is lambing season and this “Spelling Challenged” sheep farmer wanted to make sure you know that they are out and about and possibly ont the road. Tek Care Y’all.

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Peter Rabbit is HUGE in this country. Beatrix Potter lived here or something. Anyway, we love the rabbits.