Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Family trip to the Isle of Arran

On Saturday August 1st our family was headed to the Isle of Arran for a mini vacation. http://arran.net/ The Isle of Arran is a small island off the west coast of Scotland, which is about 167 square miles in size and has a population of about 5,000. We got up early, had breakfast at the hotel and set off in three separate cars to drive to the West coast of Scotland. We drove to a town called Ardrossan, which is where we would take the ferry over to the Island. The ferry ride was about 50 minutes long and took us to a town called Brodick.

Windmills in Scotland

Ferry pulling into Ardrossan

Rich and Pete

The approach to Brodick

We arrived at the Auchrannie House Hotel shortly before dinner time and unpacked our belonging and headed to dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants.

I got up early on Sunday morning to go for my long run. I headed out on the coastal road and ran to a small town called Corrie. I can't get over how nice it is to run in scenic places away from home. It was simply beautiful with spectacular views of the mountains of Arran and of the coastline. It's times like these when I wish it was convenient to bring my camera along when I run. I ended up running a total of 10.25 miles, which is my longest run in quite a while. I am happy to say that I didn't take any walk breaks, partly because I'm in better shape and partly because there wasn't the heat and humitidy that I'd have at home. My feet were still bothering me, but everything else felt really good.

I came in from my run and took at quick shower eat a little breakfast and then headed out for a hike with Rich, Pete and Sue. Our destination was the top of Goat Fell mountain, which is the highest peak in Arran at 2,867 ft. The hike up the mountain was awesome. It was a very basic walking trail with a little climbing needed at the top. Sue was not able to come all the way to the top due to knee pain so she waited part way up while we made it up to the summit. With Richard leading the way we made it up to the top pretty quickly. The views from the top were really beautiful. We took a few pictures and then headed back down to meet up with Sue and make our way back to the hotel. The entire hike took us about five hours. Once we made it back to the hotel we showered and changed and went out to dinner.

Sue, Pete and Kate at the bottom of Goatfell

Kate, Rich and Pete

Views from our climb up to Goatfell

On Monday morning I got up early and ran 4 miles. I picked a route with a big hill in it since I knew I wasn't going to run every far and wanted to add some challenge to it. I returned to the hotel for breakfast and then Pete, Sue, Emma, Richard, Matt, Phil and I headed out in cars to do a quick tour of the Island. We stopped by the distillery and picked up a few things, but did not have time to do the tour. We also went to a place called Kings Caves, which entailed a short hike out and back to look at the Caves. We also stopped off at a Pottery place, a gift shop, and skipped some stones at a little beach. When we got back to the hotel we hit the swimming pool and I swam 20 laps. Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty good about keeping active during this vacation. We all got together for dinner at a hotel restaurant to celebrate Phil's 18th birthday.

Phil drinking Pink Shandy in celebration of his 18th Birthday and him reaching 'legal' drinking age

On Tuesday morning we were due to leave to return to the mainland. I got up early and went for a quick 3.5 mile run and then met up with the family for breakfast. We hit the chocolate shop for some last minute gifts and then headed for the ferrry. We said our goodbyes to everyone on the ferry since we were all going separate directions. Pete, Sue and Emma were heading for Glasgow where they would fly out the next morning to go back to the states. Mum and dad were going back to Rothbury for a few days before their trip to Ireland. Richard, Matt, Phil and I were going to Richard's house. We got back to Richard's house at about 6pm and the Matt and Phil immediately went out to see their friends. Richard and I picked up some fish and chips for dinner and then watched a little TV before going to bed.

On Wedensday morning Richard drove me to Sheffield train station, where I took the train to Manchester airport to take my flight home. The flight was a little delayed, but the worst part was the mess up at JFK. We came into a local bay instead of international so instead of walking up a ramp to get out of the plane we had to wait for a bus to come and get us. After waiting half an hour for that we then got into the airport and were stuck in a hallway with no A/C for about 40 minutes. Upon finally getting to passport control I can see that the whole backup in the hallway was for non-U.S. citizens. It would have been nice if they could have called the U.S. citizens to come ahead of the rest since there was no line to wait in. By the time I got through to the baggage claim it looked like the bags had been waiting for a long time. The conveyor belt was turned off and all the bags had been unloaded and left all over the floor. Luckily, I found my bags really easily. However, now it was almost 5pm, which meant rush hour traffic for the limo ride home.

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