This morning’s adventure started with a trip to Loch Ness in search of the Loch Ness Monster.  Turns out, there are professional Loch Ness Monster hunters and there is a million dollar reward for anyone who can capture a “Verifiable” photo.  I was game to try as that might just cover the amount we have spent on tartans, whisky and shortbread cookies. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the monster but did get a photo of Gene taking photos and a couple of ducks, LOL.

After a brief driving tour of Inverness (I saw an Aldi’s!), we spent a couple hours at Culloden Moor, the site of a definitive battle with the Jacobites and the English Army.  Our guide did an excellent job of explaining the importance of this battle and the memorial. Gene and I walked the battle fields and toured the burial mounds and enjoyed the wonderful weather.

We are now getting to more rural areas of Scotland and the scenery is so beautiful.  We stopped In a small village called Helmsdale (mostly because of the availability of restrooms – where you pay 20 p (pence) to Pee) and for the now well-known Robbie lunch, “There is the grocery store, there are the toilets, and there is fish and chips take out.  Be back on the coach in 45 minutes or I will leave you here.”  Gene and I hit the fish and chips for two to-go orders and found that we could have fed six people with our order alone.  We started handing out food to those who didn’t bother to get in line.

After a quick stop in Wick for a whisky tour and “a dram” of the good stuff, we moved onto a pub visit where our tour guide treated us to a drink and bagpipe performance.  Let me explain that 40 people crammed into a pub that should seat about 20 people, add a roaring fire in the fireplace, and throw in a bagpiper, and it got cozy . . . and loud!  Just as Gene sat down with our beers, the music started right behind our chairs and Gene leaned over and shouted, “Great seats!!!”  I did my usual . . . “What?”  So fun to mess with him.

We overnighted in Thurso at a questionable hotel.  (I’m not naming names, so I can be honest.) Our tour guide braced us for the experience at least two days in advance, so we were forewarned. As he explained it, ”You’re on a tour called The Country Roads of Scotland.  That means we are going to some remote places with limited hotels.  And you Americans won’t share a bathroom, so our choices are limited. And make sure your shower works and you know how to use it!”  More on that later

We are handed our keys and told to take the stairs to the left. (They meant ALL OF THE STAIRS) As we reached the third floor huffing and puffing, the double doors opened onto the circular stairwell, meaning we had to back down two steps to open the doors.  The door next to our room had a sheet of plastic over it and I asked Gene if that was a good or bad sign.  He laughed.  The room had a double bed (smaller than a queen), windows that rattled and had a board nailed in front of them so you couldn’t . . . jump?? There were no outlets in the bathroom, but you wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time in there anyway. And the best part was that though we had a nice, new plaid rug over the hardwood, it was to cover the holes in the floor next to the bed. The good news was that there were extra blankets in the closet because we were going to need them. And we got to spend two nights here.  We didn’t discover the shower issues until the next morning . . . I took a sponge bath from the sink.  Not kidding.

Tomorrow’s adventure includes a tour of Orkney Islands.