travel

Glencoe, Fort William & the Scottish Highlands | Travel

This blog post is full of a bunch of landscapes because well.. that's pretty much what I was consumed with once we arrived in the Scottish Highlands. After landing in London, we spent our first day there exploring the city (you can see photos from our first day in London on this post), but we were really excited to get on our train up to Scotland and spend a few days soaking in the natural beauty of a country we've been dying to visit for a long time. 

We arrived in Fort William fairly early in the morning and trekked to our rental car (a story for another day... it wasn't my moment of shining glory). I had requested a mid-sized sedan, we received a VW Golf. Not exactly mid-sized to us Americans, but it did the job. After figuring out how to drive on the opposite side of the road (terrifying), we made our way slightly south to Glencoe. Now, if you've ever watched James Bond's Skye Fall, you'll have seen this magnificent landscape as Bond and M made their way up to Bond's family home towards the end of the film. First, I love me some 007. Second, the moment I saw that scene, I had to figure out where on earth that was. Third, once I knew it was Glencoe, I made a mental note to my bucket list to see it for myself. And it did not disappoint! We weren't there very long because our drive to the Isle of Skye was going to take us quite a while, but it was well worth the extra 35 minutes to see such an amazing landscape. 

After a short hike and a couple of stops through Glencoe, we made our way back to Fort William for lunch and to find me an authentic Scottish wool tartan scarf. Ft William is definitely a place I would have liked to had more time in. It's such a quaint little town. We then started our journey through the highlands up to the Isle of Skye where we'd be spending the next 3 days. There were many, many stops along the way at lochs, mountain ranges, and perhaps even a little stop for the bathroom because well.. there weren't many public restrooms along the way. 

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Eilean Donan Castle was another item on our bucket list. Unfortunately, we didn't make it in time to head inside the castle, but we did get to have the entire grounds to ourselves for a time. When we first got to the castle, there were quite a few tourists hanging about, but some rain came through and everyone deserted the area for the shelter of their cars. We just decided to wait it out under the castle door's archway and portcullis, and got to explore once the rain all by ourselves. It was pretty magical, minus the hiding our camera gear in our coats. That was a little annoying. But, seriously, one of the most beautiful and magical places I've ever had the chance to experience and I'm so glad we took our time to explore such a beautiful country. 

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To see more posts about our trip to the United Kingdom, check out London, Part I

Santa Fe, New Mexico | Travel

 

Last summer Curtis and I headed off to Durango, Colorado for our anniversary trip. On the way to Durango after staying the night in a KOA in Santa Fe, we stopped to see the gorgeous red rock formations just outside of Carson National Forest. I hadn't ever driven west before, and the landscape out there is unlike anything I've ever seen before. It just feels so.. American. I've been itching to head back out to the desert again. Maybe next year! On the way back from Durango, we left fairly early in the morning so we could have an afternoon in Santa Fe exploring the churches and downtown area. When we went through originally, we tried to get dinner at Cafe Pasqual's, but didn't quite realize how popular it was.. so we made reservations for lunch. I had enchiladas, which were a bit different than the ones I'm used to having here in Texas. It was interesting to see the different take on Spanish culture in New Mexico!

 
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We then headed over to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, which was built between 1869 and 1886.  I loved the Romanesque Revival style of the church, which contrasted with the typical adobe style of Santa Fe. Stepping inside and seeing the columns and archways was absolutely breathtaking. 

 
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We then made the short walk over to Loretto Chapel, which was probably my favorite of the two churches we visited. Although it is no longer a practicing church, the history behind it is wonderful. Here's a brief overview of beautiful staircase known as the "Miraculous Stair."

Needing a way to get up to the choir loft the nuns prayed for St. Joseph's intercession for nine straight days. On the day after their novena ended a shabby-looking stranger appeared at their door. He told the nuns he would build them a staircase but that he needed total privacy and locked himself in the chapel for three months. He used a small number of primitive tools including a square, a saw and some warm water and constructed a spiral staircase entirely of non-native wood. The identity of the carpenter is not known for as soon as the staircase was finally finished he was gone. Many witnesses, upon seeing the staircase, feel it was constructed by St. Joseph himself, as a miraculous occurrence.

The resulting staircase is an impressive work of carpentry. It ascends twenty feet, making two complete revolutions up to the choir loft without the use of nails or apparent center support. It has been surmised that the central spiral of the staircase is narrow enough to serve as a central beam. Nonetheless there was no attachment unto any wall or pole in the original stairway.

 
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Columbia River Gorge | Travel

I honestly didn't realize how much I missed Oregon until I put together this blog post. HOLY SMOKES. This  land was created for me. Rainy, overcast days, with a few sunny days mixed in for fun, trees upon trees upon trees, and constant sweater weather. I was in heaven. The very first day Curtis and I were in Oregon, we drove out the Columbia River Gorge, which is about a 30 minute drive outside of Portland. I don't think I stopped smiling once. I had a constant grin on my face the size of Texas, and I was almost in tears when we saw our first waterfall. God created such a beautiful, majestic and enchanting world, and in those moments, I was in complete awe of His power.  I don't think I've seen a more beautiful, green place in my entire life. Honestly, I would fly back to Oregon in a heartbeat. I would drive back there if it meant I got to explore this magical state for just one more day. 

Most people were pretty surprised when I said Curtis and I were going to Oregon, like it wasn't a destination or something. Boy oh boy were they wrong. If you'd like to see more from our travels in Oregon, you take a look at my post about Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. It's just as amazing!