Getting My Groove Back At Grove

Believe it or not, I actually find it hard to just decompress. I know, I know… I am the queen of talking about self-care and I will be the first to purchase the latest stretching mechanism or essential oil. But the truth remains- real, honest relaxation is something I have to consciously and intentionally make happen.

I know you guys remember me talking about my friend, Telisa. Yes, she is the one I traveled to Scotland with and I have known since middle school. You guys probably also remember that she left education to open a float center in Warner Robins called Float Robins. If you aren’t familiar, check out the story HERE.

This very same friend recently opened a new spa in Warner Robins called Grove Spa Retreat.

Her vision was to create a truly luxury experience right in the heart of central Georgia. She put her blood, sweat, tears (and let’s be honest, a whole lotta money,) into her new space, which happens to be next door to Float Robins.

I put out a plea to my friends on FB asking if anyone wanted to go have a spa day with me. Luckily, my friend Kim agreed to come along and we booked full packages for their opening weekend.

We kicked the day off with lunch at one of my favorite places in WR (a place Telisa introduced me to,) Pita Mediterranean Street Food on Watson.

I opted for the chicken shawarma pita with a side of garlic spread hummus. OMG… my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Kim opted for the chicken shawarma bowl. We nibbled, laughed, and finally, we finished up and headed over for an unbelievable spa day!

I think one of the first things I noticed when I walked in was this gorgeous fireplace that is centered in the lobby. It is a beautiful focal pointe that acts like a beacon of serenity. Between the beautiful glowing lights, soft music, and sweet scents, I could almost just curl up right there in the front! We didn’t have to wait long to get called to the back to change into a spa robe and spa shoes.

I will tell you this little tid-bit: I’m a plus-sized girl and I always have this fear that the standard robes are not going to fit around my belly and hips. The hostess showed me the two different robes and I went for the larger one. I stripped down to my undies and attempted to tie the robe, which would tie, it just wouldn’t cover the bits, if you know what I mean.

Thank goodness I could text Telisa and let her know. She came to the back with one of those wrap around velcro spa covers for me to put on under the robe, which solved my problem. I tell you this so that if you are plus-sized, you can conquer this issue up-front.

After changing clothes and putting my items in one of the lockers they provide, I weaved my way down this beautiful, dimly lit hallway that led to a snack bar.

Grove offers complimentary teas, oranges, waters, granola bars, and a wide variety of other items for you to nibble on in their waiting lounge.

I curled up in the lounge and awaited my massage therapist to bring me to her room.

One of the first treatments I went for turned me into a human burrito. I was asked to strip down to nothing and climb onto this table that was covered in what looked like a sunvisor and plastic wrap. The table was heated and I was given a towel to cover my body with. The therapist came into the room and began to dry brush my body. This is an exfoliating process that feels absolutely heavenly. Imagine, if you will, the perfect scratching mechanism. She brushed my legs, arms, stomach and back. Afterwards, she began to apply a warm clay mask all over my body.

After she finished applying the mask, I was wrapped in this plastic wrap, then covered with this heating element and blankets. My whole job was to lay still, in the dimly lit room, and just breathe.

I wasn’t sure if it would freak me out to be wrapped up like a burrito, but to be perfectly honest, I was able to wiggle my toes and move my arms if I needed to. For someone who suffers from just a little claustrophobia, it really wasn’t all that bad. About 20 minutes later, the therapist came in and prepared the steam shower for me. I got to pick out the essential oils I wanted for my aromatherapy experience. I chose eucalyptus and peppermint.

After about a 15 minute steam shower, I dried off and headed back into the massage room and then was given a 60 minute Swedish massage with full body moisturizing and CBD oil for my legs. This entire service cost $150.

After the massage, I was escorted to another room for my facial.

I was given a 60 minute Organic Facial that included a warm towel, cleansing, exfoliation, moisturizing, essential oils, facial massage, as well as steam, and a head/neck/shoulder massage. The entire experience lasted one hour and cost $95.

After my facial, I went back to the lounge and drank plenty of water and somehow made my way back up to the changing room to get ready to go home. I say, “somehow” because I felt like jelly. I had spent the past 3+ hours being pampered LITERALLY from head to toe. What a wonderful birthday gift from my husband.

After saying goodbye to Telisa, Kim & I set off for home.

I know what you are thinking – of course you are going to recommend your friend’s spa. Um.. no. I would not just recommend her spa. And no, I did not receive a single discount – I experienced this just the way you would. With that being said, I would 100% recommend giving Grove a try. It is a completely different experience from Float Robins. Grove is about pampering and relaxation. Float Robins is about healing and transformation.

To book an appointment, go to their website https://grovedayspa.com/ or call 478.333.2210.

And if you are celebrating a special day, like I was, then make sure to grab a cake pop at Starbucks on your way home. 😉

This is 49

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Joe Lewis

I could not agree more.

This is 49, folks. That’s right – I turned 49 yesterday, and it was spectacular. There was laughter, love, and a whole lot of authentic, deep connection.

But really, the whole week has been that way.

For one thing, (actually if I back up a week or so,) I had a wonderful time in Columbus, Georgia at the Georgia Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus annual conference. It is always refreshing to gather with my tourism colleagues and explore new cities. There were a multitude of educational opportunities, time for networking, and then there was gorgeous Columbus!

If you haven’t had a chance to explore Uptown Columbus, you are missing out! They have a gorgeous river walk where there is white water rafting and a zipline that takes you across from Georgia to Alabama and back again!

We got to enjoy a lovely reception at the Power Plant right on the Chattahoochee River. The event was catered by Epic, which is this super swanky restaurant in UpTown.

It was such an awesome experience.

Later, after I got home, Tim and I spent a relaxing weekend with each other and the dogs on the farm. Just celebrating our little boy, who happens to turn two today!

Last weekend, Tim gave me an awesome spa day at Grove in Warner Robins. I plan to write a little post on my entire experience this weekend. So stay tuned for that!

Grove is a beautiful upscale spa in Warner robins, GA

Downtown Americus Main Street held an incredible Downtown Chili Crawl. Your’s truly actually entered and shared one of my healthy chili vegetarian recipes. Unfortunately, I didn’t even place, but the experience was a lot of fun. There were several people that came to my booth and thanked me for offering a meatless option. It felt good to be able to share that new side of me. (Beef maybe once or twice a month.) This was simply: Chili beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, paprika, tumeric, sea salt, pepper, garlic paste, onion powder, and garlic powder. That was it!

Valentine’s Day was nice! Haley and I dressed all Valentinesy – I wore a Mod 1960s’s pink and black hounds tooth from Unique Vintage. I LOVE this shop. They have so many cute things and I love shopping their dresses. Here is a link to their shop: Unique Vintage.

My birthday was Wednesday and the night of my party, I realized that I have finally created a community. I moved here in 2016. I was 43. I was at the top of my game. Happy, in love and used to living fancy-free. This whole journey has been about me moving to the deep south, and specifically a small town in Southwest Georgia.

It was nice when I first got here. I love change, I love meeting new people, and the first year was a bit of a honeymoon. I got engaged, rebranded a community, got married, traveled to Disney for the first time, went to Paris, and built a house. All in that first year and a half. It was the best of times. At first, I was welcomed into Plains with open arms. I went to bunco games at a local boutique after hours. I would gather up the street with the community have dinner with neighbors (including Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter.) It was good. We were invited to visit churches in Plains, and though I enjoyed meeting everyone, I am neither Methodist or Baptist. I’m Catholic. We don’t just bounce denominations.

I didn’t realize how much of a cultural faux pas that was in small towns. Again, I am learning.

Then there was Andersonville. I didn’t live there, only worked marketing the area.

Leslie & Desoto – same as Andersonville.

Americus – I don’t live there, but I work for the engine. You know, the City. People would invite me to social things, but only ask me about work related items and tell me “what I should be doing.” *Sigh.* Took awhile to find my tribe. I “auditioned” friends (though they didn’t know it…) and finally found the people that will be forever friends. And at my birthday party – it showed.

These are my people!

And there were so many others that I picked up along the way. I also figured if you care to come my party, I may have to count you are apart of my new fam!

Yesterday, I ended up getting two cortisone shots in my knees – one in each. Yes, this is really what 49 is about. Especially when you have massive inflammation, excess weight, and years of ballet. But I feel fantastic today. No sleep, since it sort of jacks me up, so I stayed home with my little man.

Neither one of us got much sleep, so we are relaxing together today.

So this is 49, folks. My trip leading into Volume two! I just wanted to catch everyone up what has been going on. I have some new content lined up and I look forward to sharing this journey with you! Want me to tackle some topics or have some questions for me, simple leave a comment or email me!

Dig if you will the picture

Pardon the mess.

But dig if you will, the picture. (Or imagine if you will….) I love getting up before everyone else. Especially when it is still dark outside, and frosty. There is no rush to get ready to go anywhere because it is simply a perfect Sunday. Yes, Sunday is my fun day. The chores are usually done, the running around, the planning… all of the things. It is just me, with my coffee, my laptop, my warm and fuzzy pjs, my dog, and the silence only the morning can bring.

I’m experiencing that right now. The scene above is where I am in this exact moment.

Silence. Comfort.

All is well with my soul.

As you guys know by now, I am working on a new “me” for my 50th year, which happens to take place in 2023. Since I am approaching my 49th birthday, I was looking for a cool change. Something…

Well, you know when a girl cuts her hair, change is a-coming. I took several inches off. Yep. Probably the shortest it has ever been, or ever will be.

Want to see?

Oh yeah… did I forget to mention the color? I went for some multi-dimension highlights and low lights and all of the lights!

I like it. I needed something different.

As far as my health is concerned, I have sort of been a little off with my nutrition this past week. I think stress combined with boredom did it. However, Sunday is also the perfect day to hit reset. I don’t want to go backwards. I got super sick not too long ago and if I continue down the path I was originally on, I’m in big trouble.

Which means – it is time to get my bottom back in the gym.

Totally doable.

The issue I have is not the exercising – I actually LOVE exercising. It is the getting there. Getting my foot in the door. After work, I am just exhausted. Mentally, physically (from sitting all day,) and all I want to do is eat dinner and cuddle on the couch with my dog and Tim. This is all to say that is does not mean I can’t do those things, just AFTER the gym.

Alright, there is not much more to share this morning. I simply wanted to brain dump and share my hair photos. I hope each and every one of you has an awesome week!

The Countdown

I keep talking about getting #Fitby50, sort of the same way I went on and on about becoming Fit by 40. Though I have made some strides to get healthier, I have a very long way to go.

There are less than 30 days until I turn 49. FORTY NINE – How is that even possible? It is one of those birthdays that remind you that the life you were planning to create, well boys and girls, this is it. You get one shot. And though I may be turning 49, there is no reason I can’t pull a Betty White and keep going! But that is going to require some more lifestyle changes, as well as keeping some of my new habits going.

If you would like to join me on this quest, I encourage you to do so! I’m going to be documenting my experience, to the best of my ability over next “birth” year – as in Feb. 16, 2022 until Feb. 16, 2023 – when I turn 50.

Here are a few of things I will share and/or continue to do:

  • Work with my nutritionist (Yes, I meet with a nutritionist every other week to discuss my goals.)
  • Get back in the gym (I do already have a membership, I just need to go!)
  • Meditate Daily (I am currently on a 20 day streak of meditation! I use the Calm App)
  • Stretch/Yoga (I typically stretch during/after my meditation each morning.)
  • Devotion/Prayer (Incorporate some form of spiritual practice/study/gratitude.)
  • Walk/Play with Dorian (I’m currently signed up with Run America for daily walks.)
  • Spend quality time off social media
  • Read More (I read a lot now, but this goes back to the social media post. I need to get off of it!)
  • Write More (This is just good old fashioned therapy for me.)
  • Learn something new

I have lost 31 pounds over the past year. That’s not too shabby. I have a very long way to go! My knees are shot, I am tired and stressed a lot of the time, and well, life is what it is. If I can do it, I think you can too! (Please join me, I really need some people to vent to!) If you are interested in feeling better over the next year, then make sure to subscribe to this blog. (Go to the home page and scroll all of the way to the bottom and put your email in!) Or simply follow on FB! Make sure to leave comments and let me know how you are doing!

It won’t be simple, but it is possible!

Season of Winter

I’ve been holding onto a very interesting journal for over a year now. It is called, “A Year of Zen” by Bonnie Mayotai Trease. What makes it so cool are the daily prompts. The journal breaks up the year into seasons. Obviously, we are in Winter, so I decided to kick off the journal on Sunday in the section titled accordingly.

The theme of this week is carrying extra baggage in your life and how to let go of that which weighs you down. Coincidentally, I am doing this course on happiness in the Calm app and today’s lesson was about letting go.

Not an easy task, depending on what it is you are carrying around.

According to “A Year of Zen,” winter is a time to shake off the leaves, allow the snow to fall on the ground and wipe the slate clean. It is a shedding of sorts and baring your branches (soul) and creating a new you. I like the idea of shedding the old and starting anew.

The past few mornings, I’ve kicked the morning off with stretching, meditation and a walk, or like today, a walk in the afternoon. I’m learning to be quiet with my thoughts and honestly, to allow myself not to think.

This is something I struggled with up until my experience this past summer in North Carolina. I attended this retreat for healers in Hot Springs and had a very transformative experience. I went deeper than I have ever gone spiritually, and I came out on the other side with an incredible sense of peace. Sure, as time went on, I sort of lost my way again, but with this past week of relaxation at home, it seems I have found my center… hence the journal prompts.

Laughing Heart Lodge, Hot Springs, NC

The picture above is of the labyrinth at the Laughing Heart Lodge in Hot Springs, NC. I took this photo just before the morning meditation. I still remember how panicked I got as I walked through the labyrinth, trying to calm my mind or repeat a mantra. My anxiety took over and I almost bolted in front of the group. But somehow, as I got closer to the center, the heart center, I began to slow my breathing and focus. As I exited the labyrinth and began the journey back through, I was in a new space. I let go of the control. I released my worry.

It wasn’t serving me.

What are you carrying around right now that is not serving you?

Waiting On Inspiration

Let’s be honest here for a minute, it has been one hell of a year for all of us. The highs were really high and the lows were ridiculously low. It is as if 2021 suffered from Bi-Polar Disorder. Look, 2020 was what it was – a pandemic year. 2021 was bat-shit crazy.

How to recover from a year like this one? Is it a matter of looking at it through a different lens? Perhaps we should glean the lessons we have learned?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t seem to have the patience to do so.

With that being said, I hope each of you had a decent holiday season. As for my family and I – I would give in a solid 8. Presents were awesome, food was delicious, everyone that could get together, did get together. All in all – not too shabby. However, now that I have the week off, and I am home alone and can decompress, it was a lot of juggling and handling of people’s feelings. We just lost Tim’s mom and it has most of his family on high-sensitivity alert, as expected. But when you are an empath and you are trying to coax and help shift energy, it can be extremely draining. I found myself on more than one occasion “stepping in it,” and just trying to dance my way out of whatever accidental thing I might have said/did/etc. When you are as open and just authentically yourself as I try to be, you can guarantee there will be multiple times you get poo on your shoe.

Moving on….

We are getting closer and closer to the New Year! Have you set your intentions or resolutions? I have a basic idea and just so I am not overwhelmed the first week, I am trying to ease myself into them this week. For example, Dorian and I have started daily walking. I know, I know – I have bum knees, but after the cortisone shots, I’m doing 85% better. I found this app/program that I think is going to help me get moving again: Run Across America. It is time for their Winter Warmup! Now, I am in no way a runner. Not in the least bit. Nor do I ever plan to be. Not with these knees, anyway. However, walking and logging a daily movement is a wonderful way to hold myself accountable. And get this – there is a challenge. (Oh how I do love a good challenge!) You get your friends to sign up for your team. Good news for you, I created a team – Team Dorian! I figure a lot of us have dogs, and we all have to walk our dogs, so why not log our daily walks? If you want to join my team, download the Run Across America app and enter the code: KVTCF1 And boom, we are connected. Just log your daily walks and the goal is to get to 50K by March 14th! PLUS, proceeds from the app go to Feeding America!

With all of that being said, obviously, movement is a big intention of my mine for 2022. SOME type of movement daily.

I am going to go to my gym a few times a week, take any random-fun classes I see posted around town, and also practice stretching/yoga and basic movement at the house. I think not only will it benefit me, Dorian is going to be better for it.

I’m going to continue to work with Sue with Eating With Intent, LLC. She is my nutritionist and we are working on MACROS and I have downloaded the app that is called MACROS. I’ll keep logging my food, water, movement, and weight in that app. That covers the basic health piece.

I also have booked all of my important doctor’s appointments: Yearly gyno, mammogram, FITT Test, etc. Make sure to check what you should have done based on your age, For example, in 2023, it will be time for me to get a colonoscopy. Fun.

As for my mental health, I downloaded the calm app, paid the sort of high fee for it, and I am using it some. I plan to increase my usage as time goes. Plus, I have a ton of great spiritual books to read that will address many of these issues.

As for the rest, well… that is something I’m pondering. I still have my Rosetta Stone. So there is the French to study. I still have my fancy camera, so there is no reason I can’t work on my photography. There is this blog. There is the cooking. There is the wedding planning for my friend’s daughter.

So. Many. Options.

But what is going to be new this year? I’m trying my hand at embroidering. That is something, but that is not enough.
Decisions. Decisions.

I want to hear about you. In the comment section here or on FB, share with me some of your resolutions. Perhaps you will inspire me!

Book Review: American Princess

Today I went and visited my Mother-in-law’s resting place. It seemed so humble and small next to the the strong personality of the woman buried beneath the freshly tilled Earth.

Strong women leave such a void when they are gone.

Kind of like Alice Roosevelt, the sassy daughter of former President Teddy Roosevelt. I just finished the book, American Princess and I wanted to share with you a little tidbit about the story.

First of all, at the end of the book, I was left wanting to know more about her – but in a good way. I love learning about strong women, specifically strong American women, and how they lived their lives free from regret. She died in her mid-90s and lived a life so full, so well-lived (in the grabbing life by the horns kinda-way,) that you can’t help but adore her.

The book was written by Stephanie Marie Thorton, a history teacher that was enamored with Alice’s father, Theodore. While doing a little research, she came to understand that Alice was a force of nature and her story needed to be told.

I could not agree more.

Without giving too much away- basically, Alice was the first real media darling in the 20th century. She was constantly seeking approval from her father, who honestly spoiled her to a fault, however, she could never quite see that. She later ended up as a socialite and made friends with, well… with the wrong girls. Both of whom tried to take her beau away – Nicholas. Yes, that is a story all unto itself. You follow through affairs, world travels, politics, suicide, war, greed – the whole gambit. The hardest part of the book is getting past the silliness of her late teens, early 20s. The writing gets more mature as Alice matures. In other words – stick with it.

Once she ends up in China, you will fall in love with her!

If you are a fan of historical biographical fiction and adore stories about strong women who rock the boat, then this book will be a fun one for you to read. (I mean, she even went to war with sweet little Eleanor Roosevelt! That is a hoot! AND she ignored President Carter when he was in office because she felt he was not very dignified.) Ha!

I’ll end this by leaving you with a famous quote by the main character, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then come sit by me.” ~ Alice Roosevelt.

Finale: Sing Me A Song

Glencoe

Thank you guys so much for joining me on this magical journey.

I realized, as I was reading it over, that I did very little to truly describe what I saw and what I did. I do believe that there are absolutely no words. NONE – that will ever be able to share how gorgeous and other-worldly Scotland is.

Here we are on the last two days of my trip. Let’s see what I can conjure up in imagery.

Somewhere outside of Skye, near Glencoe and Fort William

We got up super early and hit the road. And boy oh boy was it snowing! I was half asleep, and every time I opened my eyes, I would see huge snowflakes pounding the windshield.

As we were driving, and I want to say it was near or outside of Fort William, we came across this little village in the night. Telisa pulled our rental over and we just got out and listened to the complete quiet and calm. This perfect blanket of snow was creating an ethereal carpet before us. The little Inn had the twinkle lights all along the edge and we just stood there in awe. Such a fairy tale moment for us.

It was as if Scotland was teasing us and willing us not to leave. I joked that my ancestral pull was giving me that feeling of home and I really, REALLY just wanted to send for my husband, my dog, the cats, and my things. I would have been content to live right here.

Near Glencoe

We got a little closer to Glencoe and saw this little bridge that had this gorgeous little stream. We pulled over on the one lane road and took some pictures. All Telisa and I could keep saying was, “Wow.” “Oh my God, do you see that?” and “Is this even real life?”

Glencoe

Then it happened.

We made it to the famous Glencoe. For one, it was famous for the clash and deception between the Campbell clan and the MacDonalds, but it also is known to have the most hairy coo. I was banking on the latter.

Glencoe Roads

As you can see, it looked like where the Wildlings lived in Game of Thrones. Cold, barren, and just breathtaking. Miles and miles of mountains and snow.

But still no sign of Hairy Coos.

Glencoe

But we did see several herds of White Stag just chilling out on the side of the road and once, while we were standing outside taking photos, I did hear the familiar, “baa,” but I knew better this time.

Where we were
Me in Glencoe

When I tell you that I was mesmerized by the beauty of Scotland, I think that is a complete understatement. From the fresh air, to the kind people, to the simple way of life – The Highlands, in particular, are amazing.

Glencoe

We spent the next several hours weaving in and out of the mountains of Glencoe. If you look real carefully at the picture above (or any of the pictures of Glencoe,) you will see the road we were traveling. Winding, snowy, and hilly.

Glencoe

Wondering a little about the area? Glencoe is regarded as the home of Scottish mountaineering and is popular with hillwalkers and climbers.

On the February 13, 1692, in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1689, an incident known as the Massacre of Glencoe took place there. Thirty-eight men from Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by government forces who were billeted with them on the grounds that they had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William II and Mary II. They actually worked out a deal with the Campbells to sneak in at night and kill their neighbors. To this day, if your last name is Campbell and you enter a bar, they will (not-so-politely) ask you to leave. Yep.

The Glen is named after the River Coe which runs through it.

Glencoe

One last look….

Alright, by the time we got to Glasgow (the home of my ancestors!,) it was a little after lunch time. We found a really cool old pub called the Horseshoe Bar. At 104 feet and three inches, their grand Victorian bar is apparently the longest in Europe and merits an architectural listing all of its own. It’s the center of the Horseshoe, where we were able to get great value pub-food.

Horseshoe Bar

As always, there was a soccer match playing on one of the 11 big screen tvs they had hanging around the place. This place dates back to about 1884. Funny to think I still had my direct ancestors living there at the time. It was sort of fun to think that maybe, just maybe, they sat at the same bar I was sitting at.

Horseshoe Bar

We ordered the food and then headed back toward our car. Along the way we saw some interesting sites:

Glasgow Christmas Market
Glasgow Murals
Glasgow Street Art

We finally started heading out of town and made our way to a little village outside of Edinburgh which had the castle/manor home for Jamie Fraser from Outlander.

Lallybrach

Yes, boys and girls. We found Lallybroch!

Lallybrach

Also known as Midhope Castle.

Telisa was beyond fan-girling out! She wore her Je Suis Prest! shirt, the motto of the Clan Fraser.

We took our time wandering the grounds of this castle.

Unfortunately, they were not accepting visitors at this time.

Lallybroch

We were thrilled to get to visit!

Once we left the area, it was farmland and the hills got smaller as we got closer to Edinburgh.

We saw so many grouse or pheasant, I am not sure which. Plenty of sheep and plenty of beautiful vistas!

As we inched closer and closer to Edinburgh, I sort of gave up on the ability to see my hairy coos. Seriously! It had been eight days – sure I had seen tons of post cards, stuffed animals, magnets, T-shirts, and mugs with these adorable Hairy Coos… but for whatever reason, and lord knows, we covered most of Scotland, I did not see one single one.

The roads started getting a little more complicated, while the lanes went from one to two, to three, to maybe five on each side and the sun was setting, Telisa asked which exit to take.

Well…. I screwed up.

But I’m so glad we did.

Because….

Yes! Right off of the highway.

We shot up the road to the next exit and found the street. Telisa parked the car and I skidded my way (it was icy!) down this one lane road to this field and came face to face with my very FIRST HAIRY COO!!!!!

This baby just stood there watching me watching him/her! I couldn’t believe it. I tried to get a little closer and ended up getting tangled up in some thorny vines….

But it was so worth it.

Yes, on my last night in Scotland.

We left the area, both content with our checklist of things we wanted to do and we made our way back to the airport to take our covid test and return the rental car.

Me getting my covid test
Telisa getting her Covid Test

After we dropped off the car, we walked back to the airport to hail a cab to take us to the Grassmarket. Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic old town, behind the castle, the Grassmarket neighbourhood is one of the most vibrant, picturesque and lively areas of the city. A paradise of independent merchants, designers and artisans, the area was bursting with some of the best shopping Edinburgh has to offer. The area is well known for being home to some of the best restaurants in Edinburgh as well as some of the most animated and eclectic bars.

The Grassmarket

We were staying in an apartment on the third floor of this old building. More circular staircases, but just an adorable spot. We sorted through our stuff and headed out for dinner.

We ended up choosing the Beehive Inn right across the street from our apartment and right at the foot of the Edinburgh Castle. We could even see the Castle from our apartment.

Me at the BeeHive
Telisa at the beehive

It was your typical British pub where I ordered a burger and I really can’t remember what Telisa ordered, but we both agreed it was good. (WE WERE SO TIRED.) To think we drove from the North all of the way to Edinburgh and to process the things we saw….

It was amazing.

We decided to go back to the apartment and take showers, pack up and get ready for our 6 am scheduled taxi ride back to the airport. We were leaving Monday morning to head back home.

The next morning, we made it to the airport in perfect time and boarded our first plane to Amsterdam. Once in Amsterdam, we high-tailed it to our gate and almost immediately boarded the plane for Atlanta. An almost ten hour flight home and we stood in line at customs for almost an hour and caught the MGA Lux driver service back to Warner Robins, where my sweet guy was waiting for me. Tim and I drove home and I slept sooooo hard that night.

It was an amazing opportunity! I am thrilled that she and I got to travel together. Yes, we hit some speed bumps along the way (all of it outside of our control,) but at the end… Telisa would ask, “But did we die?”

Nope. We did not.

But four days later, my mother-in-law would.

I’ll share more about that heartbreaking story tomorrow.

Until then…

Billow and breeze, islands and seas Mountains of rain and sun

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Saturday morning we woke up to a little less wind, but a whole lotta snowy conditions. Nothing was really sticking, but it came down fairly fast and right into the eyes. It was our last full day in the Isle of Skye.

We decided to stop by a convenient store and purchase some breakfast. I opted for fresh fruit and a piece of bread. It was at least carbie enough to get me through some of the hiking we would have to do.

We headed up into the mountains and our first stop was Lealt Gorge.

Lealt Gorge

Lealt Gorge got its name because the Lealt River passes through it into the sea. This space was absolutely breathtaking!

Lealt Gorge

The Gorge is 90 meters deep. Now, I don’t really know how deep that actually is, but rest assure, it is VERY deep. I kept getting vertigo.

By the way, these photos will NEVER do what we saw justice. Just know that this area is a MUST see if you ever find yourself on the Isle of Skye.

Lealt Gorge

We shimmied along the edge, trying to get as many cool pictures as possible. There were no ledges or wooden barriers keeping you away, it was a definitely an “Enter At Your Own Risk” situation.

Lealt Gorge

While there, I suddenly heard that familiar “baaaa.” I turned around and there were a herd of sheep! Of course, I tried to get close enough to pet one, and of course, they ran off.

Sheep repellent.

After we left the gorge, we traveled up a little further to see the Old Man of Storr.

I was thrilled to find there was a public restroom at the base of the trail and took the opportunity to relax a little and try to warm up. At this point, the snow is coming down and beginning to stick!

Old Man of Storr

Due to the slippery and freezing cold conditions, we did not hike out there, but instead, got as close we could and snapped a pic. See those rock formations sticking up. Yeah… that’s it.

This is probably the most famous walk on the Island and definitely the busiest. The ‘Old Man’ is a large pinnacle of rock that stands high and can be seen for miles around. As part of the Trotternish ridge the Storr was created by a massive ancient landside, leaving one of the most photographed landscapes in the world.

After we found ourselves winding up and down the mountains, the next stop was the one I was most looking forward to: Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls!

Kilt Rock Area

Talk about a show stopper. I FINALLY got to see these cliffs I had often seen in movies overlooking the Atlantic!

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

OMG.

I can’t even put into words how absolutely glorious this was. I definitely cannot even begin to explain how absolutely bitter cold we were, or how bad it hurt every time sleet hit my eyes or how hard the wind was pushing me.

Dangerous?

Oh yeah, baby.

Next up was

Quiraing was up next! We had to hike up and over to get the view from this area. Just what is it?

It is a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish on the Isle of Skye. The whole of the Trotternish Ridge escarpment was formed by a great series of landslips; the Quiraing is the only part of the slip still moving – the road at its base, near Flodigarry, requires repairs each year. And boy was it a heck of a road. We encounter many of these right at it’s edge.

And did I mention the road was one lane going straight up or down with massive curves and limited visibility.

Oh yeah… and it was snowing.

Parts of the distinctive landscape have earned particular names. The Needle is a jagged 120-foot-high landmark pinnacle, a remnant of landslipping. Northwest of it is The Table, a flat grassy area slipped down from the summit plateau, with vistas of the Torridon Hills and the mountains of Wester Ross. Southwest is the Prison, a pyramidal rocky peak which can look like a medieval keep when viewed from the right angle – the ascent of this is an airy scramble.

The name Quiraing comes from Old Norse Kví Rand, which means ‘Round Fold’. Within the fold is The Table, an elevated plateau hidden amongst the pillars. It is said that the fold was used to conceal cattle from Viking raiders.

And be forewarned. These Highlanders aren’t playing around.

Quiraing

This is how far I could see from the top!

Quiraing

Note that you can see the curvy road here AND the sea waaaaay out there. And snow.

Lots of snow.

At this point, we were spent. Freezing and hungry. We headed back to the biggest city on Skye – Portree. Which is not really all that big. I would say smaller than Americus, but bigger than Plains.

Portree

We got into town and started walking down the hills toward the coast in search of fresh seafood.

Portree

Once we got down the steep hills, we soon discovered that most of the restaurants were already closed. Yes, we missed that window of opportunity again.

Portree

But while down there, we decided to just enjoy the views and sort of get a game place together.

Luckily, the bookseller turned us onto THIS restaurant:

The Cuchullin Restaurant in Portree was an excellent option.

I went for the carrot and tomato soup, baby potatoes and cheese board. Telisa got the Seafood platter.

While enjoying our lunch, suddenly, a parade of Santas with bagpipes and real reindeer gave an impromtu parade down the Main Street!

Seriously – it was one of the cutest things we had ever experienced.

After our lunch, it was starting to get dark, so we headed back into town to do some last minute shopping and even a little grocery shopping. We bought items to make the steak pie and a few other goodies and enjoyed having a small feast at the cottage.

I think we were both so sad to be leaving the Highlands the next day, we decided to just take it easy. We went to bed early, so that we could hit the road before light, and make our way through Glencoe, Glasgow and back to Edinburg.

Stay tuned!

Over The Sea To Skye

We woke up on Friday morning to the beginning of blizzard-like conditions. A little nervous about our one and a half hour drive to the Isle of Skye with icy roads, we decided to just buck up and make it happen.

It was bittersweet to leave Inverness. We sort of fell in love with the quaintness of the town and the kindness of her people. The Highlands were totally inching their way closer and closer to my heart and I just felt this overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude for getting the opportunity to explore her grounds.

Shepherd’s Hut

Above is the Shepherd’s Hut we were staying in. I checked under the deck, and it did, indeed, have wheels. It appeared to have been a caravan of sorts. Such a cool space to spend the last few days. If you haven’t read the other blog posts, simply scroll to the days before to follow the adventure.

Shepherd’s Hut
Shepherd’s Hut

With a sad farewell to the space, we decided to go check out the Hebridean Sheep were told about that live on the farm. The very same sheep that my new sweater’s wool came from. I felt they needed a little squish squish.

Please note – it is snowing and freezing. We drive up to the gate of the field, open the gate and approached the sheep with caution. No sooner did they get a whiff of me they stampeded off. I am not exaggerating. I apparently repel sheep.

Day Six and still no Hairy Coo.

Snowing

As you can tell in the photo above, the roads were covered in snow and the mountains were beginning to get ice caps. We kept the faith and kept heading across the North of Scotland to Skye.

And man oh man…. was it beautiful.

Right before we got to the bridge that links you to the Isle of Skye, we decided to stop by the Eilean Donan Castle.

Eilean Donan

This 13th Century Castle was absolutely adorable! The name Eilean Donan, or island of Donan, is most probably called after the 6th century Irish Saint, Bishop Donan who came to Scotland around 580 AD. There are several churches dedicated to Donan in the area and it is likely that he formed a small cell or community on the island during the late 7th century.

The first fortified structure was not built on the island until the early 13th century as a defensive measure, protecting the lands of Kintail against the Vikings who raided, settled and controlled much of the North of Scotland and the Western Isles between 800 and 1266. From the mid 13th century, this area was the quite seperate “Sea Kingdom” of the Lord of the Isles where the sea was the main highway and the power of feuding clan chiefs was counted by the number of men and galleys or “birlinns” at their disposal. Eilean Donan offered the perfect defensive position.

Telisa decided to storm the castle, as I had a weird feeling about the place and chose to order a coffee from the little stand outside of the castle and just sit and enjoy the space. When Telisa came out of the castle, she told me she had the weirdest feeling in a few places inside. She couldn’t even go into one room.

Yep.

It is definitely haunted. We both felt it and never said anything before the castle, but when we shared our whys and whats – we knew.

Creeeeeepy.

Onward to the Isle of Skye!

We got into town and found our adorable cottage in the Breakish side of Skye, right on the sea.

Our cottage

Clearly, our little home for the next three days was very old and traditional.

Side of cottage

The owners of the home live just behind the space in a Crofter’s cottage. Apparently they restore and repair boats!

Back of cottage

We fell in love with our little home. FINALLY we had a place with two beds and a little privacy. Look, let’s be honest here for a minute, two strong women need their space!

View from our yard
Sea & Mountains

One thing that was happening to us here were the 50 mph wind gusts! I had never experienced anything like it before. It was both windy, sleeting and snowing all at once!

Deli Gasta

We drove up the street a little to find one of our picks prior to the trip: Deli Gasta. They had deli organic sandwiches, artisan coffees, and fresh seafood!

I opted for the croque monsieur and parsnip and maple soup. It was delicious!

After we warmed up and dared to drive out and attempt to find the fairy pools, we got back in the car and started our adventure again.

To say my mind was blown by the beauty is an absolute understand.

Isle of Skye

Everywhere you turned was breathtaking.

Isle of Skye

And I mean everywhere. It was a picture postcard moment.

Well… the snow started falling harder the higher the elevation and our navigation sucked and the sun was setting….

So we struck out on the fairy pools.

Instead, we did a little shopping in the village of Broadmore and then went out to eat.

The Claymore

We made it to the Claymore by the skin of our teeth! The wind was soooo strong that it almost completely blew Telisa down and it totally slammed me back into the car.

We got it, got situated and proceeded to have a proper dinner.

The Claymore

I opted for the Fish & Chips and Telisa went for the Curry Lobster Tail. (I think!)

I ate a little of mine, trying to remove as much of the skin as possible and I have to say, for someone who doesn’t eat fish – it was cooled to perfection! Fresh Haddock!

Of course, Telisa ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding… I mean, we are IN Scotland.

After dinner, we headed back to get a good night’s sleep before our super active day on Saturday!

Stay tuned for some of the most gorgeous pictures you have ever seen!