Cross Country Road Trip – Virginia Beach to Paradise

Paradise California

I believe this to be my twelfth cross country road trip in the last year and a half and it is difficult to believe. Nearly two years non stop on the road to date.

Why am I heading cross country yet again? Because my son and his girlfriend are sick of watching my cat. The cat eats plastic bags then runs through the house barfing and they are pretty sick of it and rightly so.

Not that I need much of an excuse to  hit the road. I love to travel and am particularly fond of long haul drives.

Pretty much any excuse to go out on any sort of road trip is good enough for me.

Need help selling your house in Seattle? Have a cool place to stay in Madrid New Mexico? Wanna have drinks in Denver?

Festival in Arizona? I’m on my way. Hiking in Maine? Castle in Scotland? Daring bridge crossing in Norway… I’ll be there.

I do not need a specific reason or destination, the drive alone is pleasure enough. A desolate and beautiful drive in the Scottish Highlands? I’ll do it numerous times. (Lately it seems I’ll do anything in Scotland, any chance I get.)

I do love to venture out and explore on foot. Yet driving to and around any destination is one of the best parts of travel for me. Be it cross country or a road trip to the next town, even in its simplest form,  such travel it is my bliss.

Routes of the Rootless Cross Country

At about noon I headed west on I 64 from Virginia Beach, bound for Lexington Kentucky. Amazingly I made it as far as Dale Indiana, where I spent my first night.

Having done similar cross country road trip sojourns so readily this past year, I opted to take a new route, staying as close as I could to the middle of the country.

I planned not to go too far north due to bad weather. Not that driving in snow bothers me. In fact I quite enjoy driving in the snow, and did so on a similar trip nearly a year ago

Dead Man Pass near Pendleton Oregon 2017

Fog and snow covered Dead Man Pass Oregon
Deadman Pass Pendleton Oregon 2017 Cross Country Road Trip i the snow

being that my plan this time was to get to my destination as quickly as possible, it made sense to avoid possible snow.

Dew the Cat

More commonly when I drive cross country routes I base them on things I wish to see and do. Yet this trip is more focused on quickly releasing my cat Dew, from my sons care.

Dew the barfing cat.
Dew the Cat

Dew the Cat

A sweet cat, Dew is clean, goofy and funny but skittish and sort of… well… dumb. That she does not get along with female cats (of which there are 2 in my sons house) was an issue. As a barf driven in general and has little understanding of boundaries. She also is not fond of the road trip lifestyle, but she is mine, and I love her. So off we go.

My son has been caring for her far longer than ever anticipated. An outrageous amount of unexpected circumstances held me up, including a broken leg that laid me up for over 5 months.

America, the Beautiful Toll Free

The stretch through the West Virginia and Kentucky mountains is phenomenal.

An aesthetically pleasing, as well as enjoyable drive. Rolling pavement brings you up and around beautiful countryside, with steep inclines and descends.

On this cross country passage, I mapped the trip via google maps. For the first time I chose the option to avoid tolls. In result, I ended up on wonderful local small town roads that winded me around the turnpikes and other toll roads. It worked out wonderfully.

Google directed me off of the highway just prior to the toll booth and took me on a few off the beaten path sojourns. Each detour was truly spectacular scenically and roadway wise.

This unexpected bonus only added a few minutes to the entire trip in the end. At on point, I was amused to see myself pull out right in front of the truck with whom I’d been sharing the road for hours, just beyond the clutches of the “pay your toll” booth.

Resting at Rest Stops

I created a cozy little sleeping nook in the back of my Lincoln Aviator.

Rest Stop on my Cross Country Road Trip
Sleeping in the SUV at rest stops on my cross country road trip

It was pretty comfy once I got the sun shade thing situated.

I slept at 3 rest stops along this road trip. Not only did it save me money, but it allowed me to hop back onto the road with little wasted time. I think I prefer this to motels when on a cross country route focused on expediency. over sightseeing.

Cross Country Road Trip Rest Stop Dale Indiana
Dale Indiana Rest Stop

This one in Dale, Indiana was not the most picturesque, but nicely maintained and I felt safe sleeping there.

This strip of highway has quite a few decent rest stops normally, but many were closed on this particular trip. I was extremely glad to find this one open.

Cross Country Road Rest Stop Ogallala Nebraska
Ogallala Nebraska Rest Stop

Good morning Indiana From there I hit a Denny’s for a power breakfast then headed out towards I70 making it as far as Oglala Nebraska.

The Nebraska rest stop was fantastic. Clean with lots of parking. Wide open spaces and lovely views.

Ogallala Nebraska Rest Stop
Good Morning Nebraska

Good morning Nebraska!

For some reason google gps routed me through Nebraska instead of my previously designated plan to follow straight through Kansas and Colorado, yet I enjoyed the I-80 drive passing miles and miles of cattle ranches.

Riding High on Audio Books

As much of this particular drive offers such exquisite views, I tend to revel in the scenery without distraction.

But on long hauls like this, driven alone, various forms of distraction are necessary to staying alert, even if that sounds a bit oxymoronic.

One way I pass time is of course my music. When I’m feeling tired I at times rely on talk radio to keep me going. Yet one of my best allies is Audible.

Listening to lectures or books or whatever wets your noodle, is one the most valuable tools when in the more long haul type of journey. Just make sure you download ahead of time.

Your in Reno? I’m in Reno.

Nevada Humane Society
Dropping campfire cats off to be adopted from Nevada Humane Society with FieldHaven Feline Center

Before picking up my cat from my sons house in Portland, I will visit with FieldHaven Feline Center, the group with which I volunteer from afar.

FieldHaven, a long standing cat rescue and shelter in Lincoln California has been working hard to help the thousands of cats affected by the campfire.

Along with the support of Alley Cat Allies, FieldHaven opened 2 temporary shelters; Alley Cat Allies Recovery Center in Marysville and Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station in Paradise. These additional shelters were necessary for the unprecedented amount of cats let injured, lost, homeless or without shelter and food across the burn zone.

Having been invited to stay with Joy Smith, the head of FieldHaven, I remained in touch with her as I headed West. When I told Joy I’d be in Lincoln Friday, she mentioned that she would not return from Reno (where many of the unclaimed campfire are being sent for adoption) and ot back home until 5pm.

Checking my itinerary, it occurred to me that I’d be in Reno by about noon on Friday. In the same time my friend Christine, who I hadn’t seen in years texted me, asking me to stop by when passing through Reno. (Is totally forgotten that she’d moved there)

In the end, I got to stop in Reno, take a much needed shower as well as visit with my good friend Christine, then meet Joy & Rog of FieldHaven, as well as a bunch of campfire cats at Nevada Humane Society then follow them back to Lincoln.

Landing in Paradise

I made it across the US, practically from coast to coast in 4 nights easily.

The expense of the trip was purely gas, breakfast and drinks in the end and it was yet again another fantastic road trip across the US. I GoPro’d every light day of it and will share it, along with my many other recorded journeys, as soon as I am able.

Saturday I was able to visit Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station as well as drive around Paradise to see the devastation first hand. It may seem a grim thing to do. Yet certainly I am not a catastrophe tourist. I’d ridden this area on my motorcycle many years before.  The strange familiarity felt by the awareness of knowledge of this place I had rarely ever been. I felt a unique and intimate understanding of the tragedy that affected so many.

The stories of loss, heartache and then the ultimate satisfaction of reuniting someone with a cat they were sure had perished in the fire. Cognizant of the feeding station and trapping locations as well as if I’d lived there and physically helped. To know the addresses and stories of human, animal and material loss as if it had happened to my friends and neighbors. It is difficult to put into words the sheer devastation of it all and how keenly I was touched by experiencing it first hand, after all of this time.

And am keenly aware of all hard work and dedication that FieldHaven and the many trappers, feeders, rescuers and shelters have put in just to help give a small bit of relief to the people and animals that have lost so very much.

Sadness and Loss

I GoPro’d the devastation but I’m unsure if I shall share it or not. It was heart wrenching to see the depth loss exhibited by these utterly charred neighborhood’s. Businesses mostly gone. Hearth and home obliterated along with the foliage and trees.

The overwhelming emptiness of the place, bereft in its losses it is tangible as if a solid entity.

Paradise California 2019
Rainbow over Paradise

But the cats… so many survived. They escaped locked down burned out houses like little Houdini’s. Thousands of cats so far recovered. More found and trapped every day. Their ability to survive in a burned out world of nothingness is remarkable. This place so long considered a paradise for so many, as in name then to ashes.

It was a magical experience and an added bonus to this cross country drive. If it actually meant anything beyond a rainbow happened to cross my path at the most opportune moment or not, I’ll let you decide that. What I will state, is that my expeditious drive across the US, for me was well worth it if just for that moment.

Hell, I live driving and exploring so much, it was worth it just for the drive alone.

Next Stop Portland

Soon I leave for Portland to pick up Dew. Then I will head out with my friend Laurie, her chihuahua Rudy and my cat to cross the country once more, this time via the most northern route heading from Portland to Rhode Island.

First stop Yellowstone Park.

Just Like a White Winged Dove | My Austin Texas Transplant

I’d nearly made it through Texas and into Austin without harming anything. Driving nearly 3000 miles with no depressing flattened bunny moments, is a Godsend.

Spewing toxic emissions into the atmosphere is one thing. But death or injury in my vehicles wake is quite another.

Sadly, with my “driving the world” lifestyle, such is inevitable.

Blood Moon
Full buck moon. Picture not my own. RootlessRoutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buck Moon / Deer Lunacy

On this weird, cloudless yet starless night, the full buck moon was bright red. Drawing wild eyed deer to the roadways edge. 

Like packs of starving zombies seeking to sate their ravaging hunger. Suicidal Whitetail await in the shadows for just the right vehicle to drive by.

Deer in forest. Picture not my own
Lurking deer

In my mind I could see them. Pawing at the periphery. Waiting in the twiggy wedge of where the forest meets the road.

Moon crazed deer are the bane of rural Texas roadways in Summer and Fall. But not only deer succumb to the full moons lunacy. On Summer nights like these, a deranged contagion maddens more than the jittery, spindly legged, frantics.

Although unseen, denizens of the Texas wilderness hide in the shadows. Lurking at the brink of the unlit road. Waiting for me to drive by.

I scanned the verge with sharp intent. Hands gripping the wheel in anticipation. Ready to respond.

As Austin neared, the forest thinned and turned to sprawling ranchland. Not out of the literal woods yet, I loosened my grip but maintained a keen eye.

Hello Austin Texas

About about 100 miles north of my South Austin, Texas destination, traffic thickened as it now always does when nearing Austin. I began to relax.

Less than 100 miles from my destination and no casualties. Then something flew in front of the car and vanished. I knew it was a goner.

It was nearly dark, so it could have been a bat. Texas is home to millions of little bats. But I knew that whatever it was, was likely stuck in the massive grill of the Lincoln.

Menacing bug laden grill of my Lincoln Aviator. RootlessRoutes Austin Texas 2018

I’d not seen it do the customary ‘swoop of the dead’ over my hood. So I imagined it wedged between the evil teeth if the Aviators shameless grin.

I drove on.

The sprawling Texas ranchland faded to subdivisions. I drove across Austin through the late evening traffic, so common to this place. Venturing on to my mother’s house in South Austin.

Arriving exhausted, I merely glanced at the menacing grill of the Lincoln upon unloading and saw nothing.

I awoke to take Mom to do errands. It was hot. Three digit hot.

The bug laden grill showed no sign of a body, so I offered the little creature a moment of silence in recompense and went on with life.

The Heat (Heart) of Texas!

The next day was hot. Like the rest of the US, Texas was searing. Daily aspiring to triple digits or close, with just enough humidity to make it soul breakingly bleak.

As I traversed South Austin to help my Mom with chores. Instead of dodging moon crazed deer, I now evaded the blank eyed, soccer Moms, that dot Austins cityscape.

These dough eyed creatures, drive and roam about as if they have no real destination in mind. Such Austin transplants wander the parking lots and shops in a daze similar to the deer.

Swaddled in organic yoga pants and t shirts with ironic sayings, they prance about believing they too are “weird”. Their freshly dyed purple hair, a beacon of their unacknowledged privilege.

I prefer the crazy deer.

The deer are much more competent at blending into the landscape than are this new breed of Austin Moms. Fueled by their vapid superiority, they don’t even notice themselves blocking the way, driving to slowly or cutting you off.

And Ye Shall Arise!

We stopped at Michaels craft supply and walked the length of the strip mall to TJ Maxx.

The heat was better this day, yet too oppressive for my Mom. So I slogged off through the Texas heat, to get the car and come pick her up.

RootlessRoutes 2018 Austin Texas
Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

How could that be?

RootlessRoutes 2018 Austin Texas
Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

There’s no way it could be a second bird right?

White winged dove
White winged dove behind the grill. Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

Yet there she was, screaming her wee head off and waving her wings about. She looked a right mess too.

I opened the trunk and the dove flew out. She stumbled around the parking lot, mimicking the soccer moms and flew off into the expansive Texas sky.

How could that poor little sucker have survived? Eighty miles an hour in front of a searing hot radiator? Three whole days driving around town in 3 digit heat?

There is no way to know how that little bird survived her predicament. Yet, she now too was a transplant to Austin, Texas.

Maybe she’ll dye her hair purple, buy a Subaru Outback and start prancing around parking lots in ironic t-shirts.

Outlander & the NC500 The End of Unexplored Scotland?

Devils Pulpit aka Finnich Glen 2018 by Rootless Routes NC500 Stirlingshire Undiscovered Scotland

I’m not Scottish.  In fact, it is likely not a single drop of Scottish blood runs through my veins. Yet Scotland calls to me. For this reason, I’ve been exploring Scotland for quite some time now. Especially the more remote parts of Scotland.

St Andrews Cross, Saltire
Scottish Flag. A flag of blue and white

Since I’ve had this love for Scotland for most of my life, I’ve been gobbing on about it and its wonders for years. As many times I have visited Scotland, I never tire of it. Yet inevitably my friends certainly get sick of hearing about it.

My Scotland?

So there I was…. sharing my love for Scotland, with the completely disinterested. Researching Scotland’s history as if it were of my own and visiting Scotland whenever possible. Accordingly, regaling friends with tales of of my Scottish travels. Reveling in the bits of unexplored terrain as I found them. Heartbroken over the challenges this country has enduringly had to face. Subsequently, I’d mention Scotland a lot. But for the most part, nobody cared!

Then it happened. First the Outlander series, then the creation of the NC500 tourist route. As a result, suddenly everybody loved Scotland too.

This led to a completely new reaction to my Scottish musings. Now when I’d mention Scotland, people got excited and to be sure,  everybody wanted to listen. Finally my friends took note of Scotland’s beauty. Undoubtedly it was Outlander & the NC500  that drove public interest to new levels  of interest and for that reason, Scottish tourism began booming.

Edinburgh Castle Interior Clock Tower Far from an Unexplored Scotland
Edinburgh Castle Clock Tower 2017 Elizabeth Whitener Rootless Routes

Beyond Loch Ness and the Loch Ness Monster, Loch Lomond, tartans, kilts, haggis and bagpipes, it seemed most people in the US knew little about Scotland, if it was not a part of their ancestry. But on account of Scotland’s new found popularity, that was no longer the case.

Royal Mile bagpiper, Edinburgh Photo by Elizabeth Whitener Rootless Routes Unexplored Scotland
Bagpiper in Edinburgh 2017 Picture by Elizabeth Whitener RootlessRoutes

I was happy that now people was seeing what I saw. But also, somehow Scotland wasn’t mine any more. Not that it really ever was.

Haggis for breakfast, Orkney Scotland
Yummy fresh made haggis with breakfast at Highland House BnB in Kirkwall Scotland Orkney Rootless Routes

NOT MY SCOTLAND

In consequence to its new found popularity, all one hears on travel blogs, in magazines, across the interwebs and beyond, are the praises about the magical land of Scotland. My Scotland. My unexplored Scotland. The proud and beautiful land with the flag of white and blue.

It’s like when the world discovers your favorite band. You are happy for the band but also feel cheated in some way. The band becomes no longer unique to you. You in no way aided them in their success. Your only connection was a love for their music. Happy for their success, yet you still somehow feel cheated. A need to mourn the loss of something unique to you in some way.

I am well aware that Scotland was never mine. I’m not even a Scot… And none of it is actually unexplored. Yet as the world awoke to the beauties of Scotland, I felt that a road trip was in order immediately!

My Scotland Road Trips / 5000 Miles of Scotland

That road trip turned into two (2), one (1) month long trips across, around and through Scotland. Covering both the well known and the most unexplored Scotland bits. One in Fall, the other in Spring. I learned a lot from these trips. I shall do my best to share the experiences that ensued.

But this post is about the result of all of this tourism. Tourism on a land that in many places that has remained (or been forced into remaining) simple and remote. A land that has never seen, and seems in no way ready for the masses appearing on their shores from day to day. And in result, the bits often referred to as unexplored Scotland, or hidden Scotland, obscure Scotland… become less and less obscure.

highland roadway near Glenelg Scotland
Single track ‘Passing Place’ along the NC500 route between Glenelg and Applecross and the tail end of my Mitsubishi Outlander Rootless Routes

OUTLANDER & THE NC500

It appears that Scotland’s sudden and well deserved boon came from a perfect combination of the popularity of Outlander & the NC500 craze, aided by the surge in travel in general.

The popularity of travel blogs added to the sudden mass realization of Scotland’s largely unappreciated, infinite and unique beauty.

Many Scots never saw it coming. Most of them had never even heard of Outlander (or Cross Stitch) until recently. They were unaware that Outlander romanticized the countries beauty and passion in such an idolized way, that soon crazy tourists would be blocking roads, stopping traffic to photograph sheep and cows, climbing into ancient dangerous holes, building campfires in the middle of Neolithic stone circles, driving poorly and with no understanding of the rules of the road and camping on private property. Unexplored Scotland was getting pretty damned well explored and exploited.

Visit Scotland’s “Scotland is now” ad campaign helms this Scottish tourism assault. Scotland is seemingly now on the tip of everyone’s tongue and it is also now teaming with tourists.

Atlas Obscura, Undiscovered Scotland, Culture trip, (my favorite travel source), Rough Guides, NC500. All great publications that hype the undiscovered and unexplored Scotland bits. But when everybody knows of the unexplored, how long can these places remain so?

Royal Mile Edinburgh 2018
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile off season. Elizabeth Whitener 2018 Rootless Routes

Scotland became a hot commodity overnight and I hadn’t even driven it yet.

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Dunnottar Castle. A true 16th century courtyard castle. Stonehaven Aberdeenshire. Photo by Elizabeth Whitener 2017 Rootless Routes

CASTLES CASTLES CASTLES and the BEALACH NA BA

Endless hiking, free camping, invigorating roadways, stunning vistas, otherworldly mountain ranges, all appreciated by driving and riding aficionados alike. Motorbikes, bicycles and hikers love the roads and paths of Scotland equally…  and don’t forget the castles. The endless array of castles. 

I drove every coast of this magnificent place and even after traveling a great deal of this planet, I must say… Scotland is truly magnificent. Both the explored and the unexplored Scotland.

But for me and likely for many, part of its magnificence comes from its remoteness.

How does Scotland maintain its most beautiful locations integrity, if they become no longer remote?

Kildrummy Castle Ruins 2017 by Rootless Routes
Kildrummy Castle – 13th Century ruin – photo by Elizabeth Whitener Kildrummy Scotland 2017 Rootless Routes
Craigievar Castle (tower house)
Craigievar Castle (tower house). Is a pink harled structure near Alford, Aberdeenshire Scotland. Photo by Elizabeth Whitener aka januarymoon 2017 Rootless Routes
Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire Scotland Rootless Routes
Castle Fraser. 1636 preserved Z plan Tower House. Photo by Elizabeth Whitener, Inverurie Scotland, Aberdeenshire 2017 Rootless Routes
SCOTLAND: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY IN THE WORLD

Voted in the top most welcoming, as well as the #1 most beautiful country in the world in 2017, Scotland has long been high on the scale for offering many wonderful things, yet it remained a bit obscure as a major tourist attraction even through the 1990s when the first Outlander book, known as Cross Stitch in the UK, exploded in the US.

Outlander book cover. by Diana Gabaldon 1991
First edition Outlander book cover from 1991.

UNEXPLORED SCOTLAND

The more obscure, less explored places in Scotland touted online by so many travel blogs or in any way connected to Outlander, nowadays tends to be pretty damned well explored, no matter how remote. Some completely trampled on and in dire need for some sort of control by county officials, but amazing places to visit nevertheless.

I set out to discover if any of the “unexplored” still existed in this proud and enduring land and… I found it. But it isn’t just me and my tiny little unread blog that know of these places.

Soon they will be amongst the amazing places known as undiscovered, but are actually quite frequented by many, and often left to an disturbingly unknown fate.

THE DEVIL’S PULPIT – FINNICH GLEN

The Devils Pulpit aka Finnich Glen. This stunning and dangerous location, that has been here for millennia, is a perfect example of the plight of some these beautiful spots when overexposed and under maintained.

The best way to find it nowadays, is to follow the illegally parked cars and the trail of discarded socks.

Visiting the sight left me with very mixed emotions about Scotland’s new found popularity, even if my experience there was truly fantastic! For others the experience has not been quite as rewarding, as described in The Scottish Sun Outland-ish Behaviour.

The Devils Pulpit Finnich Glen as seen on Outlander
The Devils Pulpit. Photo by Elizabeth Whitener 2018 Rootless Routes

Climbing down into the Devils Pulpit is far more difficult and dangerous than many are led to believe. Apparently this place was highlighted in an Outlander episode, so now it is overrun with visitors.

Due to this new found interest, there have been numerous rescues from the site. Similarly numerous injuries have been reported and the steps, although they look like real steps at the top, are practically non existent just a few feet into the 70 foot climb down.

With no true car park or parking spaces specified, most park in a small public lot down the road. The local road is skinny, winding, quite busy and maintains a speed limit of 60 MPH, making it dangerous to park or walk on.

Since The Devils Pulpit was an Outlander location, as well as in the new movie King Arthur, the place is packed with people. Consequently it has become hazardous  nd apparently the perfect place to toss litter and wet socks.

I am quite certain the Stirlingshire council will do something about this soon. But this gorgeous place (that needs to be preserved) is the perfect example of how unready Scotland is for some of the insanity that the Outlander & the NC500 hype has created in their wake.

THE FAIRY GLEN UIG / PORTREE ISLE OF SKYE

The Fairy Glen, a magical place in Uig Skye is more remote. Not a particularly dangerous spot like the Devils Pulpit. Yet parking is scarce, not well signed and huge busses roll up right to the main curve, trampling the ground, often blocking the way for anyone to pass, and freaking out the sheep.

The Isle of Skye is so overwhelmed by tourists in Summer, that the police have been forced to make it illegal to visit the island without a hotel reservation.

Small, windy, poorly lit, pothole filled roads become jam packed with tourists both on foot, cycles, motorbikes and RVs.

Young people hanging out with no place to go, and no way to get around, walk alongside extremely perilous roads. Tragically a young girl was killed hitchhiking there last year. She is likely not the first, nor the last.

The Quiraing, amazingly was packed with RVs when I was there and bizarrely,  3 young Japanese tourists were walking along the edge, wheeling their luggage along some of the most dangerous parts of the Quiraing roadway, as cars, cows, sheep and cyclists rode by. (I have it on video)

Yet the Fairy Glen is a fantastical place to visit and free (for the time being). You could spend hours there, just walking, photographing and enjoying the unusual terrain. No place like it on the planet.

Fairy Glen Unexplored Scotland Uig
The Fairy Glen Isle of Skye Uig / Portree Scotland 2018 Elizabeth Whitener Rootless Routes

THE STANDING STONES OF STENNESS

itener Unexplored Scotland” src=”https://rootlessroutes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/dsc00763-2.jpg” alt=”Stone Circle Orkney Scotland by Rootless Routes Unexplored Scotland” width=”760″ height=”640″ /> Standing Stones of Stenness Orkney Scotland Neolithic Stone Circle 2017 by Rootless Routes[/caption]
It was not until late in 2014, when the Outlander TV series rocked the US market and pushed the

It was not until late in 2014, when the Outlander TV series rocked the US market and pushed the Starz network into an unexpected new realm. The NC500 came shortly behind it creating the Outlander & NC500 tourism phenomena we see today. Both hold a significant role in boosting interest not only in Scotland, but of Scotlands Neolithic sites as well.

Outlander significantly boosted the interest in Scotland’s many standing stones and the NC500 helped to bring the traffic to these extremely remote locations

Orkney, a place so remote to Scotland, that some of those from there barely consider themselves Scottish. Now plagued with unprecedented traffic, the older locals look quite literally terrified at times and neolithic relics are getting trampled underfoot.

Standing Stones of Stenness. Orkney Scotland by Rootless routes, Elizabeth Whitener 2017

INVERNESS

As tourism soars, so does the economy. A much needed and appreciated boost indeed, especially in the highlands and the Islands. But with this came the blogging (just like I am doing here) and lesser known, unexplored Scotland bits started to see more and more visitors.

Even Inverness took awhile to boom, the self proclaimed capital of the Highlands continued to struggle with economic strife, until Claire and Jamie road through town and things changed quickly.

If visiting Inverness, remember that it is slowly growing to meet the tourism demands. Book a place to stay well in advance. Make reservations to eat ALWAYS. And please be kind to the grounds of Culloden. Many of the locals are already devastated over building that will soon go on near sights considered to be sacred.

Flora MacDonald Inverness Castle
Flora MacDonald statue in front of Inverness Castle. The heroine of the Jacobites, even if she may not have been a Jacobite herself.

Due to the surge in tourism, finding bits of Scotland that are less travelled or unexplored has become quite difficult these days. There is a variation of a similar saying that I heard locals proclaim while visiting the Highlands. It went something like “We were always here, you just now noticed us.”

FINDING UNEXPLORED SCOTLAND

In sharing all of the above, I actually was able to find some more remote and less explored fantastic locations, aka unexplored things to see and do in Scotland.

The surge in tourism has actually brought forth finances to renovate, restore and revive sites that had been neglected, ignored, even forgotten for centuries.

Many from the list below have benefitted from this bounty. I will add information to finding and visiting each of these locations and then link each post to the list below as my posts are complete.

I am also preparing routes that you can follow that will help you visit many of these sites in a single day with ample time to enjoy each one, catch lunch and return to where you are staying to relax for the night and prepare for your next days journey.

Castle Advreck - Lock Assent
Castle Ardvreck – Lock Assent

Ardvreck – Loch Assynt

RootlessRoutes 2018
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe by RootlessRoutes 2018 Scottish Highlands Sutherland Scotland
Ruins of Castle Varrich truly a part of Unexplored Scotland
Tongue Scotland 2018 by Rootless Routes Castle Varrich

Castle Varrich – Tongue

Portencross Castle Ayrshire 2018 RootlessRoutes
Portencross Castle Ayrshire / West Kilbide 2018 RootlessRoutes by Elizabeth Whitener

Portencross Castle – West Kilbride

Dundonald Castle RootlessRoutes 2018
Dundonald Castle RootlessRoutes 2018 South Ayrshire

DunDonald Castle – South Ayrshire

Wariston Cemetery Edinburgh 2018
Warriston Cemetery Edinburgh 2018

Warriston Cemetery – Edinburgh – Victorian Cemetery recently being lovingly restored by Friends of Warriston Cemetery a local group

Visit Scotland

In brief, do not hesitate to visit any part of Scotland. Just be conscientious and conscious of your surroundings and by all means, enjoy! Understand that people live here and love their home. Be vigilant, careful and respectful to the Earth, the animals (both tame and wild) and the people.

Do not park in passing places or block anyone’s path. Learn about the rules of the road ahead of time and follow them.

If driving on the other side of the road makes you nervous, don’t do it! Find alternative transportation. The speed limit on most of these back roads is 60 MPH and if you can’t drive that fast, let others pass you or simply do not drive. The locals have jobs and appointments and visitors need to be sensitive to these things.

Be smart and well prepared, be kind, take your trash with you (even wet socks) and enjoy beautiful Scotland.

After all what’s mine is yours.

The Fairy Glen of Skye Scottish Highlands Scotland’s North Coast

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View from Castle Ewen of The Fairy Glen below

Deep in the farthest reaches of the Scottish Highlands. Tucked between the gold, amber and brown monolithic peaks of t-Eilean Sgitheanach. Across winding, single track, sheep filled roads. There is a land that the Fae call home.

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A fairy trail below Castle Ewen

The Fairy Glen

Where eerily ridged and ragged, irregularly shaped hills and dales are flocked by mossy green vegetation. An alien world, amongst an already seemingly alien background of monochromatic tones and craggy mountains.

There it is, blanketed in a lush and vivid velvet verdancy. Castle Ewen calls to you, so you begin to climb. You wander through the worn paths of those that graced this mystical expanse before you.

Castle Ewen and the highest peak in the Fairy Glen

Time stands still, sheep bah and graze. New lambs bleat, suckle and frolic in the sun. As you  climb you periodically gaze up at the flat topped peak, drawn.

At certain angles the tower above appears to be man made (Fae made?) as do the miniature rock fronted burrows below (Fae den?).  As a result of the scenery, atmosphere or perhaps something even less tangible, you get a sense of magic.

The hills are steep but not too daunting. You stop to catch your breath. A calm falls upon you. A cool wind kisses your cheek and there you are at the apogee of The Fairy Glen.

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The Ferry Glen from above

Gazing out across the greenery, to the brown and golden ranges that surround you. Waterfalls, pastures, bluffs, lochs and roadways are all in view. Yet none of what you see beyond the point at which you stand is in any way as green or as lush.

The Fairy Glen Skye
View of distant waterfalls from the Fairy Glen

 

 

The Fairies of the World

There are so many things one could say about the Fairy Glen. If only one could find the words. So easy tis it, imagine magical, delicately winged creatures living here. Like “The Glen” in Ireland, it is simply surreal.

As you stand there, communing with whatever it is that seemingly created this magical place, it is hard not to believe that if the Fae lived anywhere, this would be a place of choice.

Each little  mound, sculpted by their wee fairy hands and tamped down by their wee fairy feet. Every rock flown by iridescent wings and tapped into place with fairy spit and fairy dust.

It takes little imagination to know this place as The Fairy Glen.

Geological anomaly, The Fairy Glen
A Fairy Glen or a geological anomaly

Science? Magic? Or a Little Bit of Both

In the non magical world, The Fairy Glen is a geological anomaly. An ancient landslip, that landed in just the right location to create a semi micro climate, allowed simple mosses, grasses and lichen to flourish and grow on the rock. As the plants broke down and rock eroded, the rocky base became rich with fertile soil, encouraging a normally much more hostile environment. Years of sheep poop likely helped too.

Yet even though the rational mind knows the scientific rationale behind the flourishing surroundings on which you stand. It remains difficult not to feel a sense of the unreal and revel in the magic of such an pleasingly atmospheric quarter.

Directions to The Fairy Glen:

The Fairy Glen is located in the North West of the Isle of Skye. Sadly, it is not as obscure as it was once, so to get there you can simply enter it into your GPS as The Fairy Glen.

It will likely take less than an hour to get there from anywhere on the Island of Skye by automobile.

Take A87, which at one point turns into Dunvegan Rd (but also remains A87). Just follow it around until you see the sign for the Fairy Glen. You will see cars parked about 1/2 mile before the actual location, but I was able to park on a dirt patch directly in front of the sight.

Please PLEASE do NOT park in any passing places. It is illegal, dangerous and just plane rude. Do not park in a way that obstructs the road, obvious sheep crossings, or that in any way negatively impacts the locals or the environment.

To Know When Visiting The Fairy Glen:

There is no admission fee or attendants there. There are no toilets or parking specifically for The Fairy Glen. It still can get very crowded. Even tour buses show up there.

There is really no need for a walking map once there, but here is  a link nevertheless.  If you get turned around, just a small trek up one of the hills will allow you a view to anywhere you need to go. It is easy to traverse the area by meandering. Some may find it difficult to get to the top, but that is ok, there are plenty places to walk that are only mildly hilly. It is worth the viewing, even if you do not intend to, or cannot walk around.

I think kids would enjoy it there just as much as adults.

Although you could essentially walk for miles around The Fairy Glen, you likely could walk around, climb and photograph within an hours time. I personally spent 2 hours there and enjoyed it.

I suggest you wear hiking shoes if you have them, it can get pretty muddy.

A rain jacket is also suggested.

Photography Advice for The Fairy Glen:

When on the road facing the glen, there is a hill behind you. This hill is an excellent location for snapping shots, as is the top of the glen itself atop Castle Ewen.

Good to Note:

Be careful that your GPS does not confuse The Fairy Glen in Uig with the Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle (also on Skye), nor the Fairy Glen Park in Wigan, or The Fairy Glen Hotel in Penmaenmawr.

Other places to visit when in the area Dunvegan Castle and the Fairy Pools.

My Rootless Routes Travel Blogging On The Road

Rootless Routes
Lake Quinsigamond from AirBnB 2017 Elizabeth Whitener
View from AirBnB on Lake Quinsigamond. Shrewsbury Mass

Today,  I am truly rootless. The view from my window will be ever changing from this point on. Rootless Routes is no longer a concept, it is a reality. But can I write well enough, post consistently enough, draw viewers enough for this blog to self perpetuate and help me to carry on?

Rootless Routes
Dew checkin out the view Providence Rhode Island AirBnB 2017

Why Rootless Routes? Rootless, because I have no home rooted in just one place, just a vintage travel trailer that is not even yet in my possession. Routes, because I plan to keep moving along, sharing the tales of my journeys, and well. my rootless life on the road.

Mark's place in Virginia
Virginia Beach Virginia

I write to you from my friend’s place in Virginia Beach, writing before preparing my SUV for my next journey, which is to Austin, Texas. As I sit here writing, I feel the ever present call to pack and get ready. Yet I know I must keep blogging consistently to meet my goals, so I am trying to keep posting. Posting something interesting with good photographs regularly enough is really really hard for me. And it takes me hours.

I love to write and take pictures, but getting them all together and posted in a cohesive manner is just as hard as I expected… maybe even harder. I am unsure how to focus on both things while still getting everything done.

I am quite new to blogging. When I check out other travel logs, Rootless Routes seems an anomaly that doesn’t easily fit into any one category.  Is this a good thing or am I fucked?

Elizabeth Whitener
Me

 

Every barrier has a window to the sky. It is just that, doors do not need to close for me to go running off looking for another one to pry open. If that makes any sense.

Newport Rhode Island I think
Massachusetts somewhere. I don’t remember where the Hell this is.

This new sojourn, living on the road and working on Rootless Routes, is not so very far off of my already rather remote but well beaten (at least by me) life’s path. Having traveled alone across the country (USA) and abroad since I was 17 years old and then with my son as he grew, this new life is not so very far a stretch from where I stood not very long ago. As is my way, I have not well mapped out some format or plan to make money or the best way to “sell my blog” to the masses, yet this year, after a few changes in my life came about MY STORY, I decided it was time to fulfill this particular dream of traveling and writing about it and suddenly here I am. Living on the road and writing about it.

Massachusetts 2017
Shrewsbury Mass

Hopefully, my abrasive charm, mediocre photography, repetitive and long winded writing will eventually create an interesting enough blog to help support my desire to travel full time. If not, well fuck it. I’ll just find another way.

After all, Rootless Routes at its core, is not actually about creating a successful blog, but about creating a lifestyle that lives up to the term Rootless Routes. But the blog doing well would sure fucking help.Edinburgh King George V Park 2017

King George V Park Leith Waterway Walkway Edinburgh Scotland Rootless Routes 2017

Currently I am living off savings and money made from my etsy shops (Renegade Revival Vintage) (Lightly Sauced Retro) that I have been opening and closing randomly.

Van Life
My new home. 1971 FAN Lee Liner

I am unsure that with blogs like Rootless Routes, by just writing what you wish to write over well researched content, will anyone ever see it?  In a realm such as travel blogging, that is extremely saturated, it is crazy difficult to build much of an audience. Add in the fact that I have the attention span of a drunkin’ gnat, that my tempestuous nature means that my style of travel, my posting style, even my ability to post regularly is completely scattered and erratic. That in the middle of all of this I am attempting to sell almost everything I own, fix up and move into a travel trailer, while traveling around the US and abroad and yet need to somehow bring in money… well it is kinda nuts.

Scottish HIghlands 2017 NC 500
Rootless Routes in Arnisdale Scotland 2017

Seriously, with travel as my new way of life, completely on the road with short visits and jaunts staying at friends, family and periodically AirBnBs (or the like), the ability to worry too much about formulating the Rootless Routes blog in a manner that will bring in visitors and views is well… not very realistic. I am quite unsure if I can bring Rootless Routes to the level that I would need for it to support making this life a perpetual reality. So if I can’t, then what? Being ‘rootless’ and writing about my routes, seems redundant if nobody wants to read about it. I suppose it will end up being a wait and see thing.

Rootless Routes HIghlands of Scotland
Glenelg Scotland 2017

I suppose I am a bit of a non conformist, that has stayed pretty true to my anti establishment sort of roots throughout most of my adult life. I raised a son on my own and we road tripped a great deal. When he was 13 we spent 3 months on the road just traveling the US from Florida to Northern California. I’ve lived in New York, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California (both Southern and Northern California), Texas, Rhode Island with fairly long jaunts in England and Bali. So I have been more rootless than most in my 50+ years on this planet it seems.

Dew enjoying our AirBnB in Shrewsbury MA

I guess for now, Rootless Routes is where I live. Me, Dew the cat and Roadie the dog.

 

Roadie in Providence RHode ISland

Since I do not yet have the travel trailer in hand, I will be driving across the US in just my SUV. I leave for Austin in tomorrow (hopefully) to see family and friends. From there I will head to Portland to see my son and his crew, then I am off to Seattle to help my friend Laurie prepare her house for sale. Once the weather is solid enough for me to pick up the travel trailer,I will then once again be heading back across the US to Massachusetts.

Regardless of the outcome of this blog, the adventure that is my life is always real. After 50 years on this planet I realize there is no way around the fact that traveling is home to me and that I know how to make things work when I need to. If it isn’t this blog that will support my life on the road, I will certainly come up with something else, I always do. I am hopeful though that in getting to know me and following me along the way, I will inspire… if not at least entertain my you enough to keep this thing… Rootless Routes and Routes of the Rootless, keep on keepin’ on!