Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rockfall Project to Start on Banks Lowman Road

TK Construction
2478 Patterson Rd. #17
Grand Junction, CO 81505
Ph-(970) 250-1879 Fax (970) 242-1006
Submitted by TK Construction 

The following information is provided to make a public notice for all those who use and travel the Banks-Lowman Highway from M.P. 18.7-27.3.

TK Construction US LLC, of Grand Junction, CO will be performing a rockfall mitigation project on the Banks Lowman Highway, from mile post 18.7 to 27.3. 

This project consists of several different phases of work, which include the following: Rock Scaling, installation of wire mesh protection, rockfall fences, installation of Ecology blocks, installation of Mechanically Stabilized  Earth walls, shotcrete, embankment, potential blasting, drilling, installation of rock bolts and asphalt repair. 

The rockfall project has been funded by Western Federal Lands Highway Department and the purpose is to provide safe roadway travel for the public.  The project will also help county maintenance crews, by preventing damage to equipment from rockfall which has occurred in winter and spring.  This portion of highway is very susceptible to rockfall.  

The work will commence on April 1 and continue through October 21, 2013.  There will be traffic control on the project during the duration of the job; traffic stops and delays can be expected from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm daily.  There will be up to 30-minute stops. 

The reason for this is due to the rocks coming off the slope. Delays can be expected mostly at the start of project, as TK will be carrying out heavy rock slope scaling operations.  There will be one lane of traffic for the duration of the project. Most weekends and all holidays will not have traffic stops; the road will be completely open. 

Project Superintendent Dennis Harriman anticipates a good start and an overall good project, and he looks forward to working in such a majestic spot.  There will be a team of eight rock remediation technicians, who will be hanging from the side of the slope, performing all the tasks via rope access.

“It’s a dangerous job but sure is fun--always nice to work in such a nice place," says rock scaling foreman, Brock Guilder, who guides and oversees the scaling operations for TK. 

“We look forward to the challenge ahead of us and feel very pleased to be involved in helping make things safer," says Brandon Manahan, Rockfall manager for TK.   

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Garden Valley Library Has Birthday Party!

All the Irish lassies an' laddies gave the music their all.

Robbie Wilson, Anjali MacAngel, Rich Wilson, Doug Haines,
and piano accompanist, Jody Mabe.
The Garden Valley community celebrated the second anniversary of the new Garden Valley District Library on March 16, with a St. Patrick’s Day bash.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, the event included a silent auction fundraiser, with proceeds to go toward the completion of the library landscaping, including a rear patio.  

While guests perused and bid on auction items, the Irish music rolled. Vocalists Robbie Wilson, Richard Wilson and Angel were accompanied by pianist, Jody Mabe, and guitarist, Doug Haines. The chorus was composed of the willing and talented audience of patrons.

Young Wolverines, Hudson and Corban Fields,
show off their treasures.


The Friends were gratified to receive so many donations of wonderful themed gift baskets, works of art, and other offerings from private parties and businesses. Patrons coughed up $2,200 for the cause.

Lily and Buddy Madron, with grandma, Janet Zang, break to take
in the tasty noshes. People's Choice winner of the goodies went to
Robbie Wilson's scary green things, which brave souls declared to
be the best lemon bars ever!

Librarian, Diane Messick, actually
looks like she's having fun in
the mayhem!

Photographer, CJ Scharf, and Library Friends president, Jody Mabe,
are ready to write their checks.

  “It is a thank you we’ll be givin’”, say the Friends of the GV Library.

Senior Center: Last Chance for Tax Help!

      Take advantage of Dan Gasiorowski’s expertise at no charge – as a representative for AARP, he can make your tax headache less excruciating, if not totally alleviated. You need a magic wand for that! Stop in on Friday, March 29, at 2:00 p.m., and bring any papers you need.
 Granny's Closet has Baskets galore waiting for your bunny to pick them up—and lots of toys, trinkets and gifts for any age are here at ridiculously low prices.
  Linens, big blankets and baby blankets, curtains and rods, buttons and sewing, crafts and pillows, towels and bath accessories, and hardware for a variety of needs are all here waiting to be discovered. Sunglasses, office paraphernalia, toiletries, wallets, canes, pots and pans—keep coming back to see what you missed.
  Granny’s Closet, as Granny says, is a win-win situation. Patrons get a chance to give to a good cause; patrons then step through the door and purchase all sorts of bargains; the money then gets filtered into helping the Senior Center stay on its feet and is also given back into the community.

Senior Center board members making big decisions: L-R, Center
Coordinator, Judy Delvalle, CJ Scharf, Ron Richter,
Rich Smith and Jayne Carlson (with strange cookie-munching face).

  Last week, the board voted to give a grant to the GV Syringa Club to support the publication of a book of poetry/prose by residents over 60. This will have ramifications of the good kind—to highlight the talent of our public (or closet) senior writers and to raise funds to help Syringa continue to serve the valley. All of you who help Granny’s can feel proud to be a part of this ongoing community co-op.
  Granny’s is open on Fridays, from 12—5, and Saturdays, 11—4.
  Our summer fund raiser is going to be a Home Tour. If you know of a spectacular home, or interesting historical home or a totally artsy/craftsy/unique home that you can recommend, please let us know. There must be places that have piqued your curiosity—let us hear about it.
  A little flab hanging over the side? Breathing too hard after a trudge to the ice cream man and back? Too tired to throw Fido’s ball more than five times…or can you throw it at all? Hmmm. Ione is the gal for you. Join the exercise club on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 3-4:15, then hang for awhile and chat with some lovely ladies. Does it sound like I’m trying to badger some fellas into joining up? Yes, indeed. At no cost but a sore muscle or two…or ego. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it, guys.
  Breakfast here on Thursdays at 9:30 is a nice way to pass a social hour. All ages are welcome in our center: $3, children under 12; $4, donation only for over 60; and $5, under 60.
  6:00 is dinnertime, Wednesdays and Fridays. Come early and dance. Ha. Gotcha! Why not? Ask the cook to turn up the player – we’ve got the dance floor, you’ve got the moves.
  This Friday, 3/29: If Beef Pot Roast with Potatoes and Veggies tickle your tummy, better show up and start with Salad Bar and finish with Jell-O and fruit. Prices feel good enough to make you want to come again.
  So try it next Wednesday—feel good with down-home Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Veggies, Salad Bar, and choice of Lemon or Chocolate Cake. Bring the family.
  All this and beautiful people to dine with, for only $4, kids under 12; $5, donation for 60+; and $6, under 60.
  BINGO starts on April 5, first Friday, after dinner. Prizes will be redeemable at local businesses. Stay tuned.
  The Center is open on Wednesday and Friday, 12-7, and Thursday, 8-10:30. Call Judy Delvalle at 462-3943 or mail Visit us at 261 S. Middle Fork Rd, GV/Crouch.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mucking about on the Isle of Skye

"THE gruelling task of restoring power to thousands of homes could still take days, after storms caused some of the worst damage to the electricity network in 30 years."  The Scotsman

"Good morning Angel: Well, I think we are at the start of a mini ice age. There is a massive "High" to the north of Scotland that`s dragging in cold air from the east. We have been hit by heavy snow falls with drifting up to 10-15 feet deep with 20.000 homes in Scotland still without electricity for the third day. England has the same. I remember watching a debate on television where scientists were talking about the changing weather patterns and they all agreed we never really left they last ice, I blame the"   My Scots friend, John Walker.

Poor Ruth and friends! They have been in Scotland for close to a week and perhaps they
were to be cruising now in the mailboat on Loch Lomond! In honor of their plight and dashed hopes,
I am offering one of my sojourns over the hills of the Isle of Skye. Fooh and I have met Angus, who
is just the size of Fooh--what fun for us!

Home Sweet Home

Ardvasar, southwest Skye, looking across Sleat to the mainland.

  Onward, another woman doesn’t want me, a single (I won’t tell her I am three), but suggests a lady in Broadford, ‘past the store, on the sea’.  I actually find the right place, Caberfeidh, and Peggy MacKenzie takes me in. A sweet single room, not big enough for yoga, but perfect for me, as I am not Yoga, I am Angel. Supplied with dinner, treats for all, tea and a TV, we are settled in for the night. I organize my housekeeping: small, light hand wash items get hung in my little half-height closet and thick wooly sox are on the radiator.
   I got very spoiled at my last pretty place, with lots of room, the pool, cats and good movies, but this feels like grandma’s house: Cozy, the heat on all night, and sometimes I think I must be a monk. I settle in my mind a lot better in a small space, with less options.
Broadford Bay

28 March: We wake up early, even with the one-hour-less time change. There are two couples at breakfast, though the women seem more inclined to talk. Then left alone, a husband and I chat and I tell him about the Fairy Pools, as they are returning to Skye soon, to walk the hills. I ask Peggy if I need to be gone during the day and she laughs: ‘Doon be daft!’
  The view over Broadford Bay makes me want to work on my novel, but it’s laundry time. Then after a latte at Saucy Mary’s and newspaper articles sent in, the weather has calmed, so next is a drive over the teeny road to Kylerhea. This is a settlement of about fifteen whitewashed homes roosted in protected nests among trees and scrub. The road ends where the ferry from Glenelg arrives during season.
  Kyle Rhea is the narrowest waterway to cross to the mainland from Skye and where the cattle used to swim to Glenelg at the opposite bank. From there, they were southward bound, toward towns like Falkirk and Linlithgow. There is a quaint self-catering house called The Old Inn, which is the original pre-1800 Kylerhea Old Inn, where the drovers slept.
  After Thomas Telford built the slipways here and at Glenelg, in 1821, they were used for funneling about three-hundred cattle a day. Both slipways are made of depressed whinstone blocks. This one is paved with stone setts and Telford utilized a natural cut in the rock for funneling. These same locations are an ancient route and were used for the passenger ferry as early as the sixteenth century.
  During the walk to the Otter Hide, Fooh and I meet a local Scot and he explains the tides of the narrows to us. They move at each other from north and south and at about 5 p.m., the otters know it is prime-time to fish. The water here at the narrows can run up to 8 knots—it really is a fast moving body of water today and clearly at odds with itself...but not really. I see movement is not as antagonistic as one would think—more an accommodating pact between the two bodies of water, the Sound of Sleat on the south and Loch Alsh north of the narrows at Kyle Rhea, both slipping silently aside to make room for the other. I wish I could find a Scotsman to talk to me about Skye and the Cuillin like this—to explain the names and shapes of the peaks.
  This is a precious walk, where an occasional tall ship or copy of a Viking longboat might slide by, with a shark alongside. I watch grey seals, which must also be aware that it is dinnertime, and white-tailed sea eagles soaring and dipping sideways to sight their own special sushi dish.
  The hide is a nicely hewn wooden structure, with stools and a high counter on which to lean my elbows and gaze through provided binoculars. Try as I might, I see no otters. A golden eagle may have just made a dive—I am very bad at identifying bird life, but I work at it. I do recognize the red grouse and here is a sea eagle, ruffling its neck feathers and casting a yellow-lidded eye downward. There are also black-backed gulls.
  I won’t embarrass myself by emphasizing my ignorance and will simply tell you birdwatchers what I am told. Besides being a wonderful walking area to sight whales and porpoises, you will see the very long-necked oystercatcher and peregrine, with its long orange beak and orange stick-legs. In the summer, you can enjoy the cuckoo, cormorants, willow and wood warblers, robins and chaffinches. We give up our watch and take the long walk back to the car, with the boys whispering that we are being followed by some orange-breasted stonechats—how did these guys get so smart?
  This road leading from Kylerhea was originally created for General Wade’s military road system, though it’s likely part of this was a dirt path used for centuries before that. He was sent to Scotland by George I, to ascertain how the disarmament of the Highlanders was progressing, after the Jacobite uprisings of 1689 and 1715. Wade constructed roads and barracks through the Highlands; his companies were called The Black Watch. Now the road winding around the hills has retaining walls, though I still feel a bit edgy driving along here. This was the principle route in and out of Skye, before the Skye Bridge was built in the early 21st century.
  At Caberfeidh, Peggy greets me with a small pitcher of milk for my afternoon tea. I settle into the sofa of the dining room and write happily for awhile. The stormy silvery bay mesmerizes me and I feel absolutely blissful.
Irishman's Point, Broadford

29 March: Scottish porridge alone this morning. Did I scare everyone into eating early? I try not to be a chatterbox, though I am always so grateful to have anyone to talk to, but usually interrogate my meal companions about themselves, simply because I am interested—who knows? Today is our walk around Irishman’s Point in Broadford. Fooh and Angus say they are ready for an adventure...little do we know...
   With Fooh and Angus leaning out of the backpack, I happily tread past the hostel, which has a prime location looking out over the bay. Fooh is impressed that I recognize the oystercatchers, with their bills even longer than their long legs which end in big chicken feet. Photo-taking of blackish, brackish seaweed turns on my artistic soul, then over a stile, around the point, along the edge of the water—when all goes haywire.
  It is a mucking mess, if I may say so. The rocks and basalt are slippery, so it is too difficult and no fun to walk close to the edge of the water. Up a bit is the deep sloshy grassy muck. I become discouraged and decide to head up the hill and along a fence. The view is magnificent, with the isles of Crowlin far off in the distance, and closer up, Pabay and Longay. The going is just as tough here and I plan to move right up over the hill to the road on the far side of the conifers. No messing around.
  Uh-huh. Right.
  The fence is un-crossable here, so we follow it around the corner and keep climbing. I have to go pee, but decide to wait, then it gets worse, because I have to go poo. Oh dear. This happens to me every time I go into a bookstore! But why here? Okay, so it could be readily taken care of, except there is nowhere to step except on my bit of patchy grass. So my task is to squat in my own bed, so to speak, find bits of dried leafy vegetation to use and move on, hoping the troops aren’t close behind me—I can hear them now...'oh yuck, what the...?'
  Up a ways there is no trekking onward, too much vegetation, so I climb the fence and double-over to move under bushes—Fooh and Angus yelp occasionally when a twig snaps in their faces. As I creep along, hunched and slipping and sliding, I feel like Hyacinth in a comic sketch, but it gets worse while it starts sprinkling. I am now looking across a vast stretch of clear-cutting on the hill. To the left, way up and over, is a long forest-like stand of fir trees. As I begin stepping into the mess of stumps and piled branches, it becomes immensely—I say immensely because my mind has just exploded with the realization—immensely obvious that this is going to be a nightmare. With each step is the possibility of dropping down into several feet of water and rotting, stinking-of-sewage vegetation. I am going to royally get paid back for my soiling in my bed antics. Fooh keeps saying we could or should go back the way we came, but the optimist in me says this can’t last forever and I hate to go back to the muck. After about an hour, I pause to take a self portrait of my plight, in case I never get out. They will have a last- moments-of-my-life illumination to give to my daughter Woo. Oh boy, now it is snowing.
Self-portrait before death by sinking in stinking mudholes.

  I choose a path, climb over stumps and realize that it is safest to try to follow the line of the tree roots. One path after another; guessing games of this way or that leading to the hill over there, or perhaps a road up there, end only in disappointment and frustration. I discover various trails made by tractors and follow up and down, and they lead to nowhere. Each step is tentative and I barely move five feet per minute. When finally we reach the line of trees at the top and think okay, we can go through the forest to the road, it only gets more treacherous. That is not a viable solution.
  I decide to move along the edge of the forest and by this time, I can barely move without falling into a bog or one leg dropping down into a hole under the delicate, rotting branches. Now, the terrain gets more lumpish and trenchy. Streams are moving under everything and I climb down and then up. This all strikes me as ludicrous, because I can’t be far away from anything.
  But I see no one—just rolling brown trenches and steep water-filled ravines and stumps and clumps of high grass--this Angus suggests I concentrate my weight on, which turns out to be my saving grace. Then my feet turn every which way, my ankles twist, my new fleece pants and good boots are filled with smelly water, mud and crap. On I stumble, wanting to cry, but why? What good will it do? It becomes almost impossible to move in any direction. The good news is, it's stopped snowing.
  After hours of this, I see some buildings. It turns out to be the company that is cutting these trees. Now the final hour—of acres of bog, six-foot piles of Christmas tree branches with no bottom, and all intermingled with—oh, la, what a surprise—berry vines! Acres of berry vines—wrapped around, trailing through, tangled in all of the above. I have fallen from grace with the gods and have been plunged into a dark hellhole. So close and yet, so far, far from any place I would choose to be rather than here. I want to shout out for help, but am too mortified. How embarrassing and how could I betray my country by revealing my stupidity to these Scots?
  No, I bumble on, tumble down; scratched, grabbed at by every nasty prickly bit of berry vine. My legs and hands bleed, each step catches me, digs at me, I pull and pull and pull the vines away and each step is another imprisonment. I can actually hear the men shouting to each other over there but they ignore me. For this I am grateful—once they heard my American dialect, I’d be a laughing stock. I practice my London dialect, thinking if they do notice me, I can convince them I’m an idiot from 'where they eat babies' as the Scots refer to the English.
  By the time I break free and find my way through a junkyard of planks that want to flip and tip each time I tentatively put my foot on them, and climb over the fence, it has been four and a half hours since we left the water’s edge. When I step onto the blacktop of the road across the street from the Highland Free Press, I feel I have never been so happy to walk with a road under my feet and the boys cheer me on. I am exhausted.
  At Caberfeidh, I leave my boots on the porch, toss the guys onto the bed and walk straight into the shower, clothes and all. Afterwards, somehow refreshed, I take a walk to the Co-op to replace the candies in my room. By the time I get ready for bed, I have eaten half of the chocolates and am sick of myself. My last fading thought before sleep is, ‘Spare me from pigging out tomorrow.’

Tonight, my dreams are filled with tomorrow and they come true--blue skies, drives to Trotternish and Waternish, peninsulas (all of Skye is peninsulas) that reach out to welcome the waves and wild creatures and gratify humans like me with history of Norsemen, tales of faeries, and walks and talks with the wind.

Beautiful croft house at Stein.

So-called oldest inn on the island, Stein Inn on Waternish.

Proof of the "Gulf Stream" in this western area known as the Hebrides.

New Arts Commission in Crouch!

 Crouch City Council Notes

  An alliance of artists attending the Crouch City Council meeting Wednesday, March 13, rose to the occasion with some muted “yippees” and victory signs, when the council adopted the Garden Valley Center for the Arts as an arm of the City.
  Mary Wilson, who has been the spokesperson for what they were calling “The Arts Alliance”, will serve as president on the board of directors. Other officers will be Greg Simione, vice-president; Pat Budge, Secretary, and Tiffany Thuleen, treasurer.
  Mayor Bob Powell signed the lease on the Old Lumberyard building, which will be reborn as the GV Center for the Arts. Mary Wilson says they will have a “Raggedy Opening” on March 30, from 6 to 9 p.m.—just to say “here we are and this is the before picture!” The Old Lumberyard building is located next to the Laundromat, in downtown Crouch. Refreshments will be served. Founding members of the Center will be available to answer questions, and they welcome your suggestions.
  City Clerk, Kim Bosse, said the insurance for the Center will be minimal, if any, for the City. They will be insured for up to $500K and may insure contents according to arts exhibit needs.
  The Syringa Building (Crouch Museum) has survived its fire damage and will have all new insulation, and drywall, a laminated wood floor and industrial-grade carpet throughout. Electrician, Rick Fobes, says the building is up to code.
  The clerk also said a door in the old cabin area has been removed by contractor, Scott Leslie. This has created adequate wheelchair access inside that area of the museum.
  Sad to say, Kim Bosse will be moving to California and résumés for the position of City Clerk that have been submitted will be perused by the mayor. He will pick the top three and interviews will be held. Good luck to everyone.
  Boise County Commissioner, Jamie Anderson, requested the approval of a city lot split for the Dennett Simione, LLC, property which is currently in use by the Old Crouch Mercantile Exchange. Boise County is purchasing this needed right-of-way for the new Middle Fork Payette River Bridge. Minimum requirements under the City Code for acreage, density, lot area, and setbacks would have to be waived.
  Dennett Simione, LLC, requests that the land taken to the north of the new approach (current river access) continue to have access for canoes, tubes and foot traffic, with some landscaping. Greg Simione and Gerold Dennett support the construction of a new bridge, and say, “We strongly favor the new design we have seen.”
   Jamie Anderson says it would be in the public interest for the bridge project to go forward. The council will have a special meeting to consider the request.
  The old City office behind the Community Hall is for rent.
  Jerome Mapp is still pursuing the water grant. Land acquisition is also on the agenda.
  The council ended the meeting by adopting the Fair Housing Proclamation.
   Next meeting of the Crouch City Council will be on Wednesday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m., at the Community Hall. For information or for special accommodation for disabilities, contact the City Clerk, at 208-462-4687.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Onward to Scotland

Ruth and friends are in southwest Scotland now (Dumfries Galloway) so we will head through the southeast borders and Edinburgh.
~ ~ ~

A chield’s amang you takin notes,
But faith, she’ll probably lose them in this wind.
                                                                                                         Fooh Burns

10 April: Fooh and I drive over the bridge and out of Askrigg, England, on this drizzly Yorkshire day.  What a beautiful place this is, but we are late for Scotland and I am determined to get to Jedburgh Abbey before the day is done.
   After awhile traveling north, my tiny bear companion, Fooh, ventures to say in his lilting, Salisbury dialect, ‘Angel, I think you missed the turn on the roundabout.’
   ‘Wha?’ I say, having been so proud of my mastery of those hair-raising feats of British engineering.
  ‘Well, we should be on the M1 by now, but we’re heading toward Penrith.’ Fooh has become enamored of the oversized roadmap I have dragged along from the U.S.
  ‘Oh,’ I sigh, ‘that’s just ducky’ and start looking for a place to turn back.
   Hours later, I moan, ‘Oh god, Fooh, I’ve done it again--another roundabout, way up here in the toolies!’ Fooh sings out, ‘Dribe on, dribe on, oh westbound woman, we shall reach the sunset sooner for your wayward ways.’
   Dribe on? I marvel. I have been with this little furry guy for over two weeks and have never noticed he has a vee challenge. Onward north from Yorkshire and through Northumberland, we have gotten lost two more times on A68, somewhere around Hadrian’s Wall. To reward ourselves for all of this trouble, we stop and have England’s worst scone, at an otherwise nice tearoom.

    Finally, we get our first glimpse of Scotland at the Summit, which is also the border. It’s the first time I ask someone to take our photo--by THE ROCK—a Japanese woman, who I know understands photo-taking! Fooh has a thing about photographs so he is barely visible in my right pocket.
   The sky is multi-hues of grey as we drive down the hill through the springtime greening-up landscape. Next to the idyllic Jed Water is Jedburgh Abbey, established in 1138 by David I.
   It’s almost five p.m. and I think we’ll take a quick walk around inside. There are a man and woman who are determined I should buy a Historic Scotland pass and think they are morning talk show hosts. Phew! I am tired and am neither in the mood to study the map to see where I am going to go and how much, if a savings, it might be, nor to put up with the banter they are inflicting on me. They shoo me into the abbey grounds with, ‘Take this map and decide in there.’
  Now Fooh and I decide that studying the map is not the thing to do with our ten minutes so we explore the abbey, which looks marvelous with its beautiful church of what I think is Old Red Sandstone—the nave and its pillars are of solid blocks pressed into lovely shapes and we can see the garden in the cloisters. This is an abbey I had wanted to get to know. It is known that the Lindisfarne See had a church here, but from found artifacts, it was not the first. King David’s priory, and then abbey, was run by Augustinian canons from France. The order was the most involved with the secular world and they formed four communities in the borders area.
  Conflict with the English and then, when they made peace, conflict with the Scots, ensured that the abbeys would be sacked numerous times and rebuilt almost as many. By the Reformation in the mid-1500s, about eight canons were left in the remains of Jedburgh. They were allowed to stay, but it became a protestant church.
   We leave Dolly and Dongo with the map in their hands and congratulate ourselves for resisting the sales pitch and fulfilling our quest. ~
   As we drive through the village of Jedburgh looking for a B&B, it becomes evident that half the town buildings were recycled from the abbey. The colors of the stone are striking. There are noted outcroppings of the Old Red Sandstone throughout East Lothian and other places in Scotland and this area was where Hutton’s Unconformity theory came to be: another of my geological quick studies but I won’t make a fool of myself trying to explain it here. Catch me at a cocktail party—or maybe you should avoid me.
   But okay...just a nibble and you have to fish, ‘cause I ain’t no scientist. There was debate in the eighteenth century between Neptunism and Plutonism, regarding basalt rocks being formed by the ocean and water, or in the case of the latter, by molten magma from volcanoes. Plutonism won out, and Hutton discovered strata in the earth in Scotland that were non-uniform. In studying these, he saw the difference in layers of what had been sediment under water over four-hundred million years ago, before being pushed upward by volcanic movement. These layers of former oceanic sediment were overlaid with later strata and in places, had been pushed vertically from their original horizontal position. This is what he called ‘unconformity’ of the layers. Perhaps the cocktail wasn’t such a bad idea.
   There is no lodging available here and Fooh says, ‘Maybe we should hab taken the ‘big week-end’ a bit more seriously.’ We drive east to Kelso, trying to get off the beat of the rush for beds and knock on B&B doors—to no avail—with Easter week-end and a big bicycle race all over the area.
  The host who owns the lovely Priory Bed and Breakfast lets me in and calls everyone he knows. Against my whispered prayers to be allowed to stay in town, no rooms are available but I find out that Sir Walter Scott’s great-grandfather was born in the building next door. When I walk back to the car, I realize the 1796 house is neighbors with the 1128 Kelso Abbey. It is a charming numberly neighborhood.
  King David I had spent time in France and saw how the Norman feudal system worked. He realized the Roman Catholics were a useful instrument of popular control, so he built this abbey and more, as we will find out. The Kelso Abbey has the finest Romanesque church in Scotland, covered in carved geometric patterns which were once covered with color, but now with ivy.
  We pass Floors (Fleurs originally) Castle on the drive out of town. The land belonged to the abbey until the Reformation then was purchased by Robert Innes-Ker and a stone tower was built. A Georgian country house was built onto the tower in 1721; then in the nineteenth century, it was embellished with turrets and battlements, for show. I understand the ‘castle’ is a must-see, with magnificent apartments built in the 1930s, French furniture and tapestries and modern paintings.
  Fooh spots a small sign for a B&B and I find it down a tiny road, with a big gate I have to figure out. Amid a sea of rambunctious dogs, Liz answers the door—she is not prepared for the season, but feels bad and doesn’t want to turn me away, so lets me in. She has four Whippets and two pups and two little terrier types.
   I go out to invite Fooh in. ‘I shudder to think of sharing space with one of those canine creatures, let alone eight,’ he says quietly, and huddles even deeper into his drink tray, until only his chewed-off ear is visible. I regret having resurrected such tragic memories for this little bear-buddy and go to my room to get a tasty biscuit and sweet hot tea for his dinner.
11 April:   Fooh and I take a side trip through Melrose to glimpse the abbey which is not open, but we can say we saw it. They are just getting ready for the bike race, putting out cones, but we luck out—the road is still open.
   Melrose is just south of the River Tweed and was built in 1136 by King David I, close to the first 650 Melrose Church run by monks from Iona. Burned under Richard II in 1385, the abbey was reconstructed and sort-of completed again by 1504. After Henry VIII’s rough wooing of baby Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1544, Melrose never recovered from the wreckage. Still, what a beautiful complex of ruins and location to appreciate on a day out. Our first man in a kilt, who is tending to his bicycle, assures us ‘Robert the Bruce’s heart was rescued on the moors in Spain and was buried here at Melrose’.
   Fooh whispers under his breath, “I am not sure what to think of this madness.”
  At the Park and Ride, the building is closed and there is no change, but when I spread my hands out in ‘gee, what am I going to do?’ fashion, a man’s hand reaches around my shoulder and plops some coins into my paw. Golly ~ On to Edinburgh this Easter Saturday...oh dear...
~ ~ ~
‘Auld Reekie’!
and they weren’t kidding.

  We pass blocks and blocks of dark grey townhouses and the driver lets us off by the Royal Mile, the road that goes from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. I keep forgetting to mention the quite a few times that people haven’t understood me. Usually it is a young person who hasn’t been away from their home town—or an older person who hasn’t. It always makes me laugh—that they can’t understand me. Fooh must be bi-lingual; he has no problem.
  Edinburgh is a big, noisy, heavy-feeling city—my first impression, mind you, so wait for our second visit when I fall in love—dark, substantial architecture; too crowded; and a lot of construction going on, with high cranes all over. It’s Easter Saturday and kids are out of school—strange they would all want to come here.
  High Street is almost unbearable--so full of history, so many humans. Probably what it was like in the 1500s. I can see and smell the slop from the night jars. Can imagine and in my effluent submersion, I almost whack the guy next to me—keep yer slops to yerself...oh, uh, excuse me, I was just thinking...uh... never mind.
  I can hardly snap photos with people in front of me or pushing from the rear, so I walk through the close gates to sight-see behind, in the courtyards of the tightly-packed high-rise tenements. While the rich on the upper floors were isolated from the squalor, the poorer residents lived on the bottom, where the filth and stench were as bad as any city on earth. Many courtyards are now are restaurants and barristers’ offices. But we can see what it was.

Remaining David's Tower and Half-Moon Battery on left.

  We stand in line at the castle for about fifteen minutes, and Fooh is getting nervous with such a crowd. Groups of teens are standing around looking bored and hot. It makes me think about our school travel group of teens getting ready to come to the UK. Whatever makes teachers think this is going to be a rich experience for the kids, who just want to eat and find new friends? Now I think, ‘All of these hundreds of people are going to be inside with us.’ No rat has scurried faster through the exit gate.
   I amble down the other side of the street, getting too warm and carrying my jacket. We stop in John Knox’s house and buy a children’s book on Edinburgh, which has a neat map of the streets which is very helpful. The lady helps me figure out where Charlotte Square is.
What a blessing--a real piper!
  The High Street has much to see, but every shop dances to the same touristy tune: cheap tartan blankets, scarves and woolen toys for kids, and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards pipe and drum Hector the Hero out of every shop.
  Princes Street is quieter, and below the castle is a park. There is an Easter play being performed to a small crowd. The story here in Edinburgh is people have been on this hill of lava and granite ‘forever’. It was an active volcano and when it erupted, the hill was covered with sand and mud. Then the Ice Age glacier eroded it and when the ice melted, the depression created around the huge rock was left very marshy and sometimes filled with water. I guess that’s simple enough.
   Later, the government drained what they called the Nor Loch (north loch) and turned it into a park. Looking up, we appreciate how the castle is situated; it looks like it grew from the rock. It is formidable and until cannons came along, would have been difficult to attack—sieges would have had to suffice.
   When James VI renounced Edinburgh for London when he inherited the crown from Elizabeth I in 1603, it was only time until the Act of the Union in 1707 tempted others to migrate south. Town fathers decided to build a ‘new town’, and the design plan of a young man named James Craig was used to lure desirable residents back to the city.
National Trust Georgian House is uniform with all the other
Georgian houses in Charlotte Square, New Town.
  The earth dug from Charlotte Square and other developments in the 1700s was used to create the road called The Mound, which leads around to the castle from the New Town. We see a painting of it here at the National Trust for Scotland office, in Charlotte Square, where I am having lunch. It shows a horse and buggy traveling up to the High Street and looks peaceful and idyllic then.
Looking across the park to Lamont House.
   We walk around the pretty central park area to the Georgian House. They have a story of the Lamont family on a video. He was head of a clan and they decided to live in Edinburgh rather than the country. They said it was more fashionable, but I wonder about the politics during that time. I think the clans were having difficulty getting around the English after the final Jacobite uprising, and it was much easier for the Scots to be accepted if they emulated them.
   Lamont still had his club on the filthy High Street, the place to be for business, but the slops and filth were still thrown on street. Charlotte Square was the best new address, but the slops also made it into the street here and the smell was still bad; therefore, the drawing room was built on the first floor upstairs. The dining room was downstairs, because the smell of the food camouflaged the smell of the street. Here too, the little cupboard was still present, where the men urinated (behind a screen) while they ate and drank. Fooh remarks, ‘At least there was a screen here.’
  The Lamonts’ story was like Jane Austen’s Persuasion, where Mr. Elliot had to retrench, because of his bills. So he leased the country estate to someone. The Trust has restored the house and furnished it with Georgian treasures, and they have taken pains to do it right. It is luv-ly, as we say here, and done very to the period.
  We mosey up Rose Street, which is really a small, quaint alley, with pubs and a few shops and ancient buildings. This is Edinburgh, right down to the cobbled walk and little old Christian designs in the pebbles.
   I take photos of the crowds on George Street while we wait for the bus. The only time I’ve ever seen so much foot traffic has been in films of downtown New York City—you know the ones, where a thief grabs a lady’s handbag and someone tries to chase him but can’t get through the people—or cops chasing the same guy and he always gets away, yes indeed ~ 

Excerpted from Crazy American Lady's Tour of Historical Scotland.
(Tune in next time for an Edinburgh-lover's tour!)