28 February 2010


IIII ) lllllllll Paris (24Feb10)

0016 Finally the clouds lift from Oxford, the day we leave. No bother, it was fun to visit this place in the rain, sleet and wind. We are three taxis and two trains from Paris. Hopefully we can catch up with our foul weather

0954 Well here we are in Gay Parii, and the first thing that happens to me is that my journal file on my phone goes corrupt and I lose all my notes from Oxford (luckily I have most of them saved on FB). We are lodging a few short blocks from the Louvre, and are about to go out on the streets for an initial explore, hopefully down to the river to catch the view. It's much warmer here than in England. It's getting close to dusk though, so we probably won't go full speed right away. Tomorrow we will really take-in the city

1016 Bone-Jerno! If you saw Brad Pitt trying to speak Italian in Inglorious Bastards, you have an idea of how Ki'naksaapo'p and I are fitting into France. A seamless blend, totally incognito. Ah-River-dercho!

1312 Musee Nocturne at the Louvre... we have been here several hours now. And wouldn't you know it, Mahoney got royal treatment again in the wheelchair. While others had to stand a ways back behind ropes to view the Mona Lisa, we were allowed to go right up in front of the painting. The Louvre is gigantic, but very open. Massive hallways, high vaulted ceilings, I prefer the clutter of Pitt Rivers. My overall impressions - surprised at how large most of the paintings were, bothered by the presence of sculptures that should have been left in their countries of origin, bothered again that we did not find any Gauguin, and curious about how I could have possibly come to be here. It's very strange

IIII ) llllllllll Amelie (25Feb10)

0037 Woke up to the sounds of cooing pigeons and French sirens, then made my way down to the street where I bought two tiny cups of "large" coffee for 6€. Found a stack of odd cuts of upolstery fabric that I brought back to the room, in case that lady would want any (she doesn't, but I'll keep a square as a souvineer). Now just waiting for Mahoney to shower-up so we can go have an Amelie day in Paris

0351 Took the Metro to Lamarck-Caulaincourt and hiked into the Montmartre, where we are presently having brunch in the Cafe les Deux Moulins, where Amelie worked. This neighborhood is great, very much the Paris I had hoped to see - winding roads up and down steep hills past open fruit stands, cafes, and chocolate stores

0435 One block away from the cafe, we find the Moulin Rouge, and the site of many "live shows" and souvineer shops, as well as the very wonderful Musee de L'Erotisme, six floors of erotic art from around the world. It may be a good thing that we travelled without in-laws this morning

0703 Went to meet Ki'naksaapo'p and Alvine on the bridge by the Louvre, but they're not there. Mahoney is staying back to wait and see if they show up, while I run to check at the hotel and, if nothing else, drop off our souvineers. Then it's either on to a boat or Metro train to see the Eiffel Tower

0808 Saw no sign of our companions at the bridge, and the gypsies tried to swindle me several times, so we crossed the river Seine and began looking for a Metro station. My poor Mahoney is losing steam fast in her legs. We've stopped at a brasserie for a glass of wine and creme brule. Just this cost us 32€... Paris is not cheap

1008 Somehow we managed to find our way to the Eiffel Tower. Now we have officially done Paris, and I have officially broke Mahoney. Her legs are completely shot. This is it for us, and we've been everywhere we hoped to visit anyway. As dusk approaches, we'll make our way via taxi back toward the hotel, stop off for dinner, and call it a night

1144 Sitting alone in a completely empty restaurant fetching a Palerme pizza to bring back to the room, where my poor Mahoney awaits, legs aching from our long day walking the hills of Montmartre and a good part of the River Seine. When they show me the pizza, there's an egg over-easy on top. We are so ready to be home now

1438 Taking it easy in the room, editing photos, hoping to pass out soon. If I'm able to get my images from Paris up, given the weak signal we have here, those who choose to view them should keep in mind, we did visit the Musee de L'Erotisme, and I was not shy about the images I captured there

1626 Going to bed feeling greazy. Ugh! I've got too much Paris on my skin. And I'm afraid of their water, just living off their grape juice and creme brule

IIII ) lllllllllll Platform 9 3/4 (26Feb10)

0007 Another rainy morning in Paris. Mahoney's feeling better, she wants to skip our showers and pack up so we can take another little walk before check-out. Which is fine by me, because I suspect we'll have to be in another country before we can really wash the grime of Paris off anyway

0123 Waiting for our last Parisian breakfast in a little cafe and having myself a good laugh at Mahoney's hair, which has become more and more giant, like Heat Miser, but she says I'm very mean to write about it. The countdown - 2 taxis, 1 train, 1 night in London, 1 airplane, and 1 rental car, and we'll be home!

0252 After breakfast, we walked around, passing through the food markets of Rue des Petits Carreaux, which would have been nice to have found earlier. Picked up a few last things, including a French postal bag for Mahoney. Next time we travel though, I'd really like to do it differently. It would be nice to stay somewhere off the main tourist drags and stay clear of trinket shopping. Just enjoy getting to know a different place for itself, and not for what it's serving up to foreign visitors

0454 We are at the Gare du Nord train station and have successfully passed through U.K. customs. We just bought two packs of French Gauloises blondes cigarettes, then I gave Mahoney our last thirty Euros, which she promptly dispensed of in exchange for hand creme and perfume

0510 We'd heard that the French are rude to tourists, but have found that to be far from the case. Anytime we've required assistance, people have gone out of their way not only attempt to bridge the language barrier and point us in the right direction, but often to lead us along and speak for us when necessary

0514 Another aspect of Paris that has left an impression on us is the attire of young women. The typical wear is dark tights with long shirts that serve also as skirts, and high boots. This looks far better, without appearing conservative, than the trend back home, where young women generally wear jeans that are too tight and low on the hip, elongating their bum cracks as far up their backs as possible. This crack is then publicly displayed, along with a healthy portion of gut, by the equally popular short shirts

0742 Currently in a bullet train, zipping through a tunnel under the English Channel. Lunch on the train was salmon and ratatoullie, a delicious chocolate-caramel tart sprinkled with gold dust, and vin de bordeaux. The attendant got quite a kick out of my request for "wine rouge"

0928 What a strange relief it was to arrive in London. Suddenly I felt no stress, not a care in the world. Even though we're still hauling a massive load of luggage, we are in no hurry to catch any particular transport. Moreover, we're in an English-speaking country. I never suspected I would feel so much relief to land on British soil. Mahoney and I walked across the street from St Pancras to King's Cross and found Platform 9 3/4 which we had looked for unsuccessfully before. They had a luggage cart there sticking half-way into the brick wall, so we took some pictures of ourselves there with it, and I assisted several young Japanese travelers in doing the same. Then we jumped in a cab to take us to Pattington station, where we can catch the Heathrow Express

1139 Settled in at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel, which is very comfortable despite the fact that the lift tried hard to eat Mahoney. Having returned to the English-speaking world, I'm almost feeling like it's too bad we hadn't scheduled at least one full day to explore London. But on the other hand, we really can't wait to get home. Mahoney's so burnt-out, she moments ago confused our room's hair dryer for a vaccuum. In her defense though, it really does look like one

1358 We've definitely been spoiled by French cooking. Just had dinner in the restaurant downstairs - shepard's pie - and the best thing I could say about it was that it was awful... yes, that good. I couldn't finish my dish, and Mahoney barely ate a quarter of hers. We asked the waiter to please take it away. Then we tried to kill the bad taste with a couple pints of beer, but what they had on tap was nothing like what we'd experienced in Edinburgh or Oxford. Just more of the London nasty. Anyhow, back up in the room now, watching corny Indian soap operas and some short-movie called The Amazing Trousers. Going to take a shower and scrub away the Paris grime

IIII ) llllllllllll Going Home (27Feb10)

0021 The countdown - 1 shuttle bus, 1 plane flight across the Atlantic via the Arctic Circle, 1 rental car, and we're HOME! ETA approximately 18 hours until we walk through our front door. Please, please let our home be clean and quiet when we arrive (and not just the big mess shoved in a closet somewhere, Sheen)

0347 So far, so good. Packed-up, shuttled to Heathrow and checked our bags without incident. Now we're sitting in the lounge with almost three hours to wait before take-off. Watch a couple movies on the airplane, maybe catch a few Zzzzs. So relieved we're on the final day of travel, though I know all the arduous aspects will be forgotten in a month or two, and we'll begin plotting our next adventure

0849 In the air with seven and a half hours or so left before we land, I've watched three episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I'm dying for a cigarette

1112 This flight is dragging on forever. Still five more hours. You know how long that is? We're not even half-way done... Ugh!!

1131 When was the last time you saw Greenland? Mahoney and I are looking at it right now. I also highly recommend watching Whip It, produced and directed by Drew Barrymore

1602 Touchdown Mohkinsstsis!

2011 HOME... Mahoney's already gone to pass out on our bed, didn't even get out of her travel clothes. Dottie has got in her licks. Sheen opened the door for us, then went straight into her room to hide. And the house is in pretty decent shape, nothing an hour's worth of straightening won't fix. Soooo happy to be here

24 February 2010


IIII ) llllll Arduous (21Feb10)

2340 Good thing we got ourselves up naturally, because the wake-up call we asked of the pepto-bismol vomit, one-key, all-too-hot, no internet hotel never happened. Surprisingly enough though, we have really enjoyed sleeping on a very firm mattress

0242 We've just crossed the river that separates Scotland from England, and now it's started snowing. I'm sure there are some great adventures awaiting us in Oxford, London, and Paris, but Scotland had a special feel to it. My intuition says that Mahoney and I came along on this journey for some good reason. Can't guess at all what it might be as yet, and maybe we won't find out for a few years to come. Usually that's the way it works. But there's something there, we'll just have to wait for it to reveal itself

0408 As we close in on York, Ali regails us with lessons about the vikings who gave the city its name. Apparently, they did not have big Hagar the Horrible spikes or horns on their helmets. Ali's mother comes from York, and her grandfather ran a stagecoach business there. Certain privileges from this position have carried down to Ali today, including having the run of the town, so she can rightfully run pigs or sheep through the city

0429 At York station, there's a broke-down train and all its passengers climb aboard our already full train. Mahoney says I should scoot over to let a woman and her daughter sit next to us. Lucky thing we have the inflatable wheelchair seat to counter the hard plastic lump under me. There's someone standing alone on one of the platforms. Ali suggests it's a "trainspotter" - apparently, they're like bird watchers over here, people who watch for certain trains to pass. Very strange, that sounds about as exciting as watching someone swat a ball or puck around for a couple hours

0613 The Queen has claimed ownership of all swans in England. So it's an offense for anyone else to bother them, but the Queen herself may eat them on occasion, and from the sounds of it she does so once a year

0825 Damn good thing I'd mentally prepared myself for an arduous day. Just finished making our way through London, and I can say with some conviction that I have no interest in this city whatsoever. Compared to Aberdeen and Edinburgh, this place is simply modern and dirty. I had a whole different image of London in the atlas of my mind. And even looking upon the outlying towns and cities, the red brick houses appear sloppy and unimaginative by comparison with the grey stone of Scotland. We have apparently been spoiled

0852 We are on the train to Oxford, and from our first class seats up front we can hear the conductor talking to his dispatch. There's something wrong with our train. From the sounds of it, the gears aren't switching properly. Each time the train stops, the driver has to put it into reverse before moving it into a normal gear, otherwise he can't get it in at all. It would not surprise me if we broke down along the route somewhere. But today I'm ready for anything

1040 Okay, if you must come to England, Oxford is one of the places worth visiting. This is a very nice city with an old academy flavor. On the walk from the train station to our lodging, we saw many vestiges of rock-work similar to that we were enjoying in Scotland. Everything exciting appears to be within walking distance of The Old Parsonage, where we're staying. And the building itself reflects architecture of the city - an old stone facade, brick-work further back, and more modern stucco wings. We are sleeping in the oldest part of the hotel, in a lovely little loft, located up two very narrow, winding staircases, and through a Mahoney-sized door, with windows looking out over gardens and the graveyard of the St Giles' Church, with just a dozen or so headstones so old and eroded the inscriptions cannot even be read

1150 We met up with Laura Peers and her husband in the lobby of the Parsonage, and she gave Ki'naksaapo'p and I brief directions toward dining and site-seeing locations, before whisking Ali away (probably a rescue at this point). Mahoney had ordered tea, so we sat a bit in the lobby while Ki'naksaapo'p and Alvine walked to find a restaurant. When we eventually went that way ourselves, we found Strada, Italian with a set two course dinner menu. We ate bruschetta and magnificent spaghetti, and when the waiter brought La Santuzza rosso he executed some fancy moves and offered me a taste before pouring each of our glasses and leaving the bottle on the table

1233 I feel like I have a massive linguistic deficit here. Not that my vocabulary's inadequate. The problem is more one of practice. I flex my language skills on occasion while writing. When talking, on the other hand, I'm comfortable with a largely slang dialect. But I overhear children speaking here and it makes me embarrassed, how articulate they are

0351 This place is wonderfully crooked. Normally, I like to have everything at right angles, and now I think it's likely because the architecture itself is set at an unimaginative ninety degrees. But the Old Parsonage was built of stone only roughly shaped. The plaster that now covers these stones inside retain trace lumps that betray what lays beneath. There is not a careful angle in the place, no door that sits proper in its frame. The old wood floors creek, and there are surprise steps to watch out for. Twice already I've conked my noggin in this dwarf environment. I feel like the whole room is set at a tilt

0359 Mahoney readied a hot bath for me in what is definitely our greatest tub yet for the journey. It is a deep and long basin that even I can stretch out in. Mahoney set the temperature to scalding hot... so brutal, even the ceilings and walls started to cry. I loved it. Basked and sang in it. I focused all my thoughts on home

IIII ) lllllll Avery (22Feb10)

0051 Well, here we are, our first morning in Oxford, and it's snowing like crazy. Big heavy flakes, already making the walkways slippery. We had made arrangements with a driver to take us out to Stonehenge, but whether that plan carries forward or not is now uncertain. Either way, I'm sure we'll find an adventure of some kind to get into today

0345 We are in a van, driving through sleet on our way to Stonehenge. When asked about the road conditions, our driver Clive reports, "About twenty foot wide and flat"

0442 At Stonehenge now. As we came over around the bend and its structure moved into view, Clive advised us, "Mind you, it's not finished yet"

0623 It was drizzly, windy and cold as we made our way around the stones. A wormy day, as Mahoney and I would say. I hadn't known that Stonehenge is associated with so many burials. There are several mounds on the fields surrounding the site, and Laura tells us that fully suited children had been found buried at excavations of some of the fallen stones. To me, what was most enjoyable about the place were the little wagtails occasionally underfoot, and the jackdaws that nest in the gaps between pillar and mantle stones

0629 After Stonehenge, we started for home along a route that would take us on a side-excursion to another stone circle at Avery. There were homes with thatch roofs in many of the towns and villages we passed through along the way. I guess these thatch-roof houses are a big attraction for some tourists. Locally, Laura tells us, there is a thatcher who gathered seeds from some roofs that were several hundreds of years old. These he has managed to regrow, feeding an effort to revitalize the use of original wheats for both thatch and food that have been displaced by the adoption of certain industrial agricultural standards

0738 The Avery circles, to me, had a stronger presence than Stonehenge. They too are surrounded at a great distance by mounds, one of which is exceptionally large, an artificial hill. It amazes me the arrogance that would justify construction of a paved road and half a town right through the middle of the circles. I walked around taking photographs of not only the stones, but also the birds and lichens who reside here. At one point, I clearly saw a large recumbant stone set between two pillars, but after crossing the road and walking into the field to get a photograph, it completely disappeared. I was sure I had seen it clear as day. Then later, after a brief warm-up in the local pub, pulling out of town again and watching the line as we passed, I was pleased to see the recumbant reappear... turns out it can only be seen as such at a particular angle

0930 During our return expedition from the ancient sites, it became clear that everyone was exhausted. Mahoney had been particularly tired all day, perhaps never having regained full strength after yesterday's travel. Laura and Drew had invited us to a dinner at their home, but first we needed to find out if a little rest would aid in recouperation

0945 While Mahoney rested, I set off on foot. My first mission was to send off another box of souvineers to meet us at home. So I ran down to the post office, then back to the room for packing tape, then back to the post office again to weigh it, then back to the room again to unload half a kilo and retape, then once more to the post office where they finally accepted the box, and lastly to the room with a sweet dessert for Mahoney, snatched from the nearby bakery. They sell crazy goodies here, in all the bright pinks and yellows shown in the Harry Potter movies. Imagining this aesthetic was not an incredible artistic feat on Rowling's part

1030 Having done my chores, I hit the streets to explore some of the college campuses of Oxford, taking plenty of photographs enroute. Everything is grand, yet really not all that appealing to me. I preferred the country-side, its forests, mysterious stone circles, and old burial mounds. What has fascinated me, walking around Oxford, are the bikes. Many students and profs cycle for transportation, and most seem to use old-fashioned ten-speeds. They leave these bikes resting unlocked along the rock walls outside the college buildings, and I'm surprised that thieves don't whisk them away

1235 When I returned to the Parsonage again, after it got too dark to take photos on the street, Mahoney was feeling well enough to go to Laura and Drew's for dinner. We brought a small bag of laundry along, since an invitation in that regard had been offered. Laura served beef stew on mashed potatoes, followed by fruit salad, and finally hot chocolate

1508 Back at the Parsonage for the night, working on photo editing and a grant application, hoping to hit the sack before midnight, because we expect another long day tomorrow going through the Pitt Rivers Museum and seeing some local sites of interest. Our dinner visit was very enjoyable. Laura has an admirable little garden behind her house. Most impressive were the roses that she's grown at least twice my height, vining into the canopy of a plum tree

IIII ) llllllll Pitt Rivers (23Feb10)

0129 up, UP and Awake for our last full day at Oxford. Seems fitting that Tolkien should have lived here because, like his epic novels, our journey seems to be stretching on well past its natural conclusion. I think yesterday's visit to the ancient sites in the country-side established good closure for me, yet we still have... Paris to go. What a great adventure this trip has been

0251 We're at the combined complex of the Museum of Natural History, University of Oxford and Pitt Rivers Museum... Omg is this place ever amazing. I've been in ALL of North America's most famous collection institutions, but they pale by comparison. This is the home of the last dodo bird, it's the place where Darwin's ideas were debated and entered into the canons of accepted European knowledge, there are sculptures atop the columns of Natural History that represent every plant phylla on Earth, and the Pitt Rivers Museum is still largely as it was a century ago, a massive clutter of curiosities. Everything is set in the old display cases, with objects from all over the world organized by technology type. Obviously, there's a dark socio-evolutionary agenda behind this arrangement, but it is very much what cultural museums of Europe were historically about, the metric, and samples from the local region is not excluded in cabinets displaying sympathetic magic and the like. I'm pleased to see museum history itself maintained here, not hidden behind the mask of innocent public education

0516 After much wandering in the two museum halls, amidst uniformed school children with sketching assignments, and with Mahoney taking about a million pictures, not to mention prying up the floor tiles in search of secret chambers, we make our way to The King's Arms pub. Another round of fish and chips for me, steak and ale pie for Mahoney and Ali... See More. We had hot apple pie with liquid custard for dessert. The crust was thick with shortening, it was soooo, sooooo good. I don't know of Paul Raczka's pie on ice cream at the Choteau Log Cabin will ever have the same appeal again

0734 Our next stop, hustling along under sleeting skies through the Oxford streets, was Christ Church, with its Great Hall now made famous through the Harry Potter movies. The Hall was closed when we arrived, they were serving lunch. So we walked into their cathedral to kill time. Of course, the cathedral itself was quite a sight, and we took some photographs, but as soon as we could it was back to the Great Hall to snap images familiar to us through the films

0907 The whirlwind spins full circle, and we make our way back again to the Pitt Rivers Museum, where conservationists have made accessible two of the Blackfoot shirts that will be traveling to Mohkinsstsis in the next month or so. Among the quillwork there is a certain dark brown plant fiber that has been used in place of quills. This plant is unidentified, so I take several macro shots of it to work with back home

0907 Our stay with the shirts is very short, and then Ki'naksaapo'p is off to give a lecture, while Mahoney and I return to the hotel to drop off our camera bags, change out of wet clothes, and get ready to head downtown. I have no idea what for, I guess just to take a look at the shops

1349 We've just returned from a French dinner hosted by Laura and Drew, a wonderful meal to conclude our visit to Oxford. Unfortunately, we had to say our farewells to Ali, whom we've grown attached to over the past ten days or so. Aapinako'si we're on our own to Paris. Tonight Mahoney and I get in a Lush bubble-bath and pack for the journey

1541 Total count of my head-bonks on the Mahoney-sized doorway so far: five

1736 Mahoney's sleeping, and kind of snoring a little now and then. She's been so cute on this trip, promoting the BDL project, bragging me up whenever someone would listen, shopping for everyone back home, and getting excited about our Scottish connection. Its been so nice to share this experience with her. She's a very be...autiful woman, and I'm lucky to be her husband

1824 Got a wake-up call coming in five hours, our que to move on to Paris. Time to catch some Zzzzs

21 February 2010

Auld Reekie

IIII ) llll Edinburgh (19Feb10)

0418 Before arriving at Dundee station, Ali texts forward and says to get our cameras ready. Just then, we enter a tunnel, all is black. For a moment I think it must be some kind of sick joke. But no, soon we are crossing an estuary and the scene really is picture-worthy

0501 Feel like a little kid, running up and down this coach, opening doors and windows, trying unsuccessfully to get good shots as shoot across the countryside. Just waiting for that coffee cart to pass again so I can off-load some of my smaller change buying a bag of regular, salted "crisps"

0600 Edinburgh, a city with quite a different feel to it than Aberdeen. Fewer grays, more golds, with a large castle perched on the hilltop overlooking the downtown center. Its nickname is Auld Reekie (for the smell). Catching our breath for just a couple minutes, then it's out to explore

0753 As soon as we checked-in to our hotel, we were out the door again. Our first stop was at the post office, just next door to where we're staying. We mailed two small boxes home. Then we hit the streets with Ali, Ki'naksaapo'p and Alvine. They're all heading to the golf course at St Andrew's tomorrow, so tonight is their chance to tour. After a brief walk, down the way, we bought twenty-four hour double-decker bus tickets and set off on a guided tour

0906 We got off the bus up near the base of the castle, where there is an amazing tartan mill. We had about an hour to look through before getting back on our tour. Mahoney picked up some of the spare cuts at the kilt-maker's shop, different plaids that she can fashion something with. We also got information for mail-ordering all the formal dressware. If Sheen ever gets married, I would love to be decked-out Scottish

1016 For the rest of the bus tour, we rode and froze on the upper open deck. Great photo ops, and we got a chance to survey many highlights of the city in preparation for a more leisurely exploration tomorrow. When the tour concluded, we walked as a group, first to the hotel so we could drop off some bags, then to the Rose Street Brewery, where I ordered bangors and mash

1259 The pub dinner was like a home-cooked meal, very tasty, clean, and filling. And the beer Ali suggested was nice too. After eating, we walked in an arch of sorts back to the hotel, stopping off at a grocery along the way, so we would have some sweets for our room - chocolates, crisps, and McVitie's caramel digestives

1605 Passed out for a few hours and have decided I better get up and at least process and post some of today's pics. Otherwise I'll have difficulty catching up by tomorrow. Don't care much for our room here in Edinburgh. The thermostat controlling the radiator is set too high and we have no control over it. Alternately, when we open the window, it gets too cold. And the red and pink floral display carpets and wallpaper throughout the hotel look, as Mahoney aptly pointed out, as though PeptoBismol threw-up all over this place. It's all a lot of sensory stimuli for me, and I feel like we've gone through the looking glass. I'm just a little worried about my lady. Her body's not taking this travel very well. We're half way through now, and the pace only picks up from here

1803 Damn, looks like I may have to wait until we get to Oxford to upload more images. We've got wireless here, but maybe the FB application is having an issue? Don't know, it's late and I'm going to bed. Wish I'd had my camera ready an hour ago when I saw this lady on the street shove her husband so hard he fell on his ass. That was pretty funny

IIII ) lllll Auld Reekie (20Feb10)

0117 Awoke in Auld Reekie, well rested and ready for another adventure

0300 We started off our rounds this morning running a couple errands for Ki'naksaapo'p and Alvine, since they'll be at St. Andrews all afternoon. We walk from the Fredrick House along the cobbles of Rose Street, where Mahoney gathers a photo collection of the stone roses set in the ground at each intersection. Soon we came across our first destination, the Sony store, where we picked up a battery charger for Alvine's camera. Then we crossed over by a church and graveyard to await one of the tour busses that would take us up to the castle and Old Town. While we waited, a magpie flew between the trees beside us, confirming our suspicions that there are magpies here, who construct the large stick nests we've been seeing

0354 Once up toward the castle, we stopped in a souvineer shop to do an exchange for Alvine. She wanted a refund, but our only option was to swap, so we gathered up some Armstrong items and Mahoney got a shawl. We were in and out quick, and then made our way into the castle proper. Because of Mahoney's wheelchair, we got the royal treatment. Entry was half cost for her, free for me, they gave us a guidebook to the castle, and drove us right to the top

0414 We get off the car at the Great Hall, built for hosting ceremony. The roof inside is supported by the oldest Rennaissance stone corbels in Britain. Each one has a different carved image on it, including one of the Green Man, a pre-Christian symbol of fertility. J.K. Rowling (a resident of Auld Reekie) did a massively attended midnight reading for one of the Harry Potter releases beside the fireplace here

0444 From the Great Hall we went on into a room where the Crown Jewels are on display. We found particularly interesting the manner in which the king's crown is decorated with white ermine skins, just like at home. Also among the jewels is a diamond and pearl necklace belonging to Princess Louise, after whom Lake Louise is named. She was married to Prince Albert, from whom originates the Province Alberta

0514 We decided to skip past a war memorial and prisoners' chambers to look at a tiny little building called St. Margaret's Chapel, the oldest in Edinburgh. It has a Mahoney-sized entry door (for shorties) and stained glass windows. Most of the stained glass images were Christian, but there was one opposite the altar of William Wallace. Outside, far down on the streets below, there's a protest of some sort going on - people marching with signs and megaphones, but we can't hear or read what their issue is

0615 Not wanting to bother with the war museum or barracks, we made our way along the winding cobble route out of the castle and down the street to a statue of the Greyfriars Bobby dog, who stood on a street corner waiting for its owner for fourteen years. A sad story

0641 Getting hungry, we moved downhill to an area with several pubs. We found a vintage clothing store there called Armstrong's, where Mahoney bought bulky fur jackets for Isabella and Tyra. Then we crossed the street for a bite and dark ale at The Last Drop, refering to the execution scaffold for public hangings that were once situated at this site. Most famous was the 1829 hanging of serial killer William Burke, who sold the remains he didn't fetish for medical study. I ordered a spinach and feta with chicken breast. Mahoney got bangors and mash

0857 After lunch, we hopped back on the bus and plugged into an audio tour of "Horrible History" to listen to as we drove past various areas of the city. Lots of murder and torture and such. Eventually, the bus pulled back around near the hotel and we hopped off to walk the rest of the way, stopping off at a grocery store to get snacks for the train tomorrow, as well as at a lingerie shop

0944 By the time we reached the hotel I was worn out of all the shopping, shopping. Tip-toeing on the verge of cranky, but hoping for a relaxed evening. And figured we might as well start it off with a visit to the Costa for black coffee and vegetable crisps made of beetroot, parsnip and carrot lightly sea salted

1341 Just got back from Dirty Dick's pub, a very loud and clausterphobic place with great food. We seemed to be the only ones dining though. I had the steak pie, Mahoney ate haggis. People here definitely have a different degree of spatial comfort. I saw seven people crowded around what would be a two-person table (at best) back home

1442 Still no hope of posting images from Edinburgh with this sad connection. But tomorrow we travel to Oxford and, if we're not completely defeated by the time we get settled in, I should be able to put some up

1648 All packed up and ready for an arduous journey in the morning, traveling from Edinburgh to London, King's Cross. Then hauling our not inconsiderable luggage up to the street, grabbing a taxi across the city to Pattington station, and hopping on another train to Oxford, where we'll be sleeping the next three nights

19 February 2010


I From Alberta To Scotland (12Feb10)

0715 Just said our "so longs" and "see you soons" and "we'll call yous" to the kids. Mahoney got to squeeze Sheen's stuffing briefly. I tried to maneuver a hug while her arms were pinned, but of course she wiggled, grabbed my claw finger, and proceeded to twist

0823 Yes! Ran quickly to the university to test netbook wireless operations there, and everything runs peachy. So the netbook is going, and I'll be rucking a couple less pounds around Europe!

0925 I'm not taking anything to read. If I have occasion to read, I will use it to continue drafting one of the papers I started last week. It will be my virtual means of keeping connected to the coulee, which I already miss

1048 I bet Mi'ksskimm is already waiting for us to pick him up at the Mac's in Ft Macleod, 45 minutes early. Probably him and Sylvia are sitting in the car, stressing out and arguing about whether or not we'll remember to meet there. We'll see if he phones the cell before we get there

1127 Haha, I knew it. Frank was here pacing back and forth in the parking lot smoking, Sylvia and Wade sitting in the truck

1508 Geez, almost didn't get to check our bags. They said we were fifteen pounds overweight. Good thing Frank had an extra little handba

1544 Yawn! Getting tired already, and it's still two hours before we board the first plane. Maybe that's a good thing. Eight long hours in the air to look forward to. Hoping to sleep through the clauster

1552 $1,220 U.S. buys just 640 GBP - ouch! I know the pound probably goes a bit farther than the dollar we're used to, but it's still disheartening to have only half as many bills

1623 Omg! Frank just got tasered and cavity searched!

1748 Narcisse and Alvine finally arrived. Not two minutes later, here comes an NAS prof from ULeth to rub shoulders, lol

1812 Okay then, we're on the plane. Here we go...

II Haggis (13Feb10)

1151 Sitting in Alison's flat, going to eat haggis. No decent internet connection yet

1843 Too hot in our room and sleeping pattern all messed up. Heading downstairs to smoke. WiFi works wonderful in the hotel lobby. Here's the posts I would have put up yesterday if I could have (all clocked on Alberta time)

2211 Nearing the dawn here in Aberdeen. Feeling surprisingly well rested. Which is good, because I'm one of the designated drivers for our journey to the countryside. And best of all, today I take a shower!

III The Farm (14Feb10)

0027 Still waiting for the dawn and the coffee shops to open. The gulls are out in full force at Union Station, and I love it. They're swooping in all directions across the skyline, and standing like gargoyles atop the building ledges

0104 Well, daylight has arrived. It's 8:00 here in Aberdeen, yet the coffee shops still aren't open :(

0348 Omg it's going to be Mr Toad's Wild ride. I'll be driving a diesle VW standard. Just test drove, scary

0630 I didn't even crash us, not yet anyway. We've arrived at our destination for the afternoon, a small sheep and horse farm about an hour out of Aberdeen, in the countryside, with a meal hosted by Kathy and Stuart (whose last name I don't know)

0639 Really starting to appreciate the European influence on western Oregon flora... Scottish bluff, blackberry, curled dock, common plantain, and rhodedendron all have a significant presence here

0921 Before our lunch, I took a little photo expedition around the farm and into the forested hill. Then after eating, Mahoney and I went out together. We could easily spend all day exploring. The forest here is different. There's a shadow of prior occupations, long grown over. The trees are different than in the Valley Willamma, but the undergrowth is quite familiar. We could hear small birds about, but were only able to spot one of them. Lots of moss and lichen, fungi, and a nice patch of snowdrops in what we were told was an old garden

0945 Stuart has a gigantic wolf hound, who is the spawn of J.K. Rowling's dog. He says they were bred to pounce upon the wolves, and he played with the dog to demonstrate its bouncy-ness

1017 Woohoo! Dusk is upon us and I'm night blind, so Ki'naksaapo'p has decided to give it a go driving us home. We're on our way now and he's doing great

1602 Just finished taking a night stroll with Mahoney, through some of older streets of Aberdeen. We had started off along the silent wharf, but the dark, covered alleyways began to creep us out. Then, moving uphill, we came to a square that used to be a castle gate, perhaps seven hundred years ago. There was a wicked Van Helsing flavor to the damp, grey, stone towers there

1604 Presently sitting with our laptops in the hotel library, preparing to post some of today's pics

1730 We've come to the end of another exciting day. Tomorrow the conferencing and workshops begin. Should be interesting to witness how the museum folks here respond to the prospect of opening their collections to repatriation

IIII ) Repatriation (15Feb10)

0054 Woke up naturally when sunlight lit our room. Mi'ksskimm is right, our belief system defies jet-lag. Feeling good, well-rested. Day is day, night is night. Just popped down to the Starbuck's to get our morning dose. Managed to count out three pounds eighty in coins no problem at all

0136 Brought coffee to Mahoney and went back downstairs to use the washroom in the lobby while she showers. Every public washroom I've encountered here in Aberdeen is immaculate, but they have a strong chemical smell that hits even as you pass by them outside. It leaves an after-taste in the throat

0140 Now outside for a quick smoke before I go up to shower. It's overcast and chilly, the kind of weather one expects on the Scottish coast. At Union Square, all smokers stand knowingly under the eaves along its perimeter. The center is empty. Nobody wants to risk bombing by the clouds of gulls overhead

0205 Sat to visit with Mi'ksskimm at the coffee shop before heading up to the room again. He wanted to try out some of his presentation ideas on me. Frank is genius at speaking across social and cultural divides. In summary, he's intending to draw an analogy between our bundle tradition and European education

Even in this day of age, where we can travel to the other side of the world in a single day, or do it virtually online in a matter of seconds, old school museum folk will still argue that their collections are important for the education of their local citizenry in other cultures and histories

But imagine if the founders of each European disclipline of scholarship were responsible for creating the physical doctorates, the actual parchments for each of their disciples, that they could only make one, and that no other parchments for these disciplines were allowed to be created. In this manner, if you wanted to get your PhD, you would have to get the original transferred to you, that which was produced by the hands of the founder. And once you had it, you would be responsible for passing it down to the next candidate

This is how the bundle system works. It's a direct line of transfer and transmission, and the parchment is never cloned. Now imagine that collection institutions around the world wanted to take your parchments away and keep them as artifacts for their citizenry to view, so that they could expand their perception of history and other ways of life. In this scenario, soon you would have very, very few people able to gain an education in your society, and many disciplines would be halted altogether. This is what we face when the bundles sit idle in museum collections, and why repatriation needs to occur

0311 Big mistake. Had a quick breakfast at the hotel buffet on our way out the door - a couple poached eggs, a stick of sausage, a small slice of mellon. Cost was 15 GBP, which equates to almost $30 Canadian

0425 At the University of Aberdeen, going forward with the repatriation workshop, the key inquiry of which seems to be, "Would it be helpful or appropriate for repatriation legislation to be put forward in Scotland, and if so what should it look like?"

0440 The first panel addresses repatriation and the law. Kathryn Whitby-Last (whose farm we visited yesterday) and Catherine Bell, both of whom are professors of law, speak about relevant existing law (and sometimes beneficial lack-there-of) in Scotland, as well as ethical issues surrounding repatriation law internationally, with particular emphasis on the inappropriate-ness of an object-categorization based law, where legislated definitions of object categories like "sacred item" or "cultural patrimony" etc. may not fit the complexity of Indigenous systems of transfer at all

Ki'naksaapo'p, whose contribution is sandwiched between the two lawyers, describes how the legal apparatus of policy-based approaches can interfere with the true repatriation experience, which involves relationship-building toward shared understanding of a rationale for the return of certain items

0535 Once their panel introduced the topic, we broke off into three discussion tables. Alvine and I were in the same group. The conversation led us quickly to the discourse of public trust, which is a central tenant governing the disposition of museum assets

With some prodding from Alvine, I argued that the whole notion of a collection institution holding its assets in public trust is to ensure its citizenry access to educational or learning resources. This position is fine and ethical in itself. However, we don't live in the same era when these collections were amassed. Today we can fly from Canada to Scotland in under eight hours, we can access digital information from around the world in seconds. We no longer need the physical Noah's Ark collections of cultural materials centrally located in each major city. The trust of the citizenry would, in fact, be better served by returning such collections to their home communities, where they will have a life appropriately contextualized once again

0707 After a lunch of various sandwiches, crackers, biscuits, and cheeses, there was a second panel to introduce issues around access to collections. The speakers in this case included Marcella le Beau (Cheyenne River Lakota) and Mi'ksskimm, as well as museum representatives Robin Boast and Laura Peers from Cambridge and Pitt Rivers

Marcella told the story of her successful repatriation of a ghost shirt from the Glasgow Museum, through public forum. Robin gave an short talk about the way a Papuan sculpture garden was created at Stanford, and the manner in which it was more an appropriation and spectacle than the establishment of any kind of meaningful relationship with either the Papuans as a whole, or even the individual artists. He has proposed the use of digital tools as a means of ensuring lasting community access to collections, as well as for establishing dialog

Laura Peers spoke about various experimental approaches, like the Blackfoot Shirt Project, but also taking advantage of digital opportunities, that could bring collections out to communities

Mi'ksskimm, for his part, touched on several relevant topics. One that seemed to have an especially strong impact was a point made about museums fostering spectacle. He asked the question, had he arrived at the workshop in buckskin and braids, how many would have lined up to get their picture taken beside him? The truth he attempted to illustrate was that the collections, even the people they'd come from, were still considered to be curiosities more than anything else

He also re-addressed concerns about law and public trust, pointing out that prior to the 1950s the law was that Blackfoot people were not allowed to sell anything without a permit issued by the Indian Agent. So how did the collectors manage to purchase objects out of the community? We've never seen any permits in the museum accession records. In many cases, it was the Agent who did the purchasing, without any written record. And what authority were the people to turn to in grievance, when the only authority was the Agent? There's a large collection at the British Museum that serves as a good example. The Blackfoot items in their holdings were donated by one of the men who used to work in the ration house, no doubt forcing starving families to trade their heritage for meat to survive

0830 Another round of discussion groups, and this time Alvine and I detailed our experiences as several museums where access to Blackfoot collections became an issue - some who had predetermined for us which items we would want to see, others that intentionally tried to deceive us into believing that they had nothing of any interest at all in their... See More stacks, when in fact they had massive collections. Beyond our examples, the group as a whole spoke about the lack of financial supports to produce digital resources, or to make visits between museums and indigenous communities possible

1032 With our workshop completed for the day, and almost two hours to work with before our appointed dinner rendezvous, Mahoney and I set off with Mi'ksskimm for an initial shopping foray, attempting to find a few gifts for people back home. I've got an eye out for padawan clothes

1221 Had no luck shopping. We've arrived now at The Square for an elegant three-course dinner. Mahoney's having shredded duck and orange salad to start, red curry king prawns for her main, and a sticky toffee pudding dessert. I'm having roasted pepper with goat's cheese, a pan-fried duck breast with plum sauce, and blackcurrant cheesecake

1549 Concluded the day with a sit down in the hotel's bar and a glass of dark beer - Mahoney, Mi'ksskimm and I reviewing the day with three representatives from local museums. Tomorrow, another round of the repatriation workshop

IIII ) l The Metric (16Feb10)

1234 Up in the morning to the rising... overcast skies. Very much enjoying Scotland. North America really needs to get with the program, in terms of energy efficiency. Just as when we visited Australia last winter, the investment in efficient-use technologies is so apparent here. All toilets have a low-flow setting and, at the hotel, we must insert our key-cards into a slot in order to turn on the electricity. Removing these cards as we walk out the door, our lights, television, computers, etc. are automatically shut-down

0232 We've returned to the University of Aberdeen for day two of the workshop. The morning has started off with a presentation by Katharine Malcolm regarding Blackfoot collections at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. There are questionable "Blackfoot" items that came from collector W.H. Bonehill, said to have been aquired in South Dakota. There are also a few Kainai items that came through HBC employee Alexander Naismith Mouat at Ft. Macleod - moccasins with beaded bottoms, a catlinite pipe with a beaded stem, and a roach. Nothing too exciting

0250 The next presenter is Mark Hall from the Perth Museum, who showed a few slides of materials from other tribes and spoke of the possibility of Perth lending these items "across the pond"

0256 Pat Allan from Glasgow Museum came up next, again showing slide images of items we might be interested in seeing. They have 150 objects with a Plains provenience. It was disturbing to see slides of clothes, jewelry, and moss bags aquired at the Wounded Knee massacre site. There are some Blackfoot items in Glasgow. One slide Pat showed us was a small pouch with ksiistsikomiipi'kssi beaded on the front. I will want a copy of this image, because the design of thunder here includes kokomiki'somm in a crescent that forms the wings

0318 Rick Knecht, a well-known archaeologist from Alaska who's now working at the University of Aberdeen. He showed us how people in Alaska had used archaeological collections to renew local art forms

0334 After Rick, Honor Keeler from the law school of the University of New Mexico came up and talked about her study of N.A.G.P.R.A. and international repatriations. She's interested in creating a database system to help increase communications between North American tribes and European collection institutions

0344 Finally, Mahoney closed the morning presentations with an overview of the history and purpose of the Blackfoot Digital Library

0454 Had a quick coffee break during which we fielded many questions about the digital library. Then back to another panel, this one addressing experiences of the repatriation process and its impacts

0500 Marcella LeBeau and Mark O'Neill opened this round, with basically a reiteration of the repatriation story Marcella shared yesterday, about the Wounded Knee ghost shirt from Glasgow. I'm still thinking about the images we saw this morning, the other items taken from Wounded Knee, people massacred and stripped naked, with all their belongings now in various collections. Very disturbing, and it makes me wonder how many things we have come across in our museum visits that originally came from the Bear River massacre

0630 At the short lunch break, a few of us made a mad dash through the sleet to a small university store. There we were able to find several affordable gifts to bring home

0710 Back in the meeting room for a continuation of the earlier panel on process and impact, Mi'ksskimm took up and absolutely floored everyone with an amazing speech, very directly addressing the topics. He described in some detail our "laws" for aquisition and/or claim to the bundles, and then spoke of the massive shift in both the reclamation of control that has occurred at Kainai - covering everything from education, to health, to justice or peacemaking - as well as the direct and indirect affects that repatriation has had in the life of young people

0719 After Mi'ksskimm spoke, the panel disbursed and Alison brought a flip board to the front to begin writing out the collective ideas from all participants about next steps. The big ideas, as I understood them, were the need to develop far better modes of communications between collection institutions and stake-holder communities, as well as the crucial need to seriously rethink and redefine the objectives of museums, coming to grips with their true history and shifting toward a greater ethics, purpose, and relationship-building. I'm so grateful Robin spoke up and insisted that museums were not originally for public education, but rather an instrument for measuring a population's evolutionary distance from "civilization" - so much of the troubling residues of antiquated museum practice stem from this history

0926 On a minibus now, heading away from the workshop, on our way to dinner. Later tonight, we'll be returning to the university, as they've scheduled Ki'naksaapo'p for an evening film-showing and talk about our Learning From Place curriculum. Before hopping on this bus, we returned to the university store again, where Mahoney finished her gift-shopping, so we will not have to worry about that for the rest of our travels

1016 At La Lombarda, the oldest Italian restaurant in the U.K., preparing to eat calamari fritti. Decided to conduct a pocket inventory, to find out what Mahoney's carrying: touque, cigarettes, pen, hotel key, workshop badge, lighter, Aberdeen downtown map, sunglasses, gloves, several business cards, cheap cell phone, lotion, several napkins, various medications, a metal bead, crumpled receipts, a blt sandwich, bag of loose tobacco, candy and candy wrappers, elphe camera, iTouch phone, 70 GBP in bills, 7 pounds 95 pence in change, two usb drives, and her wallet

1108 Just went downstairs to the restaurant washroom, and found an odd souvineer in a gumball machine. It's called "Fuzzy Breath" - a bizzare toothbrush in the shape of a little ring with a raised node at one end that you apparently chew up and eat. Mahoney said it looked dirty, and Robin Boast, who was sitting across from us, noted how tiny the circle was. I then suggested that it may say something about the girth of Scottish men, which prompted a warning that I not speak too loudly

1451 Mahoney and I have been sitting in the hotel lobby for the last couple hours, relaxing, checking our email and updating our Facebooks. Right now we're Skyping with Sheen, who appears to be camped out in the living-room at home. We miss our Buttsy. Tomorrow is a sight-seeing day. Alison's taking us to the beach and to a castle. Should be awesome

1535 Late-night Yo! Sushi with Mahoney, Ki'naksaapo'p and Alvine. Came up with a devilish scheme to get a two-week Kainai Studies block course going out here for next winter, keep the relationships building and, of course, a bit of annual travel for us

IIII ) ll The North Sea (17Feb10)

2333 up, UP and somewhat missing our steaming soaks that help knock us out at night. We had a chance to sleep in this morning, but both of us were restless last night. The Zzzzs were sporadic, and punctuated for me by stressful dreams about my dog being in danger, and other things. No coffee shops open yet, but we're going down soon to see Mi'ksskimm off. He's leaving for Oxford with Laura, and from there home, while we continue our visit in Scotland a few more days before heading to Oxford ourselves, and then Paris

0230 Got another hour before we head out to visit a few Scottish sacred sites, castles, and scenic areas. Found some buffs for sale in one of the shops downstairs, and since we never see them at home I'll probably pick one up before we leave. It'll come in handy for our evening visits to Sspopiikimi in the upcoming nesting season. But since we still have two days here before Edinburgh, I'll hold off on the purchase until just before our departure. It's not that they're expensive, but there's always the chance we'll come across others with better designs elsewhere today or tomorrow. This is the way I shop while travelling... I like to see all the souvineer possibilities before making my selections. Only if something strikes me as absolutely perfect do I make a purchase on the spot. This is quite opposite my normal practice, where I must have in mind the product I seek before setting out, and wouldn't bother comparing what's offered at different stores

0429 Our first stop of the day is Aberdeen Beach, and I am a bad husband. In my excitement to explore the tidal breaks for good pictures and colorful shells, I walked away from Mahoney, and while she was taking off her shoes to follow me, she lost balance and fell in the North Sea. Now she's being quickly run back to the hotel to change and will have to wear boots the rest of the day, because her runners are soaked

0512 On our way again now, heading to the castle. While Mahoney was back at the hotel to change, I waded out in the sea following a troop of little shore-birds until my feet became numb beyond all sensation. One thing's for sure, dog walkers all over the world are equally annoying to those who are trying to enjoy the presence of local nature

0525 Driving north along the coastline, we pass through a beautiful area with sand-dune shores and sheep farms. Apparently, Donald Trump is planning to turn it into a world-class golf club and resort. The resident families have each been offered hundreds of thousands of pounds to relocate, but refuse. Now Trump has applied so much pressure that the government here is going to force the families to leave their homes

0602 Just past Cruden Bay is Slains Castle. It's a ways out down a very muddy trail, so we don't walk it. But we do pull-off the roadside because I spot a small herd of Scottish deer. From there, it's just a quick hop to Bullers o'Buchan, a small clifftop fishing community beside a steep, mossy sea cauldron where the birds - gulls, doves, and crows on this day - swoop and feed. People are so tolerant here. We walk a path that takes us right through the villagers' gardens to access the picturesque cauldron. There is a wild umbrella plant growing here, with stems nearly the thickness of cow parsnip. It could perhaps be an angelica, but hard to tell right now, with all the leaves having long rotted off the stems

0712 From Bullers o'Buchan we travel further north to Peterhead, an industrial fishing port where we can get a bite of local seafood at Zanre's. We order cullen skink soup for a start, which is a fish chowder, and then their "reward winning" halibut with proper chips, peas, and buttered bread for the main

0818 After eating the biggest fish and chips dinner we've ever had, walking out absolutely stuffed, we crossed the street into a souvineer shop and there found stuffed dogs for Tyra and Hail, and a nice kilt for my Isabella girl

0844 Walking down the street in Peterhead, a little girl laughed out loud when she saw me coming, then puckered her lips and whistled up at me. A few minutes later, a fat boy caught me peering over someone's back wall. He gazed at me with tired, knowing eyes

0900 On our way to the castles and stones. We may have to visit some of them in the dark. Mahoney said it's okay, because she has a headlamp in her camera-bag. Alison, on the other hand, claims to have "torches" as well (and maybe pitchforks?)... but I suspect she's talking about flashlights

0946 Got lost looking for the Culsh Monument, which we hoped would be ancient... it wasn't. But we did happen upon the Culsh Retirement Home run by Mr. and Mrs. Kindness, and we found a hawk with a missing tail, feeding among crows on a field. Then we drove in a big circle

1054 It has all gone horribly wrong. As dusk overtakes daylight, we make it to the supposed "car park" (i.e. parking lot) for the Easter Aquhorthies Stone Circle west of Inverurie. Ki'naksaapo'p hurries ahead along a snowy trail which turns out to be the wrong one. Before we know it, he is out of earshot. Alison, Alvine and Mahoney drive on while I stay behind to wait for Ki'naksaapo'p to return. Soon after he does, the ladies come back for us, and a short ways up the road we finally locate our objective

1135 All is night by the time we reach the circle, the early crescent of Piitaiki'somm glowing high above. The site is comprised of eleven large pillar stones linked by a short rise, with something like a seat, altar, or gate recumbant stone on one end, set between the two largest pillars. It is obviously aitapissko, and all the while we're there, a lamb or goat can be heard crying in a nearby field. I walk sunwise around the perimeter of the circle, then enter. We all take some photographs, as best we can in the night. Before we leave, I set my favorite winter touque in between the recumbant and one of the pillars as an offering, and Mahoney leaves tobacco

1319 Back at the hotel after a very long and eventful day, we find that the in-house laundry service is far to expensive (it would cost more to do our laundry than the fee for our six-nights stay). So we pick up a bit of grub, and I buy an olive-green buff to replace my touque. Mahoney settles into the room to rest, and I go down to the lobby to post and edit photos. Here's my notes for today...

1640 Finally done editing all the photos I collected today. Only took me three hours! Geez... I'm sure Mahoney's fast asleep by now. And I'm gratefully off to join her

IIII ) lll William Wallace (18Feb10)

0053 Awake after a decent night's sleep to our last full day in Aberdeen. Tomorrow we train to Edinburgh. Ki'naksaapo'p will be speaking at the university this morning. I don't know if we are going... after our expedition yesterday, Mahoney is pretty sore and should probably give her legs a rest. Our only objectives will be to get laundry done and find an extra luggage for the souvineers we purchased

0233 While Mahoney rests in a bit more, I'm off to find laundry facilities somewhere in the city

0303 I take to the streets under light snow with our suitcase full of dirty clothes and find a roving patrolman to ask directions of. He suggests I take it to the Wash Hoose (yes, that's the way it's spelled) about a half mile up King Street. I'm expecting a regular do-it-yourself laundry-mat, but apparently that's not how it's done here. It's a service with only a few machines, one proprieter, and a floor absolutely filled with suitcases similar to ours and garbage bags of laundry. She charges by the weight. I pay 11.50 GBP and am told to return at about 3:00 this afternoon

0330 On the way back to the hotel, I found an inexpensive bag shop, and there picked up a nice duffle sack with a sturdy bottom and wheels for 12 GBP. So both of our critical tasks are taken care of, and we can now explore the city center at our liesure for the next four or five hours

0420 We head out to explore and photograph downtown Aberdeen, with Mahoney in her push-chair and myself as the muscles. It's a good deal for both of us. She needs to let her body recouperate from long travels in sleet and snow the last few days, not to mention falling in the North Sea. I need the exercise because, since I haven't been able to coulee-hike for almost a week, my legs are craving a good stretch

0505 We wind our way along all kinds of streets, just meandering wherever the interesting architecture take us. These buildings will serve as my landmarks to find our route back to the hotel later this evening. People warned us the these cities wouldn't be wheelchair accessible, but we're not finding that to be true at all. The cobble sidewalks are a bit rough, but overall it's much easier to maneuver here than at home

0516 We pass through block after block of what is, to us, highly ornate architecture. Some of it is in ruins, which we love. There is a giant statue of William Wallace, and a grimy, long-haired man on the street who tells us that Wallace was his great, great, great, great grandfather. He wishes us welcome to Scotland. Not too far beyond the statue, we stop at the Mediterraneo Bistro for a pasta lunch. I order meat lasagne and Mahoney gets the Italian sausage. Omg the flavors! Quickly coming to appreciate that most restauranteurs in North America do not know how to cook. Mahoney eats as slow as possible to make the experience last

0740 Walking around some more after lunch, we came across a street that had several cherity shops. These are second-hand stores that donate their proceeds to a given cause, for instance "Cat Protection." We then went into a few kilt shops. Looks like it would take about £750 to get fully outfitted. My dream of that is shot for this visit, but I did find an Armstrong Clan pin. Eventually Mahoney gets cold in the overcast drizzle and we make our way into a mall, while I leave her to fend for herself while I make haste to fetch our laundry

0935 An hour later, after what in the Army we'd call a "range walk" through the city, to pick up our clothes and bring them back to the hotel, I catch up with Mahoney again at the mall. We sit outside for a bit to drink coffee and eat street food, spicy bratwurst from a German sausage stand. A gull comes inspects us as we eat, so finally we relent and feed it three pieces of kaiser bun

1123 Still walking the streets and malls. We've almost wound our way, switch-backing through the downtown area, to our hotel. Mahoney has picked up a few more gifts and two local cookbooks. I've found a nice little book of Scottish aikaitapiitsinikssiistsi. I also spotted an collection of old-fashioned angling narratives that I came very close to buying for Ken. But leafing through, I came upon a short passage the author had written about fly-fishing, and he was like, "It's a waste of time to fish with flies when you could be using minnows." Then I knew it just wasn't the right book

1202 After dark, we return to the hotel. It's been a good last day in Aberdeen. The following are my notes...

1227 When William Wallace's self-proclaimed great, great, great, great grandson told us of his ancestry on the street today, my only reply was, "Hania!?"

1538 I just realized that my old man naps back home were timed the same as actual bedtime in Scotland. Maybe that's how I avoided jetlag. Another good reason for afternoon siestas

1722 For all their hatred of the Brits (which I love), Scottish people sure do mimic their southern neighbors' love of the F-word