Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ireland & Scotland - Days 15 & 16

Day 15 - Words of the Day: Solemn, Impulsive,

On December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 went down over Lockerbie, Scotland. On board were several students from Syracuse University who were returning from a semester abroad. Among them were several of Steven’s friends.

I knew our visit today to Lockerbie would be emotional; what I didn’t expect was that it would be emotional for me. I remember the night we heard the news – we were living in Waterloo, both finishing up our Master’s degrees. Up until that moment, every incident of terrorism was apart from us. It didn’t touch us in any personal way.

And then it did. We knew people who had died at the hands of terrorists. The world had shifted.

Such a place of peace...
The Garden of Remembrance is a beautiful place on top of a hill. The sun was out today and a breeze kept us from getting too warm. We met some two couples from Carlisle who remembered seeing the explosion and the resulting damage. They had been driving by and simply stopped to pay their respects. I’m not sure that they weren’t angels sent when we needed them.

There is a cottage at the entrance to the cemetery that gives the history of Lockerbie. It also houses the Book of Names, one page for each person who was killed. The docent inside told us a great deal about what happened on the ground and showed us a quilt that was made at the 20th anniversary to commemorate the event. It’s quite beautiful and holds a great deal of symbolism.

So a heavy morning. Very emotional for both of us.

Now remember, this is Steven’s day entirely. He gets to pick what happens next. I have to give him a huge shoutout and a big thank you for choosing to drive a bit further – we went to England!

Yep. We were only 20 miles or so from the border and there are no border crossings between Scotland and England, so we went on down the motorway with the intent to find a place for lunch. I mentioned that Hadrian’s Wall should be close by, so we put it into the GPS, found a nearby Roman fort and Steven said, “Let’s go!”

Hadrian's Wall where it meets the old Roman fort
So off we went, traveling on country lanes to find our way to this ancient fort that brought a certain poetry to our trip. Last year we started our trip in Rome and this year we ended our trip here with a visit to a wall and fort built by Romans.

The fort commands a wide view of the valleys on either side. Most of the structure doesn’t exist any more, just foundations. The wall is also far shorter than its original fifteen feet high. Over the years locals (and some not so local) took advantage of the already-quarried stones and used them to build their own houses and castles. Now it’s only four feet high – at least along the section we viewed today.

The escarpment that will one day
swallow the fort

And in another hundred or so years, the fort will be lost. There’s an escarpment that’s creeping closer and it’s expected to swallow the ruin sometime in the future. Glad we saw it when we did.

Took the scenic drive back to the hotel and stopped in a small town for lunch in a café that was tucked down a side street in a little alcove. Good lunch of ham and egg quiche (for me) and a hamburger (for Steven). Then back on the road and arrived at the hotel shortly after 5:00.

"Welcome to Scotland" sign
- might as well have been
going from one state to the next!
Early start tomorrow – our flight leaves Glasgow at 8:30 in the morning. Next stop, Toronto!

Day 16 - Flying home!

Got up at 4:30 this morning to be out of the hotel and on the road by five. No trouble getting to the airport in Glasgow although finding the key drop turned into a mini-adventure of its own.

Boarded and taxied for at least 20 minutes. How do I know that? 'Cause I glanced at my watch and promptly fell asleep. Woke up and asked Steven if we were airborne yet. Nope. Dozed a bit more and then woke up for the liftoft. Been awake ever since.

We passed over Greenland on our way home!
I will tell you, Toronto's Pearson airport is a LOT nicer to get through when you're not stuck in a wheelchair. No issues getting our bags (we checked them for the flight home. No hurries this time) or finding the car. Walked right to that puppy without hardly a hesitation. All we had to do was put the ticket in the machine on the way out, pay up and head for home.

Except I couldn't find the ticket. Steven thought I had it, I thought he had it. A frantic search of the car and all our bags yielded nothing. A girl drove past and backed up, wanting our spot. Steven told her we were looking for our parking slip and she said that, if we went to the ticket booth downstairs with our boarding passes from the first day, they'd charge from there.

Those I had. So we drove down, found the customer service area -- totally unmanned. Closed up with only two machines where you can put your card and pay in advance. BUT! Steven found a button to push for assistance. The woman on the other end was very kind and acted as if this happened every day. I suppose in an airport that size, it might.

Anyway, the charge was high, although still low enough that it made financial sense to fly out of Toronto instead of Rochester. We saved about $800 doing it this way.

Didn't turn my phone on until we crossed the border - which was very uneventful. That's always a good thing. When I turned it on, it lit up with a bunch of messages. Called my parents to let them know we were back and texted the kids to let them know we were on our way.

Stopped at Byrne Dairy to pick up milk (since we made sure we'd used up all we had before we left) and I switched to drive the last bit home. Why? Because I wanted Steven to be in the passenger side when we pulled in.

You see, unbeknownst to him, while we were away, the kids painted the garage as a Father's Day gift. At first when we pulled into the driveway, he thought what was different was the fact that the side garden had been cleaned out (which it had). Only on a second look did he realize the garage had a new coat of paint.

Now ready to collapse, although I'm trying to stay up as long as possible so the jet lag isn't bad. But it's now 8:30 PM Eastern and I've been up since 11:30 last night. So closing this adventure for the moment... Good night and love to all!

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