May 2011

Passion Pulls

by Keith Savage · 16 comments

Climbing Craigendarroch Hill in Ballater, Scotland

I blurted it out, the words giving shape to a thought my mind hadn’t even consciously registered.

“Passion pulls.”

Gavin and Rene nodded in enthusiastic agreement. They might have even stopped eating and vocalized assent. The three of us were in the midst of a sumptuous lunch at the Knockomie Hotel just outside Forres in Moray, Scotland, and we’d been discussing success in tourism and business. Gavin owned the hotel and Rene was my rockstar guide through Moray on behalf of MoraySpeyside Tourism.

Oh I know, I’m so clever.

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The Isle of Skye has been a shade, the invisible slip of a beauty disappearing at the end of a dark hallway. The thundering Cuillins and ripsaw Quirang erased by a null, gray sky. My vision has been harshly curtailed – often just hundreds of yards in any direction, like the darkness of some top-down RPG map opening and closing around me. Occasionally the clouds fall apart like unspun wool and reveal something austere and enduring. It’s a gentle reminder to count blessings, to give thanks, to acknowledge.

From our last bed & breakfast’s front yard Portree appears to huddle beneath a roiling mass of aerial monotony. The backs of white-washed houses peak over tall grasses. Their faces are a riot of unseen pastels.

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Coral Beach, Isle of Skye

I’ve been digging, unsure of what I’m looking for but certain I’ll find something of value.

I’ve been falling, strong in the belief that something will catch me.

I’ve been beach combing, positive I’ll find exactly what I need.

The end state of Traveling Savage has always been invisible to me, both to my chagrin and stubborn belief that not everything need be known before it is undertaken. This is a work in progress, a transformative process.

I am awaiting the touch of serendipity.

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Trochelhill B&B's Gates Open the Way to MoraySpeyside

The best holiday in the world.

That’s what I had won, or so said Rene Looper of MoraySpeyside Tourism. I remember the prize mentioned castles, fast classic cars, rich meals, luxurious accommodation, and unique activities in the region.

I got excited.

I mean, that sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? The Best. Holiday. In. The. World. I quickly thought of things I don’t like such as baseball, snow in my shirt, and empty whisky bottles to get my expectations under control. Read more...

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Castle Roy, or Redcastle, is a stark thing, all chipped and dented bones. But it remains on an emerald hillock just outside Nethy Bridge in the Cairngorms National Park. Some 700 years have quietly passed over and around its rubble-filled wall. Yet, the people of the region have left it unmolested, like the ember of a memory that nurtures you through your bleakest moments. Pastures and moors, the provinces of livestock and pheasants, are held at bay from Castle Roy by a flimsy fence with a typically kind British warning sign.

Walking back to our rental home in the brisk evening air, castles filled my mind.

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