August 2011

White Sands in Shetland

I’m supposed to be writing this from my room at The Douglas Hotel in Brodick on the Isle of Arran. Instead, I’m writing it from my parents’ house just outside Milwaukee.

My flight yesterday was delayed by five hours, thereby killing any chance I’d have of making my connecting flight in Philadelphia en route to Glasgow.

My entire trip nearly came crashing down when the ticketing agents at U.S. Airways said they couldn’t get me out until Sunday. There was shallow breathing, dilated eyes, and the palpable sensation of perspiration seeping out of my pores. Then the agent said she could sneak me on their flight today. Read more...

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Aphex Twin in Concert

As with many of my favorite musicians, Aphex Twin was first seeded to me by my brother. Sometime in my late teens he gave me Selected Ambient Works 85-92 as a birthday present, and there was no looking back. My subsequent foray into ambient and electronic music led me to some of my all-time favorite musicians, groups like Boards of Canada, Underworld, and Orbital. For me, it would be fair to say it all started with Aphex Twin, one Richard D. James.

He’s a bit of an odd duck. Read more...

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The silence and the light bleed from the bright corners of space. The colossal sky overhead roils and undulates in the fading sun and mountain winds while I stand, neck-craned and mouth agape, mimicking a sunflower. A small white-washed church sits contentedly beneath these accessible heavens, surrounded by the markers of the departed. I rest my arms along the stone wall embracing the lichyard and ponder the people in their wooden boxes staring through the wood and earth and sky. Great, frosted peaks rear up behind me and beyond this strip of land the earth tumbles down to the winding River Spey. This is a liminal space levitating between bismuth planes of sky and earth, mountain and river.
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Deep in the Rothiemurchus Estate

Natural beauty is freakishly common in Scotland, but there are some places that put the others to shame. The entire western side of the Cairngorms National Park is a riot of untouched mountains, forests, and lochs. Just a short drive south of Nethy Bridge, practically next door to Scotland’s adventure capital of Aviemore, stands Rothiemurchus, one of Britain’s largest tracts of natural forest.

Rothiemurchus sits snugly along the B970, a gorgeous road that technically ends at Coylumbridge but that actually continues east past the glittering shores of Loch Morlich and up to the peak of Cairn Gorm itself. Read more...

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Lower Granite Cottage in Nethy Bridge, Scotland

Nethy Bridge, the Forest Village, hides in a great swath of woods in the shadow of the Cairngorms’ vast peaks on the northwestern edge of the park.

The village is little more than a handful of houses and a main street with an impeccable Telford bridge, a couple of 19th-century hotels, and a convenience store. The Nethy water trickles through town and an ancient castle moulders on the outskirts heading toward Grantown-on-Spey.

Nethy Bridge was quiet, peaceful, and our home sweet home for four nights thanks to HomeAway.
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