Thursday, April 02, 2015

And Turn Her Down the Rocky Road

Having left Talisker, the road out from Skye was significantly easier and quicker. Part of that is getting used to driving a car that's much nicer than what I drive at home on narrow roads on the other side while lumber trucks trundle along. Part of that was Alice and Marina's Co-Driving experience using our finely tuned "How's my left? How's my left?" system, which I really think is probably basically what happens during actual rallies. Part of that its that for the first time since we got to Scotland, it's actually nice out. And part of that is that we have a flight to catch.

We made good time getting off the islands and were able to stop a few times along the way. There are a bunch of little pull-off points on the way back, I assume expressly for the purpose of getting cleanly off the road while you gape at the majesty of the place. We swung by the Eileen Donan Castle, where a surprisingly large number of people were eating lunch in the parking lot and we made it to Fort William, where we stopped for lunch.

Potatoes, and because I'm a ridiculous tourist and this was our last meal in Scotland, I went with the haggis, which is fine. It's like sausage. I enjoyed it, but I don't know where this "This food is strange and alien" pearl-clutching attitude comes from. Or, rather, I don't know how to square the "but it's innards" attitude with the fact that hot dogs exist and are sold widely. Everyone calm down.

The rest of the drive was relatively uneventful. We went back past Loch Lomond, where we encountered traffic (due to a ridiculous lumber truck that was too wide for the road) and made it back to Alice's dorm.

Here's the issue. It was around 7. Flight's at 8:45, but Alice is going to run around Europe for a bit after this, so she needed to pack. I returned the car on my own (completely without the How's my Left? system to which I'd become accustomed) and ran back to Alice's dorm. Marina and Alice were finishing packing, and early on in the process, we'd decided to try to check one of our bags for the flight to Dublin, so that we could bring all the things we bought.

We flagged down a cab, had to stop by the car rental place to check on something because I'm a paranoid idiot, and headed off to the airport, arriving at about 8:20. Way, way later than we'd intended.

Baggage check in was closed.

We went through security, which was speedy and efficient, but we couldn't check our bag. Which had a bottle of whisky in it.

I want to say that the security guys were reasonable. They had to confiscate it, but told us we'd be able to pick it up (or have someone pick it up) for a £20/day storage fee.

And I don't know. We were upset about it. I don't know why we were upset. But we were.

It's not like it's the money, really. It was an expensive bottle, one that I wouldn't normally have allowed myself to buy, but attempts to save it would have probably been more expensive than the effort was worth (that is, pay for one of Alice's friends to take a cab to the airport, pick it up, and take it back). It's not that. It's that we'd just done this thing that a few days ago had seemed like it might not be possible. We'd made it to Skye, through the mountains and the hail and the unfamiliar driving and we had done it even though we could have gotten a tour bus to do this for us. We'd rushed to get back, and it was tight but seemed so doable. And avoidable; the decision to bring it at all was a last-minute one based on a very rosy idea of how long it'd take to get to the airport.

It's silly. The bottle we'd bought was available at Binny's (though it was a cut that you'd have to ask them to order, but still, available). And it's not like we even drink, really. But for some reason, after the stress of the drive and the rush to the airport, it stung. It wasn't about the object; that's silly. And I'm aware that this sounds really, really dumb and that of all the things to possibly worry about or be disappointed by, this is way, way far down on even the most banal list of things-that-you-absolutely-shouldn't-worry about. It was a souvenir. It doesn't show up on any sort of hierarchy of actual needs I'm aware of, and of all the problems to have while traveling, I'd pick this one every time.

We got through security, we went to the gate and asked if there were anything they could do, but no. So we boarded the plane, we flew to Dublin, and we got off toward the line of taxis.

We found one, and it was great to be both on the left side of the road and not to be the one driving. We mentioned where we were headed, and the cab driver seemed astonished that we'd chosen to fly into Dublin.

"Tomorrow's Good Friday. Everything will be closed."

That hadn't even occurred to me, and so the first thing that we encountered upon landing in Ireland is that, as the one Catholic member of our merry band, I'd failed to foresee that.

Oh well, we're in Dublin and will see whether the cab driver was right about everything being closed tomorrow.

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