Midnight Monday and with newly appointed dog sitters in place time to set off on leg 1 of the week long
marathon to allow an elderly Trials rider to relive some memories of days gone by, and show Brenda
some of the UK and Scotland in particular.
The drive to Denver Airport goes well until somewhere in the booney and, unexpected fog, we must
have missed a turn for the 285 and found ourselves heading towards Leadville. No matter, a quick
consultation with the map shows we will pick up I70 a little further West than expected and it will take
us over the Loveland Pass but might actually be quicker. The first flight to Chicago leaves at 1000 so
in an ideal world I would like to be checking in around 8’ish. The run off the Freeway to long term
parking is clearly marked and with a lot of bag humping we are in the departure building on time.
Check in goes smoothly and in no time we are on the airport train and emerge right by our departure
gate and encounter the first pleasant surprise! Denver actually has a “Smoker’s Bar”…… a rare thing
these days with all the world’s do gooders. So breakfast and coffee and a smoke without having to go
through the nonsense security system all over again.
A Civilized breakfast at Denver Airport
Leg 2, the flight to Chicago boards on time and then the delays begin but eventually we are pushed
back and join the gaggle for take off. Much Captain blather about changing runways and wind sheer
and after nearly 50 mins of this he is back to tell us we may have to go back and refuel. Suddenly the
power comes on and we are away with all the red herrings out the window. A relatively pleasant flight
and we are in Chicago and now with all the delays and time change we only have a couple of hours to
waste before our flight to Manchester.
It has to be said that Chicago is pretty scruffy outside and will need some paint prior to the Olympics.
The nice 4 lane departure and pick up points are now reduced with ugly concrete blocks everywhere
and the congestion caused some near amusing accidents with hi speed taxis and limos. Back inside
and time to run the gauntlet of security again and now my watch triggers the alarm and becomes a
“suspect piece”. Security gone mad as mindless morons paw over passports and boarding passes
with flashlights and magnifying glasses spending more time than any customs or immigration officer
would ever do…… airline travel is NOT the pleasant experience it once was!
Time to leave and once again we board on time and after watching all the theoretical cabin luggage,
about the size of a standard coffin, being squeezed, pushed, refitted and crushed until somehow it
goes in the bin, we are ready for departure. We have a huge tailwind and will be in Manchester about 50
mins ahead of flight plan. Day-night-day comes quickly enough and although sleep doesn’t feature too
much, what have they done to airline seats??, we arrive in UK to some pleasant springtime weather.
About a 200 yard walk from the classic end of the building International Arrival Gate to Immigration
where the home team UK passport holders are through in a flash and the rest of the world can wait.
One or two unlucky souls are sent to the “sin bin” but we are through and now have the 200 yard walk
back to the baggage hall where amazingly all 4 of our bags are in a nice log jam on the carousel.
Outside with all aboard our cart and still only 0730 time to get Brenda’s nicotine levels back up to
normal having been seriously depleted due to a night without. Back on an even keel time to see what
Mr Hertz has in store for us? As I approach the counter I can see a reservation folder with my name on
it so that’s a good start. Its going to be a Merc so hooray for AARP and now time to pay and now things
start to go wrong as the UK card gets rejected!!!! Oh well, pay with a US one and move on and will have
to sort this out later. Up the lift to “Cars” and there she is with only 3700 miles on her but looks like it
has been through a tough time as the Merc gun sight on the bonnet has been torn off and there is a big
dent in the rear wing!
Stop whining! I’m on the CORRECT side !!!
Out on the road Brenda is suitably terrified being on the wrong side and not at all keen on
Roundabouts, however once the screaming subsided we are soon on M6 and heading North. First
plan is to stop somewhere close to the Motorway, get some UK money and ring my credit card
company and find out what the hell is going on. Carlisle sounds like a reasonable stop and I explain
to Brenda parking in the UK is a nightmare especially in and around city centers. 2 laps of the center
of Carlisle looking for a bank and finally having negotiated all the one way systems we park in the
“Pay & Display” and hope we will get back before anyone notices to feed the machine. The bank gives
us some pocket money and provides the phone to the Credit card people who tell me there is nothing
wrong with the card and they paid Mr Hertz this morning????? Could be a double Whammy here !
Before going back to the car Brenda is ready for an early lunch so in to a classic “Spit & Sawdust” pub
for her first British experience. A Vodka Tonic arrives with 3 lumps of ice, no lemon, no straw in a
standard pub egg cup. I, however, enjoy my first British pint of Theakston’s. Brenda takes on some fish
n’ chips and then its back to parking, and sure enough we have the 25 GBP parking fine which Brenda
will now fight claiming American incompetence and lack of knowledge.
First British Pint in 14 years
Onward, Sir Antony as the Holy Grail is only 200 miles to the North! 3 times round the Glasgow M8,
M73, M74, M868, M Whatever intersection only to discover we were right the first time, but onward to the
“North”. Up the side of Loch Lomond where the “bonny, bonny banks” are looking decidedly wet and
then the turn off from the normality of the A82 to the single track road along the Loch with beware
oncoming traffic in middle of road. Scenic yes, but a little scary for the wife! I recall my sailing
adventure on Loch Lomond when we pass Tarbet Island where we moored one evening and then
decided to use the coracle to row ashore to the pub. Now the water around this Island is 600 feet deep
and cold. To get into the coracle you have to step in together with arms on each others shoulders and
then gently sit down together. All goes well with me rowing until we get to the shore when my
companion just stands up and steps out ……… the coracle immediately flipped backwards throwing
yours truly into said Loch and very cold deep water!
The Road Less Traveled, the A82 along the banks of Loch Lomond
Dark, Gloomy and Narrow in parts
Rejoin a main part of A82 at Crainlarich and set off for Kinlochleven. Time for fuel at Tyndrum, the
scene of a drunken 6 cleans on the Saturday morning run back to Edinburgh in 1970 when all I saw
was the “Finish of Hill” signs and had no idea I had actually ridden all the sections let alone cleaned
them. Tyndrum has a nice little shop and there is Mr Wall’s finest plus a Scotch Egg to boot and to put
the icing on the cake a tube of Coleman’s mustard. Brenda buys a few bottles of wine and these too
turn out to be excellent value.
3 Ticks in the Boxes here!
The rain and wind pick up and very soon we are heading down a grim looking Glencoe and into the
promised Scottish weather.
Glencoe and the weather to come
Brenda loved this Church outside Kinlochleven
The Onich Hotel, we are top right 3rd floor
Soon we are over the bridge and on the other side of the loch and pull into a convenient parking slot
at the Onich Hotel which will be our home for the next 4 days. Despite the no smoking policy the
receptionist explains to Brenda how the windows work so things are looking up in that department
while downstairs in the bar they even have BODDINGTON’S Laughing Bitter on tap!
As I live and breathe……. it’s BODDIE’S !
This has a lot of promise!