Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eye Know

I really dislike going to get an eye exam.

I am blind, and therefore I must go get a prescription for contacts. They have all these newfangled exams. It used to just be, "Look at the big E," but now it's push the button, watch the house, blink twice, get air in your eye, look up, look left, and turn yourself around. Ugh! Then, they take your contacts and glasses away and want you to read the eye chart. Uhhh, that's why I'm here! I can't read it. Plus, as I was reading the chart, I could not read the last letter on the bottom line of the chart. With either eye. I said something like, "I really don't know what that letter is," and the doctor replied with, "Maybe because it's a number?" OH! I had no idea they threw in numbers on that chart. Cheaters. Do they want us to get it wrong?!

So, they give me the goofy looking glasses, change the lenses again and again, and say, "One or two?" about a billion times. This one better? This one better? Truthfully, all the choices kind of suck. Don't ask me how they ever come to a conclusion about what the prescription should be.

Have you ever had your eyes dilated on purpose? It's kind of freakish. I could see like normal, but then I would look down or go to read something, and it's as if I had the worst vision in the world. I was sure that this is what it would be like to need bifocals. Except that the bottom focus wasn't working. After my eyes had been sufficiently dilated, the doctor uses a bright light and a magnifying glass of sorts and looks through my eyeball at my retinas. LOOKS THROUGH MY EYEBALL! I'm not gonna lie, it freaks me out that you can look through an eyeball.

After the lecture on changing my contacts more, using a different solution, better contacts that are now available, yadda yadda yadda, I leave with one pair of contacts and another appointment to come back in a week to see how they are working out. Why is it they have to change my contacts every time I have an eye exam? Come on! I've been wearing them for eleven years. One pair is practically as good as the next. Besides, my eyes are so sore now that I'm probably going to be wearing my glasses for a few days anyway.

It was kind of weird driving home with dilated eyes. With my sunglasses, the day looked normal. I snuck a look without them, and it looked as bright as the Second Coming. No joke. It was brilliantly white and light outside. Ridiculous, I know.

My conclusion? I'm saving for LASIK. Donations will be accepted.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


These are some of the silly signs that I saw while I was in the U.K. The first sign is a speed limit sign. It's kind of just so happy that it makes me want to go the speed limit. The next sign marks an exit. It makes me want to run toward the exit. Usually, people are told to walk calmly in emergencies. This sign would make me think otherwise. Run, run as fast as you can! The last sign, which took me awhile to figure out, is actually a sign for a place to gather in an emergency. Bring your family here, to this electrical box! But be careful--it's high voltage! These signs just make me laugh.


Yep. It's true. I gave all the kiddos suckers. They loved them, even though they were quite the sticky mess. Notice Axton's red shirt. All those dark lines are sucker juice dripping down his chin. :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You Know You're a Dork When . . .

You love brand new socks. Spankin new. LOVE them!
You can't tell a good joke because you laugh before the punch line.
You reply to most comments or questions with song lyrics.
Signs with bad grammar make you cringe.
You're asked, "Are you a night owl?" and reply with, "Whoooo? Me?"

I could go on forever with this list . . . although I've just realized I probably shouldn't.

To Each Her Own

At Family Home Evening, we made gingerbread houses. Well, that was what we were supposed to make.
I had no desire to make one. None. So instead, I made this:
People scoffed, laughed, and said that it was a lazy man's gingerbread house.

What can I say?

I really like camping.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I am a bad educator. I checked my little brother out of school today to go snowboarding. With all the snow this weekend, could there have been a more perfect time? I think not! Hey, he is 17 and a good student. Life is short!

Usually, I'm a skier, but have a secret desire to be a snowboarder. Yep, it's true. I just think they look so much cooler! Sorry, skiers! In all honesty, I've wanted to try snowboarding for awhile. So when Michael said he would teach me, I didn't give checking him out of school a second thought.

What was I thinking?!

Snowboarding is much harder than I thought! Actually, it's pretty easy to get going--going fast! The problem that I had was stopping. That and running into every snowbank imaginable! Here is the only bad cell phone picture of the day. It's me buried up to my chest in powder trying to dig my way out. Don't worry! I had help from the ski patrol. Yep, it's true. I really did have a good time. I think I'm going to have to try it again. Sooner or later. Maybe later. Don't worry, I wasn't hurt. Mostly just my pride. Ouch.

I am wearing black pants. Please notice you can't see them. My legs were buried. "Swim," they shouted! It didn't work too well. I did manage to get my board off before burying my legs. I felt like it was my life preserver in the vast snowy ocean. :) Oh, and the orange tape is the out of bounds marker. Woops!

Monday, December 14, 2009


I hardly EVER remember my dreams. Seriously, when I do, it's a miracle. Most of the time, I dream, wake up, and as soon as I open my eyes, *poof* gone. I've been having really weird dreams this week. These are from the past three nights. I can only remember four of the five, and I have a feeling the one I can't remember was the best, but here they are for your wonder.

Dream #1: Michael and I went snowboarding. Michael knocked his teeth out. We were at the dentist getting them fixed. The end.
I told my mom about this, and she said we weren't allowed to go anymore. We're going tomorrow. :)

Dream #2: I was with a friend riding on a double decker bus in a foreign country in Europe. We were about two hours from where we needed to be. It was night, and we were in a small city. Then, all the sudden, bombs were going off everywhere. Someone took us off the bus, and guided us down into a building and proceeded to take us down several flights of stairs to a shelter. Even though it was several levels down, there was a window we could see out of. Everyone was worried and didn't know what to do. I pulled out my phone and said, "Hey, I have service. I'll call my mom." The end.
Weird, I know.

Dream #3: This is the one I can't remember, but when I woke up, I remember thinking I'd already accomplished a lot and it was only 5 am!

Dream #4: I was camping somewhere and there was a bear up a tree, watching me. I proceeded to poke the bear with a stick until it became upset and started to climb down to come after me. I proceeded to run. The end.

Dream #5: For some reason, I have to take a college PE class. Let's just forget that I have a masters degree. Anyway, I'm with another girl and we have two small children with us. We're driving around down at the University of Utah (something else I've never done). It's a downpour--raining like crazy! For some reason, she has to leave, and I have these two children that I have to get across the street. I get soaked. I don't know what happens to the children after that. Next thing I know, I'm trying to find parking in this small lot of about ten cars. I park and go into this building. Inside, it's like a gymnastics studio. There is a girl standing there, stretching, and she asks me if she should document her bruises. I'm looking at her, and she has prosthetic legs. Clear ones that you can see right through, so it kind of looks like she is floating there. I am trying to find someone to ask about the class. Finally I figure out I'm in the wrong building. The end.

Other dreams I have include being struck by lightening, dying, and repeating this three times, and I don't really remember my dreams. Hum. I am going to try to write them down more often, although they never make sense! The end.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


What have I been doing with myself, you wonder? Well, I've been doing WHATEVER the HECK I WANT! Yep, that's the way I roll when I'm off track. I heart not having to work until January!

I spent a week in Phoenix, Arizona visiting family there and getting to know them a little better. Caught up with a few old friends, and even had the chance to see the Mesa Temple. The weather was wonderful--my perfect temperature--at between 60 and 70 degrees. What's the temperature right now? 2. Yep, that's right. As I sit here typing this, it's a chilly 2 degrees outside. Wow. I tell you what. Wow. I love the snow and sweater weather, but I'm kind of missing Phoenix.
After Phoenix, I headed to Las Vegas where I enjoyed a night of singing and dancing to The Cranberries. I went with some friends from out of state. We all met in Vegas and enjoyed the concert, some shopping, good food, and fun. Don't worry, no gambling here! :)
This week, I've just been cleaning, hanging out with friends, a little work, and spending some time with the family. Mike and I have made caramel popcorn and plans to go snowboarding. Finally, my little brother can teach me something! :) Just kidding. I've learned a lot from him already.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


So, I've been in a funk lately. I've just kind of had a bad attitude about life in general. Being Thanksgiving and all, I'm going to try to remedy this by making a listy-list of small, silly, and random things I am grateful for. I am blessed beyond measure. Here goes.

Family and friends, even the crazy ones. I heart all your faces.
A car--to get to work, to get home, to see the world
My cell phone and computer. I love talking to my family each day.
Music. It lifts my spirits. Who doesn't like singing in the car?
Fall leaves and sweater weather
The beautiful mountains and scenic places of Utah
The gospel and my cute ward
Contacts. Wow. I tell you what. Wow.
The best roomies ever
Axton, Zoe, and Dante
A wonderful job and class that I love
The ability to play the piano, guitar, and violin
My freaking fantastic educational opportunities
The chances I've had to travel near and far
A good, hot shower
Service that blesses my life and the lives of others
Comedy and laughter. Need I say more?
Sleeping in on a weekday morning
Mom's waffles for breakfast
Gazing up at the night sky
Reading and finishing a good book
An exciting date
Spending time with those I love

Monday, November 23, 2009

Poetry, Poetry

I made my students write one, so I wrote one, too.

I Am
By Michelle Marie Husbands 2009

I am from warm almond poppy seed bread,
From Best Ever Cookies baking in the oven,
From mixing bowls, spoons, cookies and cakes,
From Mom’s homemade lasagna and stroganoff,
And family sitting on the kitchen counter to talk.

I am from wide open spaces, sagebrush, and dust
From small town living and nosey neighbors who care,
From a small yellow brick home, 3000 square feet, and small apartments,
From warm and cozy linens on a cold night,
And always finding a place to call home.

I am from the majestic Rocky Mountains and lush, green pastures to red rock deserts,
From the somewhat unpredictable greatest snow on Earth,
From Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon, and camping in the great outdoors,
From inland and overseas traveling adventures
And the Beehive State who welcomes all.

I am from twenty generations of foreign blood.
From English, Irish, Scottish, and Swedish heritage,
From pioneers, insurance salesmen, mothers, and nurse practitioners
From hardworking people who love their families and God,
And from a long legacy of faith and religion.

I am from the land of freedom, America the beautiful
From a variety of cultures and customs, each special and unique
From a land of work that brings opportunity
From a country who overcomes and helps others
And where respect is given to everyone.

I am from a crazy, mixed up, and loving family.
From brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, parents and step-parents
From dinners, movies, and popcorn at Grandma and Grandpa’s
From dinners, shopping, games, and adventures together
And from happily ever after where there is room for all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Words Cannot Describe

. . . how terrible this movie was. At the beginning, I thought I'd give it the benefit of the doubt. Bad move. This movie was so horrible, I wanted my money back. I wanted my money back, and then some. People should actually probably be paid to see this movie. I don't know if any amount of money in the world would be enough to make me see it again. Even if I was able to sleep through it. About every five minutes, I wanted to walk out of the theater, except I didn't because I had a little hope in Hollywood. Wrong thing to have hope in. Not that the movie was inappropriate, because it wasn't, but it was just so incredibly stupid. It seriously makes me wonder about how someone was thinking, "Hey, this is a great idea for a movie," and then a bunch of other people said, "Yeah. That sounds like a blockbuster." Seriously? Then, of course, the trailer people make the movie actually look good. What's a girl to do? I guess read more reviews? I rarely go to movies anyway, but this certainly was a bad choice. Do not see the movie The Box.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Not My Kind of Culture

So, for my ELL (English Language Learners) class that I'm taking, I have to attend four cultural events around the area that are outside of my culture. That's not as easy as I first thought. The instructors gave us a link to the Salt Lake County website where so-called "Cultural Events" are posted. It only took me moments to realize that these weren't my type of culutral events, even though they did fall outside of my culture. Two of my choices included a film screening of My Neighbor, My Killer and an informational night: Hepatitis Information and Bingo! Thrilling choices, I know. I'm just going to have to look a little bit more, although I'm extremely disappointed I missed these opportunities.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


So, over Halloween when everyone else in the state was dancing like crazy to silly music, I was freezing my butt off camping in Moab. I had a fantastic time with my friend, Denise, but it was a bit chilly. And there was even a bird in our tent! We named him Fredrick. It was my first experience with a tent heater, and I was very skeptical, although it's probably the only thing that kept my fingers from frostbite. We camped up a canyon, drove through parts of Arches, and hiked Negro Bill Canyon. It was beautiful. I can't believe I forgot about it, but here are some of the pictures. Yes, I know I'm a dork. I'm embracing my dorkiness!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Sometimes I find myself awkward. :) For example, I can't put on my mascara or put in my contacts without opening my mouth. Eyes open, mouth open. Ridiculous. I also can't swish with mouth rinse and take out my contacts at the same time. I find myself stopping the swishing while my finger goes into my eyeball to grab my contact. I can't quite figure it out because it's not like the motion of my finger is connected to the swishing of my mouth. Anyway, I figure it's like the whole walk and chew gum thing, which, I guess by pure luck, I can do!

The strange things I think about when I'm getting ready for bed.
Am I the only one?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not My Babies, But I Love Them as if They Are

Watching the rain . . .

Our Cheesiest Grins

Just Me and the Boys
My Zoe Girl

A Phone Conversation I had with Zoe:
Zoe: Hi Shelley.
Me: What are you doing?
Zoe: I'm shopping. Guess what?
Me: What is it?
Zoe: (Screaming in excitement) We bought donuts!
Me: You what?
Zoe: (Screaming a little less): We bought donuts!
Me: Those will be yummy! Guess what I'm doing?
Zoe: What is it?
Me: I'm shopping for a birthday!
Zoe: *Gasps*
Me: A girl's birthday that's coming up soon.
Zoe: *Gasps*
Me: What might a girl want for her birthday?
Zoe: (Screams) Everything! Bye, Shelley, Love you!
At which point Jenni takes the phone and tells me Zoe really does want everything. How cute!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Because Sometimes I Need a Laugh

So, the other night I was out with a bunch of friends. We were going to a formal dance in our party dresses, and therefore, nobody had pockets. Well, I did want to take a piece of gum with me, so I put it in my bra (along with a few other things). Somewhere down the evening, I mentioned something about, "Oh, it's in my second purse," to which a girl replied, "Oh, your brocket?" I about died laughing right there. I don't know why, but that word just makes me giggle. Now, I know there may be some very confused men out there right now (if there are any reading this, that is). So, here's the definition of a brocket, provided by It also makes me laugh.
BROCKET: When one uses their bra as a pocket, it is called a "brocket". A common requirement to having a brocket is to have boobs.
Man: Can you carry my cell? Woman: I don't have any pockets. Man: Put it in your brocket.

Have a great day! :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Things to Smile About

My Grandma Wood, in her decreasing sanity, thinks that bottled water is the most ridiculous and hilarious thing on earth. Just even mention the words bottled water, and she used to laugh almost to the point of crying. I'm pretty sure she still thinks this. Anyway, today I saw a coupon for canned air. She would surely get a kick out of that! We're bottling and selling all these seemingly useless resources that are, in essence, free. :)

Today, I was showing my class an explicit example of what I wanted them to do. I said, "I want you to write your name here," as I'm putting my marker to paper, "Just like this!" And I proceeded to write Michelle--which is normal because it's my name--and then realizing I'd written that instead of Miss Husbands, quickly colored over it and wrote Miss Husbands. One girl sitting near the front began to laugh hysterically. I just turned and looked at her, and she said, "You wrote your real name!" She was laughing, I was laughing, my class was trying to guess my name, which they did, and we all had a short laugh. It was funny, awkward, and human. Have I mentioned how much I love my little class this year?

I heart my roommates; whichever one of them scraped my car off this morning is a saint. Too bad I slept in forever and didn't get to appreciate the full effect. Yes, I had to scrape my car again. :) This cement-like frost has got to go. It's going to be a long winter.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

General Conference this weekend was wonderful! I had the opportunity to go to the Conference Center and listen to the Sunday morning session. Before the session started, we were able to listen to Music and the Spoken Word. The theme of the program today focused around the song Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and talked about the Lord's help in our lives. It was a wonderful program! Then, a wonderful session of conference. Right now, my heart is full. Here is the wonderful message from Music and the Spoken Word today.

Hither by Thy Help I'm Come
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell
Some 3,000 years ago, Samuel the prophet led ancient Israel to victory over a powerful enemy. Samuel placed a large stone at the place of their deliverance and dedicated it as a monument to God’s assistance. He called the stone “Eben-ezer,” which meant “stone of help.” The stone became a symbol of the Lord’s goodness and strength.
This practice of raising memorials to divine help has deep roots in ancient Israel. Generations earlier, after the Israelites crossed the mighty Jordan River on dry ground and entered the promised land, their leader, Joshua, commanded the people to gather 12 stones from the river and build a monument. He explained that the purpose of the monument was to build faith in future generations, that “when [their] children ask . . . in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?” they could tell their children how the Lord helped them in their hour of need. The beloved hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” alludes to this biblical practice with these words:
Here I raise my Ebenezer;Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.Life is full of rivers to cross, full of challenges to overcome. However, those who see with an eye of faith understand that they did not cross their rivers alone. In a way, each of us could raise an Ebenezer, a memorial of the divine assistance, heavenly favor, and forgiveness extended to us. It may not be a monument of stone—indeed, hearts filled with humility and gratitude are the most meaningful memorials. Whatever form our memorial takes, acknowledging the help we’ve received renews our hope that by His good pleasure and in His due time, we will safely arrive at home.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When Mom's Away

This is what happened when both of my sisters left the house at the same time. One baby saying, "Bye, Mom! Bye, Mom!" and the other sucking on his hand, whining a bit wondering where his mom is going. They were standing there for about five minutes! It was so stinking cute! Then, we had snacks and everything was fine. These boys LOVE popcorn! Oh, and one is wondering how much cookie he can get in his mouth at once.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm home. My vacation was wonderful, and I had a fantastic time. More pictures to come, hopefully sooner than later. But, I am home. I definitely know that I love living in America, and more specifically, Utah. Maybe this is where I'm supposed to be because no matter where I travel, I just love coming home to here. What a beautiful and clean state I live in. Lucky me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Today we got up early and took the bus across town to attend church. Church was from 10 to 1, and the people were very friendly. The ward was an older ward, with only just a handful of children. The lessons were wonderful, although it was exhausting listening to the Irish accent for three hours straight. A few of the older sisters that we talked to had visited Salt Lake City and one had even lived there for forty years. She was born here, lived downtown Salt Lake for most of her life, and moved back to Ireland to retire. There was also a sister missionary there from Hyde Park in Logan. I guess it just goes to show that it's a small, small world after all.
After church, we just hung out at the hotel, napping and reading, and then I went for a walk a bit later. Pretty uneventful day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Giant Excursion

Today we got up early, again, to go on a tour to the Giant's Causeway. Our tickets said that our bus departed at 9am. Well, when we got there at 8:50, they said, "Oh, it may be about 9:45 at this location." So, we walked over to the other location and were told, "It will be about 10 just around the corner." So, bascially, we just stood around forever trying to figure out where our coach was leaving from. Who knows where they were. Maybe they were just fittering about. Thursday, when we came in from the ferry, one of the bus guys said everyone in Scotland runs late. I guess he really wasn't kidding.

I love Asian tourists. While we were waiting, there was a group of Asian tourists who all quickly piled off the bus, took about 200 flashing photos while saying, "Ohhh . . . ahhh . . . ohhh," and then quickly climbed back on the bus, drove about three blocks, and did the same thing. They are so cute and funny to watch. Plus they are all about 5 feet tall. I feel giant. I kind of wish that I could be on their tour bus.

We got started on the tour at about 10:20 and stopped soon after that to look at another castle. We only had ten minutes, and by the time everyone got off the bus, we had about five minutes left. I didn't even get off the bus because I have enough castle pictures, and this castle wasn't that impressive. Our tour guide said that many of the guides joke about ABC tours: Another Bloody Castle. That made me laugh a bit.

We drove down to a small seaside town called Carrick-a-rede. There was a rope bridge that we could cross, but I didn't do it. We didn't have a ton of time there, and I was feeling a wee bit car sick. Our bus had problems with the air conditioning, and it smelled a bit like a gym locker. It was nice to walk along the cliffs of the beach and just get some fresh air.

We finally arrived at Giant's Causeway where we had lunch at the Causeway Hotel. After, we walked down the trail to the beach and causeway. It was beautiful! I wish that we would have spent the entire day here instead of going anywhere else! We were there for about 2 and a half hours, including lunch, and it was only enough time to do the first part of the trail. That place is just enormous! Here are some pictures and a short video of parts of the trail along Giant's Causeway.

Here are the Basalt Stepping Stones.

This is me relaxing on The Giant's Boot.

I know, I need to do a slideshow! That will be later for those, if any, that are interested.

Here are some pictures of a castle called Dunluc Castle. We didn't have time to walk down to it, only to take pictures. Sad! This is one that I would have liked to go in. Maybe because it's old and falling apart and not modernized. Misty, I know you will like that because it's kind of like erosion. :)

On the way home, I basically slept the whole way. Just more mountains and rolling hills, and one non-carsick girl.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Friday, September 11, 2009

Today, I slept in! Yes, I think that sleeping in and naps are underrated. I think they are especially underrated when you don't feel well, which is the case today. I have a horrible chest cough. Hopefully I feel better soon and haven't picked up some strange foreign disease from the UK. Anyway, it was nice to sleep in because every day we've been up early and out doing something. I like to just relax on vacation.

At about 11, I walked down to St. George's Market which is a craft market that is held on Friday's in a corner of the city centre. It was actually a craft market and food market. I walked around looking at a few of the crafts, but there was nothing that I was crazy about. Then, I walked through the food sections. I have never seen so many types of fresh seafood in my life! I'm pretty sure I had the deer in the headlights look. There were squid, octopus, all types of shellfish, crabs, lobster, monkfish, salmon, prawns, shrimp, and a lot of things that I had no idea what they were. I think that I'll have to actually try more seafood one of these days. It would have to be in a city that is by the sea because I want it to be fresh! Today is not that day, but oh well!

After spending a few hours walking through the market, I bought a sandwich, soup, and rolls and came back to the hotel. Basically, the rest of my day went like this: lunch, sleep, sleep, drink, sleep, sleep, dinner, sleep, sleep, TV, sleep. Yep, I basically slept all day. I really needed it, especially since I was feeling so crappy! I hate it because I didn't come here to sleep, but when you're sick, you're sick. I can't tell if I'm getting better, but the sleep sure helped!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Land, Ho!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today we rode the ferry from Stranraer to Belfast. The journey took about 2 hours and was calm the whole way. I was disappointed that we couldn't stand up top or on the sides. We could stand on the back of the ship, so here is a picture of that. It was pretty noisy though!
We took the hop on/hop off bus from the airport and around the city for the tour. It was the worst tour ever! We were sitting on top because it was a nice day. Then, they got on the expressway, and it was freezing! I had my hoodie zipped up and tightened around my face because it was so windy that my hair was practically braiding itself and the wind was turning my ears purple with cold.

Even though it was freezing, here are some of the things that I did learn. Belfast was the port city that built the Titanic. We saw the dry dock where the ship was built. The guide said, "Even though the Titanic was built here, we insist that it was fine when it left. That ship had an English Captain, a Scottish navigator, and hit a Canadian iceberg. We had nothing to do with it's sinking."
Other lame jokes, or slow torture, given by our guide:
Q: What's red and bad for your teeth? A: A brick.
Q: What's brown and sticky? A: A stick.

We got to see the Irish Parliment building. It was huge! Apparently, during WWII, the building was covered with manure, poop, and mud to hide it from the bombers that were flying over. The guide added, "If they would have opened their cockpits, they would have smelled it from a mile away." It is quite a beautiful building. There was heavy security, too. Our bus was searched, and for a minute I thought they were going to take our backpacks, but they didn't.

We drove through the town, and basically saw a bunch of murals and blown up buildings and car parks where the buildings used to be. Our guide said that during the civil war here about 10 years ago, if a building was blown up, they just turned it into a car park (parking lot). Apparently, Belfast has the best city parking of any large city around these parts.

The tour was basically a short history tour of the fighting that went on here during the civil war. We were told about all of the groups that were fighting: IRA, IRC, etc. Then, the guide said, "Even though many of these groups are no longer around, there is one group that is still going strong here in Belfast. It's the KFC, and their leader, the Colonel, is working hard to blow people up." Cheesy, but a bit funny. I admit, I laughed.

We drove by this church which has the biggest Celtic cross in the world. However, they also have a huge spire that was added to the building called the Hope Spire. This was added to remember the victims of the September 11 attacks in the United States. It's interesting to see and hear what other people around the world think about this event. We talked with a couple about it on the train the other day. I guess I didn't realize how much other people in other countries were impacted as much as they were. I guess it's because we all could have been on those planes or in the towers.

We truly live in a wonderful country. I love it here, but I love home more. I miss the beautiful Rocky Mountains and my beautiful state more each day.

What a day! First of all, the numbers just line up. September is a great month for numbers. I like it.
It's exhausting listening to people speak in a foreign language! Yes, I know that they speak English here, but with the thick accents, it takes extra brain power to listen and process what people are saying! More then once I've had to say, "Say that again," or "Slow down. I'm American." Usually people just laugh.
I had part of a traditional Scottish breakfast this morning. It consisted of a baked tomato, mushroom, potato scone, and a fried egg. I say part of a breakfast because I just couldn't eat it. I'm feeling sick lately. It's like a got bus sick and never got over it. I just woke up sick feeling. Blah.
We walked a bit around Loch Lomond today. The weather was beautiful for once! I actually felt the warm sun on my face! We walked to the pier and saw a few of the boats. We saw a group from Glascow College learning how to kyak and canoe in the loch. When we walked by about two hours later, they were still there! It makes me feel better about my canoe mishaps in the past.

While on the train for about four hours, we were able to see a lot of scenic Scotland. Very rural and hilly. I love the mountains. I love the rolling hills. And life is a musical.

We took the train from Balloch to Glascow to Ayr to Stranraer where we are staying the night at another bed and breakfast. Our train pulled right out onto the pier, where the line ended. It was beautiful! On recommendation from a local, we went to a Chinese/Cantonese place for dinner called Sun Kai. I had the orange chicken, and it was like breaded chicken in orange juice with pineapple. It was suprisingly quite good. Probably the best dinner that I've had yet in Scotland.

Tomorrow we're off to Belfast! Sorry, pictures later. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On the Road Again

Monday, September 7
Today, we rode the bus. Exciting and new, I know. After doing our laundry, we took a bus 2 and a half hours south to the town of Fort William. The same route we came home on yesterday. Yes, I was extremely bus sick. No, I didn't barf on the bus. However, I have reaffirmed my decision to have purchased a car and be contributing to the rise of greenhouse gases.

We had dinner at a small pub called Loch Iall. I had a chicken breast with BBQ sauce, chips (fries), and coleslaw. It's only the third time I've had a sit down dinner or lunch since we've been here--9 days now! Yesterday, we didn't want to have to buy food on Sunday, so we had apples, cheese, and bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The day before that, we had cheese and bread. I'm pretty sick of cheese and bread. I actually would love a nice salad or a big plate of veggies!
Well, it's about eight o'clock and the town has gone to bed. So, since I'm not going out to a pub, I guess I'll just be here at the hotel, watching bad British comedies and drinking hot chocolate.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Today we rode the Hogwart's Express . . . or the Jacobite Steam Train. You decide. We rode it to Mallaig, which is right on the coast. It was so cold and windy! Here are some pictures and videos of the ride and standing on the seashore.

Our train got back at 4, and at 5 we caught a bus to take us to the outskirts of Balloch. I have never been so close to throwing up on a bus! I think our bus driver thought he was a race car driver. Two plus hours on a narrow, mountainous road in the rain is not my idea of a good time. Hours later, as I am sitting here in my bed at the B&B, I'm still trying not to loose my earlier lunch of fish and chips. I could not be more excited to get on another long bus ride tomorrow . . . or something.

It's All True

Sunday, September 6, 2009
Today we took a tour to the Isle of Skye. We were on this tour all day--and I'm not kidding--from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. It was the longest stinking beautiful bus ride I've ever taken in my whole life! Vomit.

We started out of Inverness and headed North. Our first stop was to see a mountain range called The Sleeping Maiden. You can see her feet, knees, boosom, and face. I didn't think it was worth getting out of the bus to photograph, but many people did. Our bus driver, Allison, had this to say about the mountain's name and those who named it: "Personally, I think they had a wee bit o' whisky."

We headed on up into the highlands. The tour bus had a narration as we drove along, and it was talking about the main industry in the area. People could be in four areas: 1)Farming, 2)Tourism, 3)Walkers, or 4)Stalkers. He went on to explain all of the industries, with walking being catering to those people who like to walk and hike through the highlands. He then went to say, "And when I say stalking, I don't mean obsessively following celebrities. Stalking refers to hunting and killing the 50,000 of the 300,000 red deer population in the area." So, basically, stalking is hunting, but it was funny nonetheless.
Speaking of stalking, our next stop was at a hunting lodge/hotel in the middle of nowhere. It was a beautiful place where the walls were decorated with stag busts from the 1920's to the 1930's. Out back, there were a couple shetland ponies who fascinated the Asian tourists that were with us. They were even more fascinated with the fact that I got the ponies to come up to me and let me pet them. My secret? An apple core from my breakfast snack. That outside adventure didn't last long because, surpise, surprise, it started to rain. The rain here is such a fine mist, you almost mistake it for snow. But, it's wet and cold and constant, so we hopped back on the bus.

The house in this next picture is the old ferry captain's house for the Strome Ferry. This ferry was in operation until the current roads were built, but is no longer. The sign says: Strome Ferry (no ferry). Go figure. Anyway, this house is apparently seen in many pictures and paintings throughout Scotland.

This bridge, the Skye Bridge, connects the Isle of Skye with the mainland of Scotland. It was built with the same architecture as the main bridge in Sydney, Australia.
The next picture is of a shell of a castle called Armadale Castle of the Donald clan, also known as MacDonalds (not the food chain!). From what I read, most of the castle was destroyed by a fire, but they are working on eventually rebuilding it. In the meantime, the ruins are being overtaken by beautiful plants.

Next, we stopped on a beach where there were also ruins of a castle. Here I am on the beach with the ruins behind me. On the beach, we saw a lot of mussles and some type of red squishy snail like creature, but without the shell. I asked our driver what they were, and she said she didn't know and proceeded to squish one to find out. Yeah, it was just a squishy red something. I'll have to google that later. She wanted everyone to take a small rock with them or something from the beach. She said she had this vision of a piece of Skye all over the world, but I was not carrying a stinky piece of rock in my bag. Nope, not doing it. I told her I had photos. She eventually let me on the bus.

We had a bus of photo-happy tourists. Seriously, we had to stop so everyone could take pictures of this Heilan cow. We probably spent ten minutes there with people taking pictures of this cow. Me? I stayed on the bus. Shelley asked me to take a picture, so I used my handy dandy camera zoom and took this picture. Moo.

The roads were so narrow! Most of the way, it's single lane with a passing place every tenth of a mile or so. We had a couple scary passing places with a few other vehicles!
I was amazed at how far the tide had receeded from high tide to low tide. Here we are at another stop, Isle Ornsay. It's known for its whiskey distillery and art gallery. Here is a picture of how drastic the tide change is during the day. Also, one of Scotland's oldest lighthouses, built by the family of Robert Lewis Stevenson.

Next, we stopped at the famous-most-photographed Eilean Donan Castle. The castle is mostly ruins and has been rebuilt sometime during the 1900's. Basically, I don't know much about it, but I do know that it was beautiful.

Then, we stopped at some old abandoned bridge and saw a stone gazebo, bridge, and a raging river. I don't know exactly where we were or whatnot because I may or may not have been sleeping. Remember? Bus=vomit.

Then, to end the day, we drove along the shore of Loch Ness. That's right. The one and only. Here is a picture of the beautiful loch, and if you're still reading, I think you should be rewarded. Don't worry, I saved the best picture for last. Now, I know it's been rumored that this is hard to photograph, but it's actually true! I had to grab my camera so fast! Here she is: Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. Have a look. Cool, huh. You can see the body at the bottom and the neck to left.
Just another day in Scotland.

Locks of the Loch

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Today we took a bus to the village of Fort Augustus. Actually, we took a bus to the village of Invergarry and then waited an hour, and then caught the bus back to Fort Augustus. Yep, that's right. We missed our stop. Who knew? They just stop and drive and expect you to know when to get off. I'd been been paying attention, but didn't see any signs for the town until we were just past it. We were only seven miles away, but there was no footpath to walk, and it was in a very woody area, so we chose to wait 50 minutes for the bus. Then, I had to explain to the bus driver that we were stupid Americans and had missed our stop and please could we ride for free back? He was very sympathetic to our cause. Here is our bus stop in the middle of nowhere.

When we finally got to Fort Augustus, we went to a shop called Iceberg where they blow glass. I watched a man blow a small vase and also a small figurine of Nessie the Loch Ness monster! It was pretty cool. I bought a small necklace of a teardrop of blown glass.

As I was walking out of the shop, I noticed the road was gone. Yep, they were bringing two yachts into the canal locks. The locks go from the end of Loch Ness up to Moray Firth. There were about six locks that I could see without walking the length of the canal. It was awesome to see the locks working and the boats moving through. The sections emptied and filled rather quickly and the locks moved quickly. For the lack of a better word, it was just neat!

Tomorrow we are going to the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, another castle, and other places. I feel kind of grumpy and crazy like, and I think it's because I'm so tired of traveling! I just want to relax and spend time doing nothing instead of go-go-going all of the time. Oh well. I guess I can sleep when I'm old or dead. :) We tried to find a church, but there are none around here. No branches or wards anyway. We're just planning to go in Belfast next week. We did buy food for tomorrow so that we won't have to buy it on Sunday. That's a good compromise.

Scottish Oddities

What's so hard about making hot and cold water come out of the same tap? Seriously people. At most places, hot is on the left side of the sink, cold is on the right. If you want some combo, you have to like grab some cold, and then try to get a little hot. The hot water is boiling hot. Your other choice is to plug the sink, fill it up with the temperature you want, then wash, and unplug. That's just a lot of hassle to wash your hands. Plus, who wants to fill up a sink and wash where tons of other people have washed? The whole system is just a bit weird. Plus, at places where hot and cold come out together, it's like hot then cold then hot then cold like it can't decide.

There is gum everywhere on the streets here! The sidewalks look like they are paved with small cobblestones, but really, it's just old gum. I saw a sign for a gum bin (a litter bin just for gum) that said, "Throw your gum here. Help save 30,000 pounds a year in gum removal." Seriously? They spend that much just removing gum? It's a serious problem. I'm baffled that people just spit their gum out on the ground. I guess they would just expect to step in it a lot, also. I seriously think they should consider not selling gum here.

A girl taught me a new Scottish word today. It is faff. She said that it means to fiddle about, messing around and not doing what you should be doing. For example, if my students were chatting instead of working, I could say they were faffing about. The less extreme version of faff would be footer (but it sounds like "fitter" the way they say it). So, you could be footering about all day instead of being productive.

I also learned that you can go skiing in northern Scotland. However, you would always want to call ahead to make sure they actually have snow. A guy on the train, Tim, told us that the highest mountain point in Scotland was between 4 and 5,000 feet high. We giggled a bit about that one. He also told us that the best place to see Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, was in the gift shop.

The Scottish really don't drink that many soft drinks. The only real choices are Sprite, Diet Coke, Coke, and Fanta. Oh boy, these people like their Fanta. I got a bottle of so-called orange Fanta, but it's pretty much yellow and tastes like our Squirt. It's really not that great. Good thing for Sprite! Really, they have their own soda, Irn Bru, which tastes like bubble gum. I was told that they wanted to market it in the USA, but the FDA wouldn't approve an ingredient. Go go FDA. I'm not sure I would approve it either. Grape soda? Anyone?

People here carry an umbrella like we would carry our purses or cell phones. People always have umbrellas in their hands. I can totally understand why, as it's been raining about 90 percent of the time that we've been here. I think that we have had a total of 5 to 6 hours of sunlight. Of all the things I bought for this trip, I've used my umbrella the most. I don't like it. I thought that I could live in a city like Seattle, where it's always raining, but I now know that it's not the case! It's pretty gloomy!

By the way, I think the mullet is coming back. At least in Scotland and maybe the UK. I have seen several while here, and had to stare at the back of one on a bus for about 10 hours. This whole trip, I just didn't want to look like a scrounge or a camper, but apparently, everyone here looks a little scroungy, thrown together, and damp. They look as if they just got up, threw themselves together, and off they went. Maybe it's because they have to deal with rain every day, and getting ready is just not worth it. Maybe I'm just vain.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just another day in Scotland

Well, I have lots of updates, but they are on my computer. So, until I find a wifi connection around here, that's where they will stay. I'm currently doing laundry at a launderette in Inverness, Scotland. Oh, how I love having clean clothes. I think it revitalizes a person to wear clean clothes that smell fresh.
We've been traveling like mad, or at least it feels that way. At least today is sunny! I can actually wear capris and a t-shirt and not feel cold. It's the first day of really good weather that we have had. And we are spending most of it on the bus. :(
Today we are traveling to a small town where we will stay the night, and tomorrow we will take the Harry Potter train! Woot woo!
I can't believe the trip is half way over! Everywhere I go, I think of how beautiful it is, but I still miss home. I just love Utah (and America). It's so beautiful!
My time is running out, so hopefully I will be able to put up my real posts and pictures soon. Cheers!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rain with a bit of Sunshine

I don't entirely remember what day it is. :) That's the beauty of vacation, I guess.
Today brought better weather. We actually saw the sun shining for a few hours today!
This morning, Brian of the B&B made me a fried egg and sausage for breakfast. I love sausage, but not Scottish sausage! It was not so great. After breakfast, I chatted with Brian a bit about how to get around the city, and told him that I noticed they do long-arm machine quilting (Mom--this post is for you), he proceeded to get his wife, Carole, who took us out back to the quilting shop. She showed us how to work the long-arm quilter and let us practice. I wrote my name. She said that people come for holiday and bring their quilts, and she shows them how to finish the quilts and teaches them. Then, people can do it themselves. Who knew! I should have brought my finished quilt tops to Scotland. :) Then, she took us to the local fabric shop. It was small, and I didn't want to buy anything, but I felt I should because she took us down there! We have way more of the same fabric in the U.S. but oh well! I bought some buttons that will hopefully match a quilt I'm working on.

Anyway, then Carole dropped us off at the William Wallace Monument. Anyway, Brian and Carole were extremely nice. It's fun to get to know local people and have them tell you more about the town. We left them a CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It wasn't where we were going to stay, but ended up being the best place for us!

After walking back to the B&B from the monument, we picked up our backpacks and walked into town. I definitely packed too much. Ugh! We were going to store our bags at the bus station, but all of the lockers were full. We walked through town, and ended up eating lunch at a little place called the Shake Bar. We met a guy from Turkey who spoke with a Scottish accent. He was quite hilarious. Part of me thinks it was because I am also funny. :) I had a panini for lunch with a Scottish soft drink called IRN BRU. It tasted like bubble gum. Actually, it tasted almost exactly like Inca Kola from Peru. Weird, I know. It was not good, but it was a drink. We actually came back later and had shakes--a caramel shortbread cake shake--and he laughed again at our accents. He kept saying, "Good" but it sounded like "Gud" and we were all laughing. I know, it's probably only funny if you were there. I was, and it was funny.

Now, we are on the train headed to Inverness. The train takes a little over two hours, but has been delayed because of flooding in different cities along the way. We should get there tonight (Friday) at about 8:30pm, or something depending on how many delays we have. We're currently stopped right now. :)

Caution: Slippery When Wet

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pretty much all day I've been trying to keep myself upright while walking through the streets of Edinburgh and Stirling. It's been raining nonstop all day, and the cobblestone streets and cement walkways are so slippery in the shoes that I'm wearing. Try balancing yourself while carrying a 30 pound backpack. I know, it's worse than carrying a small child! I obviously overpacked! I just about threw out my back trying to stay upright. I may or may not have had two Scottish men smirking at my efforts to stay upright.
Today we checked out of our hotel, the Cairn Hotel, in Edinburgh and caught the 11:05 bus to Stirling. We rode the bus for about an hour. For the last part, there were two old ladies sitting in the seats in front of me, and I swear they were speaking another language. Come to find out, they were just speaking with the thickest Scottish accent that I've heard yet. Seriously, it was like, "Blah blah blahbbity blah washing machine blahbbity blah blah." For the longest time I couldn't tell if they really were speaking with a thick accent or just speaking in a different language and sometimes in English. I think the farther we get into Northern Scotland, the less ability I have to understand people.

In Stirling, it was raining. Surprise, surprise. We left our bags in a locker at the bus station and walked around town a bit. I had an empanada type pastry, called a pasty, for lunch. It was nice to have something warm after being soaked. We pretty much walked all over and climbed the back of the hill to the castle. The maps we had were not to scale and just sucked. We got lost and ended up walking all over which probably would have been okay had I not been wearing slippery shoes and my leg didn't hurt so much (old injury). Basically, I felt pretty miserable all day because I was cold, wet, tired, wet, hungry, and wet. It was fantastic.

After a bit, we caught a taxi to take us to the B&B, and it's a good thing because we surely would have been lost! I asked our taxi driver what he liked to do around town and places to eat, and I couldn't understand a word of his response. I just nodded and said, "Oh. Uh huh." There's that awesome ability to understand people coming back.

For dinner, we took the recommendation of our host at the B&B, Brian, and went to a local place called The Birds & The Bees. I had fajitas for dinner. They were excellent! The we walked back to our B&B where we went to bed. Not an exciting day. I didn't even take any pictures. So, here are some of my favorites from earlier in the week. One is Edinburgh, the next is a small church in Bamburgh, England, and the last is also in England and is me in a phone booth (I was trying to look through the glass that was not tinted) with the Bamburgh Castle behind me. Dorky, I know.