Jeff and I celebrated our second anniversary this weekend. I proposed spending each anniversary in a different country; we have already checked off the US and now Scotland, so going forward may require some creativity. Jeff is slightly skeptical, but I like a good challenge.
We originally talked about trying to fly to Paris for the weekend, it sounds grand and romantic, but in the midst of our deadlines we started to look a little closer to home. St Andrews is gorgeous and a pretty incredible place to live, but I have fallen in love with the west coast.
Pictures don’t really do the sweeping landscapes justice. Our drives usually result in me spending four hours from coast to coast with my nose pressed against the glass audibly oooing.
When we were in Scotland last year, we went to Mull and Iona, two islands in the southern Hebrides. They were both breathtaking, and ever since we have wanted to go back to the isles. This despite a bit of poor academic timing seemed like a good of an excuse as any.
We choose Islay. The Whiskey Island. Population 3000 and home to 8 different distilleries. Now, I know on first glance this seems like a trip unfairly skewed towards Jeff’s interests, but I was a very willing participant.
On our first trip west this year, we literally happened upon a small distillery in a small village in the center of Scotland. This was the first time I had truly enjoyed Scotch. Mostly due to the fact that their tasting was paired with hand crafted chocolate. Dalwhinne grew on me very quickly.
It was there that we got sucked in. Dalwhinnie has 11 sister distilleries, meaning really that one large conglomerate owns them all. If you singed up for their friends of the classic malt club, they gave you a passport and a free tour and dram at each. Yes, I felt like I was in elementary school, but this ingenious plan has two of my favorite elements: free things and check lists (and passport stamps if I am being completely honest). Plus, if you visited all twelve they sent you a shiny Scottish quiach. But really more than anything these 12 distilleries were strategically placed so that if we visited them all we could experience just a little bit of everything Scotland offered. With that, we began a quest. What can I say, we are goal oriented.
When our dear friends Phil and Maureen visited from Ventura, we took them to Blair Athol in the adorable town of Pitlockery.
Islay would add two more off of our list. So yes, we basically chose our anniversary destination off of a marketing strategy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Without it we may have missed one of the most striking places I have ever been.
We left Friday night after I finished work. Already dark at 5:00 we began to make our way across Scotland. We weren’t in any hurry as I had book a B&B in the tiny town where would leave on the ferry at 7:00 the next morning. One thing you realize quickly in Scotland is that despite being a pretty small country the middle bit is quite sparsely populated and in the winter time the amount of outside, passing through traffic is quite slim. We only really remembered this as we drove through Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and the gas light came on. We stopped at an inn where their very friendly staff informed us that there weren’t any gas stations open for at least 40 miles and that they wouldn’t re-open till 8:00 the next morning. We then drove 40 miles out of our way to Oban, with me a mess, planning at every turn where we would spend the night, broken down in the car. Thankfully, we glided right into the rare 24 hour gas station, but our detour meant that we arrived in Taybert after midnight. Though I had sent an email early in the evening about our late arrival, our B&B hosts were quite understandably already asleep. Thankfully, we caught the night manager of a hotel down the road still up at the next door pub. So my fear of sleeping in the car was averted again. Of course, the next morning we over slept a little bit and caught the ferry just as it was loading up.
It was only a slightly rocky start to the weekend, but the next two days were completely worth a little added stress.
We visited Lagavulvin of Parks and Rec fame and tried the smokey, peety whiskey the island is famous for.
And did a private tasting at Coal Ila with a wonderful group of people who knew way more about whiskey than we did.
We tried wiskey straight from the cask. This particularly cask has been in their dram room for 26 years. It was lovely.
But mostly, we just drove around the island’s beautiful bays in search of highland cows.
And 1300 year old celtic crosses
A woke up to post card perfect views.
I can’t think of a better way to spend our second anniversary. The last two years have been beautiful. Not to get too sentimental, but we are both here today because we push each other to be better. Two years ago, I said these words and I think we have done well by them.
“… Jeffery, I love you and for these reasons and a thousand more, I vow today to be your life’s partner. To encourage and support you through existential crises, Raiders losses and Bronco victories. To celebrate with you life’s greatest joys. I vow to give my heart and my time to you and to the community we serve. To love and care for those you love and care for. I promise to never stop growing and thinking and challenging us to be better. I promise to always seek to experience new things, new places and new ideas, even if the unknown makes me very nervous. I vow to stand with you through all things to love you with every fiber of my being for all the days of my life.
I take you Jeffery Scott Porter, to be my husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. I will love and cherish you, and only you, when we are together and when we are apart; when our lives are at peace and when they are in turmoil; when I am proud of you and when I am disappointed in you. I will honor your goals and dreams and help you to fulfill them, for as long as we both shall live.”
I am looking forward to the next days in our grand adventure, and I am so grateful for the man who is my partner in it all.