Project#2, Snapshot#5: Tough American

After a nice, perhaps too long, hiatus, I am back, and my keyboard and my conscience are kicking my butt with vengeance. Finals are over, moving is done, waitress job has begun, and between serving gyros and trying new recipes, I will hopefully commit myself to writing for the rest of the summer.

Let’s see. I left off wandering into the night with my two new German friends, Toby and Stephen. After wandering the night, Toby became frantic looking for a place to watch the sunrise from. After a few failed ideas, in the growing grey light we threw ourselves into the side of a steep, very tall hill and began to run. With our packs on. Uphill.

Stephen ran ahead with the camera, and Toby decided either to be a gentleman and help me or to help me to get himself to the top faster. What was really happening was him pushing my pack up from behind while it was attached to my back, making me stumble and go slower. I insisted I could do it and raced him up with a smile on my face. I admit part of it was wanting to impress him. Also I was just having a grand old time racing the sun to the top of that hill.

We didn’t go all the way to the top. We didn’t need to. We had the most stunning view from the outcrop we made ours. Admittedly the sunrise wasn’t as much of a sunrise as it was a gradual lighting of the city to a less-grey grey. But it was beautiful none-the-less. So we sat and talked and they praised my sense of adventure.

Toby looked at me through corner of his eye and said, “You’re a tough American. Not many people can keep up with us like this.” And that, to me, was the very highest praise they could have given me.

They then invited me to go to Inverness with them. They were planning on swimming in Loch Ness and finding the monster, they said. Since I had no plans other than to be in Oxford in a few days to visit a friend, and I was having the time of my life, I shrugged my shoulders and said “Why not!” After all, this is why I didn’t plan my trip ahead of time. So I would be free to grab incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunities just like this one. So we headed to the train station, where I bought an overpriced ticket to Inverness.

In Inverness and terribly underfed all of us, we found a little diner and had a traditional Scottish breakfast (which was one of the weirdest looking meals I’ve ever seen). Waiting for the bus to Loch Ness, Toby once again praised my toughness, peering at my faithful orange pack holding five weeks of necessities. They were only traveling for two weeks and were both carrying much more than me. He couldn’t believe it.

After a couple of days of climbing over fences and scaling castle walls, we parted ways. I was sad to see the backs of them, but was eager to get on the road on my own again. I was also exhausted from trying to keep up with them. I would never tell them that, though.

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