Scotland 8: Day 24, The Conclusion

03.25.20 | Home | 23:47

I woke up after about nine hours of sleep! Nine hours isn’t usually something that my body requires, but I think lugging my backpack all around London wiped me out.

I got all my things ready and checked out of the hostel. One night is not enough time to spend in London. I’ll have to make it part of the planning for my next go-round. I just hope that the next go-round won’t be cut short by any viruses.

Heathrow has no lines and no waits. It was amazing to walk right up to the ticket counter and right up to the security line. I guess there is the silver lining on this whole debacle. In no time at all, I was in the gate area, buying cookies for the crew.

When Norwegian has to cancel my original flight home, I booked my Delta flight from London to Detroit, and then to Salt Lake City. Yesterday that first flight got canceled, and so They changed me to fly from London to Atlanta to Detroit and finally to Salt Lake City. Yes, it was annoying to be given that extra leg, but I knew that they were doing their best to get me home.

About halfway from London to Atlanta, I was looking at my itinerary, and I noticed that they had me missing my Detroit flight by about an hour! This would have meant that I’d have to spend a night in Detroit, and I was hoping that this wouldn’t happen.

I started doing research, connected to the plane’s wifi and noticed that there were still at least two nonstop flights from Atlanta to Salt Lake City after we were supposed to be landing in Atlanta. I jumped in Delta’s app, and after having to wait in line for about an hour and a half, I managed to get to chat with a customer service agent.

She was able to change me to one of the nonstops to SLC. Now I’m back in my original plan of only having to take two flights to get home! I’m so thankful that my first plane had working wifi available!

I need to hand it to my first crew! The flight crews were terrific, and even though it took a long time to get through to customer service, they were able to make things right! I know that they are working their fingers to the bone to get passengers home in the wake of this coronavirus disaster- so kudos!

My second crew, on the other hand, were not as good. When I dropped off treats, the flight attendant barely even acknowledged me- no big deal, I guess. Also, they didn’t even seem like they wanted to be there. It was such a contrast from the first group. I wish I hadn’t wasted the chocolate on them.

I am now home and getting ready to fall asleep. There is no way I could adequately describe how tired I am. I have so much on my mind. What have I learned from this trip?

1. Be flexible in your travels

2. Always pay the extra price in case you need to cancel or change your plans (no penalty)

3. Always talk to strangers

4. Remember that travel is about the journey, not just the destination

And with that- I’m off to bed.

Scotland 8: Day 23

03.24.20 | London, England | 20:53

When I got to Glasgow Central Station this morning, I couldn’t see my 08:00 train listed on the board. I noticed that there had been an earlier one to London that had been canceled. I admit that I was a little bit worried that all the trains may be canceled because of the coronavirus mess.

I found an employee, and after doing some research, he told me that my train’s time was changed to 08:40, but was still running. That was a relief! He then told me there was one leaving in about 5 minutes and that if I hurried, I could catch that one instead.

As I approached the lady with my ticket, she asked me, “Is your travel absolutely necessary?” I told her that I was flying out of London, back to my home in the states, so unless she wanted to book me a plane ticket out of Glasgow, then yes, my travel was necessary. Needless to say, the train was very light. There were only five of us in this particular car. Just before we left the station, an employee came through and asked that we all remain at least two meters apart on the ride. He even separated a couple who is traveling together.

Getting all the way to Euston Station in London takes just under 5 hours if I was paying attention. I was lost in a movie for most of the ride, however. When we arrived, I was bound and determined to walk the 3.2 miles to my hostel. This was quite an accomplishment since I had my big ole pack on my back. I only stopped once to take off my coat, so I’m pretty proud of myself. When I arrived, they let me check in a bit early. I just wanted to get off my feet for a few minutes.

I didn’t spend very much time in my room. This is London, after all. I’m only here for one night, so I wanted to make the most of it. I walked to Westminster Abbey, Elizabeth Tower, and took a look at the London Eye. As expected, nothing was open. I couldn’t see Big Ben because it was hidden behind scaffolding. The London Eye isn’t turning today. I did get a few pictures while I was out and about!

It was sort of depressing. And to think that I was initially going to spend an entire week here. Sadly, it’s time to get back to the states. Tomorrow is there legs home… hoping everything is on time, and there are no cancelations. That seems to be what is happening all around the world right now.

Scotland 8: Day 1

03.02.20 | London, England | 14:00

I’m happy to report that I got about an hour of sleep. You may think this is not a significant accomplishment, but it, in fact, is. This is coming from a guy who can’t sleep on planes. It is such an uncomfortable sleeping position, even if I’m able to get the seatback reclined. How cool would it be to fly on a flatbed?

Upon landing at Gatwick, I had about two and a half hours to get from the south terminal to the north. I notticed when I was going through customs and passport control that Gatwick is doing it all automatically. You line up and make your way to this machine that scans your passport, and a camera looks at your own face to make sure they match. I had to do it a couple times since my new glasses look nothing like the glasses in my passport picture.

Now I am waiting for my third plane- this one will take me to Scotland! A Swedish lady just asked me for help finding her gate. Thank goodness for Google Translator! I took the time to explain that she hasn’t yet received a gate assignment and that she needed to check the monitor in about 10 more minutes. She thanked me, pretended to understand, and then left me- only to go ask another man the exact same thing.

London Gatwick

When he explained it, precisely as I had, she wandered off, I’m guessing so that she could ask a third person. I walked over to the man and told him that I had just told her the exact same thing that he had, but I’m guessing that she didn’t trust me.

The guy had an American accent, and he told me that he was from Chicago. I told him that I had been to Chicago for work, and we talked about pizza. This is a subject that I am fond of, what can I say? He told me that his name is Billy Branch and that he is in London singing. I googled him, and sure enough!

I have added one of his albums to my Apple Music and will check him out the next time I feel like listening to the Blues. He was very kind and great to chat with. This is what travel is all about: The lives you touch or are touched by along the journey.

Edinburgh, Scotland | 17:55

After traveling for over 24 hours, I really didn’t have the desire to deal with public transportation. It cost me £25 to get an Uber from the airport to the flat. Had I chose public transit, it probably would have cost me under £6, if I remember correctly. I didn’t have the strength, however. By this point, I really wanted a bed.

The problem I was faced with: I didn’t know how to get into the apartment. When I’d booked with AirBnb in the past, I’d receive a message from the owner/manager about 24 hours before check-in explaining how I get into the place. Usually, it’s a lockbox with a key, or there is a code on the door or something. This is my first time using, and I received no such message.

After about 15 minutes on the phone with the property management company, I’m inside the most awesome little flat! Location is everything, and I have the most fantastic view of Edinburgh Castle! This place is up on the 4th floor (the 3rd floor, if you’re from this side of the pond), and there is no elevator in the building, so I get to lug my bags up the stairs. When I walk in, it’s totally worth it!

I’m so tired, but I need to go grab something to eat. I went to Pret and grabbed some soup and a sandwich, swing by Boots to grab some shampoo and body wash and head back. I’ll head out in the morning. I need food and sleep.

Scotland 7: Day 39

04.09.19 | Horley, England |18:55

When I booked my return flight to the states, I thought I’d found a great way to save money! Instead of flying from Edinburgh to Salt Lake City, I found a great deal from London Gatwick all the way to Seattle. From there, I’ll just fly non-revenue to get home. Cheap flight, yes. The only things I forgot to factor in were the flight from Edinburgh to London (not too expensive), and the overnight stay in London (a bit more expensive).

Alas, here I am, sitting on my bed at the Masslink Guest House in Horley, England [map], which is probably about 45 minutes south of London. I was hoping to have more of a “London” experience, but I don’t want to board a bus and two trains to get there. Sadly, there was no afternoon tea with the Royals. Instead, I found a local Wetherspoon (I’ve eaten at this chain restaurant more times than I can count in the last month-and-a-half) and ordered some chicken and ribs.

I am so sad that my time here is almost over! I have had such a wonderful experience- Scotland is an amazing country, filled with amazing people! I feel incredibly blessed to be in a situation where I can make these trips. As always, it just lights the fire for more!

It’s time for some family history! I don’t remember if I told you in the past, but one of the reasons that I’m obsessed with Scotland is that this is one of the places where my ancestors are from. I grew up in a family that is very much into genealogy and knowing where we came from. My dream of seeing Scotland with my own eyes finally came true in December of 2002 when my friends David Hammond, Dominoe Reed, James Jenkins, Nicole Hayes, Makaylee Jensen, Julie Linton and myself went on a little vacation to the United Kingdom.

Years later, these are the memories that I still hold from this trip:

  1. Staying at the Amsterdam Hotel in London, not too far from Hyde Park
  2. Eating my first “proper” fish & chips
  3. Visiting the mission home (Dave had recently returned home from serving in London as a full-time missionary.
  4. Eating a battered Mars Bar at the Maid Miriam Cafe’ in Nottingham (close to the statue of Robin Hood)
  5. Seeing Westminster Abbey and Big Ben for the first time
  6. Learning that Tower Bridge is not London Bridge and that the original London Bridge had been sold so some guy in Arizona
  7. Strutting down the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
  8. Seeing the Tower of London and the Queen Jewels

Since there were seven of us, and we were in the U.K. for seven days, each of us chose what we wanted to do for the day. I remember Julie’s day was going to see Wimbledon since she is very much into playing tennis. On James’ day, we took the rental car down to Wales, since that’s one of the places where his ancestors came from. I remember going to Stonehenge on somebody’s day and trying to figure out how those people lifted those heavy stones, so many years ago.

On my day, we drove the rental car up to Scotland and stood on the bank of Loch Lomond, and this was where Dave and I even sang the song, Loch Lomond.


On my dad’s side of the family, I have a lot of the surname Wallace. I thought it would be cool if I could find some link to William Wallace (of Braveheart fame). Sadly, there’s no record of William Wallace ever having children. Odds are he had illegitimate offspring, though. Back then, a favorite past time for the young men was to shag any girl who would let you (or didn’t necessarily let you).

On my mother’s side of the family, I have always been told that the surname Lee comes from Ireland. Sure enough, I followed their chart into Ireland as far as I could. I soon discovered that before Ireland, many of them also came over from Scotland (just like my dad’s side of the family). If the records I’ve seen are correct, I have links to royalty (James II of Scotland and Robert the Bruce), it is quite possible that my dad’s ancestors actually paid taxes to my mom’s ancestors!

I have found a line that links me to kings’ of England, Scotland, France, Prussia, and Wessex!