Scotland 5: Day 7

03.07.16 | 12:06 | Oban Hostel

I was bad this morning and stayed in my room until about 09:00. It was quite nice, as I had no roommates last night. Definitely an advantage to traveling in the off-season. My cough seems to have gone away during the day, but sadly, is persistent at night when I’m laying on my back. Hopefully, it’s on it’s way out. I have been drinking lots of vitamin C and sipping my herbal teas, especially when it’s cold out.

Today hasn’t been too cold, however. I decided to walk down to the water and look for a place to find some breakfast. The walk was absolutely brilliant! I love Oban!



There are two things that I really love about this picture. First, the solitary house sitting on the small island. It’s secluded, but still close enough to the mainland. Such bautiful surroundings! The second thing- see the snow-capped mountain in the background? That is the Isle of Mull. This is one of the places where my ancestors are from!


At first, my attempt to find breakfast failed. By this time, it was after 10:00 and so many places weren’t offering breakfast anymore. The early bird gets the worm and the late bird doesn’t get squat.  Then I remembered that Abbie’s Cafe, the place I had breakfast yesterday, serves breakfast all day! Score!

On my way over, I saw a place to get a haircut called Spruce. I thought it was time to go freshen up the head. The lady cutting my hair told me about her 3 sons and how one has moved out of the house to get a flat of his own. She gets to see him every 3 weeks when he needs another haircut. She did a great job cutting my hair!


After my cut, she asked me if I wanted to try some beard oil. I got excited because I really did- I’ve wanted to try it for some time, but the places that carry it in the states are few and far between. A few weeks back I was working a flight with a bunch of Paul Mitchell students- one of the directors, who happened to have great looking facial hair, told me that beard oil is still pretty new so most guys were having to buy theirs off the internet. I think that more and more places will start to carry it. This oil smells great!


Breakfast was great! I thought I’d go non-traditional Scottish and have some pancakes and bacon. The syrup was simply amazing! I don’t know what it had in it… definitely maple, with something else added to it. Probably some scary, delicious drug.



After eating, I walked back down to the waterfront and went into the Oban Chocolate Factory. TODAY’S CHOCOLATE OFFERING: I ordered some Cuban hot chocolate, which was 70% chocolate, so it tasted somewhat bitter, but I really enjoyed it! It’s so exciting to me when someone decorates my hot chocolate. I know that coffee drinkers are used to this, but since I don’t drink coffee, it’s a rare thing. Still, this is the most beautiful hot chocolate I’ve ever sipped. I almost wanted to cry (not really, but you get the point).


I was so tempted to go take a look at the Oban to Mull ferry schedule, but sadly this will have to wait. I’m meeting the missionaries at 18:00 tonight and taking them to have some dinner. I’d hate to miss the opportunity to meet and chat with them. A lifetime ago, I was doing the same thing- out and about for 2 years, serving others. It doesn’t matter what YOU choose to believe, religiously or otherwise. The fact is this: To give up your “real life” for two years and get lost in serving others, is highly commendable!


I just got back from dinner with the missionaries. We had a great visit! They told me a lot about what serving in this area is like. The Oban area is pretty much the western third of Scotland so they have a lot of ground to cover. They told me that the mission president wants them to focus on staying in Oban for now. Elder Crockett (left) is from Roy, Utah and Elder Atkinson is from Malad, Idaho. Both seem like great missionaries!


Back to the beginning of Scotland 5 | Forward to Scotland 5: Day 8

Scotland 5: Day 6

03.06.16 | Oban, Scotland | 18:44

Happy Mother’s Day (if you’re a mother and you live in the United Kingdom)! For some reason, they don’t celebrate it when we do in the United States. That’s ok- as long as they’re taking a day to honor their mum! I decided that I wanted to try to attend church while I’m here. I’d been working so much in preparation for this getaway back home that I hadn’t the time to attend my local congregation for the past few weeks.

I checked on the internet a few days ago for the church location. Since addresses look very different than they do in America, I thought I’d never find it. I sent an email to someone from my home congregation but never heard back from him. Oh well- I’ll have to figure it out by myself. I jotted down the walking directions from the train station that was closest to the church building. My problem: When I checked ScotRail, I noticed there weren’t any trains going in that direction since it is a Sunday schedule. No worries, I’ll take a taxi. After all, it was only about 6 miles or so.

The cab driver took a look at the address and scratched his head. He said he knew the village, at least. I told him he could drop me off at the Connell Ferry train station, and I could make my way from there. Six miles or so later, he dropped me at the station, and the building was only about a 10-minute walk from there. When I got to the place Google Maps told me to go to, there was just a house. I wondered if I had the right directions, and then I noticed a sign in the window. I was in the right place.

Oban is a tiny branch of the church. I was greeted by Elder and Sister Young, who is currently serving a full-time mission and is from Salt Lake City, Utah (of course, they are). They welcomed me into their home. Soon another brother introduced himself as well. Brother Falk asked me where I was from. I told him I grew up in Southeastern Arizona but now lived in rural Utah. He asked me which town in Arizona. I told him,” Thatcher.” He looked puzzled and asked me how big Thatcher was. I told him that it was around 4000 people, at least when I grew up there. He said he had a mission companion from there.

I asked, “Is it Jr. Hoopes?” He started laughing and confirmed that it was. I get a big grin on my face! He asks how I knew Jr. I shared one of my childhood memories was when Jr. Hoopes got a mission call to Scotland. I was jealous, and I wanted to go to Scotland so bad (this was when I was about 14 years old)! Another great memory of mine was two years later when Jr. got back from Scotland and spoke in church, telling us all about his experience. Let me tell you- my love of Scotland started many, many years before I ever traveled here!


It was time to start the meeting, and there was a total of about 12 or 13 people. I guess this is an average/good turnout for this congregation. A few weeks ago, they told me that most of the members weren’t able to attend, so only one person showed up that day. Toward the start, they asked me to stand up and introduce myself. I told them my name, including my surname, and that this is one of my ancestors’ areas. They all were very kind and seemed to be grateful that I’d come to church.

I sit down, and a little girl named Maria taps me on the shoulder. I turn around, and she asks me- “You’re a ‘[my surname]’?” I nod. She then points to a girl who is sitting across the room and whispers, “She’s a ‘[my surname],’ too!”. After the meeting, I approached the girl, and sure enough. She is a ‘[my surname]’! She is from Falkirk, which is between Glasgow and Edinburgh. I’m not sure if there’s a connection or not. My surname is common in Scotland, like ‘Smith’ or ‘Johnson’ in the U.S.- there are a million or so of them. Still, it was very cool to meet Natalia, who could a descendant of my ancestors, but then again, I guess we all are kin if you go back far enough.


Sister Young had cooked some potatoes for an after-meeting dinner and prepared an excellent meal for everyone. This something that they do as a congregational family once each month. I guess this is possible when you don’t have hundreds of mouths to feed. It was great to sit back and chat with these great brothers and sisters!

I also met two more full-time missionaries there. These were the younger version… 18 or 19 years old (even though one of them looked to be about 13). Elder Crockett is from Roy, Utah and Elder Atkinson is from Malad, Idaho. Both of them looked like they were happy and healthy and glad to be serving. I asked them if they would let me take them out to dinner tomorrow night. They said they were free, so I’m excited to meet them for some good eating. The good Lord knows I can always find delicious food!

I spoke with my parents tonight, and my mom has asked me to get the missionaries’ home phone numbers so she could call their mothers’ and report that their boys are doing well. I guess it’s a mother thing, but I’ll see if I can collect their digits tomorrow night.