Scotland 8: PreTrip

03.01.20 | Salt Lake City, Utah | 07:26

It’s time to start ‘Phase 2’ of this vacation, which I am going to mark with #Scotland 8! I’m excited to return to this place that I love so much, and every time I’ve visited over the years, I’ve found that I love it more and more. Back in 2017, Scotland was voted, ‘the worlds’ most beautiful county’! This doesn’t surprise me at all. I didn’t even take the survey, but I agree. It’s true, I haven’t been to a million different places, and sometimes you can’t compare apples and oranges, but I feel that nothing can match the beauty of Scotland!

I am sitting in the Salt Lake City International airport, waiting for my non-revenue flight to Los Angeles. When I left for Scotland two years ago, I asked my nephew, Sam, to crash at my place overnight, and then he drove me to the airport since I had an early flight. I decided I didn’t want to inconvenience him again last year.

This last year, I parked my car at my sister’s house, close to Park City. I loved this idea, having my family watch over my car while I was gone for such a long time. The only bad part was the fact that I had to get a Lyft from her house, all the way to the airport (like a good 40+ minute drive) and then from the airport back to her home when I got back. This was very expensive! Not to mention having to drive my car from her house, all the way to my house after having been awake for more than 24 hours! I basically saved no money by doing this.

This year, I decided that the best plan would be to leave my car at home. This way, it can be in my garage, out of the elements. I’m not saving any money by parking it all the way at my sister’s house, and she doesn’t have room to park it in her garage. It cost me $55 to get a Lyft to the airport, which is steep, but I’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this trip, financially.

My last few visits to Scotland, I have used my mobile phone freely. AT&T, my service provider, has decent coverage in most of the places I go, and a pretty competitive plan for international travel. It’s $9.99 plus tax for a rolling 24 hours of use. This gives me access to my mobile phone plan, which is unlimited data, talk, texting. It’s been a blessing not to have to watch my minutes or gigabytes. The only problem, however, is that this will add up to a whopping $609.39 plus tax by the time I return home.

This year, I have discovered Skyroam, which is a mobile wifi hotspot. The device looks like an orange hockey puck. You pay $179, and it offers a rate of $8.99 per rolling 24 hours if you buy it, or $9.99 per day if you decide to rent the device instead. This isn’t a savings over what AT&T offers me, but Skyroam also provides a rate of $99 per month for unlimited use! This is how I plan on saving some money abroad. Rather than paying the $609.39, I’ll be paying $377. I’ll let you know soon enough if it’s working throughout my travels.

I’m sitting in the B terminal at LAX. My flight doesn’t board for about an hour and doesn’t leave for about two hours. It took me a while to get through security- not only are there so many passengers in the line, but my bags had to run twice since I forgot to take my laptop out. I’m used to going through security in uniform, and when I do that, my computer doesn’t have to come out. My focus is on Scotland, not on safety- whoops!

The B Terminal at LAX

Before coming back through security, I walked down to In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda. I enjoyed my double-double, animal style. It’s been a few weeks since I had a good burger, so this was a great lunch!

Double-Double, Animal Style

LAX-LGW | 21:22 (California Time)

Before boarding, I ran to a newsstand in the airport to purchase some chocolate for my flight crew. All I could find (within my budget) was some Hershey’s Nuggets, and even though I usually get something more decadent, this would have to do.

Thanks to this little token, they have been a fantastic crew, continually checking on me. They gave me a blanket, a pair of headphones, and a couple of bottles of water- they keep asking me if I’d like any snacks.

Legroom

Last night, my nephew Sam came over and slept on my couch. I asked him if he could drop me off early this morning at Salt Lake City airport. Since I’ll be away from home for a while, I didn’t want to keep my car out in the elements. The employee parking area at SLC isn’t covered parking. I pay them tons of money to park there, and I wish they would use some of that money to put a roof over our vehicles. Perhaps my money is helping to pay for the new airport that they’re building.

Sam has inspired me to set up a website that will display a ranking of how much I love each of my nephews and nieces. This way, they can compete for the top spot by doing things for me or buying me stuff. He is currently at the top of the list. I want to inspire/ challenge the other 24 to up their game to earn that number one spot. I would include all of my great-nephews and great-nieces, but they are too young and don’t yet have jobs to make money to buy me stuff.

The first leg of the journey was a flight from SLC to BWI. Tonight I’m back in Linthicum, Maryland. This is my old stomping grounds from the first three years that I was based at BWI. Many memories of living in downtown Baltimore and then having a crashpad here in Linthicum after moving to Kentucky. The best part of living in Maryland was the friends I made. Among them is my dear, sweet friend Monica.

Monica picked me up, and we just had a great meal together. She told me about the friends she’d kept in touch with- friends from “the old days.” While we talked, I realized that I had left Maryland for Kentucky more than ten years ago! I don’t even know where time has gone! The last time I was even with Monica was at least five years ago when our friend Arron was in town- I remember going to play games at Dave & Buster’s. As per usual, my time with Monica was so short. I had to be the party-pooper and get back to the hotel. I need rest- I haven’t slept very much for the last three nights. This is because I’m too excited- it’s been constant trips to the bathroom, you know when a little puppy gets so excited that it has to pee? That’s been my body all week. Finally, the day has come! It’s time to go on vacation!

Each time I prepare for a trip to Scotland, I have a friend or two who want to go with me. The first time this happened, I asked that friend what he wanted to see and do while there. I set up what I thought would be the perfect trip to Scotland, especially for someone who has never been there. Then that friend had a conflict and had to drop out of the trip. I still had a great trip but by myself. I’m not complaining, however. This same thing happened a second time with other friends. Just like last time, these friends had to drop out for one reason or another. I’ve learned that I need only to plan the perfect trip for myself. That way, if the others drop out, I still have an ideal trip for one. No regrets- over the years, I have gotten extremely good at traveling by myself (and I like it!).

I invited many friends/ coworkers to come with me. Most of them said they were interested, but the number quickly began to dwindle before I started booking. Of the twenty-one invited, two have made it to the deadline. My coworker Jonny will join me for the first few days, and my friend Alan wants to join me toward the end. I am surprised that more weren’t interested because this is a group of people who make their living by traveling. Most of them know how to make an international trip. Some, albeit, are new to the line of work/ lifestyle and aren’t getting paid very much yet, but It’s not like I planned this trip last week- I let them know about this as early as October.

Again, no big deal- it’s still going to be a fun time in Scotland! I have planned the perfect adventure. I am going to try to update this blog every day, internet connection permitting. You know there will be pictures of most of my food and, more than likely, a daily sleep report. I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors- these will be fixed at a future date. 

Here we go! when you thought I would sit still for a little while- Tomorrow is the beginning of Scotland 6!

Scotland 5 Day 38

04.07.16 | Thurso Hostel | 21:15

I decided this morning to explore the east side of the bay this time, hoping I’d get further along than my visit to Scrabster yesterday. I tried to reach the ocean. Soon, the farm road that I was following turned and headed off in the wrong direction and I found myself getting further from my goal. Still, it was a beautiful walk!

img_0971img_0972img_0973img_0974img_0975img_0976img_0977

Tonight I went to see Superman vs Batman for a second time, ignoring my nephew Sam’s advice on Facebook (wait for it to come out on DVD). I actually liked it a lot better this time. Last time, if you recall, I was half asleep throughout the entire film. That was a tough watch for me. I hated it for that reason. I actually like it now.


Back to the beginning of Scotland 5| Forward to Scotland 5: Day 39

Easter Sunday (yesterday) was a pretty fun day because I got to hang out with some family at my parents’ place up in Liberty, Utah. My sister Lori and her husband Scott happened to be in town so we had a great little reunion, even though so much of the family couldn’t be there. I snapped some pictures of my family.

img_3463My brother surprised us by bringing some “cookies” that he made for everyone. The joke was that he actually frosted some breakfast sausage patties as a joke. A few family member took a big bite, many spitting the treat out into the trash. My dad, however, liked the taste.