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Milngavie to Drymen

12 miles, 36000 steps

What do you get when you cross a sheep, a woolly cow, a hiker from Holland, a wee dram of whisky and a rainbow? Our first day on the trail.

The sun came out for the start of our journey

We started out about 830am and the sun was shining on us. We were anxious. Were we prepared, what lied ahead, would our feet outlast the trail, what about the weather, where were we staying – all these were running through our head as we took the first step.

Our smiles at the start –

We had a 12 mile hike ahead of us and were thrilled that the sun was out to send us off. In fact, we were treated by something that meant something to both of us.

Ok, back to the sheep, cow, girl and whisky. I was telling Liz that how cool would it be if we saw all the things they said we would see on the trail from the “catalog”. Well we saw them today – bear with me on the pics.

It was a great trail and the weather cooperated for most of the part. We still have not figured out when in Scotland it says 50% rain everyday. Does that mean there is a 50% chance of raining or that it is going to rain 50% of the time. We will let you know. Well, here is what the rain brought today.

Just off the trail was the GlenGoyne Distillary and when we met Rachel from Holland. The three of us decided to take a quick detour-in the rain – to see if we could get a wee dram and we did.

Slainte Mhaith

How cute is that pic — mine was not as cute

We still had 6 miles to go but the shot warmed our cockles. A lunch stop at Beech Tree for soup and then on to Drymen.

Town Square at Drymen

We got to our B&B at 430 (yes since 830) and needed eats – so we went into town to go find one of the oldest pubs and get lunch for the next day. We went to THE PUB in town and low and beyond met up with Rachel.

Keep in touch sister.

An amazing first day. Tomorrow is a 14 mile hike so heading off to bed.

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The Gateway to the West Highland Way

We are staying at a small town called Milngavie.

The history of Milngavie dates back to at least 1600, when there was a mill here in a village known at the time as Millgay – remember how I told you to pronounce it yesterday? Makes sense now, right?

Today it is a suburb of Glasgow and known as the gateway to the West Highland Way. Not to mention it is super super cute.

We found the gate where we will be starting from in the morning and met our first fellow hiker to chat about why, where, and when.

This is where we start.
Waymarker

We will be following mainly timber posts bearing the thistle-in-a- hexagon logo. Haven’t figured out what it means yet but I am sure we will.

Covid test update 2: we both received negative test results today so we are all set for the rest of the trip.

Dinner and packing tonight to prep for our first 12 mile hike tomorrow that yes-the trail leads us to the Glengoyne Distillary. Hikers on The Way are invited for a wee dram. I think we might just have to indulge to help us with the next 5.

We are heading to Drymen- weather? Who knows? They say just wait and see and it will happen when it happens. Talk to you then.

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It was a hop off and hop on again kind of day.

Started with a traditional Scottish breakfast with a choice including blood sausage, pork sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms with eggs.

Next – COVID Test number 2. This was the self administered one that we need to stay in the country. We found the post office and mailed it off.

Down the throat and up your nose.

We decided to play tourist today and see Glasgow “properly” with a hop on and off double decker bus tour.

Yes, the sun was actually out for a few minutes which we were told does not happen too often.

We particularly wanted to see the Glasgow Cathedral – it would not be touring an old city without visiting a church and this one was spectacular.

Glasgow Cathedral

The cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow. It is dedicated to Saint Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, whose tomb lies at the centre of the building’s Lower Church.

The first stone cathedral was dedicated in 1136. Fragments of this building have been found beneath the structure of the present cathedral, which was dedicated in 1197.

The miracles of St. Mungo are seen around the city.

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam

The bell, fish, tree and bird.

Behind the church is the Necropolis. Fifty thousand individuals have been buried here. Only a small percentage are named on monuments and not every grave has a stone. Approximately 3,500 monuments exist here..

The cathedral from on top of the necropolis.

Have we talked about the food yet?

We stopped at a food truck for the most amazing Gyro before grabbing a taxi north to Milngavie. How would you pronounce Milngavie?

Yummy
Our first craft beer from Scotland — still no whiskey.

A little Scottish language lesson:

When someone says thank you you say “no worries”. If you want to say enjoy say “cheers”. And we can’t understand anything else yet. Milngavie is pronounced Mill-guy.

CHEERS!

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Glad to be in Glasgow

We made it and everything went fairly smooth. We left Rochester at 1230pm to Atlanta (2 hour flight and 2 hour layover). We then had an 8 hour flight to Amsterdam for another 2 hour layover and then a quick 1 1/2 hop over the North Sea to Glasgow. We landed at 1030am.

Of we go and looking forward to what’s ahead

Traveling during COVID has its challenges but I have a feeling this is the way it will be for quite awhile. This was the picture that had us laughing and crying in the middle of the Atlantic. Yes, this is Liz trying to sleep.

Prior to traveling we had to have a negative covid test 72 hours before entering Scotland. We had to be fully vaccinated and fill out various patient locator forms. All of which needed to be available at anytime. Most travelers were walking around holding folders filled with printed paper work. We also had to arrange to have a self administered test sent to our first hotel to make sure we are negative to stay in the country.

The UK including Scotland is over 80% vaccinated so we feel safer here then at home. Masks are worn just as at home – when on public transportation, public places and when entering into a restaurant before you sit down to eat.

Kelvingrove Cafe

We were beat when we got to The Kelvingrove Hotel and headed out for a pub to get some lunch. We are in the West End of Glasgow that is more of the cultural district with the University of Glasgow, Museums, shops and restaurants.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

After a needed nap we headed out for a nighttime stroll to Ashton Lane and to see the neighborhood at night and see what we could find.

University of Glasgow

Glasgow is a smallish city with less then a million residence and 3 million in surrounding areas. Here is tip – make sure you make dinner reservations ahead of time. They roll up the sidewalks here at 10pm – a little different in other cities where the nightlife is just coming alive.

Ashton Lane
Rioja Restaurant

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West Highland Way

Here I go again! This journey will take me to Scotland to hike the The West Highland Way – close to 100 miles. You can see the entire trail at www.westhighlandway.org.

The last 18 months has been incredibly hard and this will be my first time off since stepping off the plane from Kenya on March 17th, 2020. I am looking forward to the physical challenge, being in a new country, meeting fellow hikers from around the world, trying new foods and experiencing all that a trail offers. For me, the trail brings time to disconnect and connect at the same time – connect with nature, self and God.

I am also honored to share this experience with Liz Vidas. A fellow JOI family member and an avid adventure traveler. We will be leaving for Scotland on September 25th and starting the hike on the 28th. Our journey ends on October 5th and then we will be heading back to Glasgow for a Genesis concert (yup) and then home on the 9th. I hope you will follow our journey and the inspiration it will bring.

Lang may yer lum reek

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Our last day

It was a typical day for us. Walked the kids to school. Worked on the last tiling and grouting and helped with babies and toddlers

I was able to meet Peggy today.

She is the lady that has been carrying $1000’s of unpaid debt for the milk that she supply’s every day. Through the fundraising from the most generous and amazing friends I was able to tell her that her debt is paid and there is money set aside to pay her to continue the delivery. It was a really special moment for both is us.

This is Natalya Bondar the administrator o Rehema. She has been here for 9 years taking care of this place and children.

This is Lauren Ouwenga. She also lives here and partners with Nat to manage this place.

And of course you know my shadow, Grace.

We had so much fun last night having movie night you can see by the shoes at our door we decided to host another night for the kids.

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I start my journey home tomorrow to Nairobi and then to the states on Sunday. Please send prayers that I get home and that Mr Tom has a safe journey to Tanzania and home too.

The world I am going home to has changed and so have I. Will need some time to let these two weeks sink in. It won’t be a goodbye tomorrow-that I know-only until next time.

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Life is still normal here

For the last two days we have been trying to stay in touch with the news of what is going on around the world. Tom bought a local SIM card and we turn it on a couple times a day to read email, txts and check the news. It is very bizarre watching the panic spread from a remote part of Kenya. It is like watching a movie that can be turned off when you get to the bad parts. It has not hit Kenya yet so I am confident that I will not have trouble getting back in the country. We fly to Nairobi on Saturday, stay over night and then I depart to home via Doha, Qatar. Tom is still planning on heading to Tanzania on Sunday. So back to here —- things are quite normal and I have two days to catch you up.

Yesterday, we had to go into town to buy more grout and sand for the tile project and the basics for the kids: sugar, flour, rice, oil and of course diapers. There is a little village of Bukura walking distance but for larger purchases we go to Kakamega. It is about a 40 minute drive away. We hire Jack the driver to take us to town, shop with us to help interpret. The cost – 1000ksh – or $10. This is a little bit of the town.

We also decided to treat ourselves for the first time this trip to an adult beverage. Mr. Tom comes through with to open up the bottle without a cork screw. Where there is a will……..

One of the sweetest times of the day is around 3pm. The babies are getting up from their naps – all 7 need to be changed and cleaned up, the toddlers march themselves to the potty and then all 10 of them are brought out to the blanket for afternoon air and sun. The younger boys are just getting back from school and join the younger ones on the blanket.

The older kids are always ready to help with the younger ones and they are so sweet and gentle. Tom and I are always commenting on how many kids you can get on a blanket

It is at this time that my phone is usually “borrowed” and this is the result .

Oh – this is Ronnie the pet dog. There is also Bob, but I don’t have a good picture of him yet. Ronnie is a lovable mutt and you frequently here in English and Swahili – Go Ronnie, Get out. He meets everyone at the gate and barks if he doesn’t think something is right as he overlooks the yard from above.

The other thing we decided to do is to treat the kids to a movie night. We bought each of them a soda and some cookies. This is all of them crammed into our room to watch Lion King on a small laptop.

And now the Mr. Tom report:

When we last left he was trying to figure out a way to cut the tile without a wet saw. He found a grinder with an all purpose blade and works like a charm.

Here’s is where we are as of tonight. Almost there – Mr. Tom has a few more pieces to cut, I have some grouting left to do and then we both will fill in the rim around the edge.

Tonight we had special guests visit and share a meal with us. Another friend of Mr. Tom’s from Tanzania came to see him. We had a lovely meal and conversation and they made us promise to return next year and visit their home. I said yes – so did Tom.