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My Thanksgiving Vacation – First Sign of Trouble

The wedding was being held at Glengorm Castle, which is a “castle” built in the 1850s. The Glengorm estate dominates the northern tip of the Isle of Mull, and on clear days you can see the Isle of Skye. It’s a goddamned gorgeous place.

We made our way to the estate, relatively uneventfully until we got to the four-mile road to Glengorm. This is a road that leads nowhere else, so it’s single-lane, and the only people you’re likely to see are going to be other people staying at Glengorm, if they’re venturing out. In other words, you’re likely to see no one. For a long time.

We were chugging along nicely, even with a little snow on the road, until we didn’t quite have the momentum to get up a snow-packed incline. Our lightweight Nissan Note just wasn’t going to make it. We were totally stuck in the middle of the road. We made a phone call to the bride and groom who were up at the estate already, and they agreed to come down to help us.

A few minutes later, someone coming down the hill needed to get by, and we couldn’t really move. It was about that time that we realized that the piles of dirt along the sides of the road were actually piles of grit, a salt and sand mixture that melts the snow.

Remember the emergency kit? I got the shovel out of the bag and shoveled enough grit beneath our wheels that we could at least move our car to the side of the road, even if we couldn’t get up the incline.

The car passed. We were alone. And still stuck.

We’d been doing a two-car caravan from the ferry with a couple we knew only a little, and they’d turned off to town on the way up to the estate, so after a little while, they found their way to our spot. We encouraged them to get on by, to keep up momentum and go on without us. They too got stuck. In the exact same spot. Even in their heavier, slightly better-equipped-for-the-snow car. I shoveled enough grit that they could pull in behind us.

Now it was actually sort of fun, a bit of an adventure. Especially once we were joined by the wedding couple. So it was the bride with two of her bridesmaids and their men. We all took turns with the shoveling and gritted the road. There were probably three spots on the road where the slippery incline would’ve been impossible in our car with the utter lack of snow tires. And we made some slow progress and had a pretty good time doing it too.

And then, the local council sent the gritter up the road. They could only do this out-of-the-way road because the main roads were in good shape, but here he came in his truck, and he gritted the whole road for us.

Although the gritter could make no promises, the bride and groom pleaded their case to get him to come back the next day and grit the road one more time before the 50 guests drove the road up to the wedding. We’re pretty sure he came back, as the road was in great shape the next day, even though there’d been some pretty decent snow.

And as with all weather Scotland-related, once we got off this particular part of the road, the weather was fine again. The Glengorm Castle and estate hadn’t had any snow at all. And the sun was out. It was also right after this experience that we went to the Bellachroy for our delicious food.

Anyway, this is the cottage where we stayed with the castle lording over it. Once the sun set, it got all kinds of dark, and the missus and I were pretty pleased to have her mom’s windup-powered flashlight in the emergency kit. We also used the matches to get a nice, warm fire going.

Our view wasn’t bad either.

The Western Isles, including Mull, are well-known for their punishing winds, unpredictable storms, and wetness, but other than a little bit of snow, the weather we had on Mull was, frankly, quite beautiful. And the winter light in Scotland is just stunning in general, and even more so on Mull.

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