29 July 2012

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

I'm skipping a few fun things we've done this year, and not yet telling some stories of other travels and adventures I've had so I can tell about a fun weekend where George and I drove to North Carolina to share a condo with a dear friend and her sister who we've known a little over a year that I met in an on-line book club-type thing and I end up buying (and wearing, in public) a kilt.

Wait!  What?  Really?  Well that doesn't sound like the Clay I used to know!  (There... does that cover your reaction?  That's pretty typical.)  Let me start at, if not the beginning, many years ago.

To hear George tell it, when we met Sophomore year at Purdue I was 1 step removed from a hermit, or a cloistered something-or-other that had a hard time speaking to other people and only did so under duress.  To be fair, that's the general opinion held by most Liberal Arts types about engineers.  Now, I was not your typical engineer, for example, I showered daily and washed my hair, read books other than text books (okay, Ayn Rand, but Atlas Shrugged wasn't a text book!), and did not spend an inordinate amount of time doing math problems.  And you know it's not true (right?) because if it was, what does that say about her, still with me after more than 32 years?

And people who know me well know that I might have been slow to get to know people and open up, but once i did I would not shut up, I mean, ever!  I still contend that Pay-At-The-Pump is one of the greatest inventions ever because then I didn't have to deal with people I didn't know!  I had close friends from Purdue, and a couple from work I talked to, but if I didn't have to, I generally didn't.  It started changing gradually, and I definitely noticed a difference, after attending "people skills training" (which might be the subject of another post some day seeing that the person who told me I needed it was not known for having said skills!) and as I started travelling more and working with people I'd never met before.

Separate from this we had a couple of friends who told us they had a book we just had to read!  It changed their sex lives!  READ THIS BOOK!  Um.... ooookay.  Somehow we never read it, with such a ringing endorsement too.  10 years later George got the audiobook and started listening as she drove all over Indiana with her role in Psi Iota Xi, and I started listening as I trained for a marathon on the treadmill in the basement.  And guess what?  No... it didn't change our sex lives, but the book was very good!  Thus began our Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) phase of reading.  Over the next several months I read little more than her books and since George likes to read multiple books at the same time and interrupt series with other books I finished the series (or what was available at the time) a full 2+ books ahead of her.  It had been fun to talk about the things we read as we went through the books together, and now I didn't have that.  Despite the fact I used to be so quiet and introverted I needed somebody to discuss these books with!

I looked around online and found different discussions then stumbled into the CompuServe forum (this is the place where all the nerds ask; Wait... CompuServe is still around?) where there were all sorts of people like me (well, okay, 99% women, but some men too) that wanted to discuss these books.  So I did... taking part in the discussions to the point I have since made over 1200 posts!  Another fun place online was My Outlander Purgatory and on a fateful night in March of 2011, when George was out of town, I saw there was going to be their regularly scheduled chat at 9 PM.  I signed on, introduced myself (Think of a typical AA scene in any movie.  "Hi, my name is Clay and I've been reading Outlander 12 months."  "Hi Clay!") and that was that.  I don't know that I have met and been welcomed as warmly by any group of people I did not know at all, ever before.  And that first night I met my friend Christie.

Did you ever meet somebody and know, instantly, you're gonna be friends?  That was Christie.  Same age (roughly, I won't say who's older), same sense of humor, same age kids, both ecstatically married to their best friend from college, we just clicked.  We saw each other every week at MOP, we chatted, met up in Atlanta at DragonCon (and met Diana Gabaldon at a brunch we went to), again in December in Ohio when they were visiting Jay's dad, and in Birmingham, AL when we went to the Indy car race.  So, Outlander starts out in Scotland and George and I had discussed going to a Scottish Highland Games sometime, Christie was interested, and The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games is 1 of the largest in the US, and it was roughly 7-1/2 hours from both of us.  So plans were made, a condo was rented, and on 12Jul12 we drove to Linville, NC.

(Let's see... This covers me talking to people I don't know well, meeting up with new friends and going to the Highland games... okay, just checking)

Friday was rainy and we were sorting out what we wanted to do, we ate lunch, went hiking in the Linville Gorge (beautiful park, we want to go back someday), saw a bear driving back from the park... well I didn't, I had my eyes closed, but everybody else did, had supper, played games, and talked late.  Great start to the weekend.

Saturday was rainy when we got up, but what better weather to go to Scottish Highland Games than Scotland weather!  Here was the view as we settled in to see the massed bands play.

It was very cool seeing the massed bands play around the track.

There were tents for all the different clans represented around the outside of the track, I never knew there were that many!
Clan McBean was proud of Alan Bean!

So my heritage is pretty much a Heinz 57 mix of more than I know.  But I thought I'd check and see if my name was associated with any clans.  It wasn't but it was what's called a District Family name.  Concentrated primarily in lowlands of Scotland my name is associated with the Ayrshire district south of Glasgow.
We saw this girl, dressed this way (!) in the restaurant Friday in Linville.  Apparently there are a lot of Nymphs at Highland games.
So when we first made plans to go to the Highland games George and others made comments about me getting a kilt.  And of course everybody laughed, I did too, but the more I thought about it the more I thought WTF?  What do I care if people laugh?  If George likes it, and more importantly if I like it, I'm gonna do it!  Well, with no clan affiliation it was not really possible to find my plaid, and really, how practical is it to have a wool... anything?  Other than hand knitted socks of course.  So I looked at these Utilikilts.  Of course George was taking pictures and she especially liked this one with my shorts around my ankles...
I ended up with a black one.  Still a little shocked I did it and wore it out to supper that night!  Since we've been home I've worn it around the house.  But there is a Grandfather Mountain Marathon I'm seriously considering running next year and we saw several guys running in kilts this year, so if I run that next year?  I'm wearing my kilt.

So we woke up Sunday morning and my first thought was SHIT!  Time to go home already?  Also, it was the first clear morning we had since we'd been there.  These are some views from teh balcony of our condo.

We decided to go hiking at Grandfather Mountain National Park before we headed home.  Beautiful country, beautiful views, beautiful trails. 

Christie looking at the split in the rock.  Could this be where she'd find Jamie?
Christie and I consider going through the rocks together...

At the top of Grandfather Mountain is a mile high swinging bridge.  George does NOT like heights, but she did it!
Beyond the bridge you could walk out on the rocks beyond.  George and Fran decided crossing the bridge was good enough for them but Christie and I continued on out a little farther.
Here is proof that George was on the bridge!

As we were on the bridge you could see weather moving in quickly.  We decided to go back to eat lunch and head home.
A view of the Highland Games from the top of Grandfather Mountain.

As we drove home we talked about the fun we had at the Highland Games, the beautiful country in the mountains of North Carolina, the bear we (okay... they) saw, the fact that I not only bought but wore in public a kilt.  But, like everything else, the real fun was sharing it with good friends and making memories with them.

1 comment:

  1. pictures are very nice ...
    thanks you
    keep do it...

    Hotel Tri Sea