Subscribe Here

Enter your email address & be notified when we blog:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Let's Connect!

Member of Top Travel Content Europe

Use a Feed Reader?

Search Our Site
Support Us by Shopping Amazon

If you're going to be shopping at Amazon anyway - do it from here. It won't cost you any more than usual and it'll help us out. Thanks!

Powered by Squarespace
Travel Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory hit counters
« We've Made a Terrible Mistake | Main | Stick This »

Oban Distillery, Seals, and Narrowly Averted Disaster

Tuesday we woke up, which is generally the best way to start a day, and decided to jump in the car and head to the Highlands. After some quick packing, and some obligatory yelling at the kids. we were out of the flat by noon. We programmed our navigator (we call her Betty) towards the town of Oban and hit the road -- the beautiful, beautiful, winding two lane road to Oban.

We hadn't booked ahead, but the tourist office found a place for us to stay just up the hill. Betty was a little unclear in her directions, and we ended up having to turn our gigantic, Ugly American boat of a French car around in a tiny gravel parking lot, and navigate a very steep exit onto a hairpin turn, which let to a one-way street. Tricky. Trickier when a manual transmission isn't second nature. Bob was behind the wheel, sweating bullets, as he started up the first time. The brakes were locked, the engine was screaming, and we weren't moving an inch. STOP! He tried again. This time as he started up, three little boys were walking down the road. Back up and try again. This time, flustered and frustrated, Bob accidentally kept it in reverse, and went careening DOWN into the parking lot, missing a car by inches, andThe view from our guest house window. hitting the wooden fence. Barely hitting the fence. Nudging the fence. Now - the acrid smell of burning brakes is wafting through the air, Brenna keeps repeating, "You're in reverse," and a man comes shooting out of the building yelling, "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO!"

Bob got out of the car to explain, and the guy just got in, shut the door, and started to try to get this problem solved. He was determined to get us out of his parking lot and away from his car. He was also a lot better at driving a stick-shift. It took a few minutes for him to maneuver it, and during that little time we all calmed down a bit. He got us on the road, parked, and we went to look at the fence. Even though the pole was leaning a little, and some wood had broken off, he wouldn't let us pay for it. We all had a moment to laugh, shook hands, and were off. Nice guy. Shaken Bob.

Brenna drove the rest of the way, explaining to the kids that Daddy needed a drink, and that we were going for that drink as soon as we dropped our luggage off. We walked to dinner.

The next day we took a seal watching boat tour onboard the Mara Mohr, skippered by Ron Stevenson. Owen has this to say about skipper Ron, "He was awesomely awesome and full of awesomeness." (He let the kids pilot the boat, so I think they're a little biased). Ron is a skipper and a Scotsman to his core. He's witty and sensible and irreverent. He had so much to say about Scottish history and UK politics, and by the end of the hour on-board we really just wanted to sit down and have lunch with the man. The seals were scarce on their rock. The day before an Easterly had been blowing, and seals don't like it. Skipper Ron doesn't like an East wind either. "There's no good in it. Makes the cows grumpy, as well as the seals," he said.

After the boat ride we headed straight to The Oban Distillery, which was all of 60 steps away. You start smelling the fermenting barley on the street -- that beautiful scent somewhere between good whisky by the fire and baking bread. The history and tradition surrounding Scotch whisky is amazing. We're told that there are around five million Scots, nine million sheep, and 25 million oak whisky barrels in Scotland. These people really understand good living. At the end of the tour we sampled 14 year old undiluted Oban Scotch straight from a cask -- Heaven! And - at 68% alcohol content - potent too.

Do you know that in America it is law that you can only use an aging barrel one time when making bourbon? America ships thousands of used barrels a year to Scotland, where the thrifty Scots use them over and over, to produce whisky that I think most people would find at least as good as Wild Turkey. Ahem. One lady on the tour, upon hearing this fact, leaned over and said to her husband, "Seems a terrible waste of all those barrels."

Yeah - well - then where would we grow our tomatoes in our patio gardens!

We bought a bottle of Distillers Edition Double Matured Oban single malt, (you're jealous) and headed on to our next destination. Which we will tell you about in another post. 

Oh My! A cliff hanger! We've worked in TV too long. Don't worry - as in most of our posts, not much happens. One thing we'll tell you, Brenna will be behind the wheel.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (12)

What a delightful post! O-Dawg YOU are awesomely awesome and filled with awesomeness. Every time I look at your pictures on the blog my eyes burn from your awesomeness!! Eleanor obviously this goes for you, too. Particularly when you are wearing that fetching orange sweater of yours.

Oct 28, 2009 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterApril

Great post ... and not to worry Bob .. the fact that Brenna has to drive IN NO WAY affects our perception of your masculinity. (However, you should return your man-card ASAP in the pre-addressed envelope that will be waiting at your next stop.)

Oct 28, 2009 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterYo Lama

I am glad you are all okay! This was a very informative blog. Made me want to go straight to the liquor store.

Do they know about Craig Ferguson over there?

Oct 28, 2009 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered Commentercarolyn studer

we were recently in and around the countryside of curvy, hilly sometimes mountainous nice, france and had NEVER had the pleasure of a navigational system before since we both drive '95 vehicles (with pride). we fell in LOVE with "betty." how can anyone travel without betty?
the seal photo reminds me of the movie "secret of roan innish." if the kids haven't seen it, it would be a very timely rental if you can get your hands on it; very cool.
glad everyone was safe.

Oct 28, 2009 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterbecky

Thanks so much for this post; I love scotch whiskey and have heard so much about the heritage and culture surrounding same...sounds like ya'll are having a grand time!! Your candid blog is very refreshing and I so appreciate you keeping it "real"...when we traveled to France last June we had a problem with finding "reverse" in our rental car; we were causing major traffic jams in the walled city of Avignon & the best part was the wonderful spirit of the French men who came to our rescue....I so wish I was back in France or discovering other cool European places... keep the blog entries coming...

Oct 28, 2009 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterKim Peacock

I love single malt scotch and I particularly enjoy Oban. Now you have something to pour into the Holy Grail when you find it.

Oct 28, 2009 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Gotthelf

Waking up is always a good way to start the morning. Though you'll have to teach me how to run into a fence without paying. That's a good skill to know. The seals must have been fun to see, now I have another reason to go to scotland. I noticed that in the picture of The Oben Distillery, they misspelled 'EAST'. You're supposed to spell it E.A.S.T. not E.S.T.D.! It really bugs me when they do that on purpose.

Your Demonic friend in california'


Oct 28, 2009 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I loved this post. Ron Stevenson sounds like a terrific fellow to know. I adore the Scots and their accents and their way of viewing the world; so refreshingly direct. Did Wendy ever tell you about the time we were driving in the countryside (she was at the wheel), hit a rut in the road and she and I watched as a hub cap went sailing by? Both of us were incredulous and actually wondering if this errant hub cap could possibly have spun off our car. Mind you, we're the only car on the road, so notion that someone else's hub cap would be out for a spin was part of our serious denial mode. We laughed so hard we had tears streaming down our faces. Russ and Devin were, of course, in the back seat swilling (I mean drinking) scotch from their flasks and were totally surprised at our next stop to realize a hub cap was missing and a tire needed changing....

Oct 28, 2009 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDorothy

Visited the OBAN dist. a few years ago - and while on that Scotland voyage developed a taste for singls malt - my favorite was Talisker from the isle of Skye - don't miss it if you visit there.

Oh, when you think of the long, cold, bleak winters in Scotland you understand why they have so much Scotch!

Oct 29, 2009 at 7:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMargery

I can always count on you two to have a hilirious adventure especially when it comes to driving. I am so sorry the seals were not out but very glad that the kids got to drive the boat.Ron Stevenson sounds like a fasinating man.
You have to go to the Isle Of Sky and visit the Dunvegan Castle it was built in one night by a witch the legend goes......and maybe you will meet some Selkies. Do not hide their skins, if you do they can never go back to the water..
Find out if there are any Beltein fires built for Samhuinn or Halloween. You can go dance around the fires and pretend you lived in the days before the invasion of the Romans.
Scotland has such great folk-lore centered around ghosts and all things that go -bump -in -the -night. Watch out for Baobhan Sith who is a female vampire haunting the highlands, and Kelpies which are horse water spirits which haunt Scotish rivers.
See where all that reading leads..........a wealth of insignificant facts on all things strange.
Wish I were there so I could explore all the haunted places.

sith who is a f

Oct 29, 2009 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterMOM

We have had SUCH a good time traveling with you in cyberspace!!!!!!!(on our mac). It just occurred to me that you get to spend Samhain in Scotland....I am so jealous! That has always been a dream of mine!!!!! Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!

Oct 29, 2009 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnne Leyden

We have a popular Scotch whisky here called Bells. But I've found I prefer the good-ole southern Jack Daniels whiskey, probably cause JD & coke was Dad's drink for years.
Your lone seal is so cute! Definitely worth the trip.
Enjoy your halloween weekend. After reading all the Scottish possibilities in these previous comments I look forward to seeing what kind of adventures you can find. I love learning more about Europe vicariously thru you guys.
Lots of love,

Oct 29, 2009 at 10:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>