Ironman's great great grandfather, Alexander Stewart, was born around 1865 near or in Stirling, Scotland and was in agricultural supply or equipment business.  So today's trip was special for him, since we visited Stirling!

We left the house with Malcolm, Andrew and Belinda at 8:30am and all took a bus to the train station on Princes Street.  When we got to the train station and got our tickets we were in such a hurry that we didn't say goodbye to Andrew and Belinda!  Oh well...thank goodness for Facebook!  Malcolm got us on the right train and we took off for Stirling, Scotland:)

When we arrived around 11am, Stirling seriously seemed dead.  There were barely any cars or people and all of the shops were closed.  We kept wondering what was going on, but by early afternoon it started to pick up and look normal.

We followed our handy dandy tourist map and found our way to the Stirling Castle.

People told us that the Edinburgh Castle was better, but we actually enjoyed this one more and it was cheaper!  We had a free guided tour, no crowds and there was a lot more areas of the Caslte open to the public.  It also meant a lot more to Ironman since his great great grandfather lived here and saw the same castle every day.  He is hoping that he is actually from the royal bloodline, but since his family might have been in agriculture supply or equipment business, I'm thinking probably not:(.  But just in case, here we are:

Actually, though, see the crest above Ironman's head?  There is a lion?  Well, his family crest has three lions together...same lion.  So maybe that's a sign that he is royal?  We will certainly let everyone know if we inherit a significant amount of money or half or Scotland, etc.  

So, here is Ironman in the Great Hall...in front of our thrones!  Not only was the Castle amazing, but so were the views!

Above is a chapel and graveyard beside the Castle.

Stirling was known as the gateway to the Highlands and the Guardian of Scotland because of its strategic location and views to every direction!

So we said goodbye to Ironman's long lost home :) and started our loonnnngggg hike to the William Wallace Monument.

Some guy and his girlfriend picked us up and gave us a ride to the Monument since they were also going (he stopped and offered...we didn't plan on hitchhiking).  He said that he had heard us asking for directions.  He was a Scottish guy that had taught English in China and she was a girl from Israel who spent time in Alaska.  Then they both ended up in Australia and met there:). She came here to visit him and see Scotland and next, they will go to Israel for him to see where she is from:).  So, it was GREAT to have a ride, but after we got in the back of yet another two door hobbit car, I hoped that we hadn't volunteered ourselves for CNN's breaking news.  Two Americans Missing, Found Dead, Murdered, etc!!!  Anyway...the guy was smaller than Ironman and the girl had a hurt foot, so I figured we had the upper hand and could take them if we had too. You're laughing.  I'm serious.  I had it all planned out in my head.

So, since I am writing this post you already have confirmation that we are alive and well!  No need to worry!

The William Wallace Monument!!!...looks like something out of The Lord of the Rings:)

So there were t-shirts that you could buy saying, "I survived the 246 steps of the Wallace Monument", but after walking up thousands of steps to get to El Cristo and then the 1,399 steps inside El Cristo while growing up in Bolivia, I thought it would be nothing!  As we walked up though, the wind was blowing through the peep holes and I got so dizzy, thinking that the monument was swaying...Ironman didn't feel anything!  It was pretty claustrophobic, though, and I don't love heights either.  Was I experiencing vertigo?  Who knows?!?!?!?  Ironman always thinks I'm losing my mind or going crazy or something. I actually KNOW that both of those things are true since I was born to Wick Jackson...I can't be held responsible for myself!  At least I'm entertaining, right?!

By the time we made it to the top, it was so windy and began raining...so we didn't stay up there too long.  It was freaking me out a little.  I know...typical.  Isn't it in The Lord of the Rings that one of the wizards jumps or falls off of something that looks like this?  I just kept wondering "why don't they have taller rails?" and "isn't this dangerous, even for adults?".  It's weird...the adventurer side of me is pretty much always on, unless something looks too high or too tight or too dangerous or too uncomfortable...once it gets to that point I normally whine and cry and then Ironman feels sorry for me.  We really do make good traveling companions:)

We were hoping to get a ride with the random couple, back to the train station, but we were done before they even left the first level out of four.  So we went on alone...

This photo below is around 3:07pm...we are having fun, saying things like "Isn't this so cute" and " Don't you want to live here"...well, Ironman didn't use the word "cute":)...it was me.

This photo below is about 3:17pm...we still think that the bus is coming and we are saying things like "I wish Florence had good public transportation like this" and "Isn't this fun?!" and "Smiling's my favorite"...

See the monument behind Ironman?

The bus didn't come, so we took matters into our own hands.  We pretty much made a mutual (dumb) decision that asking directions was too hard and we would walk back to the train station by following our map. 

This is the Old Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace defeated the English!  It is basically in between the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle.

This is around 4pm when I took the photo of the bridge.  We are now wet and numb and only speaking when necessary...no more comments about fun things or happy ideas.  It's a miracle that I even took this photo.  We both have lost feeling in our hands and toes and raindrops were dropping in our eyes from our tobagons.  I kept hoping the strangers would drive by and pick us up. I guess hitchhiking twice in one day is too good to be true!

And this is when I quit taking photos.  At this point, it was survival of the fittest.  We finally made it to the train station...at this point, Ironman said I looked like a soaking wet little ragamuffin.  We waited for our train which left at 4:37pm (this is after we walked fast for an hour through the rain).  When we finally got back to Edinburgh I really wanted to lie down, curl up and become a street beggar at the train station entrance.  I kept dreaming of my Volvo wagon and the McLeod sauna...I wanted both.  Now.  I told Ironman I couldn't walk anymore, so he bought us some coffee, told me I had to walk and trudged on, holding my arm so I would sink into the sidewalk.  We got our Bus 10 and finally walked Into the McGregors door at 6:36pm.

I'm so tired, I seriously considered not writing today, but I figured someone would read this and our families would like to know we are alive...so I did it!  Yay me:)

Now I'm going to stare at the wall and drool until an the McGregors get back home:)

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