Posted by: Shanna Germain | 05/30/2009

Insert 5: Crystal

Insert number five, while I’m still forcing my poor friend to hike for miles and miles across Scotland. He says he’s having fun. He also, I think, has some rather large blisters and pretty sore calves…


Crystal is one of those woman who radiates energy, enthusiasm and joy. You can see it everything she says and does. To me, when I think of her, I think of someone who’s learned to follow her heart, no matter what crazy road it leads her on, and to live with intention, desire and gratitude.

Just recently, her husband Shawn died unexpectedly. It was so easy to tell how much they meant to each other just from the way she talked about him. I once remember her telling me that Shawn was her husband, her best friend, the one who loved and accepted her for everything she was. And I’ll let her tell the rest of the story, because it’s her story to tell. And she tells it so very well. She is, after all, like so many of my friends, a woman of words.




Baring our souls are we?

I am sure I already told you about Applecross in Scotland, but I must do so again unless I only thought I told you.

Applecross is on the west coast of Scotland, past Lochness and up the highest mountain pass in Great Britian. My husband and I had spent a day driving to the to the Isle of Skye quite frankly be a bit dissapointed. We were in Scotland in October 2003 and they had been having a drought. I know, Scotland and Drought just don’t seem to be words that could possibly go together, but it was true! So the islands were a bit brown and not so green as our crayola green.

We stopped at a tourist shop and asked a grizzled old man with a pipe between his lips where we might find some good food…amazing seafood! This raised his thick wirey eyebrows from beneath his newsboy cap and pulled out a tourist map.

“Just over this wee hill is the Applecross Inn.” He drew a squiggly unsteady line along a zig zaggy road and went back to his paper.

“They have seafood?” I asked. I was till doubtful because it seemed that even though Scotland was an island all I could find by the way of seafood was fish and chips…and well you know…fried things…

He looked at me like I was simple and my husband thanked him for the information.

It was about four in the afternoon when we took off with our directions. The car started climbing this crazy mountian. It was beautiful. A wall face on one side and a deep valley of lush green and trees below. It was a little nerve wracking with my husband driving because quite frankly he had bad depth perception on the correct side of the road back home. But we made it to the bottom and it wasn’t Applecross. We asked for directions at the post office and the woman looked at us like we were a little off our rockers, but basically told us to keep going.

We are meandering along through this valley of green, out of the little hamlet, when we come upon a sign that looks totally out of place. It is a big red road sign that reads, “Impassable During Winter.” The road that wound up this new mountain was even narrower than the one coming down. Single lane, dirt road.

I put the car in gear and my husband’s knuckles go white where they are holding the window sill. He is a bit afraid of heights you see, but there was no way he was driving when his depth perception is so bad and the sun is now starting to drop in the sky. This road was made by people who obviously have a death wish, or it was just not traveled enough on to be in any way maintained. Problem way, there was traffic.

We were staying at a self-catering guest house in Inverness and our hostess there had told us Scots have a way of seeing around corners. My observation had been that Scots think they have a way of seeing around corners.

The locals were taking this narrow road that barely hung on the cliff like it were a highway. It was barely wide enough for our car and they would down barrelling to skidding stop inches from our car. Then I would be forced to back up to the nearest “clamshell” on the side of the cliff, around the corner to allow them to pass. So after 45 minutes of nail biting terror on hair pin turns we arrived at the top of the mountain. There was an area for people to get out of their cars and change their underwear…;-)

So this spot, at the top of this pass, has been the most beautiful place I have ever seen. In my mind, this was where Avalon of the Authurian Legends was set. This was a dream. Mountains in the distance, rising out of the water in pointed peeks. The sun setting in hazy magnifigance. There really are no words to tell you how beautiful it was. The wind was whipping around us and I wanted to stay in that moment forever, Shawn’s hand in mind, tears in my eyes as we took in the simple beauty that is the earth…but a drink sounded really good after that drive.

The drive down the other side of the moutnain into Applecross wasn’t nearly as dramatic. Applecross itself is made up of a few scattered houses, beautiful tall trees and the Applecross Inn, where our seafood was waiting. The inn was set on the shore, with picnic tables outside. A rock strewn beach met the sea. The day was still warm and the sun felt wonderful as we took a seat and raised a toast to surviving the pass.

And the food, the reason we took this drive, is some of the best food I have ever eaten. My usband ordered the venison sausge. It was perfect. I had halibut that had been caught fresh that morning right off the shore. For dessert there was this amazing oat and cream and fruit thing…I don’t know what it was called, but it melted in our mouths.

It was one of the most perfect moments…one of those days that will forever be a highlight of my life…I can see Shawn’s face, the smile…his eyes so bright with happiness…I miss him terribly…

But you must, during your stay in Scotland, find a perfect day for driving…find Applecross…I think there is an easier way of getting there…but I wouldn’t take it…:-)

I will send you a link to some pics from our trip…

Enjoy the sunshine…and keep the stories coming…xoxo



“People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive.  It is as though they were traveling abroad.”  ~Marcel Proust



  1. I second the Applecross rec. Great pub, great drive, great scenery.

    • Okay, now I’m going there for sure! 🙂

  2. /huge hugs

    Thanks for sharing your adventure Crystal

    • I agree. It’s such a fun, funny, also sweet and scary story… I love it.

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