Battlefields, Monuments and Castles, Oh My!

Our first day of travel in Scotland saw us visiting battlefields, monuments and castles. There is so much history here. I really don’t know how anyone can keep track of who fought which battle during what year. People have lived in Scotland for over 12,000 years, but her written history dates back only to the 1100s. I do know this much – the Scots love Robert the Bruce and William Wallace.

After picking up our car in Glasgow, we headed 30 miles north to the city of Stirling.

Geographically, this is where the Scottish highlands meet the lowlands. Ancient artifacts and bones found in the area have been carbon dated back to the Bronze Age.

Upon arriving in Stirling, our first stop was the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. During a two day battle in June of 1314, Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, squared off against Edward II of England in a battle over Stirling Castle. After the 2 day battle, the English broke formation and the Scots were victorious in occupying the castle.


Our next stop, was across the city to the National Wallace Monument built in 1869. This is where, in 1297, William Wallace, Andrew de Moray and their troops defeated the powerful English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge – think Braveheart. We toured the visitor center, drank decadent hot chocolate and walked the footpath up the hill to the monument.

The National Wallace Monument

Once there, we climbed the spiral stone staircase to the Hall of Arms level. The next level was the Hall of Heroes which housed 15 white marble and one bronze bust of Scotland’s most notable figures. The centerpiece of this exhibit was the Wallace Sword, said to have been used by William Wallace himself in 1297. Our tour guide was a former police investigator who has a couple of personal ties to sword. I teared up listening to his passionate account of Scottish history.


If you are familiar with the movie Braveheart, you know how William Wallace met his demise.  Each time I watch the movie, I get ripped up at how cruel his death was – shame on you, Hollywood, for making his execution worse than it really was!! After visiting the monument, I now believe Hollywood actually softened the blow for us.

Actual account of William Wallace’s execution

After walking down the paths of the monument, we drove back across Stirling to the Stirling Castle. (Have I ever mentioned about roundabouts being the spawn of the devil?) The city of Stirling was once the capital of Scotland and is home to Stirling Castle. Ancient ruins can be dated as far back as the 12th century. The structures now in place were built between 1490 and 1600. The castle has seen 8 sieges with the last one being in 1746.

For more than 600 years, notable writers have linked Stirling Castle to the legend of King Arthur. Recent research has revealed The Round Table may have been hidden below the castle.


Recently, nine graves were discovered under a chapel built in the 1600s. Two skeletons, one male and one female, apparently met violent deaths in the 1300s. It was interesting to view the exhibit and see the research on how they came to conclusions regarding the individuals.

The history of the castle is overwhelming, so buying books to read later is a must. There was so much more to Stirling, but unfortunately, we needed to hook it to Pitlochry 60 miles away and check into our inn before nightfall.

*Estimating time of arrival in Scotland is quite different than in Meeker. You have a lot of these to contend with….

Free range sheep! They love to lay in the road, too! Plus, they’re in no hurry to move….



About 7 years ago, Dale expressed a strong desire to travel to Scotland. Our last name is Dunbar – pretty Scottish, eh? We excitedly tossed around the idea. What should we do? Where should we go? How long should we be gone? They have amazing scotch, right? And hiking? Right? What about the food? Haggis? What in the hell is that? What kind of hunting and fishing do they have?

Finally, last year, we started researching Scotland and all she has to offer. Last year? Why so long? Well, life always seems to get in the way when you’re making plans for something else. We attended graduations, our children’s marriages, the births of our grandchildren, our parents illnesses, and a host of travel adventures. The idea was always there, it’s just other things took precedent over Scotland.

Continue reading Scotland…finally!

Hiking With Little People

The words, “Grammie! Can we go for a hike?”, are music to my ears. I get excited thinking about the memories I’m instilling in the little brains of my 2-year-old granddaughter, Brooklyn and my six-year-old grandson, Jackson. 

We had been camping in our favorite spot on top of the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado. My husband and I, our oldest son and his wife and their 2 kids and 2 dogs made up the camp. Camp was set up, we had no sooner settled back into our chairs with a nice cold drink when Brooklyn and Jackson patted my hand and asked me to take them on a hike. 

I was a bit tired but eagerly jumped at the chance as I know as they get older, they won’t want to tag along with their grandmother but rather, hang with high school buddies at the mall ( hopefully at Cabela’s or REI).  I grabbed my backpack and instructed them to pick out snacks and pack them into my pack. They also got their jackets, sunscreen, hats, hiking poles, chapstick, playing cards (just in case), Capri Suns, extra clothes and crayons (just in case). 

After 15 or 20 minutes of preparation, we were ready to set out into the unknown. We touched base with everyone letting them know of our intentions. My daughter-in-law, Heather, looked at us then at her watch as said, “I give you 15 minutes.” My son, Kevin, said, ” See ya soon.” “Ha! ~ we will be gone longer than you think”, I thought to myself. My husband just grinned. After 33.5 years of marriage, he knows when to keep his mouth shut. 

We said our goodbyes and hiked off into the forest following an old jeep road. About 20 yards down the road, Brookyn suddenly shouted, “Grammie!!! I have to go pee!” Oh shoot! We were potty training her and I had forgotten to get a diaper on her. Before I could grab her, she was standing in the middle of the road with a wetness dribbling down her pants. Jackson decided we’d best go back and change her pants. I agreed. 

As we walked back into camp, my daughter-in-law looked at her watch. “Wow. Missed that one’, she said. I changed Brooklyn and we headed out again. Jackson put another water bottle in my backpack, just in case. 

Off we trotted down the road again, the kids skipping as I was strolling behind, watching their enthusiasm, until…… “Grammie!!! I pooped my diaper!” We immediately turned around and headed back to the campsite. I couldn’t even look their parents in the eye. We did manage to knock out 50 yards before that accident. 

Ten minutes later we were back on the trail. Along the way we saw the Colorado State Flower, the Columbine. I pointed out Wild Onions.


We picked them and chewed on them. After that, I think the kids stopped to pick every single one in the forest. They decided they were hungry and sat down to have a snack. I showed them Wild Irises. We also spied Wild Strawberries. They learned about Glacier Lilies and how bears like to eat them. 

Bears?? Eat these flowers?? These flowers right here?? They come here and eat these flowers?? Panic started to set in. Jackson said he wasn’t too fond of bears. Brooklyn started crying. Oh no! What have I done? I rounded them up and we scurried back to the campsite where we were safe. Never mind the fact we were never out of sight of the camp, to the kids, we were miles from safety.

Back in camp, Brooklyn and Jackson excitedly told their parents, both science teachers, what they had seen and learned about while they were in the wild. Flowers, onions and bears. Sometimes we get caught up in our hurry up and wait world. We forget to cherish the small things in life and the little people who help us stay grounded. I got to see the forest through the eyes of a 5 (now 6) year old and a 2 year old. I learned patience and gained a new perspective of my surroundings. We had only been gone for 20 minutes and had hiked maybe, 100 yards, but to them, it was a long way and warranted all the snacks, water, clothing and crayons. For them, it was the best day ever. And to me, it WAS the best day ever. Everyone should hike with little people. 

Girls of the Fire

Camping with the grandkids is always an adventure. Their level of activity keeps me on my toes! I’m constantly telling them to keep away from the fire. “Don’t stray too far from the campsite.” “Don’t swing sticks around the dogs.” “Don’t throw things into the fire.” “Watch where you’re stepping.” My radar is extra sensitive as the outdoor hazards are not as controlled as they are at home. 

I forget they enjoy the outdoors differently than adults do.

Recently, I got to enjoy some one-on-one time around the campfire with my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, Brooklyn. Everyone had taken off for a few hours and the two of us were left to hang out at camp. We sat around, relaxing in our camp chairs. She started to get a little squirmy, so I asked her if she wanted to help me start a campfire.

She jumped up and down, clapping her hands. I can’t believe what I was about to do was totally contradictory to what I had been telling her all day. Without the distraction of others, I taught Brooklyn how to gather wood and start a fire. She added sticks to the fire and placed them in a pyramid. I lit them and we enjoyed a nice blaze.

She volunteered to gather more wood and stacked it neatly in a pile for later. This was a completely different task from earlier in the day when she and her older brother were throwing sticks and knocking over the woodpile.

Brooklyn and I sat in our chairs and talked about how much we enjoy camping in the woods. We listened to the sounds that appear when it gets dark in the forest. We imagined what they could be. Squirrels? Birds? A bear? Or maybe a cow that had strayed from the herd that was grazing nearby?


I had my phone and asked if she would like to listen to some music. I played American Authors and she danced around the campfire in the dark to the song, “Best Day of My Life” and “Oh What A Life”. Seeing a 2 1/2 year old dancing around the fire to those songs made my heart soar.

We were enjoying being the only ones in camp and we were doing what girls do when they camp ~ embrace each other and the outdoors. She even sang the National Anthem at the top of her lungs. What makes us want to sing at the top of our lungs around a campfire in the middle of nowhere? Maybe it’s an instinct as old as time that kicks in. Whatever it is, I love it! And so did Brooklyn.

I look forward to being alone with her in the woods again, doing what girls to best ~ making fire and singing!

The Men Behind the Women of Hike Like A Woman

Hike Like A Woman is a brilliant website brimming with women who celebrate being a woman in the outdoors and who inspire each other on a daily basis. I am one of the lucky few who is both an Ambassador and a staff member of HLAW. We are first and foremost, adventurers. We are bloggers, vloggers and freelancers. We are day hikers and backpackers. We are horsewomen, skiers, snowshoers and climbers. We mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. We blog about our day hike to amazing waterfalls or our solo hike into the wilderness. We write articles about our hopes, our dreams, our families, our hiking buddies, and what scares us. We take our audience on a magic carpet ride in search of the perfect piece of hiking gear, backpack snack or the perfect trail. We tell stories of our time on the trail and share our victories and defeats with each other. We are a sisterhood. We are a tribe of outdoor women.

But hidden behind the curtains, standing in the shadows, are the men who support us and embrace our philosophy. Without them, we would not be the women we are today.

My husband, Dale, and I just celebrated our 33rd wedding 19884106_10155434598052398_6597964975313584957_nanniversary. We met in college and have been a couple for 37 years now. Throughout the better part of my life, Dale and I have adventured through life together, as a team.  He supports every zany idea I come up with. He is there to catch me when I fall, brush me off and set me back on the path.

Engineer pass

He wholeheartedly supports my position within the Hike Like A Woman community. He helps edit my blogs and articles. He makes suggestions for topics and takes me on amazing adventures so I may share them with others. He pushes me to be a better person than I was the day before and he inspires me to be the best I can be. We are a team. He is the man behind this HLAW woman.

I asked some of my fellow HLAW ambassador buddies to tell me about their behind-the-scenes man ~ Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to some of the men behind the women of Hike Like A Woman: 


HLAW Ambassador Jennifer Simmons, her husband Scott, and their growing family

Kristin Smeltzer My lovely man is allergic to the outdoors. Literally allergic to all flora (he got tested). He is the only person I know who has managed to get bitten by a possum. The outdoors is just really not his thing. But he understands how much being outdoors means to me. He encourages me to take time out hiking and camping as he knows it strengthens me mentally and physically. He encourages me to do things he wouldn’t do – like go overseas for a month hiking and travelling with no fixed plan. You can’t get a lot more supportive than that … 

Rebecca Connell Walsh My husband challenges me to push myself harder than I think I can, to set bigger goals than I think I’m capable of achieving, and to reach for the stars. But if I miss he catches me when I fall, and lifts me back up again. He’s my best friend, my confidant, my mentor, and an amazing father to my little boys. He’s the best thing to ever happen to me. 

HLAW founder aka Bossypants, Rebecca Walsh and her husband, Al Walsh

Ruth Schmidt I must say that all of the guys I regularly hike with (husband included) have been fantastic and have helped me out on numerous occasions. My husband helped me when we were kloofing in the Magaliesberg and I started getting cramps from the cold water (, and of course my friend Ralph and cousin Benjamin carried all my stuff and helped me hike out of the Drakensberg when I dislocated my shoulder.

Amanda Lucy Haskins Where do I even begin??? Tim has carried me mentally, physically and emotionally through one of the most difficult and challenging parts of my life. He has helped me to work my way from the wheelchair up to 6 miles of hiking (and he hates hiking!). He carries me to bed when I am in too much pain to walk.

I ask him constantly why he would want to be with a broken girl when there are so many healthy girls out there. He still sees me as Wonder Woman even when I am sobbing from the frustration of not being able to be the me I used to be, from the pain and from countless doctors visits with no answers.

He has made all my dreams come true while carrying me. He took me and my dogs to see the ocean, which was my final wish before I passed away. He got me my dream farm to live on, which brings me so much peace and joy. He loves me through the good times and the bad (which have been many). I don’t know how he does it with the patience and kindness of a saint. I never imagined anyone would love me the way he does, or see me the way he does or stand by me through it all. I am truly blessed to be loved by this man! I wouldn’t be the strong woman I am today without my Beast giving his strength to me. 

Lucy and Tim
Tim and Lucy will be tying the marriage knot in September ~ Congratulations!!!! ~

Lucky Charms for the Trail

When we pack for a backpacking trip, we pack the essentials to ensure our survival.

Simply put ~ Food, clothing and shelter. But, there are other tricks we have up our sleeve that we can’t do without on the trail.

Please do not make me leave my 4 year old trusty compression gloves at home!

Lucky charms, tradition or superstition, call it what you will. I’m a firm believer. If it works to ensure a safe and uneventful trip for us, then I make sure I do the same thing over and over again.

I wear the exact same clothes. That way there is no overthinking of what to wear. Worked last time. It’ll work this time. Unless I’ve gained weight and have to buy something new ~ which now makes me cranky to think that I have gained some weight and I’ll be a Nancy-No Fun on the trail. 

I wear the exact same jewelry as I did on the previous backpack trip and I paint my nails the color of the trail I’m on.

Before our hike in the Grand Canyon, I had scheduled a nail appointment. I thought that was a silly thing to do, as I’d probably screw up a good manicure. Nope! It turns out that my nails were extra strong and didn’t break. Plus, they looked good, too! They hid the dirt well. We all need to utilize a little vanity every now and then, plus have fun with it.

The only jewelry I wear while backpacking and my CT green nails!

Before our hike on the Colorado Trail, I scheduled a manicure. My nail technician suggested I paint them the color of the iconic trail markers. They matched perfectly! I wore the same jewelry on the trail that I had worn in the Grand Canyon. 

Spidey always goes where Dale goes…. They’re a team!

Dale packs his lucky Spiderman bendable action figure as his co-navigator. He goes wherever we go. He transfers Spidey from his daypack to his backpack when necessary. That little man goes with us wherever we go. Why? No reason other than it wouldn’t feel right if we left him home. 

My trowel always clings to the left side of my pack ~ never the right. Do not ask me why…

Then there is the trowel I carry. It can always be found on the left side of my pack. Dale suggested putting it on the other side and I about stroked out. I don’t know why I can’t pack it on the right side ~ I just have a phobia about screwing up the good vibes. When I try to go against the grain, it just doesn’t feel good. 

I have an irrational fear of screwing up good karma on the trail. So I do everything in my power to make sure I won’t upset the trail gods. All our pack trips have been successful and uneventful. So, I believe all our charms, superstitions and traditions have paid off. What are your superstitions? Do you have any lucky charms to ward off the bad vibes one might encounter in the woods?

 *Remember ~ it’s only weird if it doesn’t work. *

Is It Summer, Yet?

Summertime is a long time coming when you live in the northwest corner of Colorado. It can snow one day, be 65 degrees the next, blow the salad off your plate, then rain that afternoon. I have sat in my front yard, wrapped in a sleeping bag on the 4th of July, watching the fireworks while it spit snow on us! While waiting for the weather to straighten out, trip planning is on the books.

Camping at Steamboat Lake, Colorado

Our favorite summer trips are the ones we take with our friends. And family, of course. But because our kids don’t live in town, anymore, we often hook up with friends. Dale and I have taken our friends fishing, hiking, backpacking, camping, boating and 4 wheeling. Going on adventures is so much more fun when shared with other like-minded adventurers. Our fun meter always seems to get cranked sky high.

Bechler River Trail, Yellowstone National Park

I have laughed with my friends in a cabin until my sides hurt so bad that I prayed for a somber moment. I have played cards for shots of my favorite drink at an outfitter’s camp located deep in the Flat Tops Wilderness of Colorado, only to brush my teeth with the leftover rum and coke in my coffee cup the next morning. My husband and I have listened from our sleeping bags, to our camp mates in the next tent trying to herd a bat in the direction of the nearest exit while trying not to wake us up with their squeals. We all take turns fixing the best camp dinners ever ~ it’s kind of an egotistic validation type of thing. We have fished until our arms hurt from catching too many fish. We have  hiked switchbacks while hollering to each other, “Hellooooooo!”, in a British accent. Somehow, I don’t think these moments in time would have occurred if it was just Dale and I by ourselves. Dignity seems to go out the window when we run in packs.


Blair Mtn
Los Blancos Locos

There are 6 of us who are great friends. Our kids have grown up together. Two of us are co-workers. Four of us are co-founders of a business. We all come from diverse backgrounds, but our thirst for adventure has brought us closer together.

Every trip we take together is a grand adventure in companionship. We have climbed up mountains together.

We have slept under the stars together. We have crossed over 12,000′ passes. We have hiked into camp only to play cards and cheat our way to victory (Doug!) We have sat in the hot springs of Chalk Creek together until our skin wrinkled and almost fell off!

We are more than just friends, we are a small gang. 

It takes a certain type of chemistry to hang with people who like to have the same adventures as you do. It doesn’t work for all couples, but it works for us! All the decisions are made easily.  All the small jobs that come with a hike or camping trip are distributed with ease.  I don’t know how or why it happens ~ it just does.

Just before the beginning of summer, we will all meet at the local hangout, Chippers, in Meeker.  We will get out our calendars and pin down a weekend when we are all free. We will mark it down then discuss where to go and what to do.  As the special date gets closer, we will meet on a back porch to outline details of the trip. A few days before the trip, us gals will head to the grocery store with a list of food that would feed a kingdom. We will not starve.

When the day of our adventure arrives, the vehicles will be gassed up, our coolers packed, our backpacks ready to go and we all pile into our cars laughing and yakking all the way to our destination.  Our trip together will be filled with non-stop adventure. We will return exhausted but with many memories that will be revisited between ourselves year after year.


Wandering Chardonnay Podcast ~ you’ll love her!! So my podcast is out on Hike Like a Woman! It was my first time doing a podcast interview. We did the interview back in December, so I was still in trail prep mode. Rebecca is a great interviewer, checkout some of her other interviews they are more informative. I was nervous, if you […]

via Podcast giggles — wandering chardonnay