My family’s visit to Loch Ness ended with a literal bang, but — as the headline might suggest — not quite the bang we had hoped for. It all started early Thursday morning, when we left Edinburgh with my dad at the wheel of a Mercedes wagon after Gui apparently charmed the lady at the rental car desk into a free upgrade. Notably, that wheel was on the right side of the car instead of our accustomed left, which explains why my dad initially hopped into the passenger seat when we prepared to set off from the parking lot. Americans…
One coffee break and a lot of backseat driving later, we arrived safely in Inverness but unfortunately about 20 minutes late for our scheduled boat tour with Jacobite Cruises. Lucky for us, the kind staff rebooked us on a tour a couple of hours later so we drove downtown to find a bite to eat and get in some more plaid shopping. Before long, we were back at the dock waiting to board the boat along with a stylish plaid miniature of Nessie (the Loch Ness monster) that my sister had bought at the gift shop.
Loch Ness was pretty much exactly as I envisioned: Cold and windy, with mysterious, murky water surrounded by mossy mountain landscapes and castle ruins. I left my raincoat in the car since the forecast was calling for dry skies, but that turned out to be a strategic blunder — The gentle mist coming off of the water as the boat moved through the canal turned into a more powerful spray once we got into the choppy loch. It didn’t bother me much because I embraced it as part of the experience, with the help of a little extra warmth from the hot chocolate and whiskey drink Gui bought me, but many less enthusiastic passengers sought shelter inside the boat’s enclosed lower deck as a result. I know you’re going to ask, so no, I did not see the elusive Nessie. Gui insists he saw something off in the distance, though that may have just been the whiskey talking…
After our two-hour boat ride, we spent some time admiring the adorable Highland cows grazing near the parking lot before getting back on the road to find our Airbnb in Dornie, a tiny town just outside the Isle of Skye. About 30 minutes before we were due to arrive came the bang, and boy was it nasty. It seems like a piece of the cement curb had crumbled into the road and my dad, driving a bit to the left to compensate for the right-hand-side drivers’ seat, didn’t see it until it was too late. Ten seconds later, we were pulled over on the side of the road next to what my family will forever call the damn Cluanie dam, watching the air pressure drain from the front left tire on the fancy Mercedes dashboard controls. Damn.
It turns out not all cars are equipped with a spare these days — not to mention that the cement piece seemed to have bent the actual wheel — so long story short we were waiting on the side of the — I’ll admit, very scenic — road for three hours to be auto-rescued. Even though my dad repeatedly told the rental company we were sitting outside the entrance to the dam, they somehow had trouble locating us, so we passed the time playing Go Fish and cursing low-impact tires, the lady who gave us the upgrade and, of course, Nessie. When the headlights of the tow truck finally appeared in the by-then dimly-lit sky, we were pretty darn ready for the lift to our Airbnb for the night.
Do any other Americans have experience with Scottish tow trucks?
…Next stop, the Isle of Skye!