Things I won’t miss about traveling internationally.

There really are a lot of things I will miss about this year, some of them are things I will look back on and smile for the the rest of my life. But a few things, I will be so very happy to leave on this side of the Atlantic.

1. People assuming that all Americans are morons.- I knew that people did this, but I’ve been shocked and a little hurt at how few people seem to care if I know they feel this way. One woman in particular refuses to this day to admit that some Americans can be intelligent. 

2. People asking me about Donald Trump.- I do not want to discuss this with you or with anyone else, because even though I am an American, I am not a moron.

3. Our idea of “plenty of room” differs greatly- in a bedroom, on a bus, and most especially on the road. Two millimeters between car wing mirrors is not “plenty of room”.

4. Passing people on sidewalks- in the us, 95% go right. Over here, it’s anyone’s guess. I’d estimate that about 55% go left, 35% go right, and 10% don’t give a bother and just run right into you.

5. People asking very specifically were staying.- you know, sometimes I don’t want strangers to know where I sleep at night. 

6. The God-damn power outlets.- ok, this one is stupid, but it’s infuriating to get all settled in bed and realize that you forgot to turn on the outlet into which your phone is plugged so it won’t charge. 

7. Planning.- I love planning, but I am sick to death of it. I’m so very over choosing hosts, dates, times, hostels, trains, buses, flights and food. I want to go back to just choosing what clothes to wear and what to cook for dinner. On a similar note, very excited to make money again. 

8. Having little to no say in what I eat.- this one goes with planning, but I miss being able to choose a salad for lunch, or to eat a small dinner, or have a smoothie for breakfast. I dedicate 10 lbs of this trip to having almost nothing to do with dishing my own plate. Consequentially, Tyler is the thinnest he’s been since high school for exactly the same reason.

9. Public transportation.- I’m all for saving our natural resources, but for the love of all that is good, stop kicking my seat!

10. Not killing spiders.- This one is completely beyond me. At home, if a spider enters my home, it deserves to die as swiftly and as violently as possible. Here, people don’t even seem to notice them (Read, spiders everywhere). One of our hosts requested that instead of killing spiders, we capture them and release them into his bedroom (??!!!!!!). 

Ok, so to sum up, I’m pretty excited to come home. Although if it weren’t for this fluffy little monster I would be willing to keep doing this, yes even with the spiders, forever.


Scafell Pike.

Scafell Pike is the tallest peak in England, and for us, the final mountain in the Three Peaks Challenge. This peak was a great hike for a lot of reasons, though it is the lowest and shortest of the three hikes. 

Scafell Pike is thus named because it was originally thought to be the second tallest peak in England, next to Scafell, which stands directly east. After the ordinance survey, it was discovered that the not yet named peak to the west was actually 10 feet taller, and it was therefore given the name Scafell Pike. The mountain is located in the fells (mountains) of Englands Lake district, an incredibly beautiful part of the country. 

 We summited Scafell Pike two days after our summit of Ben Nevis, so we were quite sore, but feeling optimistic. Our wonderful friends Bert and Erin Carlstrom took a train to Penrith, and we picked them up there before heading to a campsite in the Lakes. It has been inexpressibly comforting to be able to see the two of them every few weeks, and even though we keep thinking that we wont see them again while on this trip, we always do! 

Our night squished into the little tent was stormy, though warm enough with all four of us. We started our day with a search for coffee, which we almost gave up on, but in the end, succeeded. The trail started in sheep fields full of newborn lambs, enough people must walk past them that they werent even scared. From there the trail became steadily more steep, but we were feeling confident. 

The mist descended within the first two miles, and the false summits started. We often thought we could see the outline of the summit, just to reach the top and find that it kept going up. Certain members of our party (who wished to remain unnamed) continually tried to convince the rest of us that we had already reached the summit cairn, but as certain other people continually argued, if there is more up, there is more mountain!

Reaching the summit was a great feeling, all the more so because Tyler and I had found some medals in a gift shop that say “3 Peaks Challenge” and we had bought some champagne for the occasion. We had Bert take pictures and Erin give us the medals, which I realize sounds silly, and it was. 

 The hike back was full of laughter and Harry Potter games and trivia, because Bert and Erin are just as cool as we are. 

The hike was amazingly beautiful, but my favorite part was sharing it with people I love, that we will never actually say goodbye to. 

The Three Peaks Challenge was amazing, and were really proud of ourselves for finishing it. 26 miles of hiking, and over 9,800 feet of elevation gained. We definitely earned our whisky that night!

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the tallest peak in Scotland, and in fact, the tallest peak in all of the United Kingdom, at 4,414 ft. Its name has been shortened form the Gaelic Beinn Nibheis which means “Mountain with Its head in the Clouds”, which is a perfect description.


Tyler and I had set out in February (with our ascent of Mount Snowden in Wales) to complete the “Three Peaks Challenge” and hike the tallest peaks in England, Wales, and Scotland, so our second ascent took us to Ben Nevis in Scotland. The hike starts nearly at sea level, so the climb is nearly 4,000 feet, meaning that it is the longest and most difficult of the three peaks. We were lucky with the weather, it was chilly but not wet or windy, and the trail was dry. The hike was almost all stone steps, which is a good thing, as the mountain attracts almost 100,000 visitors a year. We decided on this hike that Tyler and I are ideal hiking partners. We seem to set a good pace together, not fast, but steady and consistent. Our breaks are short, and we usually talk the whole time, although I think we mostly do that because even when we’re not in Montana, Hiking=BEARS. 

The trail leveled out for a bit and we had amazing views of Glen Nevis, right at the base of the mountain, as well as an imposing view of just how steeply the trail would climb from there. Shortly afterward, we started to encounter snow fields, which were wet and slushy from being trod on, although for us this just means more things to laugh about. The mist set in during the last half mile, and even though we couldnt see anything for the rest of the hike, it was still beautiful. 

Summit of Ben Nevis is the dome of a collapsed volcano, on which rests an observatory that was built in 1883, and which remained active until 1904. The geology would have been fun to study, but unfortunately we were standing on 7 feet of snow! 

On the hike back down we passed a group of men about our age who were about halfway up, none of them were doing very well. One of them was carrying a pint of whole milk, and he kept drinking out of it as he hiked. I cant think of anything that would sound worse during a hike than milk. I don’t even know what to say, or why Im telling you this, but it really surprised me. In fact, we’ve summited two more mountains since Ben Nevis, and each time before we started I jokingly asked Tyler if we remembered our pint of milk.

Somehow, we dont know how, it took us the same amount of time to get down as it did to go up. I still think we must have gone through a stargate or something and lost an hour of our lives. 

All in all, Ben Nevis was an amazing hike-if you ever get the chance to do it yourself, take it!

Edinburgh and Camping the Highlands.

Well, this might sounds strange, but Tyler and I have not had time off alone together since August. I know most of you think that this whole trip has actually been time off, but I assure you, it has not. We work at least 5 days a week, and almost never get two days off in a row, so we dont often get to go far from the farm. We love the work, but it is exhausting! Its also surprisingly exhausting to live in someone elses’ home.

So we took a week off in the middle of May for our first vacation! We spent three wonderful days in Edinburgh, which we first had to learn how to pronounce (ed-in-bra). We stayed in a great little hostel that was actually a converted church, and we got to eat Mexican food! We spent our days in the city wandering around, looking in on little tourist shops, getting a pint or a whisky at a pub, and listening to music. 

One of the highlights of this stop was the Elephant House Cafe. If you dont know, this is the cafe where JK Rowling sat and scribbled the first few chapters of Harry Potter on napkins, when she was too poor to afford a notepad. The cafe is now a very thriving tourist spot, as most major city tours at least pass by the place. We got coffee and cake and sat in this magical little spot for a long time. One of the best things is that people have taken to writing messages to JK Rowling on the walls of the bathroom, and as I knew about this, I had what I wanted to say prepared. As it turns out, everyone, everyone writes to Jo. There was hardly a square inch of space. It was definitely the most emotional bathroom Ive ever been in. It feels strange to say it, but it was beautiful to see how much those stories mean to people, and the things they learned and valued from them. 

Another highlight was tracking down Scotland Street. If you’ve never heard of the 44 Scotland Street books, you should! They’re Tyler’s current literary obsession. We found the street, tiny and quaint as discribed in the books, and we visted the Cumberland Bar, which is a pub most of the characters in the book frequent. Although the employees had never actually heard of the books. 

We caught a bus to the airport the next day and picked up our rental car. I can’t believe how lucky we are, but we got to see our dear friend Emma again! She was home from Skye for a bit, so we stopped by her parents house on our way out of Edinburgh, where they lent us a tent, sleeping bags, and camping pads. It was an incredibly generous thing, and something that we will appreciate forever; I only hope we can return the favor someday.

We then traveled north to a little village called Aberfeldy. I happen to love Aberfeldy whisky, but the main attraction of this place is that it is where JK Rowling currently lives. So we tracked down her house and took a picture of the gate, all the while saying things like “She drives down this road“, and “She buys her groceries here”

Next was the incredibly beautiful drive through Glencoe National Park, where we had to stop a million times to take pictures, and onto Fort William, where we found a great and very cheap campsite. Our campsite host was named Bill, and he was a delight to meet. He came to our tent the first morning and gave us his version of what the owls sounded like the night before. We had stayed up all night listening to them, but his was almost as great.  

It turns out that Fort William is maybe the cutest town ever. There is a great pedestrian zone, with little pubs and shops, and really friendly people who arent yet sick of asking tourists where they come from. Our first day in Fort william was climbing Ben Nevis, but in true Richardsonsinnorway fashion, I have to dedicate a whole post to any major peak climbed. (It just occured to me that I didnt dedicate one to Ben Rinnes, but Ill just tell you that I was big, the day was hot, and it went very well.) Ok, so check back soon for information about Ben Nevis-and for now, know that it was absolutely the best mountain summit of my life. 

We spent a day driving down from Fort William, down to Oban, and past Loch Lommond to the Lake District, where we collected our sweet, crazy friends, Erin and Bert Carlstrom, from the train station. I say crazy because they took a train to see us for just 20 hours, 7 hours of which were spent squished into a tiny tent with us, and 6 of which were spent hiking the tallest mountain in England. It was wonderful to see our friends again, even for a short time, I cant believe how lucky we’ve been to see them as much as we have. So we hiked Scafell Pike, which again, needs its own post, and we therefore completed the Three-Peak Challenge; Climbing the tallest peaks in England, Wales, and Scotland.  We drove back to Emmas parents house after the mountain, and they let us sleep in their camper before our flight to Ireland the next day. 

 Vacation was a success!!!

Living with Muggles.

Well, its no secret that I love Harry Potter. I only have to put it in writing just in case you dont know me, or you know me from a long time ago when I still wanted to be cool. I LOVE Harry Potter. I think the stories are great, very well written, especially for growing kids, and I think they accomplish all of the goals JK Rowling set out to acchieve when she wrote them. They teach kids not to be biggoted, to be brave, smart, and loving, to have a sense of humor, and sense of right and wrong, to not be spoiled brats, and to love people in spite of their own personal disagreements. There have been some great studies done on readers of Harry Potter, which prove that my generation, “Generation Hex” is the term I prefer, is the most accepting, and least biggoted generation in [a really long time. Sorry to be vague, Ill try to look it up before I publish this, but chances are I will forget].

Tyler and I spent 3 weeks with a family “O’the biggest Muggles I ever laid eyes on” this month, and I actually learned a lot; about myself, about my husband, and most particularly about parenting. We were staying just 3 miles outside of the village of Dufftown, the “Malt Whisky Capital of the World”. The family with whom we were working consisted of a stay-at-home mom, a dad who worked (?), and two girls, Heather age 8, and Kirsten age 13. They lived in the big house, while Tyler and I shared the little steading with a woman named Lynn and her 17 year old son, Kyle. What a group. We had high hopes going to this farm, but quickly became discouraged. While the work wasnt exactly exhausting, we found ourselves incredibly tired by the end of the day. Of course, dealing with children is always exhausting, but what we discovered was making us so tired, was the fact that we were expected to perform for these people 24 hours a day. Ill get back to that.

Our work was really interesting, although we were expected to work 4 hours a day longer than our agreement stated. But the work was fulfilling and fun so we didnt complain. We learned to tile a bathroom, from start to finish, and we learned how to pick and point a rock wall. The pointing was very fun, as its just pushing mortar into the cracks between the rocks and then smoothing the whole thing out. As you can maybe imagine, this work required a bit of thought in the beginning, but after a while it became pretty easy. We started listening to Harry Potter on audiobook to help pass the time. This was around the time that we began to notice little things we disagreed with, which are always good things to point out and discuss when you’re considering raising children with someone. 

The girls’ father made several comments to us early on, things about how he worked so much (but where!?) that he felt like he was missing their childhood. He would come in for dinner at the same time as us, we would sit at the kitchen table with his kids, while he would turn on the TV, sit with his back to all of us, and “ask” for things like salt by holding his hand over the back of the couch. The girls themselves were their own packet of frustration, as they particularly had no sense of bounderies. The hardest thing though, was to see them interact with kids their own age. They are home schooled (but when!?), and while I personally have seen a lot of people do homeschooling really well, these kids were not getting the beneficial side of it. They had no idea how to relate to other kids their age, and they behaved much younger than they were. It was strange to me that the kids had never read Harry Potter (I know a lot of parents didnt want their kids to read it), but that their mom was so proud of this fact, telling us how they read non-fiction books about World War II instead. 

They were, as best I can describe it, children raised without magic. Im absolutely not saying that kids need to read Harry Potter to have a magical childhood, please dont take it that way. These are kids who are growing up in one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places on earth, yet have no interaction with it. Right after they picked us up from the airport, Angela told us that they like to have workers because it “gives the girls culture”, yet every night the whole family told us how everything we do differently than them is wrong; its difficult to learn if you can’t listen. 

I write all of this, mostly because this blog is a great way for me to process things that happen, but also to publicly declare that I do not want to be a biggoted person, or a person so set in my ways that I cant even listen to the views of others, no matter what I believe. I learned a lot about what I do and do not want when it comes to raising children, something up till now I imagined I would just figure out as I went. I guess being with the Muggles taught me that I’d like to view the prospect of having a family with more intentionality, and absolutely bearing in mind the responsiblity that comes with it. 

(Speaking of responsibility, , The whisky pictures are because I shattered my phone so I have almost no pictures from our time there, also we drank a little bit.)

The Spirit of Speyside.

There are few things better in the world than a great festival. Especially one that centers around something you love. For Tyler and I, that festival happens to be the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which we did not happen to know was occuring until about 2 weeks before it did. It also happened to occur in the little village just 3 miles from where we were staying. We had been staying with a family in the Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands, right outside Dufftown, though the nearest post office is in Elgin, 30 miles away. 

There may not be a post office within 30 miles, but there is a LOT of whisky. 17 currently active distilleries  to be exact, and prominent among them are such names as Macallan, Glenmorangie, The Glenlivet, and Glenfiddich. This festival attracts people from all over the globe, all with a shared love of whisky; and we got to join them!

Friday the 29th of April was Tyler’s birthday, and we fully celebrated this year! I didnt want to get him just another thing to carry around, so this year, I asked a few of his friends and family to send me videos of themselves wishing him a happy birthday, and here is the result for you to see! Just know that this collection of videos is what happens when you ask a bunch of people to send their love, and it absolutely blew us both away. Here it is for you to see!

Click here!
So back to the festival. We walked into town on friday for the Speyside 2016 championship whisky judging, where we got to taste the top 6 whiskys from Speyside for the year, the only competition where the winner was chosen by the drinkers, not the makers. It was a great night, we sat at a table with three experts, and enjoyed every minute.

 On Saturday, we walked back into town and took a wood working class with a professional craftsman. The whole workshop was green, meaning it had no cords, and no powertools. We spun the wood on a pedal powered lathe, and burned marks on them using scraps of wood. 

That night we went to a Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), where we got to learn some wonderful country dances, and listened to some beautiful traditional music by a great band called, Im not kidding, Footerin’ Aboot. 

On Sunday, Tyler entered into a barrel racing competition, which is not the same as it is in Montana. This was literally rolling a whisky barrel down a street and back up it again for time. He did terribly, but it was very fun! 

Later, we went to a whisky fair, where we got to taste some of the oldest and most expensive whisky in the world, and have some really wonderful conversations with not only the other whisky lovers, but with the actually distillers. It was a complete honor to be a part of this festival, and I can’t believe how lucky we are. 

Skye by Car, a Journey in Pictures.

We took a day off to spend with our sweet friend, Emma, and we rented a car! And drove on the wrong side of the road! And the wrong side of the car! Tyler is a pro though, and he mastered it in no time. Though, we both kept trying to get in the car on the wrong side. We spent a very busy day, doing everything on the Isle of Skye in one exhausting day. Here’s what we saw, enjoy, and keep in mind, Scotland is actually just one huge painting. 

On our way to Neist Point,  

The very sweet way the Scots might pronounce Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse, in all its glory.

Next stop was a tour of the Talisker Scotch Distillery, which was free (although it would have been worth the cost).
And on to the amazing Fairy Pools!

Where the beautiful and crazy Emma went swimming, and I was too much of a coward to join her.

Next was a stop to see the Black Cuillens,

And then on the Mealt Falls,  which is a Loch that falls right into the sea, and Kilt Rock behind it,

Sunset at the Iron Age Souterrian, constructed around 300 BC,


And we ended the day with a creepy drive to the Fairy Glen, where none of my pictures turned out! And were not surprised at all, darn Fairies.