We decided long ago that Rule #1 is “we don’t go back.” There are so many amazing things in this world to see and so little time or energy to experience them that going back to someplace we’ve already been to doesn’t make sense. For example, we skipped the Bahamas when we first started sailing because we thought it’s too easy, too expensive, too many islands, just too too. We’ll catch it on the way back. Turns out we never had the chance to enjoy the Bahamas on the way back in. The system isn’t perfect.
Lighthouses were the first to break Rule #2. I remember we used to seek them out, drive for miles, hike the inevitable hill up to the site and breathlessly climb the spiral stairs to the top. Yep, look at that view from up here! We’d take the shot then discuss on the drive home whether the one before was better.
Rule #2 has always been some version of “don’t become jaded or blasé.” It goes something like “I don’t know which waterfall was better and why hike up to another if it’s not supposed to be as beautiful as the last one?” We try not to do that.
Now, dear Escapees, we’ll move along to the point of this missive. While we were pondering, mouth agape, at the amazing Jarlshof Neolithic site we couldn’t help but notice, high above us, at the end of an endless peninsula, a lighthouse perched at cliff’s edge.
Very picturesque. But there’s a long and winding single lane road up to a parking lot in the sky and without passing areas on the way up, what does one do if one meets someone coming down while you’re trying to go up? Besides, we were tired and we still had to negotiate crossing the airport runway again, if you remember, and after all it’s just a lighthouse. A nice one maybe, but still just a lighthouse. At this point Dear Reader, and I’m not proud of it, you may want to refer back to Rule #2.
Weeks later Marce discovered that you’re allowed to park overnight in that car park in the sky, which changed the equation for us. While technically not an infraction of Rule #1, it’s close. On the other hand, there were rumors of puffins up there. After successfully crossing the airport runway again and winding our way up the one lane access road without once tumbling over the steep cliff (Marce’s greatest fear) we found ourselves trying to get EV level in the not-so-level paved parkup. Not a puffin in sight but there were new rumors of a nice cafe beside the lighthouse. While I wouldn’t even consider hiking up that mountain to climb those inevitable spiral stairs for a lighthouse, I would for a nice toasty cafe.
The hike up the mountain was quite relentless and I thought to distract Marce while grabbing a little breather by pointing out thousands of guillemots nesting on the cliffs below.
We were too far away to see the little tumblers though, and of course no puffins. When we finally got to the cafe it looked like a wildlife photographer convention with lots of camo and massive telephoto lenses. Those guys know a good feed when they see it. The wind was tossing gulls about as they tried to see what we were eating, many just hanging on the updrafts.
When we left the cafe I saw a raised wooden platform and imagined there must be a great view. We scrambled up the stairs and found puffins. Lots of puffins, just a few feet from us.
They seemed completely at ease with us in their midst, which may explain their dwindling numbers.
What a lucky find!
The trip down the hill strained the knees but as we approached EV we noticed our neighbor and fellow Adria owner Colin crouched up at the edge of the cliff with some serious gear. It turns out he’s a wildlife photographer and he was waiting for a baby puffin to come out of its burrow. Apparently he’d been waiting for quite some time. There are lots of ways to do this and we sat with him for an hour or so, just watching and talking, the puffins undisturbed by our presence. His wife Maureen joined us and we sat for awhile longer, enjoying the place and the company and the puffins until it was time for dinner.