Missing the northern lights in the perfect spot was a big disappointment but time is getting too short and we’ve got to get down to business. So back toward Glasgow we go, a place we’re starting to think of as a home base.
We drove right past the public parking lot at Balmoral Castle. You can actually overnight there in designated motorhome spots but with no spare time to explore the grounds we nixed the idea for now and drove on.
Farther west I picked an innocuous parkup in a layby on a gravelly road in the Cairngorms. With barely a moment’s warning, the predicted solar activity that failed to materialize two days before while we were in Portsoy suddenly came to life where we were surrounded by mountains and on a road with occasional traffic. I barely had time to set up the camera while keeping an eye on the dark clouds rolling in.
Despite being interrupted by headlights and eventually obscured by clouds, we saw the coveted and rare red Aurora. It only lasted a short time but what an unexpected thrill it was!
The foul weather that moved in overnight continued through next day and we skipped some planned tourist stops and carried on westward.
During the next week we booked storage for the van, did some last minute travel shopping, dug out our warm weather clothing, found accommodations in Penang, and generally prepared for living out of a suitcase, something we’ve never done for longer than a couple of weeks. All the while we stayed in some new parkups and some old familiar ones and made creative meals out of fridge and pantry leftovers.
Of course we visited yet another castle, one we’d driven past a number of times but hadn’t noticed. And of course it was closed.
At a parkup along the Firth of Clyde we saw the conning tower and rudder of a submarine sliding by. It was almost out of sight before I recognized what I was seeing. It was a US flagged nuclear sub on its way home from a summer at Faslane military base. I didn’t get a photo but you can see video someone else captured here.
We spent a night at a campground flushing the tanks and doing laundry. There’d been so much rain that we were nearly surrounded by mushrooms, some I’d never seen in real life before.
From the campground we moved to a hotel for two days while we deep cleaned the van and packed for an indefinite odyssey to mostly unknown destinations.
On departure day we dropped off the van at the storage place, got a ride to the airport, and started on our 2-day, badly planned (by me) four-flights-with-long-layovers journey to the other side of the planet.
We left the UK at 10am Monday morning and arrived at our Airbnb in Penang at 2pm Wednesday. A few hours later we were in t-shirts eating takeaway Banh Mi on our balcony overlooking the Malacca Strait. It’s been eleven months since we were here. We missed the place!