Scotland, August 2015
Counter
A window in Tom's universe.
This is more than a website of photos, it is a place to
share photos, adventures, stories, opinions, and
Tom Ballard Photography
As I write this message, it is late July, and on August 3, 2015, I will leave on my first big adventure
for this year!! I did a little test run a few days ago, by flying off to visit friends.. I traveled well, so....   
In January of this year, I started the year with plans to go to Vietnam on Feb 2, but life changed that
plan. I went in for a heart cath test on Jan 13, thinking I might need a stent, because on Jan 6, the
ECHO stress test showed something not right.. Well, my Vietnam trip went out the window when the
doctor told me I was not going anywhere for at least 90 days. I went almost directly from the cath
test to the surgery room. The doctor had found a couple of serious blockages, one he called the
Widow Maker... It had to be fixed now!!!! I woke up that night in the ICU, with a new double by-pass
in my chest.. Was quite a shock!!! But, I survived it, and have pushed hard to get me back in shape
and on the road again!!! In early June, I think, I was given permission to start traveling again, with a
50 pound lifting limit!!! NO heavy suit cases!! Not a problem, I travel with a carry on and a camera!
So, in short order, I had three new trips arranged for the rest of this year!!! One of them will be the
Vietnam/Cambodia trip I missed due to the heart surgery!!!!

Now it is almost time for me to leave on my first real adventure for 2015!!!

For my first adventure, I will be going to Scotland!!!! I leave home on August 3, and return home on
August 13. For my friends and family who wish to follow along, I am sitting up this page to help you
do just that.. I have tried this model for tracking before, it seemed to work, so I am continuing to use
it...

If everything works according to my plan, the following steps should let you share the trip with me.

There are actually two parts to following me as I travel.. One is to watch my location via a tracking
map. To view the tracking map with my location, use the link below, "Travel 2015".... !!!  Second is
via my itinerary, which will be shared on this page.

1. While traveling, I will be carrying a SPOT satellite reciever/transmitter which will collect GPS
signals, calculate my position , then share my position on a webpage, via the SPOT network. For the
techies in the group, the website for SPOT is
www.findmespot.com.

2. I am sharing the daily itinerary that was provided to me by my travel company,
www.smartours.com . This is my fifth trip with this company. First trip was to China and it was great..
Now I am off to try a fifth adventure with them. The tour company's link for this trip is:

https://www.smartours.com/tour/spectacular-scotland/
Select "Itineary" to see the advertised version of the itinerary..

3. By checking their map and looking at the itinerary, provided below, you should have a fair idea of
what I am doing at any given time.

4. I am not sure how the map will show the date and the time while I am gone, so, a quick search of
the internet will bring you up to date...My info says that noon in Chicago will be 6:00 PM in
Scotland!!!!!!
For a map of my last seven days of travel, click this link: Travel 2015
Note: This trip officially starts and ends in New York.
Note... I do not think I will have any way to share images from the trip as it happens, but I
plan to do my usual trip report when I get back, so, watch for that later!!! .....
Note: The map will only
share the most current
seven days of information.
After a point has been on
the map for seven days, it
is then deleted.

You may have to adjust
the ZOOM  to view the
map. Use the slider on the
left side to do this..

To check the date, time,
and GPS coords, for any
given MARKER on the
map, click on the little
balloon at the point, or
click the little "+" sign to
the left of the point, in the
list, called messages.

Also, in the message list,
you can click on the little
orange ball, and the
system will take you to
that MARKER, on the
map.
Remember Mark Twain's Quote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-
mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad,
wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating
in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
This site is BEST viewed in GOOGLE CHROME!!!!
If the map does not work well for you, or any other issues crop up that you need help with, please
contact me at ballardtom@sbcglobal.net. I should have email service while traveling!
The trip is complete and all the shared images are now ready for viewing... Use the links below!!!
August 4...  Today I arrive in Amsterdam, then fly on to Edinburgh.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157656901721150/show/with/20585819436/
August 6... Today, St Andrews Castle, Glamis Castle, Dinner Show.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157656951693819/show/with/20634620072/
August 8... Today we travel into the Highlands and visit the famous Loch Ness.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157655129927033/show/with/20685107802/
August 10... Today we cross the Isle of Mull, take a ferry to the Isle of Iona, visit an abbey, grab
some lunch, take the ferry back to Isle of Mull and visit another castle.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157657133498360/show/with/20562282338/
August 9... Today we check out a waterfall, visit an ole cotton mill, and ride the ferry to our
new home on the Isle of Mull.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157655132173684/show/with/20510010508/
August 11... Today we leave the Isle of Mull, visit a Birds of Prey station, and continue to Glasgow.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157657176405730/show/with/20768293022/
August 12... Today we do a museum, a botanical garden, then our farewell dinner.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157657607474172/show/with/20793757202/
August 13... Today we fly to London, then New York City, then home... Neat Trip!
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157657639077385/show/with/20182603694/
August 7... Today we visit a distillery, the Falkirk Wheel, and a castle
https://www.flickr.com/photos/10908506@N03/sets/72157657015995619/show/with/20687632001/
Original message shared below. As I prepared for my Scotland Adventure, I set up this page
on my site with the information I was given by my travel company. And, I added information
on how close friends and family could follow me via my satellite tracking transmitter. I leave
the message here for historical perspective, etc.
Update!!!! This is only an update to those who got the original message, and were able to follow me
through my Scotland Adventure!!! To everyone else, it is the beginning, so welcome!!! It is now August
23, 2015. I am back home, I have recovered from the jet lag I get going from East to West, and I have
finished editing my photos, which are now shared at the bottom of this page!!! You are invited to go
check them out, but be warned, there are a LOT of photos to browse through. Some people share trips
in words, I share trips in photos.. I have set the images up in such a way as to have them viewed as a
slide show for each day of the adventure. The images can be seen in a non-slide show fashion, if you
know how to operate FLICKR.

The travel company supplied a daily itinerary which I have shared here, and I would say we stayed
pretty true to their description, so there is little to add. But I can say, it turned out to be a very good trip..
We were blessed with better weather than was predicted, which was much appreciated.. We were all
prepared for the worst!!! And we were blessed with a great group of people. I think I made some great
new friends while on the trip, and I think others did as well.. Our cheerleader and cowgirl from Dallas,
Queen Mary, rounded up the email addresses for most all on the trip, and has now shared those with
the rest of us, so we can stay in touch!!! That will just add to the fun.. I can say there was one serious
low point about the trip that is now being addressed.. Our guide turned out to be way below par for what
is expected of a professional guide. How he ever got this job is beyond the imagination of most of us..
We are now complaining to the travel company, both for compensation and to keep this person from
leading future trips. It is not fair to travelers to pay for a good guide and get a non-guide person.. We
also hit some snags in the food department. Our travel company supplied a Welcome Dinner, which
turned out to be too poor to eat!!!! Some other supplied meals, or meal places, were way below par,
and in a fair number of cases the food we found in the towns was also below par. We did better when
we had good recommendations, which our guide could not supply. Successful eating came when we had
time to eat, and we had recommendations from locals or the hotel. So, over all, food was an issue on
this trip. To those who have not traveled to Europe, prices there are essentially double what you would
pay in the states, so be prepared!!!! When I exchanged money there, the exchange rate was $1.82
dollars per pound.

Most of us on this adventure were seasoned travelers and most of us have more trips coming up this
year!!  It is nice to be in our retirement years and be able to do these adventures. The sights are neat,
but when trips have fun travelers on them, it increases the fun factor by bunches!!! WE had great people
on this trip, so we had fun, just being together!!  

If anyone reading this wishes to contact me, please us my contact page to do so!!!
I try to keep my site current, but the bigger it gets the harder it is to do. That said, if you find any issues,
please let me know and I will try to fix...