Castellfollit de la Roca


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“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

(Gilbert K. Chesterton)

On our way to Besalu we passed through a scenic little village that was as beautiful as any other scenic little village you’ve ever seen. Charming. Delightful. Filled with small curvy roads, narrow alleys created by towering stone medieval walls. Back onto the roadway to Besalu my son-in-low slowed and pointed to the right. “That’s Castellfollit de la Roca,” he said. (I had to look it up on the map.) My jaw dropped because the village we’d just driven through could be seen perching upon a cliffside. “We’ll stop on the way back for photos,” he said. So we did, and in doing so we noticed the massive Catalonian flag draping down the cliffside.

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Beneath the cliff lies a beautiful valley where an old mill site sits, along with a new bridge. We found our way down to the bridge through a lush area filled with community gardens. Many men were busy hoeing and picking vegetables – a photographic gem of a place but I left them alone and walked to the bridge with my family.


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From our perch below on the bridge we could better see the giant Catalonian flag cascading down the cliffside, right below the medieval watchtower.  Such pride, these Catalonians.


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One final look and photo of Castellfollit de la Roca with running stream and the beautiful flag. I had a new appreciation for this village on our way back to the hotel after seeing it from below.





I won’t be on here for a bit (not that many will notice!), because we are heading to Colorado.  Just.  For.  Grins.  The above photo was taken several years ago when we drove cross country to Nevada.  We were spinning through the Rocky Mountains in November and snow was on the ground from West Virginia all the way to Nevada.  I wasn’t thrilled about going cross country BUT with a deal that we wouldn’t drive 10 hours a day AND we would stop often and walk AND we would stop at every state line visitor center….I agreed.  The eastern side of the country was more boring to be because I’d seen it already many, many times.  But Kansas on I was in love!  Driving is the way to go for sure as far as sight-seeing, but for efficiency’s sake we are flying this time and seeing whatever we please.  I’ll be back.



“Ocean is more ancient than the mountains,

and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.”

H. P. Lovecraft

Fantastical creatures of the deep ocean are continually being discovered as technological advances are made.  What more may we discover?  At the rate we are clearing rainforests and polluting our oceans and leveling mountains we may lose more species than we’ll ever experience.  Species are growing extinct before they’re even found.  What will it take to make humans stop and think what our presence, our action does to this Earth, our home planet?  I, for one, fear for our planet’s future.

Ardvreck Castle



Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt, 2014

Ardvreck Castle in the Highlands of Scotland was the home of the MacLeods of Assynt.  The MacLeods were traditional Lairds of Assent and Sutherland.  The castle is a 15th-16th Century L-planned fortified tower house.  Battles came and went and the MacLeods of Ardvreck Castle was eventually overtaken by their bitter enemies the MacKenzies of Wester-Ross.  Lightning destroyed the bulk of the castle much later and the ruins sit majestically next to the A837.

Naturally, there are ghost stories – the favorite being this I read on British Express:  “Legends cling to the enigmatic ruins. It is said that the ghost of a MacLeod chieftain’s daughter wanders the beach, weeping. She married the Devil in an effort to save the castle from destruction, then she drowned in the loch. Another ghost, a mysterious man in grey, wanders about the castle ruins.”

Scotland is the perfect setting for ghost stories.  That, plus after touring the Highlands one gets the true sense of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for much of his inspiration was drawn from these mountains, lochs, brooding clouds and damp rains.  Scotland inspires.

Ode to Scotland



Scotland Saltire flying at Ullapool, Scotland, 2014

My feet are firmly planted in the USA and I love it here.  This is my home, my country.  However, I am unable to shake the profound, deep love that’s developed deep, deep within me for the beautiful country of Scotland since visiting in 2014.  Those ancient rocks and lochs, towering mountains and a thousand shades of green hugging a multitude of villages that house people I’m certain are ancestors.  They have to be.  I just feel it.  There is nothing like a malty Scottish ale from the tap, oh my the goodness.  Whiskey was never my thing until a tasting there and ever since a 14 year Oban is always in my cabinet for special times.

The photo above is Ullapool, Scotland.  Lying beside Loch Broom in the Northwest Highlands, Ullapool itself is said to be derived from the norse ‘Ulla-Bolstadr’ meaning ‘Ulla’s steading’.  The further north you go the more Norse connections you see.  Anchored by the fish and sea trade, Ullapool is one of the many fishing villages commissioned by the British Fisheries Society in the 1780’s to help create trade and grow Scotland.  Let’s just don’t talk about the clearances – makes me sad.

Whenever two contrails create a saltire in a blue sky I photograph it and send to my bestie, without whom I would never have gone.  She was chasing her roots; I was along for the ride simply to photograph a place I’d always wanted to visit.  I cannot wait to go back.  Haste ye back the airport sign said as I left, weeping.  I will, I will.

We are Part of It




“Physically and spiritually, we all are woven into the living processes of the Earth.  We take part in – as science now tells us – a planet-sized living system.  Our breathing, our acting, our thinking arise in interaction with our shared world.  Our own hearts constantly beat out the cosmic rhythm within us.  We cannot escape our involvement any more than we can escape breathing the air that has traveled from plants thousands of miles away.

The mountains, I become part of it…

The herbs, the fir tree, I become a part of it.

The morning mists, the clouds, the gathering waters,

I become a part of it.”



Earth Prayers From Around the World; Edited by Elizabeth Robert and Elias Amidon




Speaks to me…


The beauty of the trees,

the softness of the air,

the fragrance of the grass……speaks to me.


The summit of the mountain,

the thunder of the sky,

the rhythm of the sea…speaks to me.


The faintness of the stars,

the freshness of the morning,

the dewdrop on the flower…speaks to me.


The strength of fire,

the taste of salmon,

the trail of the sun,

and the life that never goes away,

they speak to me.


And my heart soars.

Poem:  Chief Dan George

Photo:  Nairn Beach, Scotland by moi

The Magic of Scotland


The Lonely House (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford


I confess I’m a bit of a mess.  Since returning from Scotland it seems my sense of direction has grown faulty.  The processing of photos has come to a close and now I’m left with Not Having Pictures Of Scotland To Process.  Thousands of images of this magical kingdom sitting on my computer waiting for me to do something with them.  Thousands have been culled to hundreds and yet I sit.  What next?



The Cuillen (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

The admission here is simple:  processing these photos was a chance to tour Scotland again.  A similar rush of AHA! and OH YEAH! and OH MY! as I remembered stops and places and experiences.  Frankly, I wasn’t ready to return and believe my soul is still wandering about in the Highlands.  It certainly doesn’t seem to be within me right now.  “That’s my soul up there.” (Sting)


Inukshuks at The Cuillen (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

Words are failing me, the urge to blog escapes me, my mind wanders – its corners collecting dust until I can find my way again.  Have you ever experienced anything like this?  And, if so, what did you do to jumpstart your creative back in the Real World?  I’m at a loss in more ways than one.


Enchantment (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

Quite simply, I’m obsessed with Scotland.  Its history and lovely people, the sights and smells, the food and drink, the Highlands and the wild, wild north.  Once in everyone’s life one should have a similar experience, falling in love with a country.  I’ve visited other countries and loved them all, but Scotland grabbed my soul and won’t let go.  Nor do I want it to.

Zabriskie Point


Zabriskie Point

          First stop in Death Valley National Park is an amazing area called Zabriskie Point.  Despite the number of tourists clambering up a long slope toward the outlook it was quiet as a tomb.  Everyone spoke softly, with reverence.  Zabriskie Point is named after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, Vice President and General Manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the early 20th Century.  The company’s twenty mule teams were used to transport Borax from its mining operation in Death Valley.

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Signs told us what we were seeing and gave us history:  “Three to five million years ago – before the deepest part of Death Valley had formed – shimmering lakes filled a long, mountain-rimmed valley here.  Fine silt and volcanic ash washed into the lake, settling to the bottom, ultimately creating the thick deposit of clay, sandstone and siltstone that make up the Furnace Creek Formation.  These once-level layers are being tilted by seismic activity and pressure that is folding the ancient valley’s floor.  As the layers are lifting and exposed, periodic rainstorms cause powerful gullywashers that erode the soft rocks into the chaotic yet strangely beautiful landscape we see today.”     Camels, mastodon, horses, carnivores and birds left their tracks in the muds all along this area, known as Furnace Creek Formation.  Some of these fossils can be seen on display at the Borax Museum in Furnace Creek.

Manly Beacon is named after William L. Manly, who along with John Rogers, guided members of the ill-fated Forty-Niners out of Death Valley during the gold rush of 1849.

Image          Slowly climbing up, up, up to the overlook, stopping to catch my breath and take it all in I embraced the vast spaces around me.  It was almost to much to take in – like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time.  I’ve always said Nature is my church and Zabriskie Point is by far one of its grander sanctuaries.  A disconnect occurred between this vision before me and my beating heart, my lungs filling with desert air, my ears straining to hear the earth’s noises.  Then it came to me – it isn’t that people are talking differently but that their noises are being whisked away into the incredible space and distance before us.  Instead of ricocheting back to me voices had no choice but to continue down and out, to the mountains beyond and basin below.

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          Youth have no fear.  They scuttled down slippery, gravelly paths not made by the park service, despite posted warnings.  Teenagers and young adults wandered down to a low hill to take selfies and photos with their phones.  One young lady balanced precariously on a ledge for her photo opp.  My stomach did a slow roll.  My husband called it “evolution at work.”

Image          Death Valley National Park falls directly between two mountain ranges – Panamint Mountain Range to the west and Amargosa Mountain Range to the east.  You can see Panamint Mountain Range above, on the other side of Badwater Basin.  I’ll get more into the dynamics of these ranges later.

Image          There are no guardrails.  Instead, low rock walls, likely built by the CCC, house the informational signs while offering a clear, unobstructed view to the grandeur.  Zabriskie Point was an impressive first stop in our Death Valley National Park road trip.

ImageSources:  DesertUS, NPS/Death Valley and Wikipedia