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 2020-What a year!

Yellowstone National Park (WY not?), Fair Isle, Scotland, (Shetland) Dover, England  (White Cliffs) via Orlando (Disney) and South Florida.

It started with Christmas and New Years sailaways on Disney Cruise Lines in The Eastern and Western Caribbean. Then Covid hit, and travel changed forever...Yet we  managed to finish the year out on Britain's most remote inhabited island, population 45, taking physical distancing Uber seriously.


Yellowstone National Park USA


It was the best of vibes. It was the worst of vibes. We waited for 2020 to have that perfect vision.  Nobody could predict what they'd be seeing and doing this year- washing their hands, wearing a mask and social distancing because of the global pandemic. Normally, we would be sailing in the Norwegian Fjords, The Baltics or  through Alaska's wildlife super highway, Glacier Bay.Tis the season but all fleets have come to a grinding halt.

 


 DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP. or the goal of taking a vacation- ..You can't deny gravity, or the gravity of the situation, and traveling these days will never be the same. I'd have to get resourceful, resilient and drive somewhere long distance in an automobile. 



I rented a land yacht, a 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander (my protective bubble from the Covidiots who refused to take the virus seriously enough to follow some basics) and drove from Palm Beach to Jackson Hole, WY. Planning a road trip now is like trying to build an airplane as you're flying one ... data changes constantly..so I avoided airports, public transport and  took my chances in a SUV, and hit the interstate freeways. Three days (daze) later I rolled up on The Grand Tetons. I've sailed the seven seas, and visited every imaginable port of call, but being double-land locked would be a first.


Fair Isle, Shetlands  UK


Britain's most remote inhabited island. We flew in this morning. It feels like we are walking into a painting. Think Norway meets Hawaiian islands and Father Time and Mother Nature have a field day.

 

No man is an island, as John Donne wrote, but, north of the border, you can live on one. Scotland's. The Shetland's is good like that, with 15 inhabited ones to choose from. We are here in Fair Isle. Britian's most remote one. It feels like we are moving through paintings as the ever changing weather lights the landscape in unique and splendid ways.


Thanks to the popularity of the TV Series Shetland, we have had  it on our radar as places to visit this year.

 

Of all the 115 islands  in the archipelago,  just a few- 15- are inhabited ones. We are at to Britain's most remote island, Fair Isle.

 





First, Sarah and I flew into  Lerwick, Shetland's mainland via Edinburgh, Scotland.  Next, we got a PCR test for Covid (Think Positive Test Negative).

 

Then, we  followed-on to  Fair Isle,  population 55, now 57! What a place to self-isolate during the global pandemic! At first I thought Fair Isle was- the Faroe Islands (That's Danish and in the sub Arctic Circle). The Shetland Isles are located in the North Atlantic, Closer  to Norway than to Aberdeen. Go Vikings!

 

 FAIR ISLE Are we there yet? Being there.

There are two choices for transport to reach the island - take it or leave it.

The first involves a 20-minute straight run  aboard a 'puddle jumper, 7 seater fixed-wing plane from the mainland of Shetland –  a  twin engine prop plane- heart-in-the-mouth flight- up-close and personal with the pilot and his control dashboard.


 Thankfully, that link was not cancelled, due to fog, wind or just plain bad weather, then it would have been a ferry,  actually a converted fishing vessel, the only other alternative, a notoriously 2 hour rough crossing aboard the island’s ferry, the Good Shepherd IV.  Sometimes the  North Sea is even too rough for the ferry.

Living Of The Grid And Living On The Edges 


Fair Isle is not connected to the National Grid. Energy is generated in the island by the Fair Isle Electricity Company (FIEC) using wind turbines and solar and this is stored in a battery back up system. We brought Torches, flashlights, as there is zero light pollution or street lights.





South Lighthouse Josie and Dave's place












Disney Cruise Lines -Port Canaveral, FL/CARRIBEAN 

Castaway Cay
New Year (January 1, 2020) and a day in The US Virgin Islands. After  a mile walk around the deck we witnessed the sun rising against the Caribbean blue ocean. Spectacular. As we bring in the new day, still thinking about the souvenirs from YESterday.


Last night we celebrated onboard the Disney Fantasy.

When it comes to Disney royalty, you can’t get much cooler than Elsa and Anna. We started the evening with the movie Frozen 2 and its takeaway of ..when under pressure, do the next best thing, was noteworthy.

 


Later...

We all had our own fireworks display to bring in the New Year, Setting things on fire on a ship? Yep.

 





 2020 Trip Reports 











Seminole Hard Rock, Hollywood Florida_Super Bowl Week


New Years Eve 2019 Onboard
The Disney Fantasy BC Before Covid



Alan Watts Says it best: ROLL VIDEO

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My Sheeple



Set in the middle of the North Atlantic, 38km (23mi) from  Shetland and 43km (27mi) from  Orkney, Fair Isle is as far away from civilization as it’s possible to get in the British Isles. Measuring barely five kilometers across and two kilometers wide, the island is home to a tiny permanent population of just 45 people. In fact, it’s the most remote inhabited place in the UK.



Sarah at The South Lighthouse

Malcom's Head






One of the flock



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 Lighthouses are not just stone, brick, metal, and glass. There’s a human story at every lighthouse; that’s the story Dave wants to tell.

South Light on Fair Isle is a pharologist's*  delight - a superb  example of a 'Stevenson Lighthouse', one of many around the shores of mainland Scotland and the isles, built in1891 by this famous and prolific family of Scottish engineers. (*pharology - the study of lighthouses!).Designed and built in 1891 by David A. and Charles Stevenson (cousin of author Robert Louis Stevenson) it entered service in 1892. The lighthouse tower at 85 feet is the tallest one in Shetland and there are 106 steps to the top.


In 1998 it became the last lighthouse in Scotland to be automated. Its foghorn - also Scotland's last - was dismantled in 2005.

Its light is still operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board and the beam, consisting of 4 flashes every 30 seconds, can be seen from at least as far as Orkney - some 25 miles away across open sea.

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 Today is known as a Given Day on Fair Isle-storm over, sun is out and the wind  has dropped. The boat came in with fresh provisions. The whole island got excited. There was a traffic jam (4 cars) at the store.






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Ice  Bathing  give your skin and hair a healthy glow, and we were gonna go for it in the chilly North Atlantic. Even though we are on the same longitude as Cape Farewell, Greenland, and closer to Bergan, Norway than Edenborough, Scotland- we made our first attempt. We had to cancel because the currents were too strong. Will revisit when the weather cooperates. 

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Shetland sheep are a solid and hardy breed of sheep from the Shetland Islands. The extreme weather conditions  today reminds me how amazingly adaptable they are to their environment.  The rough grazing on  Fair Isle has resulted in the breed being super resilient.  They can be kept outside year round, without the need for winter housing. The wool of Shetland sheep is highly prized. It is, perhaps most famously, used to make Fair Isle sweaters.

 

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Undiscovered Scotland

Past Malcom's Head, today's fantastic walk takes in some of the best coastal scenery and features on Fair Isle., and Winter adds to the lighting  and texture. 

Fair Isle is an island of two distinct parts. The northern two thirds is set for  grazing, open moorland, hills and sea cliffs that stand tall in open defiance to the battering sea and brutal weather conditions. The southern part is allocated for croft land (Sheep) and is home to most of the islanders. I'm down South this day, near our home. In fact the video above is our backyard views!

Why are there no trees on this island?  At first, with such strong winds, one might believe that weather plays a part. The real reasons for the lack of trees are to do with clearance for firewood and the presence of sheep, which have prevented natural regeneration. The peat that's still burned in some parts of the highlands is the remnants of the forest that once covered the land.



No man is an island, as John Donne wrote, but, north of the border, you can live on one-in The Shetlands.

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This tiny plane shuttles islanders and visitors back and forth  to Shetland (Mainland)...when the weather is suitable. We had two flights today-which means no ice on the runway.

On the isolated beaches along the west coasts, behind the Croft house we are staying at, I easily spotted a grey atlantic seal, after a 10 minute trek down the grassy steep hills.
Fair Isle draws hundreds of visitors a year,  some coming from as far away as America  and Zambia (Me and Sarah).Marooned halfway between the Shetland and Orkney archipelagos, this isle stands alone-as Britain's most remote inhabited island. Being here in the Winter, during the pandemic makes it even more remote, more special, more edgy. 

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