Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Long Story Ends

Start playing this clip before you read any further. Go ahead, I can wait.

In July of 2012, I posted an abbreviated review of the story of why I was headed for Aberdeen. Since then, I've kept friends, family, and complete strangers abreast of what turned out to be fifteen months in Scotland. On Monday morning, I woke up in Aberdeen (in the Thistle Caledonian Hotel where Ginger Magic stayed, and where I'd stayed for graduation), and I went to sleep on the western side of America. Operation Highlander - and its extension, Operation Bold Brigand - have come to an end. Between graduating summa cum laude from one of Scotland's ancient universities, getting my close protection certificate, spending more than three months in my very own island paradise, and any number of other experiences and accomplishments, I'll go ahead and deem it an overwhelming success.

My final week in Scotland was a whirlwind, and for once, I actually accomplished everything on my list - with a thrilling expenditure of time, treasure, and there may even have been a bit of blood thrown in there for good measure. I went to Elgin to get Gus' whisky, Edinburgh to meet with that Dhofar Rebellion author, and Keith to meet with a contact for the Orcadian Gordon Highlanders Accountability Project. I had a last hurrah in Orkney before making my final stand in Aberdeen - an event that included dinner at Lionel's and drinks at The Tippling House (pictured). Finally, it was time for a short night of sleep before heading to the airport to catch that flight out.

This blog will continue, intermittently. There are posts left to write, locales and events left to chronicle, and a high profile political event to observe and discuss late next year. For the most part, though, I'm ready to begin (slightly less intermittent) blogging over at Beyond the Joshua Tree.

Preparing for, executing, and completing Operation Highlander defined my existence for nearly five years of my life. It involved relentless planning, rigorous discipline, field expediency, and an expeditionary spirit. To date, it has involved my most daunting challenges, and my most spectacular successes. It was an amazing phase of my life, filled with sensations and experiences that will linger with me and continue to define me for years and decades to come. And, despite enjoying my return home and anticipating many happy reunions with friends I've not seen in a very, very long time, it's tough not to miss Scotland already. Here's hoping that my next visit won't involve another eight year wait, as this last one did.


  1. Tom,

    Welcome back to the States, and enjoy the next phase in your life!