Starting the day, we prepared to push ourselves on Day 2 of the Way for a 21 mile “long day” to set ourselves up for a five or six-day hike. The goal was to gun for Inversnaid, a small town on the map that would have a couple of places to stay, a fairly typical stopping point for Way hikers.
“A couple of places to stay” turned out to be entire description of the place, which was more of an outpost rather than a small town. The Inversnaid Hotel was the obvious and easy choice as the place to stay for the night, as it was the only one (of the total of two) places to stay with available rooms.
It was here where we came to meet tourists and travelers alike, sharing different goals, experiences, journeys and styles of travel, but all enjoying the ride.
The hotel, perched on the idyllic shores of Loch Lomond, offers a full range of services that makes sense given its remote location: accommodations, full breakfast and dinners (reservations required), bar and nightly entertainment. With its easy access to boat tours and ferries across the loch by its own harbour, easy access by road and an ample car park, and its prime location on the West Highland Way, it makes a good stop for visitors to the area.
By my guess from our stay, it does a roaring trade to two disparate groups: Way through-hikers and pension-age English tourists.
Arriving at the hotel, everything already taken care of by Bryan, I was simply happy at not having to hike any farther and knowing that I would soon have a shower, dinner and a pint. Walking through the hotel, waiting for dinner, lingering in the waiting rooms, I realized that The Crew was in the minority, since we were not English, over-55, or enjoying a nice little holiday on the Loch. Given my disdain for tours, pre-set menus, limited choices, and everything that smacks of the packaged experience, a bit of cynicism crept in. Mocking the hotel, the other people at the hotel, the upcoming dinner, the night’s entertainment; in my mind’s eye all of it was less meaningful than what we were doing, less taxing, less of an experience, less real.
After the night’s conversation and experiences, however, I admit I was wrong to mock. All of these people are out here, enjoying their lives and travels in their own way. So what if the night’s entertainer was only good because he was tremendously corny? So what is the crowd was good only through the irony of the place, the time, the music, their constrained feet-tapping, their love for the corny music?
Who is to say my way is better? My view switched, Bryan and Kevin were “right”, I was wrong to mock. The important thing is that they were out there, each living their way.