I’d be hard pressed to put my finger on the first of the games we attended in Pleasanton Highland Games, but I’d say somewhere around the time Madi was 14, putting it at roughly 2004. The event has become an annual for Madi and I. On the odd year Caeti will join us and twice Colleen has made the trip, but for Madi and I it is an annual event we just wouldn’t miss.
The Games are a battlefield of sites and sounds bound with imagery of the Scottish highland. Hosted at the Amador County Fairgrounds, the surrounding area has both the feel of the Bay Area rural commutes set in a beautiful California rolling hill ranch land.
It is very hard to put my finger on what I love so much about this annual event because there is so many elements that make the weekend so memorable.
For many the lodging begins the event. The San Ramon Marriott, located a few miles from the fairgrounds, is the official lodging for the event. Individual performers and pipe band members from all over the world travel to the event annually, and most of them stay at the Marriott. Driving in we are met in the parking lot by a young pipe band practicing at the far end. The sound of the bagpipe rhythmically singing across the pavement transports me to the land of tartan and Wallace. Usually on a weekend stay like this I have no higher expectations than a clean room and a handful of free toiletries. But for a weekend this hotel friend of the business traveler is transformed into a little slice of the Bonnie Scotland. Wherever you turn you’ll see a wave of tartan pride or flash of Scottish steel, and always, and I mean always, the beautiful sound of thee bagpipes.