A Travellerspoint blog

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Bucket List?

sunny
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We’ve been stacking our pennies for several years now - committed to turn them into euros, pesos, pounds, or whatever might be in the bank of our next destination. Admittedly, the time came rather quickly and we found ourselves at a bit of a loss as to where we should go when looked at our great big map. Considering that we’d already used the ‘spin-the-vino-bottle’ approach for our Europe trip, it seemed best that we consider a new option.

What’s that, you ask? Bucket List! Don’t worry at all; I know where I’m going with this one. I’m not talking about the classic www.bucketlist.com type that encourages you to run feed a giraffe or go kiss passionately in the rain, although both are nice ideas. I’m talking about the real deal. (Off record: In all honesty, I don’t have a bucket list, but you can bet your sweet potatoes that I’ll be working to create one while I’m buckled into seat 37A for the next 18 hours.) I digress.

It has been almost exactly 3 years ago since we left this country (see my blog here titled ‘The Big V’). Our lives have changed in ways that we would have never thought possible. By force (thank you, Sweet Jesus), we have come to learn that challenges are truly privileges. We’ve also learned that a healthy brain and body are gifts and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Lastly, I might pledge myself Captain of the Indecisive Team; however, we’ve learned that life is short and there is little room to wait, watch, and wonder what might happen. It’s important to speak, share, and stand strong in your actions and go after your dreams.

With that in mind, we figured it was time to go after some of the things on our (imaginary) bucket list. How about this?: Hole up in a pub in Dublin on St. Patty’s Day with a Guinness! Sure. Why not? And that was that. The creation of our upcoming journey started there.

As we tend to do when traveling, we will spend a couple of days in the city and then grab our car and hit the road to explore at our own pace. The smaller and more local - the better! We will be driving the coast of Ireland from North to South and then heading over to Scotland, down to London for a bit, and then back to Dublin. We’ll be gone for about 3 weeks and I’ll do as I’ve done on previous trips and post on occasion when I have internet access. We worked diligently when planning this trip to avoid modern houses and our American luxuries, including internet! Mean parents! We are looking forward to a standard of cottages and fireplaces.

Our hope is to spend a a few weeks chasing leprechauns and loch ness monsters and maybe find a four-leaf clover or two along the way. See you in Dublin! Cheers!

Posted by akgearhard 01:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Cheers!

Dublin


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I'm not quite sure what happened between our last trip and this one, but our bags were packed the night before, my toes were painted and dry before trying to rush them into shoes on the way to the airport, g'bye emails and voicemails were on, and our early morning leave came with a sense of calmness and welcome. Hmmm. I wonder if Luke feels this way all the time? There might be something to this pre-packing and being organized thing. It's quite nice, to be honest. Our flight left on time with a small reroute through San Fran (wanted to make sure we flew across the ENTIRE US before hitting the ocean! We had the pleasure of flying the best airline that we've ever been on for the duration of our flight into Dublin... Air Lingus! There is a slim possibility that our success may have had something to do with the two gentlemen that took care of us for 9 hours and 27 minutes, but I'm not going to bank only on that. Let me back up...

We were greeted at the door of the plane by a sweet lady in a green business dress suit that extended a hurried apology to us and asked us to wait while she called one of the other attendants via phone. I assured her that waiting was of no worry to us and stood mesmerized as the lovely Irish accent drifted off her lips! My ears are so excited for accents! Our attendants in green were Harvey and another gentleman that he referred to as the Galway Princess. They were quite a pair and oh so good to the kids and us. We had more sodas than we had room for tucked away for the evening (they didn't want us to get "tursty") and they loaded the kids up with a goodie bag from the crew before we left for being the best kids on the plane. The kids were excited about Irish candies, Cokes, and Fantas!

We caught a cab to our room, passed out for a couple hours, and headed out to find some Guinness. I mean, a pub. We ran samplings at home before we left and were eager to provide the results of US vs. Dublin Guinness. Per block, I swear you can find more pubs than stores, gas stations, or any other type of building that seems to think it has importance. Houses are scattered about in their own neighborhoods, but you don't have to go far to find what you're looking for.

We found ourselves a long row with O'Every Pub (under the sun) and in trying to make a decision, I realized that it is quite intimidating to walk into the very local and small pub in the neighborhood that we are in and pull up a barstool and pretend to know what we are doing. To elevate matters, the pubs are dark and the doors are Alice in Wonderland Style and are about 17 inches wide. Hmmmm. I put on my best non-American (we totally know what we are doing here) face and in we strolled. It couldn't have been more picture perfect. There was a fire burning next to the door. The entirety of the inside walls were carved out in beautiful wood. A couple small groups of guys were scattered throughout and the word Guinness was plastered periodically on signs across the walls. We weren't sure if we were welcome in or we should just help ourselves to a seat. It was an incredibly intimate setting - almost like inviting yourself into a friend's house without knocking (the door was too small - they wouldn't have heard us anyway!) We casually strolled up to the bar where a small group sat and laughed together. I was sure they'd been friends since birth. I was assuring myself that Ireland doesn't have Sesame Street, so they couldn't be singing "Four of these things are not like the other!" - it must have just been playing in my head! Do we ask if we can grab a seat? Do we ask if they are serving food? I didn't want to interrupt - nor did I want to eavesdrop. Ummmm. Thankfully, the bartender saved us with a gentle smile and a gesture to find ourselves a seat wherever we'd like. We tucked into a cozy booth with wooden walls and settled in like locals.

As we toasted our first Guinness, I told Luke that tonight's experience felt as though we were sitting in the bar on the set of Cheers. "Yes", he agreed, "except everybody knows your name there... And my name's not Norm". Quite well-spoken.

Results of US vs. Dublin Guinness: I polished mine off before Luke did. Enough said!

Posted by akgearhard 02:50 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

No Green In Ireland?!


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We woke rested and ready to go on St. Patrick's Day, although nothing could have prepared us for what was in store. We had been told by some and read tidbits online that the country gives nothing more than a quick toast in memory of Saint Patrick. Leprechauns and four leaf-clovers were referenced as us "Americanizing" the quiet and humble holiday in Ireland. With that in mind, I'd done my research and knew we were stepping into the 2015 Dublin Festival and there would at least be a parade. We just hadn't really considered who would fill the streets to share in the celebration...

As we walked toward the City Centre in the early morning, a light mist of rain fell and the air was cool, but we were bundled up and warm in our non-green colors. The process started slowly as others joined us from side streets and we walked toward the parade route together. It didn't take but a moment to figure out. If by "quiet and humble holiday" we were talking about 500,000+ people dressed like "crazy Americans" - this was it! There were people of every color, age, shape, and size, and languages of every sorts could be heard throughout the streets. Best of all? GREEN! Everyone, everywhere was prepared - even the city buildings, signs, and lights were green! People had four-leaf clovers tattooed all over their faces and bodies. Men and women alike were dressed as leprechauns, including full beards and green suits! The Irish flag was worn every way imaginable, including via wig, eyelashes, and strapped on as a cape. "Kiss me, I'm Irish" could be found somewhere on about every other person (Irish or not!) and glitter glasses shaped like clovers or beer were a common accessory.

As we scoured the side of the crowded streets looking for a spot, I told myself I'd be fine dying in an Irish stampede in order to get my family a spot in the front row. We were fortunate enough to find a place just behind a sweet little old couple that wasn't much taller than Beau, so it worked out perfectly! Before the parade started, the little grandma had taken Jaden in front of her and given him the front row space anyhow! Admittedly, I became slightly territorial over the folks in front of us as the tears poured down the cheeks of her friend when the bagpipes came by and the crowd roared while a group of drunken American college kids tried to stomp all over them while laughing about Snapchat and wondering if Ireland had a North Dakota in it (as a marching band from North Dakota strolled by). Oh goodness.

The parade itself was a couple of hours worth of excitement, but the serious fun came afterwards when the mobs hit the street and we found ourselves amidst a river of green drunken chaos. Depending on where you were at in the mob, your portion could be dancing, singing, fighting, or being the true definition of one in a million. The weather had cleared up nicely and so our afternoon was spent going with the flow. The kids saw many "what not to dos" - particularly the young kids that were drunk and having a difficult time walking and speaking (or NOT speaking loudly and inappropriately to police officers!). We drifted into the Temple Bar area and there were so many people that we could barely breath while walking through. We made our way into a pub called O'Neil's on Suffix Street, that had been recommended to us by our cabbie driver and managed to snag a little table, some great food, a couple Guinnesses and a toast to chasing dreams on our Bucket List!

Posted by akgearhard 02:57 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Road Trip!

Sligo


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We woke early this morning and caught a cab to the airport so we could grab our rental car and go explore the countryside from top to bottom. We approached the Europcar counter with horrendous driving stories drifting about in our heads - all targeting Ireland and Italy as the two worst places to rent a car AND drive a car. For those of you that joined us on this blog during our road trip adventures in Italy, you know driving can be a bit difficult for she who doesn't know enough Italian to keep her husband from driving us (or just me!) off a steep cliff. Thankfully, we did have enough Italian - and wisdom - to stop at the first electronics store we found and purchase our friend Nüvi, a GPS, or marriage-saver, we like to say. With Nüvi in hand, Italy driving under our belts, and almost 16 years of marriage secured, we figured Ireland couldn't be THAT bad. Note to all: read the details on rental car insurance requirements before reserving a car in Ireland. Disaster avoided, but not without a slight bit of adjusting and a small amount of alarm. "Not to worry!" was the resounding message that went with us as we threw our two big backpacks in the back of our brand spanking new little SUV - you've got insurance! - it doesn't matter!

Thirty seconds later when Luke opened the passenger door looking for his steering wheel, I was wondering if they were going to change their mind. Nope. One minute later when he rammed his right fist into the right door in an effort to shift our manual car, I wondered if they might change their mind, given the fact that the gearshift is on the left. Nope. Good thing, because he smacked his fist into the door in a heartfelt effort to shift another half a dozen times before fully committing to his left hand. We have insurance! No worries, right? Had we not also been driving on the wrong side of the road on top of everything else that was backwards, I would have likely been laughing hysterically; however, I was busy with my own survival! I lifted the family swear word ban as soon as we got in the car (also effective in Italy to avoid paying children unnecessary fees in life-threatening situations), said my prayers, held my breath on ridiculously skinny corners, and lifted the radio probation after Luke demonstrated 15 minutes of safe driving. We were making progress.

Intriguing scenery made 3+ hours in the car on our journey up to the northwest coast from Dublin a smooth one. As easy as it can be to sleep in the car, the kids know that the road trip is a significant portion of this journey for us so that we can see as much as possible. It's been nice to have the time together to talk, laugh, look, and laugh some more (THUNK! Yes, that was Luke's right hand again!).

Our house for the next two nights was one of the first reservations that I made in Ireland and its location helped create our agenda. It is a cottage that sits on the water about 25 minutes outside of Sligo next to nearly nothing but a handful of neighbors scattered about. We ditched sheep as we drove slowly through the teeny green "paths" out towards the coast and came upon The Beach Bar, which was to serve as our parking lot, as we walked across the campsite, over the bridge, to the little cottage on the hill. We spent the evening outside under crystal clear blue sky and walked along the beach while the kids played. As the sun was setting, we headed up to the house into our backyard with the sheep and watched in amazement as the sun turned into a picture perfect blazing red ball and finally fell below the thorns and pastures and disappeared. Luke and I came out a bit later and were greeted by the sound of the waves and a beautiful black sky with the kind of stars that we only find at home when we're in the mountains. Orion sat just over our rooftop, keeping guard, as we headed in to catch some sleep and prepare for another day of adventures.

Posted by akgearhard 02:58 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

Just Another Day in the Life


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It was early morning and we were driving along what had been deemed some of the most dangerous, but beautiful, cliffs to drive in Ireland. Justice and Jaden were chatting about all of the oddly colored sheep in the fields and I couldn't help but laugh as I heard J say "One sheep, two sheep, red sheep, blue sheep...". She had about a billion more to count! We had just finished up two stops that allowed me to photograph a couple different rock formations that I'd seen online and we were moving on - but having difficulty finding our next destination. When we spoke with a friendly gentleman that was walking alongside the road and told him what we were looking for, he chuckled and told us there were two towns by the name of Ballycastle in Northern Ireland (ahhhh, really Ireland?!) and the one we had in mind was 200+ km the opposite direction. He smiled and told us there was nothing to see here but sheep. One sheep, two sheep, time for new sheep! Next stop?

Shells Cafe. This is a small cafe that sits on the water in a surfing community called Strandhill, just outside of Sligo. The owners are a super cool couple that chased their own dream into reality and created the kind of environment that everybody wants to be in with the type of food that is easy to love. We were in touch with them prior to our trip but weren't sure if we'd make it out to Shells, so it was fun coming in for a meal and getting to say hello in person! After a delightful meal, we grabbed a mug of coffee and headed to the waterfront to watch the crazy surfers catch some pretty good sized waves. Although the sun was out, it was none too warm! We are seeing sunshine daily through the clouds, which has been nice, as it is beyond what we expected!

We had spent nearly all day in and out of the car (only one THUNK today!) and the kids were excited to hit the beach at home and I was looking forward to a quiet night in by the fire and watching the ocean. We figured we'd stroll down to the Beach Bar for one drink and then call it an early night. I ran in to the pub to make sure it was okay to bring the kids for a soda when we came back and I received a surprisingly warm welcome from a group of locals and an American couple. We all chatted for a moment and they encouraged me to bring the family back quickly, but warned me that the kids ears would hear some swearing. I assured the concerned Irish gentleman that coming from the firehouse family, my children are not oblivious to such things. Fatal error on my part (please hold...).

Luke and the kids played on the beach, while I sat next to our primary heat source (well, the electric shower was a very close second!) and enjoyed the wood-burning stove and watched the waves. When they returned, we bundled up and headed just a few steps down to the Beach Bar. As soon as we opened the 17 inch pub doors, it was as if they'd been waiting all night for a surprise birthday party! We were greeted with shouts, hellos, and welcomes! Unbeknownst to Luke, his came with a tag called the "American Firefighter" and the fellas were sure happy to harass him about it. There may have been about a dozen of us total - locals, with the exception of the other American couple and us. The pub was very intimate - one small room with a fire burning in the middle to keep us cozy. They checked in with Luke about putting it out regularly. The locals called the owner Bear and he had a couple little ones running in and out for a bit that helped pour the beer and played peek-a-boo with our kids. Justice and Jaden settled right in to a table next to us and were well taken care of through the evening by several of the guys, primarily the bartender, James, that had been on shift when I came in earlier. Their soda glasses and Tayto bags were never empty! The evening was truly magical. We shared stories, culture, language, music (they tried Born in the USA and Friends in Low Places for us!) and so much more. Our Guinness was served with a handmade shamrock drawn into the whip as a barista does with a lovely cup of joe (okay, it's foam really, but it's my favorite part of a Guinness and tastes like whip!). It was an absolute pleasure to spend an evening with a small group in their living quarters, being so well-taken care of and making unforgettable memories. An Irish gentleman walked out with us under the stars as we headed along the water to our house and he shared his thoughts with us on how important it is to "be lucky". Luck? Call it what you'd like, but as the kids giggled their way up the hillside talking about the little old man that was insistent on teaching them Irish and I tucked my fingers into Luke's hand, I'd say there's more to this than simply luck. We count our blessings daily.

Posted by akgearhard 03:00 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

The Mad Hatter's Pizza Party

Galway


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We are getting quite good at our road trips now. Our days are easily 3-4 hours on the road with picture pullovers and gas station stops extending time where needed. We know how to identify the gold mine gas stations that have great coffee and 99s (an Irish soft ice cream cone with a choice of flavored syrup toppings that is good for a late morning snack). Today's journey was moving us from the Northwest corner of Ireland down to the western coast just outside of Galway. After watching P.S. I Love You this winter, J and I decided that we'd better put this area on our visit list as well! On our way down, we stopped at Crough Patrick, the most holy mountain in Ireland, where Saint Patrick spent his 40 days and 40 nights while converting Ireland to Christianity. This stop was recommended to us by J's soccer coach and wife and our timing was great - catching the mountain just as it was peaking its tip through the top of the clouds for pictures! After, we were able to head down and see Kylemore Abbey, a picturesque castle nestled into a heavily wooded and ivy-covered area next to a lake. We dropped into a very small town below Galway called Kinvarra and grabbed another delicious dinner at a pub in the middle of town. As we were getting ready to head out, the owner joined us at our table and ordered up the kids a couple of Dirt and Worms desserts and Luke and I a couple of Irish Coffees all on the house while he grilled Jaden about football in Colorado to ensure that Beau was aware of Elway's dominance in the NFL. Jaden knew exactly what he was talking about! Unfortunately, I wasn't on my game when the Irish Coffees came out. For some reason, I was thinking Bailey's and coffee and I couldn't have been more wrong. Padraig's drink creation is primarily whiskey with a couple of other side ingredients that were likely added to make it legal. Wow! We sat and chatted for quite some time, learning about his business degrees, law degrees, restaurant franchises in the States and the handful of pubs that he has scattered here. Who would have thought? It's amazing what you can learn if you take the time to slow down and talk to people. Everyone has a story.

After a late night in the pub last night, we were planning on showering, pulling out our journals, and enjoying a cozy night in before heading out early. As we pulled in to Ronan's Cottage, our home for the night, an Einstein-haired gentleman waved his hands and met us in the driveway, letting us know that we'd just arrived in time for the pizza party with the Chinese! I wasn't sure what to say, as I was trying to figure out why Ronan (the house owner) was here when he lived next door, where the Chinese came from, and what the pizza party had anything to do with it. Fortunately, Luke saved me, but Ronan kept on rambling about pizza as we moved our backpacks inside. On our way upstairs we learned that Ronan was either crazy, drunk, (or both), and that the Chinese that he was referring to were 4 doctorate students from Dublin that arrived today leaving him stressed and in a tough spot for lodging. He decided to put two in his house and two in the treehouse in the backyard. I looked past the word 'treehouse' for a moment while I found my pajamas and journal and as I started to write, I decided that the people in this country have been so good to us that it would be silly to not see what opportunity might be awaiting us here. Oh little did we know...

Let me paint a quick picture for you... Ronan has a typical-looking duplex for his rental guests and he lives in a small space next door. His ENTIRE property is under construction right now with parts, pieces, and building going on everywhere. There was a slight resemblance to my Great Aunt Edith's house in what we saw. He had an American couple tucked in asleep in a space that was closed off behind a sheet in our kitchen wall. There was a man that he referred to as the oldest living man in Ireland (103 years?) that was hidden somewhere near the kitchen as well. We never saw him. Ronan said he could take up to 20 guests, which was slightly unimaginable, considering the space. However, if you add the cracks, crevasses, and treehouse, it was possible. He was hoping to build his space to hold up to 40 guests! Outside between our house and his was a fantastic wood pizza oven that was the life of the evening's party - well, behind Ronan and his two Irish mates.

We all ended up piled in our living room around the fire place and listening to the Irish guys play music, tell stories, and revive history (some true and some flooded in wine). We learned some Chinese and enjoyed sharing in their culture and laughing as they grabbed the guitar and took their turn at playing and singing too. We learned how to make crazy pizzas that included cracking our own hazel nuts, slicing potatoes, and adding peppers, pepperoni, tomatoes, mozzarella and anything else that could be found on the 12 foot prep table. Unfortunately, Ronan was unable to remember anyone's name for the evening, with the exception of mine, as my reservation came in writing while he was sober. He frequently called Luke "Dennis", and Jaden "Henry", but not consistently enough for them to adopt the names. I decided it would be best for them to adopt the name of Liam Joseph, Ronan's dear friend and our pizza maker, as that one came to Ronan's memory on occasion. The next time Ronan lost Luke's name, I introduced him as Liam Joseph and it took him a second of looking back and forth between Luke and the original Liam Joseph before he accepted it, but he did. We did the same with Jaden the next time Ronan called him Henry, which then put three Liam Joseph's in front of the very drunk Mad Hatter Ronan. It was definitely more efficient for all involved. His regular phrase was "more alcohol, drugs, sex, and pizza, please!" - particularly when confused or when his white wine glass was empty. On occasion, he'd refer to the "Chinese workforce", often when we ran out of pizza and he was ready for another to be made (although he wasn't eating!). Luckily, his Chinese workforce guests were in great spirits and we Americans or his Irish counterparts took it on instead. We played one last round of music that somehow brought Ronan to the consensus that he was literally THE country of Ireland and was hatched by Mother Earth and with that in mind and his white wine bottles empty, it was a very appropriate time to tuck himself into bed to make sure that the sun would shine again on HIS countryside in the morning.

As we walked up to bed, I glanced at the card that he had out on the table with his wifi information, and considered whether or not I had the energy to stay up and get my blogs posted. Nah, time to go dream of Cheshire cats and tea parties. I couldn't help but smile as I noticed his password though: MADCOWMAD. Sweet dreams to you too, Mad Hatter.

Posted by akgearhard 03:05 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Eighth Wonder of the World


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I'm not sure who voted on the Wonders of the World, but I'd bet if we looked at the top ten list, the Cliffs of Moher are on there thinking that they definitely deserve a bigger vote. I'd guess that the judges were seriously afraid of heights and didn't give this section of Ireland's west coast the time and consideration that it deserves. Besides thinking that my family was going to go flailing off the 700+ foot edges every time we took a picture and holding my breath while trying to walk nonchalantly through a crowd sideways while nearly peeing my pants - the experience was truly incredible. I'm hopeful that at least a couple of the five bajillion photos that I took will speak a thousand words and do this beauty justice. If not, check Google!

We spent a lengthy afternoon on the road in an effort to get us down to our next to last stop here in Ireland. We had the pleasure of driving around half of the Ring of Kerry, which is described as a "brazenly scenic" region of Ireland that boasts both mountains and ocean along the drive. We snuck into a pub for dinner and our timing allowed us to watch England's Rugby team beat France in a close and heated match. Little did we know that Ireland's world title was riding on the outcome of this game. F-bombs are used generously here, particularly in pubs, amongst friends, or any other time desired, really. The word is actually "feck" (thank you, accent) and can be hard to pick up unless you're listening closely or should it be paired with a word like SAKE. I digress. We repeatedly heard this phrase on high volume: "Ah fer feck's sake jest kick the feckin baul alreddy!" When the entire pub erupted in cheers after the game finished, we realized we were amidst a celebration of Ireland winning back-to-back Rugby World Championships! Cheers to that!

We caught the sun setting over another day of blue sky and a sliver of moon coming up as we rounded the windy roads in an effort to find our cottage in the dark. Note to selves: night driving in Ireland is not for the weak! We found the cottage and will see what our surroundings look like in the morning! We have settled ourselves into rock walls, big windows, an open fireplace, and big beds (with a purple bathroom for Justice!). This is home for the next three nights. Sweet dreams!

Posted by akgearhard 03:07 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Sunday Alphabet Soup

Ring of Kerry


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I knew when I opened my eyes this morning that I'd slept far too well and far too late. It felt so good. I rolled over and grabbed the curtain in our room and pulled it back to find that our window revealed a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean! The laundry line on our patio already had clean clothes hanging, which was exciting, as this is the first house to have a washer and a dryer. Wait... Why are we hanging clothes if we have a dryer? Maybe Luke was going for that super fresh smell and extra crispy (or stiff) wind-blown feeling?

As good fortune would have it, our cottage is equipped with a futuristic machine called a Turbodryer 1000 Elextrolux, which is a fancy combination of a washer / dryer with an evil mind of its own. You'll see the photo when I post, but the menu for it gives you an alphabet letter for every option of wash or dry that you might like to dream up. Those with an imagination, a love for laundry, and way too much time on their hands could have ball! On the other hand, my mom's laundromat, with its combination of efficiency and one-button simplicity, would make a killing over here! Here's an example: (A) - Whites & Prewash, (B) - Whites, (C) - Fast Coloureds, (D) - Nonfast Coloureds... (J) - Iron Dry Cottons, 70 minutes, (L) -Worn Once, (S) - Drain, (V) - Cappuccino with whip, etc. You get the idea.

Our first load was soaking wet after its wash and the dryer's steam didn't make matters better. We read through the menu and thought maybe we should ask for a side order of rinse, spin, and drain next time. Regardless, that batch was now hanging on the line on the patio. I decided to problem-solve in the most sensible way I knew how, which was to revert to my behavior analyst credentials, conduct an observation session, and collect some data. I pulled a chair up in front of Turbo, put another load in, and started my washer watching on Cycle C. About an hour later, I had made three significant conclusions: (1) someone had left a piece of gum in their pocket, (2) the "spin" cycle involved one quick forward loop and one quick backward loop, leaving more water on the clothes than I can drink in a year, and (3) Turbo and I are no longer speaking, as he wouldn't event open his door for my glaring eyes and feisty fists. Needless to say, we lit ourselves up a lovely fire in our open fireplace, hung wet clothes on every possible surface, and settled in to spend a very lazy Sunday sprawled out on the couches, catching up on rest, and attempting to dry every piece of clothing that we now had soaking wet. No better day to stay home than this!

Posted by akgearhard 03:08 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Drops of Jupiter

Ring of Kerry


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When we were walking the Cliffs of Moher a couple of days ago, we passed a teenage girl that was complaining to her mom in a C sharp voice (that's a friendly description of 'high-pitched', although I have no clue as to whether or not it's musically accurate) that she "hasn't even gotten to see any rainbows!". Insert large frowning face. Poor thing. Apparently we just have too much sunshine in Ireland. I must say, the blue skies and nice weather that Ireland has been raving about have been quite pleasurable. If you want a rainbow, love, we'll need a bit of rain.

With a set of (mostly) dry clothes for each of us, we decided to venture out to Dingle Peninsula, which is just above the Ring of Kerry. The books advise against seeing this part of the country on dark and rainy days, as the radiance of the blue sea and green countryside don't live up to their reputation without the backing of the sun. The sun was high in the sky for us and I was in the height of my glory running with my camera down the skinny little coastal road taking pictures, as there was no room for Luke to pull over and park. He'd let me out and then come pick me up again down the road. My blue Chuck Taylors served me well! J ran with me on a couple of occasions as my self-proclaimed squire to help with lenses and enjoy the view. Under the warm sun, the grass was glowing, the waves were sparkling, and we were in awe at what we were seeing. There were big white clouds scattered throughout the sky and we drove underneath one that must have just been starting to overflow, because as we did, small drops of rain hit our windshield. And with rain comes the rainbows. I was happy with a single rainbow showcasing ROYGBIV over the water while Drops of Jupiter played on the radio. It was quite fitting.

After it disappeared, we went through a crazy 30 second storm with vertical black sheets that made me cringe as we prepared to drive into it. It hit as hard as the sky warned that it would but left a triple rainbow - yes, that's 3 in a row! - glowing for just a moment after it was finished. We've never seen anything like it. 1.2.3. Beautiful.

We made pizzas here at the house tonight and have spent the evening inside listening to the rain pour on the water beside us. We were excited for a moment, high-fiving, when Luke conquered Turbo's alphabet code and dried our wettest piece of clothing! That's needed, as we are hitting the road tomorrow for a new home. We excitedly took the remains of the near-dry items that were sitting next to me by the fire and figured we'd dry them with the same alphabet code so that everything would be done. A bit later, Luke came out with a heap of sopping wet clothing, glaring eyes, and feisty fists. Turbo - 2. Us - 1.

Time for bedtime and rainfall. Now that she's back in the atmosphere with drops of jupiter in her hair...

Posted by akgearhard 03:12 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Gaelic Fraggles & the Gift of Gab


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Mornings are meant for sleeping, coffee sipping, and relaxing. Functional activities, such as preparing for the day, really should be pushed into another time category, such as mid-morning. Because I have not yet made this a reality on a daily basis in our lives, we have a handful of tricks up our sleeves that ease the typical morning routine - whether we are at home or away. Luke starting a blazing fire and coffee in a cold house are two of my very favorites - regardless of the country that we are in. Jaden discovered another one this morning that has just been officially added to the list. Gaelic Fraggle Rock! I about choked on my coffee when I realized it! The sight of Red and Merlin Fraggle would have been enough to do it, but the fact that when they opened their soft little cloth puppet mouths, Gaelic came spewing out - I could hardly contain myself! This made for a morning of champions by the fire with my coffee. I think I heard the kids laughing a couple of times, but it may have been at me, not with me. Morning haters will do what it takes to love a morning.

We packed our bags as Luke was finishing his final battle with Turbo. I'm pretty sure he unplugged him as we left - just as a "take that" - and if he didn't, it would have been well deserved for that stubborn square of metal! We finished traveling the Ring of Kerry on our way out which was quite lovely. The inside of the ring that we drove came in every type of terrain from the common rolling green hills with sheep spots to desolate and barren open lands with mountains and shrubs. The outside of the ring stayed consistently lined with dark, steep rocks, bright blue waters, and an occasional sandy beach.

We spent a good portion of our day at Blarney Castle. Legend has it that if you climb to the top, lay on your back, and hang your head upside down over the 70ish foot ledge and kiss the Blarney Stone you will be given the gift of gab. We did attempt to leave Jaden in the car for this one, knowing that additional language for this child is a poor choice, but yes, of course, he talked us out of it. Luke and the kids hung and kissed the stone without question. As I was preparing to grab the bars and lay down, I remembered that I'd read somewhere that the security guards pee on the Blarney Stone each night and decided that I should ask the Irish gentleman that was assisting me in laying down if this might be true. Admittedly, this would have been a good question to ask before he laid me back, but it was too late. As I put my lips on the rock, I received a semi-confident response that the security guards lock up at night and go on their merry way. Hmmm. Water fountain, anyone? We spent a couple hours strolling through the castle grounds, which were set like an enormous playground with wishing stones, Druid circles, fairy glades, poisonous gardens, caves, rock formations, waterfalls, and so much more. The rain fell heavily at times, which prompted running for cover in the caves and made for a wet, but wild, afternoon that felt like we were in a storybook.

We ended up in Kinsale, which is a little town on the water and our home for the night. The streets are lined with colored buildings and friendly people and the water is lined with boats. When our bartender asked where we were from in the States and he heard 'Colorado', it took him a moment, but he excitedly came up with John Denver and quickly followed with "South Park!". Yes. That'd be us. It's been funny to hear what we are associated with. I do believe the two leading categories right now are Coors and the Rocky Mountains, although Coors may be winning because it is held in such high regard here. Crazy Irish!

We headed home to our small apartment on the water and ended up in a heap on our bed with the kids drawing faces on all 10 of Luke's toes, while he held my hand in anguish in his best attempt to remain still. We all laughed until we were in tears. I'm sure the neighbors and sheep thought we were beating the kids as the schoolgirl squealing came barreling out the windows! I fell asleep with a smile on my face!

Posted by akgearhard 15:57 Archived in Ireland Comments (2)

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