18.03.2015 - 18.03.2015
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.