Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A month later

We've been home for almost a month now and not a day has gone by where I don't lovingly recall our adventure in Ireland. It seems like everyday I run into a person who has yet to see my pictures or hear my stories. Everyday I relive that amazing trip my sister and I were lucky enough to take. And everyday I miss it. Miss it so much I long to find a new person everyday just to talk of the place I live to see another day. Everyday I wish I was there instead of here. But life goes on and I'm not there, I'm here. Make the best of it.

its amazing how sometimes a place or person or event can change you or help find you. Bring clarity on your life and what you want. I know I want to teach. Almost always have known even though I've gotten sidetracked and it seems still have a hard time finding the gumption to finish that damn education degree. But really I know I need a small town. A place where a can sit outside and be completely surrounded by oxygen and nature. These city fumes choke me and I long for pure oxygen. I want peace no hustle no bustle. I feel more able to be me in that place. Ireland was like a no holds bar for me. In Ireland I was completely me, so very me. I didn't put on a show. I was stress free and according to my sister, "Stress, its a killer" so stress free  is a very great thing to be. Its not something I am often. But I'm working on it.

SO goals: finish school, find somewhere to move to, to be me.

Cheers, Jillian

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Slan Leat to Ireland

A month has gone by since we returned from Ireland. My sister eagerly took some of my pics and printed a portion for the peeps at work as well as our family members and friends. I am uploading my own portion as we speak as I intend to show them to my CA friends when i travel there next week.I have also uploaded a portion on FB. Our Ireland trip seems like a lifetime ago. I look at our pics and smile. I loved it there. We had a ball, We had a blast. But will we return?
  I know Jillian already has plans in the works for a trip sometime in 2012. And if I know her, a countdown as well. But as for me...well. I loved Ireland, dont get me wrong. I loved the people. I loved the air. I loved the landscape. I loved the animals. :-) But Ireland isnt going anywhere. The world is a big place and Ireland is only a single stop for me. I would like to explore Australia and New Zealand I think next. I had set it in my mind a long time ago that I would be thrilled to dive the Great Barrier Reef sometime before it dies. (Not me, it) At least abroad. I think Ill take these next few years or so and continue to explore my own country. Ive been through alot of the states and have visited a good many on both the east and west coasts, but there are some places I have yet to see. For instance, Montana and Glacier National Park. The Dakotas, with the badlands and Mt Rushmore. Las Vegas, New Orleans, ALASKA! Hawaii, even Southern California  and maybe even see the Grand Canyon (it might be a big hole in the ground, but I hear its quite pretty in the winter). Have not set foot in Yosemite or Yellowstone. Never been to Minnesota, Colorado, or Idaho. Theres lots yet I want to do and Ive got nothing but time. Money however is a bit of an issue. My Grandpa always said" no crime being poor, just damned inconvienent". That thought certainly runs through my head these days.
  So for now, I work and I save and I apply for jobs in my field.I look at my pics and plan scrapbooks and maybe Ill frame a few.  Who knows? maybe fate will smile upon me and Ill land a job using my degree and then move to a new city/town and begin again. Keep your fingers crossed. You just never know where Ill end up or what country Jillian and I will explore next.

PS The title "Slan Leat" means Good bye in Gaelic. You say this to the one staying behind, you say "Slan Agat" to the one leaving.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Whats the dealio...

Im sure you are all just on the edges of your seats..at least until Jillian blogged last night. So heres my version of "our missing days".

Saturday morning we woke up to pack up our stuff, have our final breakfast in Quilty and bide Angela a heart-felt thank you! Angela is a sweetheart and I truly enjoyed staying on her farm. We headed to Ennistymon to attend (finally) a farmers market. We parked (by some miracle) and headed in. The sun broke through the stormy gray (or grey) clouds and the rain let up as we came across the market. My sister stood for a full 10 minutes looking at all the cheeses. I think there was even a point where i had to wipe the drool off her chin. She rattled off to me what all she wanted to try. The lady was very kind and patient with my sister. She pulled off portions of all different kinds of cheeses and i tried them as well. To me, cheese is cheese. Just like to my sister, one seal pretty much looks the same as another. But my sis couldnt decide which cheese- I reminded her that we left out of Dublin on Tues. She chose her 3 and left happy. In Ballyvaughn, there was no overflowing cheese table, but plenty of goods and people. I enjoyed the sights and sounds of the market and of course the tea and giant cookie.  We still had a few hrs before more torture in the saddle so we headed to Lisdoonvarna to pass time and catch up on postcards. Jillian had to catch up on postcards- I read my book.
 So we then headed to Mountain View for a 2 hr trail ride. I have no idea how I let my sister talk me into these things. There 6 of us in the group, me once again on Guinness and Jillian on Parick (?). The 2 of us brought up the rear. The 2 hrs was defnitely worth it. The views again of Galway Bay, the Cliffs and the landscape that is just simply Ireland was worth the sore body. Guinness threw a few curve balls at me when he kicked at Rosie. Not once but 3 times. Seriously. Kathleen (who was ahead of me) said I reacted well... I told her Im used to animals trying to buck me off. My girls in CA can attest to this. Although not one as large as a horse. Theres a first time for everything I guess. I havent felt that sore since 2009 just for the record.
 After deciding on Kinvarra for the evening's events, Jillian and I secured a place to stay and then decided we needed to eat something if we were to partake in a few pints. We then headed to the Pier House and met up with Peter, Francis, Amy and Anna. Let me tell you something, in Ireland its the rounds thatll kill you. After drinking a few ciders (my drink of choice as I dont particularly care for beer) we headed to O'Connells down the street and continued to get "pissed". We were well within walking distance to the B and B.
Sunday was relatively uneventful as we were both recovering from a night that neither one of us will repeat for awhile. After being treated to a full Irish breakfast we didnt do much but sit. We decided to stay nearby and drive to Dublin the next day as neither one of us (Jillian in particular) was not up for a drive across the country.
Monday morning, we decided to get an early start and begin our drive. The drive was uneventful and before we know it we were back in Dublin. We finally found the hotel and checked in and set out to shop and see (somewhat) the sights of the city. Jillian was not very happy with being in the city after spending so much time out west. I guess she felt a little cloistered. Which kinda surprises me as she enjoys New York City. Dublin is no New York. There are many differences. The architecture just humors me. There are some buildings that are built out of bricks, some that date back to medieval times (Dublin Castle) and then nearby there are buildings built out of steel and glass. A fascinating combination of old world and the 21st century. Its a city but a clean city. Even the alleys are clean and colorful...at least most are. There are statues and tributes to people and events all over. Bridges over the river Liffey, which seems to split the city. There are so many, named so many different things. The Half Penny bridge is so named because it used to cost a half penny to cross it. I like Dublin. Someday Ill explore it alittle more as Dublin isnt going anywhere anytime soon. We spent our last evening at our hotel, eating dinner, listening to a live band and watching traditional Irish Dancing. Perfect end.
Tuesday we made it back to the airport, turned in the Micra checked in and then began the painful process of going through customs. We were warned by our dad and others that getting back into the US is harder than getting out. So true. I had no problem as I filled out the entire form (Jill). She ended up claiming the cheese and getting her boots disinfected. Crazy. After 8 hrs (almost) we were both happy (so to speak) to be back in Philly. Jill spent most of the time between flights texting, answering emails and making phone calls. I spent most of it reading, listening to music and walking up and down the terminals as my tailbone was sore from sitting. But we landed safely and our luggage made it too. Our parents picked us up and after separating our clothes and souvenirs, I drove my sis back to Massillion. Upon getting in the car, Jillian kindly reminded me that we drive on the right side in the states. Hopefully she didnt forget that the next day...that would be funny.
     Slainte Kaitie

the missing days...

I left you on Friday. SO I'll attempt to fill in the gaps of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Saturday: This was our last morning with Angela at the Seacrest B&B in Quilty, Clare. We didn't change up our routine of 9am breakfast of eggs and real bacon. Not to mention the tea. Oh how miss the tea. I really need to get some tea makings. Soon. Anyways, Kaitie ate her brown bread while I claimed anything that wasn't brown. Seriously, Brown bread and I aren't friends. Like at all. One bite took me like ten minutes to eat. We set out with goals in mind...farmers markets. First stop, Ennistimon. We passed it on the first go round...very small town so its easy to do. I flipped the car around and zoomed into a parking spot. Got out...walked in and HEAVEN. Seriously, just the local product availability and fresh cheeses alone would make me move to Ireland in a heartbeat. A heartbeat. Next time, I want to stay where there is a kitchen. Gas stove. I will cook to my hearts content. Anyways, cheese. There was a table full of cheese. Cheese must be the key to my heart because let me tell you my knees were weak. The kind lady running the table let me try anything and everything I wanted then informed me that I would be allowed to take some cheese into the country. OMG. JMJ. Music to my ears. So I bought Irish Bree, Cashel Sheep's Blue, and a Goat's Gouda. I am so excited to eat these. Kaitie was finally able to pull me away from the table. I left unwillingly but happy and glowing enough. Next one... but first a stop at a beach. We drove through Lahinch and stopped at the beach. Kaitlin wanted pictures and sand. There were so many surfers and the waves weren't that large like at all. I've boogey boarded larger ones. and it was raining and cold. Everyone in the water I deemed crazy... super crazy. Not the everyday crazy that everyone is. Cause you know everyone is crazy just to different degrees. Like I believe someone called me an 8, recently. lol. Ballyvaughn next stop. Produce, produce, produce...envy,envy,envy. More cheese but what got me here was the poultry you could pick out and it was alive. If i bought one do they kill it or do I? either way I was game. Next time with that kitchen, I will find out. There was some fresh pesto made with goat cheese that set my mouth watering. Seriously, would move in a heartbeat just gotta finish my education degree. We enjoyed some tea and a very large cookie while i stared in utter bliss as recipes started flowing in my head. If I only had a kitchen to cook in, the things I wanted to try.

We went into Lisdoonvarna to kill time before horseback riding again. Lisdoonvarna was preparing for the matchmaking festival held annually in September, with an actual matchmaker. Yes the whole "matchmaker matchmaker make me a match catch me a catch find me a find" popped in my head and I was singing Fiddler for a few minutes in my head. I sat down to write some postcards and just relax. mainly prepare for my ass hurting during two hours of horseback riding that I insisted on doing again. Why? Why not? When was ever going to have the opportunity to go through the Burren on horseback while looking out to Galway Bay or the Cliffs of Moher. So bruises on my bum. worth it.

And it was. Worth it. Kaitlin rode Guinness again and I was on Parick. A gentle horse. and he was. I was at the end of the line this time around so I was given more guidance. much needed help. I believe Peter told me I was leaning to the left at one point and I was like "umm ok." Shrugged and attempted to right myself. I did better? I doubt it. But I was more relaxed and it was the highlight of my trip. I really loved it. I need to familiarize myself with horses more. They are beautiful animals. God's creation for sure. Maybe next time I'll take a longer trek. Maybe I'll actually get the hang of trotting. Baby steps. I'd like to brush a horse too. Its a safe bet to say that when I go, and I will sooner rather than later, I'll get that kitchen in a cottage near this area so I can go horseback riding again.

After the trek, we headed to Kinvarra to find a place to stay and grab some dinner before our session. We started the night at Pier Head and then made our way to O'Connell's. Met a few friends along the way and enjoyed the local craic. Ended the night in Kinvarra feeling good.

Sunday morning was filled with a hangover. We lounged about and enjoyed a full Irish breakfast, yes blood pudding. Around six that evening we got around to moving. lol. Rounds system is great but not for me who rarely drinks more than two. Pizza was on the menu for the night followed by some wine and the best full nights rest in my life. The drive to Dublin was uneventful and pretty. Followed with us driving around going crap i forgot to figure out where our hotel is. lol. We found it, checked in, and went shopping. SHOES... OMG Shoes. I really wanted some but refrained. Had an amzing dinner while watching Irish band and dancing. Slept then woke unhappy because we were leaving. I was tempted too much to stay. Just get up and walk away from the airport and figure out where to go later. Holiday was over and I had a long Tuesday filled with airports. First thing I heard from when turning on my phone: work. Reality sets in. I'm home.

Until next year Ireland, Cheers. ~Jillian

Friday, August 26, 2011

bionn siulach scealach

Can I start by saying, Damn I'm hurting in places that have never hurt before...to my knowledge. And before you get all TMI on me... we went horseback riding today.

Yesterday, we woke up here in Clare with loads of things to do. We drove to see the Cliffs of Moher which were such a sight to see. I can't really begin to describe the feeling one feels when standing on the edge watching and listening to mother nature crash against the edge of the land. It is magical and hypnotizing and brings new meaning to edge of the world. I found myself wondering as I did at Loop Head what it would be like to stand there without the crowds, without the man made boundaries. and with a full blown storm coming through. I'd give anything to feel that power. Sometimes things are ruined by tourism and the Cliffs, though, extremely beautiful and something I would never regret seeing, are. Their power and awe is lost with crowds and gift shops.

After we left the Cliffs and crowds behind, we drove to Corofin to find out what exact information is needed to track our ancestors. If we provide parents names of our g-g-grandpa and approximate date of birth, we can find where he lived prior to leaving and his family history. This is something I will be looking into further down the line. From Corofin, we drove into the Burren to see the Poulnaborne Portal Tomb and the limestone mountains. Next we drove to Ballyvaughn and took the coast road all the way back. It took us like two hours because we stopped twice to take pictures of the coastal scenery and Galway Bay. We gotta a little something something for someone special. It might be you...I'm not telling. And we finally got through Miltown Malbay and were rounding the bend when I looked at Kaitlin and asked if she wanted to go to Spanish Point to watch the sunset. DUH right? So we sat on the coast where nobody else was with the tide coming in and watched as the sunset over the Atlantic. Beautiful.

We rolled into our B&B early and caught up on blogs, sleep, and postcards. I tuned into some British Talk show that had guest PDiddy, Vince Vaughn and some blonde comedian. It was hysterical. I found this entertainment actually entertaining. Wish I could watch this at home. Wish I could just watch only that. Kaitlin was just saying how when we walked into the grocery store, while she was waiting for me, she loved the fact that the magazine rack was filled with people we had no idea about. Boy bands have some popularity out here still. Westlife (anyone remember them? the backstreet boys of Ireland?) are still going strong here. who knew right?

So today... we drove to Mountain View Horse Trekking in Lisdoonvarna to go for a hour trek. Peter and Steffie were our guides and there were five others with us, a group from Munich. I got stuck between that group and the guide up front was all I could here. Unfortunately, Steffie and those five were not speaking English, so there I am, on a horse that could rear up and throw me or gallop off to BFE Ireland or kick me once it throws me, sitting with the feeling that my saddle was slowing shifting to the left, nervous as all hell, wishing pain on my sister who was chatting and laughing it up with Peter our cute Irish guide. Then, they were like lets trott. Steffie gave directions/suggestions in someother damn language. Peter informed my sister what to do and there I am with a horse that doesn't mind getting pooped on (because he stuck his nose up the other horse's ass), enjoys biting the butt of the horse in front of me, and I'm sure sensed my fear and laughed his beautiful horse head off at me, going CRAAAAP. I saw my life pass before me each time we tried trotting. 3 or 4 times. Gray hairs are appearing.  And yet, I decided to go back again ...2 hours. At the time, I rang Peter my body was like, "eh, no worries". Now, I fear the pain. Aleve will be my friend.

Saw one Farmer's Market which consisted of three tables. Although, sundried tomatos were worth every pound/euro. When we got back to the B&B, I decided to try and shower again. This morning's drama with the water still was present. The water temperature ranged from Freezin to Scalding and Back again in the matter of ten seconds. It repeated this pattern throughout the "shower" which I took in the two seconds on each side of the pattern where the temp based into the bareable range. Came out Freezing and with the mother of all headaches...yes if you are suffering from a headache, it is true my ache probably gave birth to yours. sorry. Ate a toasted local goat cheese, pear and walnut salad followed by Bailey's chocolate cheesecake with the best damn ice cream I've ever had and Hot tea.

Driving on the right/correct side of the road which is the left here isn't that hard. I don't even mind the narrow roads considering I have a tiny car. But I must say a plethora of colorful words escape mouth when people don't MIND THE MIDDLE LINE! Seriously. Then, there are those who pass others with no regards to oncoming traffic. I almost came to a complete stop from going 90km mind you because some jack was going the wrong way in my lane... he waved at me as i laid on my horn. International peace sign almost made an appearance. Come on people!

Tomorrow, Ennistymon and BallyVaughn farmer's markets. Then, Horse back riding, then a Guinness with Peter. Tired=Bed.

Cheers. Jillian

PS: The title is Gaelic for "The Traveller has tales to tell." oh yeah we went to Newtown Castle

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If your Irish boy tires of you, You are allowed to shoot him in the knees.

Hello all,
    Yes yes yes, no blogging on Tues...so sorry. Tues after bidding a fond farewell to Katarina in Schull we headed North. Taking Katarina's advice we went through Bantry, Ballylickey and Glenagriff and into Kenmare. We were not disappointed. Someone told me that in Ireland, every view is a postcard and so far I find that to be true. I have yet to find a terrible view. Jillian drove and managed once again not to kill us and I navigated/ photographed. And in all modesty, I seriously kick some butt navigating these Irish roads. We havent gotten too lost and oddly always end up where need to be. Which is amazing considering the narrow roads, funky signs, misc highways/motorways and of course the frustrating round-a-bouts. We got a little turned around in Kenmare, which is understandable considering that our bladders were going to explode. We unfortunately missed the Killarney National Park but we hit Killarney. Of course the song "Christmas in Killarney" that my 5th grade class sang was ringing in my head. After Killarney we went through Milltown,Castlemaine, and Bootleens, which took us onto the Dingle penninsula, where they only speak gaelic. But even with signs in Gaelic, we managed to make it through Inch, Anascul, and finally Lispole and the Dingle Seal Sanctuary.
    3 words: OH MY GOD. Loved it. As Jillian is with cheese, so I am with animals. I of course annoyed the heck outta the staff and most likely my sister. But she was a sport. The center, was only 2 years old and was barely surviving their second summer. They have 12 patients: 11 Harbor seals (they call them common seals) and 1 grey seal ( which ive never seen only in books)They also have a santuary for birds and had tons of them flocking around, outside the seal pens of course. Everything from a peacock, all different kinds of ducks, geese and chickens, plus wild birds. There is a boardwalk that you are able to walk around a marsh area. The seal areas are broken up into 2 areas: the kennels and the nursery pools. The kennels ( there are 6) are each equipped with their own heat lamps, small pool and protection from the weather. They also have a contraption that is hung on the wall out of the way when not in use and then folds down to protect the animal and also to keep them stationary, almost like a box around them. I found it pretty cool. They were using it on one of the HS who spent the day at the vet due to a large prop wound and a crushed " pinky" bone. She came back when they were feeding at 4, tubed her and then put the box over her. The were tubing the others that were in the other kennels as well. 2 of them were in the midst of fish school and were being hand fed in the small pools and in my opinion were doing very well. They  both were almost ready to be moved. The other 3 were still being tubed. One was the grey (name was Narnia) he was all fluffy and white still wearing his lanugo coat which he ll wear for another 2 weeks. They keep theirs on for 3 weeks where as hs shed theirs within a week to 10 days. He is only a few days old and they think he was premature which was why he was abandoned. The rest of them are all free feeding in 7-8ft deep pools. They have 3 that are all connected and the seals can move at will between them. They get fed herring and mackeral and Allie, who I talked to the most, said there was no herring in her bin, but it all looked like herring to me. Their tubing procedures is similar to the NMMCs (allie asked me if it was) their tubes are bigger (prob the same size as the csl ones we used) and they use funnels. They dont have access to Mulit milk and use a fish mash and lactate mixture. Lactate I assume is similar to electrolytes. I asked about their medical care, their goverment paperwork and their funding. Their medical care, they pay for at a discount and give mostly injections. Their goverment papaerwork is similar to ours and their funding comes from their tourist revenues. They are also short staffed (all are volunteer) and i mentioned hey I could stay. They were excited about that and i talked to Laura, who is in charge of day to day operation. I left my resume and she gave me her email. We talked about me coming back in the winter when its grey seal pup season (!). The staff stays in a house in Dingle and groceries (according to Allie who is an Aussie) are taken care of. Laura asked if i have been to Ireland in the winter. Me and Jill mentioned we come from the great State of Ohio where it snows for 6 mos. They said its mostly wet and cold. I described Crescent City and apparently its pretty much the same. Considering that it started to rain when they were feeding... which I have done... I say so. So...anyone want to come volunteer in Ireland with me over the winter???? I mean what am I doing ... i have no plans for December or January. Crazy right? Riiight.
   Well, there is tons more but it stopped raining, the suns out and Jill is (finally) ready to go. The days wasting. Ill steal the computer first this evening so I can finish~ cheers. Kaitie

So I get to blog first tonight- yeay!
           Anyways, After the Dingle Seal Sanctuary, we continued up the coast to Kilkee and Jillian suggested we head out to Loop Head. Loop Head,  is one of the places in a story Ive read. It has a lighthouse and amazing view of its own cliffs. The day was clear and windy. I got some awesome photos. We finally continued onto Quilty. Sea Crest is a very cute working farm. It has marvelous views of Clare and on clear days you can even see the Cliffs of Mohr. Jillian decided she wanted to hear some traditional music and read about the Kilfernora Ceili Band who has been playing for 100 yrs. We went to Linannes the local pub where they play every wed night and ate dinner (Jill had Lamb stew and I had potato and leek soup) and stayed well after 1030. We got back and I read and she blogged.
  This morning, after a yummy breakfast courtesy of Angela our hostess, we showered ,changed, I blogged the above and we headed out to the Cliffs of Mohr and the Burren. It was slightly raining but the sun kept peeking through.  We got there and walked the path up to O'briens tower took some photos (along with about 50 other peeps) and then headed up the opposite way, towards the south. The Cliffs are a high tourist attraction and they have a visitors center and the paths are all paved. At least to the north which is where most start including us. To the south you can go to a certain point and then there are great big concrete blocks, but usually everybody (us included) climb over and around the barricades and ignore the warning signs to walk the path to Hags Head on the southern most tip of the cliffs. The area where you climb over is well worn by people ignoring common sense. Its kinda amusing. We only went a few yards from that point then took our pics and turned around. Plus there was a storm moving in. We walked into the visitors center and walked around there and then saw all we came to see and decided to leave. After the Cliffs we drove to the Clare Heritage Center to possibly look up our ancestors that had enough of Ireland and decided to come to the US. Well of course we dont have enough info on our great- great grandfather and have to do more research back in the states. We then had lunch at a local place (i had a blt and jill had smoked salmon) and then went through the Burren. The Burren (pronounced "burn") is an amazing geological area. There are castle ruins, ancient tombs and rock formations no where else on earth. Theres a famous tomb and we decided to stop and walk around. We then continued onto Ballyvaughn where the gentleman from Kilfernora said it is "the prettiest drive". He was very right. We enjoyed the drive immensly. Even stopped a few times for some sight seeing. We headed back towards Ennistymon and stopped for petrol (gas). We pulled in and filled up and my sister had to go in to pay. It took longer than normal. Apparently, she was chatting up the good-looking Irishman. She asked where he goes to have fun and he gave her a name of a local club where we are (I guess) spending tomorrow evening. Ohhh my sister. She was all smiles and excited that she still has her game. What game that is I have no idea. She is currently watching an British Talk show which is showcasing P Diddy hanging out with the royals- Jillian is finding this immensley humorous. I find that she wants to watch this when she gets back in the states and she has no cable- humorous. hehehe.
We headed back to Quilty and decided to stop and watch the sunset in Spanish point. It was worth it. Now im going to hand this thing back over to her and she can tell her side of the story.
    Slainte Kaitie
ps Im at 990 pics...i was at 549 on tues and 679 yesterday... will I make it?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Forecast: Some Rain, Some Sunshine, Some Clouds and between 11and 15 Celcius

Yes Yes. We know. No blogs from yesterday. No internet yesterday. But here today, in the sweet Seacrest B&B, we have internet and we are here til Saturday. Lets think here. Tuesday:

Tuesday, we left Schull after having one last breakfast cooked by our lovely hostess Katarina, with real bacon. Stuff in the States we claim is "bacon" isn't. Its a rip. Trust me. During breakfast a couple staying there chatted us up. They were from England and told us everywhere we should hit up if and when we go to Wales and Scotland. Super awesome Brits. Not cold at all.

We went through a lot of towns, Ballydehob, Bantry, Ballylickey, Glengariff (my favorite) and into the Gougane Barra Forest Park crossing into County Kerry. The drive was kinda challenging but it was breathtaking. Once we got to the top of the mountains, we pulled to the right side (on left was cliff) and got out to climb even higher. I felt like I was reenacting the end of Sound of Music, that song "Climb Ever Mountain" playing in my head as a soundtrack. Except we weren't escaping Hitler. And they weren't as high. But they were remote and so so so quiet. I know that if I lived in Ireland I would certainly choose a special place where I could disappear from the world. And the best part, my brain was not going over time with thinking or work. It was just me and nature, chillaxing and enjoying life.

Once we got back in the car, we drove on down the line, where we went through several tunnels that were amazing. We stopped again. Surprise and Kaitie took her seven hundred millionth picture. : ) (and yes I'm happy for all her pictures because I'm driving and she's capturing.) We randomly came around the bend and out of nowhere Molly Gallivan's Cottage and Traditional Farm. It is part of a druid circle as well. They had stones that align with the sunrise on Nov 5th. and across the view there is a monument that is directly in the center of the sunrise on the summer solstice. Pretty cool. We spent a good hour exploring and they had some pretty cool crafts around.

We headed next through Kenmare (got lost and had to pee) We asked for directions to Killarney and got on our way. Did you know that public restrooms are super hard to find?! Now Kaitie and I stop every chance. The drive to Dingle of course was long because there was a car two in front of us that insisted on going 60km when it was posted as 100km...(probably Americans) lol. Lispole was our next stop for the Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary. Kaitie was in heaven. 12 Seals. 6 being in the nursery and 6 in the larger pools. 11 were common and 1 grey. We watched them get fed and Kaitie chatted and yabbered and blah blah. But she was happy and I didn't really mind. They are trying to talk her into staying longer here. Lucky brat. : ) From Lispole we traveled to Tralee just in time for the Rose of Tralee festival... kinda like Miss America but you can be from anywhere as long as you have Irish connection somehow. Maybe next year I'll be Rose of Ohio. Lol. Tralee was busy and the party lasted til 2AM. With fireworks in the end. Crazy. We lasted til 11pm. Driving and sightseeing all day. I was tired and once again fell into my bed.... BTW MY LUGGAGE FOUND ME!!! YAY! Clean everything is amazing to have. Don't forget to count among your blessings clean underwear!

Kay and her husband were quite chatty in the morning and we didn't get out of there until 11 though we were ready to go at like 10. But they were completely sweet and we actually enjoyed their conversation. They told us all about their adventures in NYC. It was humorous. We had a bit of a drive ahead of us, not as long as Sunday or Tuesday but still it was driving. We went from Tralee to Tarbert, got on the ferry to cross the Shannon and in to Killimer. We then headed to Kilkee and Loop Head. Loop head was/is amazing. Breathtaking. Like standing on the edge of the world. Just you and the sea and the rest of the elements. On one side you see nothing and the other you can see the Dingle Peninsula. Absolutely fantastic. And hey maybe next time I'll rent the lighthouse for a week to stay in. sleeps 5. That would be awesome. right? who's in?

After Loop Head, we traveled on through to Quilty. As soon as we got here, which by the way the road up to the B&B is definitely a one lane road, really hope i don't have to play chicken with a tractor, Angela made us tea and gave us the tour. We unpacked and took a load off. Then, I convinced Kaitie to hop back in the car and drive another 40mins to Kilfenora where on Wednesday the Kilfenora Ceili Band would be playing at Linnelane's. A 100 year old tradition to have this band. Three fiddles, some kind of flute, a guitar and concertina like instrument. We got there around 6 and just made it in time into the church ruins and high crosses before the cutest little old dude locked up. He took us around and told us all about anything and everything. Told us we could find Quilligans (pronounced Cullagan) in the southwest of Clare and some are in Ennis. He also suggested we travel from the Cliffs of Moher through Doolin and onto Ballyvaughn. "the best drive in Ireland" he said. and we plan on making it. After the visit, we headed to Linnelanes to wait for the band. I'm glad they serve dinner because the band wasn't scheduled to start until 930. We enjoyed some delicious Irish Stew and Bulmers (Irish cider) with a Guinness head. The band was worth it though. We would've stayed longer but the darker it got the more I realized driving at night 40mins around curves with narrow roads and stone walls that are very unforgiving surrounding you would not be fun. It couldve been worse.

Now I'm in my home away from home and I'm ready to sleep. Kaitie will write tomorrow as it is 1:00am here and tomorrow night I will post again. The Burren and possibly the Cliffs of Moher tomorrow....who knows.


Loop Head

Shannon River Car Ferry...Mine is in the middle by the truck

on top of the world

Monday, August 22, 2011

There is nothing exotic about being American

Hello all,
 Well after a very disappointing start to our trip- a cancelled Philly flight, a lost bag and Jill missing her farmers markets, we are finally beginning to enjoy ourselves. Like Jill said in her blog, our Philly flight got cancelled due to weather and we were stuck in NYC. Kudos to Bryan and Obie (our cousins) for taking us in out of the rain and showing us a pretty awesome day despite the circumstances. After a good nights sleep, an awesome breakfast (if you ever go to Pastis try the chocolate bread- Im not kidding), we walked the Highline. Ive read about it and thought it was very interesting. It has become my new favorite thing to do in NYC. If I lived in NYC, id be there all the time, esp if the weather was as nice as it was. We even got to see the Statue of Liberty (in the distance) the Empire State building, the Chrysler Building, Jersey, and Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market was a pretty neat place and my sister the chef truly found her heaven. Although i have to admit the peach balsamic vinegar is pretty scrumptious. On to DC, then finally Philly and then taking the same flight we were supposed to take Friday...DUBLIN. Neither Jillian nor I got much sleep (any one who has flown a red-eye should know). Its not easy to find a comfortable position in an airplane. So we were both groggy and tired and really couldnt enjoy the nostalgia of being in Ireland. Of course there is the lost bag issue. Jillian finally broke down today and wore a shirt of mine.
   After a very long drive and a short cat-nap on my part, we finally arrived in Schull in County Cork. We arrived at Grove House and met our Hostess Katarina, who along with her staff , is very nice and very helpful. Our room is very spacious and cozy (and honestly its kinda nice not having to share a bed with Jill- shes a heat mooche! ) We did not do much due to exhaustion and ...well thats it. We had fish and chips (or as we called it in Crescent City, CA) yummy fried goodness and boy it ever was! Very tasty and delicious. Then we stopped in the chocolate shop and tried some pieces of their homemade chocolate. Including dark with chilly powder, mint, elderflower, plain and (we have yet to taste it ) Irish whiskey truffle. We went into Hackets and both of us (yes me too) tried Guiness and Murphy's. I personally wont try either again. Although Guiness is easier to drink and doesnt taste like (as jill puts it) burnt coffee. We returned to Grove House and sat in the dinning room, playing double solitaire (I won) , drinking tea and writing postcards. A perfect end to a very long day.
   Today, after almost oversleeping, we got some breakfast (yum) and went into town to find Jillian some clothes. We at least got good news on that front, keep your fingers crossed that the bag will be in Kerry.Then we headed to Mizen Head Light. Jillian is doing a marvelous job of driving on the left side of the road and has not managed to kill or maim us- Good job sis! She also humored me and stopped once or twice at picturesque spots. The first was right outside of Schull, where there was a path down to the rocks on the water. Jillian got a little excited and went off exploring. We both are practically fearless to climbing down on rocks to the water due to all the times we spent in Maine. The whole area made my little Marine Scientist heart just ...melt. The ocean was sooo blue, the water was so clear, the air cool and the crashing waves let out that smell that to me just says "the sea". (What can I say- Im a nerd.) Ive missed all those things since Ive been back in the Midwest! The rock formations (my geology professors would have LOVED) are something ive never seen before. I honestly cannot describe it and you will just have to wait for the pictures. Mizen Head was just as undescribeable and Jillian has posted a few of the millions of pics I took from our 2 hr walk. We returned to Schull after a few more stops for pictures and had some dinner. The Gubbeen cheese was very tasty and Im sorry that Jill missed her markets. We returned to Grove House to sit outside and enjoy the sunset. Jill looked at all my pics I took today  and she realized that i took one or two of her when she wasnt paying attention...hehehe. I did NOT fall asleep no matter what she says. Anyways, we are writing postcards and drinking tea, winding down after our day. Cannot wait to see what the Irish seal center is all about! Next stop: Tralee, County Kerry.
  Slainte Kaitie                         Picture count : 340

Put it in the wash, it'll be grand.

We are finally here/there. County Cork in the town called Schull. I am exhausted and without clean clothes. That's right folks not only were we delayed for a day in NYC which caused me to miss two, count them, two Farmer's markets, but the airline and its oh so awesomeness lost my luggage and they have no idea where it is. I'm without clean everything. We had to buy body wash and tomorrow clothes shopping. I wonder how much I can spend and bill us airways. They told me to keep all receipts. And to contact them when we move B&Bs if I don't get it by the time we leave Schull. Seriously, I am trying not to let the fact that I have no clothes bring me down. But its tough.

To catch you up, Friday night we ended up stranded in NYC. Luckily, our cousin and his wife were awesome enough to take us in. On Saturday morning, we enjoyed fabulous breakfast at Pastsi's then took a walk on the Highline. The highline is old rail way that they turned into a park. Great views of NYC from the third level point of view. We also walked through Chelsea Market which was awesome and I wish I had more time there. They had a place with all kinds of flavored vinegars, oils, and salts. The bacon salt and peach vinegar were my favs! Our flight out of NYC was at 4:00 to DC then 6:00 to Philly then 9:00 to Dublin.

Our first day seemed so long. We arrived in Dublin right at 9am. We had no idea what to do about the missing bag until about 10am and by the time we got our car, it was 11am. SO …(Kaitie was just now sleeping with her mouth open..lol). Anyways… We hired a Nissan Micra. Its tiny but not tiny enough I would find out. Driving on the left in the left side of the car is semi difficult. I forgot sometimes if there wasn’t someone in front of me. And I forgot on the highway when I was in the far right lane and everyone and their mother were passing me looking at me like go faster or move over. Kait got a catnap in and let me tell you before we hit Cork I was having issues staying awake. After Cork it was roundabout after roundabout then small village with even smaller roads. Small roads with cars parked on each side and having two cars try to pass eachother sometimes results in to mirrors meeting and the driver cursing. Not me mind you. : ) Anyways, then another roundabout. Sometimes I missed the correct exit and just drove around in the circle until I got it right. Don’t judge. Bandon, Skibbereen and finally Schull at about 430pm (Irish time five hours ahead).
Grove House is super cute but not overly so. Just the right amount of quaint. We have the room called Yeats. It has two twin beds and a very nice bathroom. The beds both have down comforters which help at night because it gets chilly. Our hostess, Katarina is absolutely the best. She is very helpful with our questions and makes us hot tea whenever and wherever we want it. We had tea as soon as we got to the house. Then we headed into the village to find me some clothes. Everything was very overwhelming and I was so tired I couldn’t even decide. (the owner told me I looked shell-shocked. ) onward, to the best fish and chip place in town according to Fingal, which by the way is called Fish Shop, right on the harbor. Fish & Chips that don’t taste fishy, yes please. We finished our night in the local Pub called Hacketts. Most everyone was outside because it was gorgeous and sunny which is rare. We stayed inside or rather got stuck insides by two gents who told us everything and anything we wanted and didn’t want to know. They also had us try both a Guiness and Murphy’s to decide which we preferred. Neither but if I had to choose Guiness is lighter and tastes less like burnt coffee. Later, while tucked in our B&B we had hot tea which I am started to love and played double solitaire. Kaitie won. And fell into bed.

Monday: Almost over slept today but made it downstairs just in time for freshly prepared breakfast. Eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, fresh bread, oj and hot tea. Tomorrow I think I am going to enquire what an irish breakfast contains. Maybe some blood pudding? Airport dude called and they found my luggage but don’t know when they can get it to me. : ( at least it is in the same country as me. We finished breakfast and took a much needed shower then I put on dirty clothes…shower seems pointless. : ). I went back to the shop in town and found a hoodie and a long sleeve shirt. And I’m billing USair. And they will pay. Or else.. dun dun dun… The people in the shop were very sweet and gave us directions to the mizen head signal house. It was about 30 mins he said. I think it took me a hour. I’m telling you driving up the hill was no fun. And the little towns turn my knuckles white. A few gray hairs, a stop off to an old tomb, and 6 euros each later, Kaitie and I spent the next two hours with are cameras attached to our eyes, our mouths open, and our heads shaking marveling at how beautiful the Mizen Head Signal house is. My thighs are going to hurt from all the 20degree ramps and the steep steps but I won’t ever forget this place. The weather was absolutely perfect according to the very cute Irishman manning the signal house. And he was right. Blue Skies as far as the eye could see. And we can see pretty far. The drive back wasn’t as terrible.

  I beginning to think it would be real easy to drive on the left all the time. Maybe I’ll stay.  Dinner, we ate at the Bunratty Inn. We had the most amazing cheese, Gubbeen cheese, locally made, that was fried and served over a salad with a port wine sauce. Overall, best day, tho it is only our second day and it will only get better. Big smiles…

Cheers- Jillian

Friday, August 12, 2011

7 days

So, I finally get to say something! yes it is 7 days away. I am some what packed- there are things in my suitcase, but not very neat.Its not so I wont wear the clothes, cause most of these clothes i wear during the spring and  fall or when I lived out in Crescent City,CA. Its mostly so I wont trip over something in my room and do a face plant at 3am.
  I am along for the ride. I personally dont care what we do cause Ill be in Ireland! IRELAND! I mean ...wow. I have never traveled off of North America. So my only request is an Irish seal center..but hey thats what I do. Im seriously curious at how they do the same thing... both medically and physically. Not to mention who with the Irish government handles that. So many questions so little time. Ask Jillian about all the farmers markets we have to hit or why she wants to try blood pudding- why, cause thats what she does. And she says shes not counting...but she is. She has been since like May. Im surprised she hasnt packed yet. And no, no heels in my suitcase either...not that there has ever been. Shocking. I know.
 But the days are winding down and as the 19th gets closer we both get more and more excited. We will definitely take the Irish countryside by storm. I will be taking tons of pictures so stay tuned for those! I took over 300 during a week in Maine...imagine what I can do for a 10 day trip in Ireland. Itll be alot.

Slainte   Kaitie

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A week away

SO we leave on the 19th. Its right around the corner and I still don't feel like we are actually going. Will it feel real when I close my suitcase? when I explain to my friend on how to feed my cat? when Amanda takes us to the airport? or will it finally sink in when we land in Dublin?

I am still iffy on what to pack. Sweaters, jeans, and scarves are a definite, but the girls at work think I should have some night outfits. Of course then I'll really stick out like a soar thumb. People in the local pubs don't get all fancy. Heels would definitely be stupid. It will be the first trip I take and I don't pack a pair of heels.

Our itinerary is pretty set now. 3 days Cork, 1 day Kerry, 4 days Clare, and 2 days Dublin. We are going to the Seal Sanctuary in Lispole and are horse back riding in Clare. Both places will be amazing. Kaitie was along for the ride until the Seal Sanctuary thing... now shes going crazy planning everything...just kidding. I guess I will allow one thing for her. lol.

Slainte. Jillian

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

3 weeks and a few days

I'm not counting, I promise.

Ireland is our first out of the country take over. We've already experienced the Boston area, Lincoln City, Oregon, and the Florida Keys together. We leave on August 19th and arrive in Dublin on the 20th. It seems so far away yet I know it will be here before I'm ready for it. We will be staying in Ireland for 10 days and hopefully be able to update this blog often throughout our trip. It will save us on phone calls and postage.

Not much is planned definitely, yet. We have an idea of everything we want to do. The first few days are booked but from there, we are winging it. Schull, Ireland is our first stop. Three nights here to get to know some locals and explore the Mizen Head peninsula. Saturday night will be spent in a local pub of course. Then Sunday a farmer's market. I'm so excited and Kaitie, well she informs me she is just along for the ride.

I think packing might be an issue. Ten days in weather that changes quicker than a hormonal woman's moods. But it won't be crazy hot. I've told layers is the best way to prepare. I'll probably start packing sooner than later.

Can't wait.- Jillian