Well, through an evil coworker I was shown a new airline that is promoting cheap flights. For less then a weekend in the states I was able to go to Dublin. I’ve never been to Ireland before and I was looking forward to a long weekend away. So that is how I ended up in Ireland. I arrived at about 8am. I was able to find the bus to an Airbnb I had reserved. I recently discovered that google maps lets you download area maps. This was amazing and I easily found the place. I was renting a small room that was within walking distance to downtown. It was a very brisk morning more cool then I expected it to be but bundled up and a quick walk kept me warm. I worked my way towards Phoenix park. In the park was the Dublin Zoo. I am a sucker for zoos and aquariums. With such a cold morning most of the animals wereinside their warm homes. However, a few brave creatures were out in the sun soaking up the rays. Jet lag hadn’t set in yet and I worked my way towards downtown. I passed Jameson and Guinness breweries. Followed the River Liffey to a pub for lunch. Beer and soup. Yummy. I continued to wander around looking at ancient cathedrals, Dublin castle, and the Chester Beatty Library. This library holds some of the oldest manuscripts ever found. Antique Bibles, Qurans, and Buddhist texts. The artwork alone was amazing but to actually witness these documents was humbling. To think these writings from BC and AD made it long enough for me to witness them. It was wonderful. Starting to get a bit footsore I worked my way back to my home-stay for a nap.
I did get up for a bit to have a fabulous dinner at a local pub. However, I had an early day for a ride to Northern Ireland. In case you forgot, Northern Ireland is a separate country from Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and uses the Sterling Pound for currency. Ireland is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. I have to say I had to be reminded of this fact. We worked our way north to the Carrick-a-rede bridge. This bridge was constructed so that fisherman could get a bit farther out from shore. The bridge is constructed of two 2×12 boards and about 100 feet long. I must admit I got a bit weak kneed halfway across but I managed.
After the bridge we went toward the Giants Causeway. Now this is a natural formation of basalt rock. The story goes that a Scottish Giant (the formations go all the way to Scotland) came across the causeway to conquer the Irish giant. Through the wisdom of Mrs. Irish Giant the Scottish one was sent running home with his tail between his legs. The formation and the walk to the causeway is amazing. Huge cliffs and roaring sea add to the the giant atmosphere. We past this ruined castle on the way back to Dublin. Ireland, it seems, holds more ancient structures then I ever expected. The Bushmill Brewery, which we also passed, was founded in the 1700s and is one of the oldest working brewery in Ireland. Just amazing. Just wow.
The next and my final full day in Ireland I went to all the museums and touristy sights that I didn’t get to on my first day. The natural history museums had some of the most antique specimens I have ever seen. Many from the early 1900s or late 1800s. The grouping of creatures was amazing. Not just one twig of the species tree but whole branches. The National Gallery held such wonderful works of local artists. I brought home a reprint of J.B. Yeats White Horse, among others. My final last half day I visited the Botanical Gardens and the Gasnevin Cemetery. Both were beyond imagination and quite fantastic. The entire trip was perfect getaway. Great way to recharge the batteries. I recommend checking out Norwegian Air in your area. The one bit advice, be aware that the 10kg is for both of your bags. So either check (extra fee) or pack extremely light. Now back to the daily grind. I might have accidentally, on purpose, signed up to work the next three weeks straight. I will be on midnights so that should be fine. I will just be a hermit. Until my next trip… which might be Costa Rica.
So I might have peeled out of the parking lot and slid sideways into Walmart’s lot but I made it in one piece. I went through the clothes section in record time finding what I could make work. The person that should have been at the fitting rooms decide that now would be a great time to be missing. I might have limbo-ed under the door and changed into my new clothes. I then walked to the register and give her the tags. I didn’t even get an odd look. Guess its not that uncommon for people to wear purchases out of the store. I made it back to my brother’s school in 15 minutes. Record time! We then sat through the most droll speeches about how great the school is doing and how wonderful the students are. I could have taken a nap. I probably needed one. We finally made it to the diploma presentation time. I was able to make it onto the stage and present it to my brother with out tripping, fainting, or crying. I think that is a great accomplishment if you ask me. There was much fanfare and hand shaking and we were done. It went by in a huge rush. Mom and I returned to the hotel while my brother finished his day. His girlfriend decided that we were not invited to dinner because, “its the last time I’ll see him in…I don’t know.” Peeved and tired, mom and I went to dinner on our own. The following few days followed in about the same way. We went to local sites and did the touristy stuff. My brother still the egotistical person he always have been. It was very disheartening to feel I put all this effort into being here and there was no appreciation shown. Oh well. Family right?! I am very glad to have made the trip. It brought back memories from my time at the same academy. I look forward to seeing how my brother progresses from here. I know it wont be easy. My mom drove back to Georgia in 30 hours. I hate when she does these straight through drives. She made it safe and sound. I flew back and made it just in time for 8 inches of snow. However, today is bright, sunny, and looking warm. It is not warm by any means though. Back to the grind stone, I guess.
Well even with the rough start we were moving ahead. The next day took us farther East. The roads through New York and Mass were fairly nice. Though, with $180 in tolls they could be better. The countryside was quite lovely and some of the trees had held on to their leaves. Many reds and oranges. Traffic flowed well and I could set my cruise control for hours. That evening we worked our way across the Appalachian mountains. They aren’t overly high but it was a bit of a chore to get through.
We were going to stop in Albany for the night but pushed out another 100 miles to Springfield. The sun went down early and there was a light freezing rain as we crossed another mountain pass. I was very stressed and tired from the driving but we made it fine to our hotel. Dinner was at a Mexican place next door. The food was really poor and I lost my debt card there. Sigh. I keep telling myself one more day!! The morning was bright and sunny, if a bit chilly. We worked our way toward, but around, Boston and North to “All Maine Points.” There was no breakfast at our hotel so we were going to stop for food when I gassed up. However that wayside had no open shops besides McDonald’s and they were cash only. Annoyed we pushed on. The miles were quickly falling away and we arrived in Houlton at about 3pm.
Now this weekend was my Landlords birthday so his daughters had left to go see him. So the keys were passed to one of the husbands. This particular gentleman ones a beer and wine shop. Just what I needed after 4 days in the car. Keys and beer in hand we unloaded a few things and crashed. The next day I was able to find a cheap couch and we managed to make this a liveable place. I am excited for this new start. Hopefully I can get settled in well.
Well its been a rough take off but things are moving. Two days before I was to move I hit a deer. Came out of a shadow and there was no stopping for the poor creature. Damage to my truck will be expensive but it’s driveable. Then the day before I was to leave we got about 5 inches of snow. This storm caused my mom’s flight to be canceled. The airlines refused to give her a hotel voucher stating it was God and not them that stopped the flight. Sigh. Well my dad’s best friend lives there so he grabbed her and they had a sleepover! We will be a bit behind schedule but oh well.
I won’t speak of the evil threes in case I jeopardize my trip. Day one made it to Madison, WI as planned. The roads in WI were rough but we were out of the snowy roads so I was happy for that. The countryside is rather beauriful with rolling hills, farms, and pretty trees. That night we stopped and mother found the rum that was packed for her. Needless to say there was much giggling and shenanigans. The cats were happy to be out of the car and explored and finally found time to cuddle with me.
The next day took us three more states East. Chicago area roads were worse and congested. We move into Indiana and reminisced about places we lived in so many years ago in Indiana. I started Divergent audio book to give us something to listen to. If u didn’t know Indiana is just south of Michigan then you would be surprised to drive east and have state border above you. I-90 follows the border as you cross into Ohio. I was happy with the expensive toll roads as I could set my cruise control and just roll on by.
This evening proved to be difficult as mother was in a mood once we checked in. She couldn’t figure out the TV and became very agrresive and condsending after that. I, in hopes to get some food, said I’d go where ever she wanted. Well we all know she can’t make a decision and my yielding didn’t help matters. However, the front desk told her of a place in a nearby mall. It was very good and after she wanted to try to buy some jeans. She couldn’t find anything she liked after I already bought some stuff. This caused her to become even more put out with me. While the night descended south I tried my best to try and relax and enjoy not being in the truck. We still have two more days to get to Maine. Hopefully it continues smoothly.
(I know I kind of ended this post abruptly but I don’t want to focus on thw issue we all know my mother can be. 😊)
Well it is official, I am moving. Leaving the great frozen land of northern Minnesota and heading for the rolling hills of northern Maine. I spent so much energy trying to move and when it happened I was almost dumbfounded. It is like when you push against something and it gives way unexpectedly. You have that moment of panic before you catch your balance (or fall). I got over the momentary panic and moved into action mode. I packed stuff and sold things and prepped to go. Now I am in a holding pattern. Hurry up and wait, right?
I will be heading East at the end of the month. My mom has offered to come with me. A offer that I am not sure I should have accepted. However, it’s a bit late to turn back now. I have planed the route and set up housing in my new place. Now it is only a matter of waiting until the end of the month. It can’t come soon enough and all the same it will come too quickly.
Any of you from Maine or visited? Where are the places I have to go to? Any suggestions?
I finally had a couple days off (I work 8 on 2 off/ 8 on 4 off). My schedule is horrible. No one is able to work that many days in a row and keep their sanity. I have been struggling but fighting back. I hope to get a transfer this year. Wish me luck ‘cause I am going to need it. Well anyways I had a long weekend and my roomie and I decided to visit Winnipeg, Canada. We had been talking about it for some time and actually had days of together so we headed north. I have finally purchased my new truck and I wanted to take it to see if she was worthy of the purchase. She, Beatrice, did not disappoint. The drive was about 3 hours and I have to say there isn’t much in Canada. We drove through swampland and country side until about 40 minutes outside of Winnipeg where there was another small town. I understand that Canada’s roads are crap, I hear it all the time, but seeing is believing. They are really bad. I lost traction doing 30 on a dry road, that’s how bad. However, we carefully made it to our hotel in downtown Winnipeg. We were not able to get our keys but could park and then walk to get some food. We chose downtown because of a place called the Forks. It is a little artisans place with a bunch of handicraft shops and ethnic food. For our breakfast we had Caribbean and maybe a few local beers. Afterward we were feed and watered we took note of the other food places we would want to eat at and wandered through the stores. Then we worked back to the hotel to get our keys and unpack a bit. Maybe a nap. The room was large and very comfortable. On the way back to the hotel from the Forks we saw a sign for a Cirque du Solei show in the area. Tickets were the right price and we booked for the next night. We had a few recommendations for places to eat for dinner and went out for Tapas and drinks. Food was exotic and good and a pitcher of sangria made us quiet happy.
The next day we awoke early and went to our continental breakfast. I have to say that these other guest were the most rude people ever. Cutting in front of you to grab a fork or piece of toast. There was very limited places to sit and many people, having finished their meals, were sitting reading the paper. Super rude and inconsiderate. The food itself wasn’t anything to write home about. So we ate quick and made our way to the Winnipeg Zoo. Both of us are big zoo and aquarium fans and we stop at any that we can. This once was a little poorly designed and many of the exhibits were under construction. We still saw many animals such as, polar bears, camels, wild horses, tigers, and many smaller mammals and birds. It was a great way to spend the morning. We returned to the room and walked around down town looking for used book stores. We found a few and wandered. We found a place that was selling shawarma meals, which is a North African dish. You must try it. We found an Ethiopian place near there and we figured that would be perfect for dinner. Naps were in order to prepare for a long evening of entertainment and good food. This du Solei was called Kurios and was in an actual big top tent. Like the real circus are in. So cool. Our meal at the Ethiopian place ran long and we were a bit rushed to get to the show on time. We were about 3 minutes late and only missed the announcements about no cameras or recording. The next two hours went by way too fast. There was great music, outstanding acrobats, and fabulous tricks. It was beyond imagination and was the perfect way to spend a few hours. After the show and still floating on a cloud we parked at the hotel and walked to a restaurant bar that was open really late. Beers and munchies were delicious and carried us happily to bed.
The next day we needed to be back in the states to meet a friend who has a food wagon. For breakfast we went to the Forks (better than the hotels) and had good ol’ eggs and sausage, deli quiche, and porgies. All very good! We walked around the park and were trying to kill time to stop in a local brewery before we went south. Happily packed with beer and food we started back south. We stopped at the “middle of Canada” and made it in time to meet my friend to pick up some more food. All in all it was fantastic break from the dull grind of work. However, I am back to that dull grind and hoping for a break again… My mom is on her way up… gulp
The story continues with us traveling to Chefchaouen; the Blue City. It truly is the most beautiful shade of blue. To come into the city is rather uninspiring. You pass a very well preserved Roman ruin in Volubilis. It is fantastic to see each room still standing, plumbing that still works, and the Victory gate. You feel that you are in Northern Italy instead of Morocco. Mountains and vineyards dot the landscape. You come around a bend and there below you is Chefchaouen. It doesn’t look blue until you are in the city, from far away its white. Once you get into the city you find only the old parts are painted this blue. I am unsure as to why but I do know that blue means dead ends. We had my favorite meal here- the best food in all the trip. It might have taken a scary trip through stairs and alleyways but it was totally worth it. Leavening was sad but we were working toward what I had most looked forward to; Sahara. Traveling to Midelt really took you into the Morocco you think of. Craggy hills and barren lands filled the vista. You can tell you have left civilization behind as green started to disappear. And all of a sudden, in the horizon, red hills which turn into sand dunes. It is almost a let down. The sand dunes are magically there in the middle of nowhere. I expected a work up to the sand but nope there it is. Our drop off point is still on rough, rocky ground. However, spend an hour on a camel and you will forget that you are walking distance from a hotel. It was amazing to ride into the sunset. The camels tied to one another made a train around dunes and valleys until we came upon our camp. It was very modern for sleeping in a tent. Before sunset we climbed the closest, largest dune. If you aren’t expecting a workout you will be horribly surprised. I nearly gave up half way up the hill. It was deceivingly hard. However, up on top you imagine you are a scout for the tribe. Sand and stars are your only company. You can hear the drums from the camp’s music. It really takes you back 1000 years to when this was a way of life. All too quickly dawn comes and we move to our next location. In M’goun Valley we stay at a Gite or family home (turned into a hotel). The family still lives there and they are very welcoming. One of the many cousins take us on a hike to the next village. We follow paths that wind between family crop fields bordering a low river. I surmise this river, the fields, and path have been here for hundreds of years. This is a livelihood that hasn’t changed just because tourist are around. People still herd their flocks and wash their clothes in the river. It became my second favorite place. (I think, Chefchaouen is my favorite)