Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year's Day 2017

I'm inspired to blog again.  Obviously, I'm not a regular blogger.  I have to be in the mood.  I'd be broke if I had decided to make my living by writing.  Oh well, this is mainly for me anyway. Someday my kids/grandkids may discover the blog and read what really goes on in my brain.

Last time I wrote was about one week before we decided to move back to Illinois.  Many thought Tim and I were crazy to move back to the frozen tundra.  Arizona had been our home for 22+ years (give or take a few that we spent as South Dakotans when we lived in our motorhome).  Still.  Never say never.  We said that and here we are.

We've traveled a lot.  I think that has a lot to do with the decision to "go home".  Tim said he would show me the world when we got married and he has.  When we decided to move back to Illinois he said it was time for him to take me home.  We've traveled to Austria, Hungary, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland (best trip was the most recent one), China, Korea, Mexico, Virgin Islands not to mention all the states within the US.  We've had so many great trips and it seems like they were just yesterday. Tim said I had to read Jame Michener's "Poland" before our trip to Austria.  I was finishing it up as we landed in Vienna.  The reason he wanted me to read it before we got there was to get historical background on Austria and surrounding countries.  Same was true for my first trip to Ireland.  Tim said we would go to Dublin first because what happened in Ireland either started or ended in Dublin.  There's so much history there...especially about the "troubles".  And, of course, there's Guinness. You can't go to Dublin without taking the Guinness tour.

My daughter attended the Sorbonne in Paris her junior year at U of I.  The year was 1987.  My first trip across the pond was to see her.  I think it was close to a 27-hour trip by the time I got there.  I first flew from O'Hare to JFK.  There was a 3-hour delay out of JFK.  Once we finally were able to take off it was pretty smooth flying.  I had wine with dinner and ended up with the world's worst headache.  No one had told me about wine and flying. We landed in Reykjavik, Iceland and were able to deplane. I went looking for Excedrin.  I didn't hear the announcement to re-board until the last call. I never found any headache pills and the scare from not getting back on the flight in time didn't help my headache.  From Iceland, we flew to Brussels. Once we landed and deplaned on the tarmac I remember seeing military tanks and armed soldiers scattered about.  I have no idea why and there was no one I could ask...and I'm not sure I wanted to know anyway.

I took a bus from Brussels airport to downtown Brussels to catch the train which would take me into Paris.  Lorie had given me instructions on which train to take that would bring me into the right station.  There are 6 train stations in Paris.  The one where she was meeting me was Gare de l'Est. Remember, this is 1987.  No cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting...nada.  I was traveling alone, carrying way too much luggage and only spoke English.  Plus, money used in Belgium was different than money used in France which was the only money I had.  And, the WC's (water closets) in Belgium cost to use them.  And, I had to use one.  Looking back, it seems that some of my most interesting memories involve toilets.  I'll save them for another post.

Well, finally I was on the train to Paris and all was good until it wasn't.  The train stopped at Metz and everyone got off.  I wasn't sure what was happening and I didn't move from my seat until the conductor motioned for me to get my bags and get off.  Apparently, the train I was on didn't go any farther than Metz.  I just kept saying Paris, Paris, Paris. I was directed to another train by a fellow traveler who took pity on me.  I think I had been traveling about 24 hours by now with the various delays.  I was super tired.  My headache was a dull ache and I was contemplating ditching some luggage. Now I was on a train heading to Paris and had no idea if it was going to the right station where Lorie was to meet me.  The train finally reached Paris and pulled into a station.  I gathered my luggage and headed down the platform toward the terminal praying Lorie would be there.  And, she was.  Miracle of miracles.  I had no idea what I would have done if she hadn't been there.  Remember, no cell phones, etc.  I had no way to reach her. She gave me a hug, took one of my bags and whisked me off to the underground Metro.  I don't remember too much about the Metro ride except when we got off we went up stairs to the street level. Lorie said we were going down "dog poo" alley and watch where I step. And, so, the beginning of the worst trip of my life and the best trip of my life had just started.  I still had a headache.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Recap of trip - Part 1

Hard to believe we've been home almost 2 weeks.  Seems like yesterday when we left for Ireland. Thought I would do a summary of the trip. It's not going to be in any particular order.  Just what pops into my brain.  Some people may read this for ideas for their own trip to Ireland and would like to know what (or how) we handled some things.  What worked...what didn't.

Our trip to Ireland was for just shy of a month.  We only visited the west coast.  We stayed 10 days in Dunkineely, County Donegal - Wild Rose Cottage:   (You'll need to copy and paste since it didn't show up as a link to click on)

Dunkineely is between Donegal Town and Killybegs.

We rented a VW Goff (diesel) and an automatic.  I highly recommend renting anything small, diesel and automatic.  You'll pay more for the automatic but, trust me, you'll be able to breathe.  I think Americans get into trouble because they want to rent bigger we are use to here in the U.S. and these bigger cars don't work well on the smaller, Irish roads.  Not to mention driving through towns where cars are parked half on - half off the road.  You'll be sucking lots of air.  A small car, however, doesn't have lots of room for big suitcases.  We had two 26" cases and two tote bags.  Only one suitcase and one tote bag went in the "trunk".  The other suitcase and tote bag was in the back seat.  If you were travelling with another couple this would be quite a shock when you realize it's not all going to fit.  You need to do your homework on what car to rent if you are travelling with another couple.  And, take it from me.  Take out half of what you originally packed.  You don't need it.  

We rented our car through Enterprise and picked it up upon our arrival at Shannon Airport.  Service was fast and courteous.  We also took all the insurance that was offered.  I had read and re-read comments on TripAdvisor's Ireland Forum regarding insurance.  Most of the time I would be more confused after reading them; however, we came prepared with documentation from our credit card company showing they would provide coverage through our card (Marriott Platinum Visa).  But, in the end, we decided to bite the bullet and take all the coverage through Enterprise.  We were going to be in Ireland for almost a month and, bottom line, we didn't want to worry about who or what to call in case something happened.  Or, hassle with our credit card company over "proper" paperwork for reimbursement.  Everything was covered including windshield replacement and tires as well as allowing for another chance.  There's no way I could drive and breathe at the same time.  It was pricey but I would do it again for the peace of mind.

The month of May was (according to Irish news) the coldest and rainiest in 120 years.  I think we had maybe 4 days of cumulative sunshine.  It was cold, windy and raining.  It's a good thing we didn't go to Ireland for the weather!  And, it's true.  One can experience 4 seasons in one day.  Dress in layers, bring a warm hat, scarf for the neck and a raincoat with a hood.  We each had umbrellas but never used them because of the wind.  We told ourselves we wanted to remember the weather when we were back home in Arizona and it was 110 degrees.  Guess what?  It's 112 today.  

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Roy the Sheepdog

(Now that we are home I was able to edit this post and add the short video of Roy herding the sheep.)

I wish I could post the video I took of Roy yesterday.  Given that it takes me 15-30 minutes even to get to where I can post an entry to this blog there's no way I could upload a video.

We drove about 1/2 hour to Joyce Country Sheepdogs.  The roads narrow and countryside beautiful.  Joe Joyce does sheep dog demonstrations and we attended the 11 am demonstration.  Roy, a border collie, is 12 years old and is the "head dog".  Watching him work at his age makes me feel guilty I take the elevator instead of the stairs.  Joe has a number of working dogs including one black terrier that is used for going after the foxes.  Foxes are a problem in the spring with all the newborn lambs.  He also had 3 border collie pups.  Of course, I fell in love with Tip.  Tip is the youngest (3 months) and it was hilarious watching him with the other dogs and the sheep.  Joe gave us the background on his dogs and the purity of Roy's line.  Also interesting to know was he makes more money selling one of his pups (all over the world) than he makes on selling his sheep.  He also said the sheep aren't raised for the wool but for the meat and the  lamb must be 1 year or younger.  Anything older is considered "mutton" and isn't worth as much.  I would have thought that all the sheep we have seen were there for the wool but that isn't the case.  The use of synthetic materials has reduced the cost and demand for wool.  The government subsidizes the farmers for the sheep they raise. I really only understood about half of what he said, it was freezing cold and I was glued to the dogs...especially Tip, the puppy.  Tim was very happy that Tip wasn't for sale.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Irish sayings...

A bit of this and that of Irish sayings and definitions...

  • A bag o'bocks an' a swimmer   -  Fish and chips
  • Brekkie  -  Breakfast
  • I'm so hungry...that me belly thinks me throat's been cut.

  • Irish coffee:  'Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups:  alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat'  per Alex Levine.
  • Me throat's as dry as Ghandi's flip flops  -  Need a drink
  • It's the first drop that destoys you; there's no harm at all in the last.
  • A tall blonde in the black dress  -  pint of stout
  • A hooley with an iron lung  -  a party at home after the pub has closed.  Iron lung is a keg of beer
  • Beef on the heel like a Mullingar heifer  -  A big woman
  • Goin' around like a constipated greyhound  -  Out of sorts
  • A face that would box a goat  -  An angry look

Yesterday we went to Cork which is Ireland's second largest city.  Did pretty well in city traffic only got turned around a couple of times.  Found a parking garage in the center of town and headed to The English Market.  This is a much smaller version of Pike Place Market in Seattle.  Hard to believe I didn't buy anything but I am using up what we have since we only have a few more days here.  I wish we had something like this in Arizona.  We also drove to Cobh (was called Queenstown when the Titantic sailed from there).  Had lunch and visited the gift shop.  Didn't do the paid tour, tho.

The top picture is of my new best friend who offered me an Irish coffee as soon as I walked in to their store.  Betty is her name and the store is Macken of Ireland just outside of Killarney.  She was absolutely delightful and that was the best 63.45 Euro  Irish coffee I've ever had (bought 2 scarves)!  Betty knows how to sell.

2 days until we head to Shannon Airport for home.  Didn't we just arrive?

Slan go Foill

Thursday, May 28, 2015


The owner of the place we're staying said when we stepped outside this morning if we could see the mountains we should go to Dingle which is on the Dingle Peninsula.  She said if we couldn't we should go to Cork.  We saw the mountains and off we went.  We drove north to Tralee taking the long way and early enough to be ahead of the tour busses.  The first picture above (of the hillside) was just breathtaking.  The roads were curvey and we didn't have much traffic going our way.  We got to Dingle, found a great parking spot and first stop was the Super Valu which is a grocery store.  I have this thing about grocery stores and this one didn't let me down.  Tim just shakes his head but thankful it's grocery stores and not jewelry stores I'm drawn to.

The sun was shining all the way there making for a beautiful drive and then, of course, it rained.  What's new?  It didn't last too long and we were back to partly sunny skys.  We had beaten all the tour busses to Dingle and there were many...German, Sweden and France.  I had packed a lunch so we sat in the parking lot and watched them unload and load.  The tour busses must all work together in timing when they arrive because there is not enough parking for more than 6 busses at a time.  

The next couple of days calls for rain so we will be heading to Cork.  Cork is Ireland's 2nd largest city (Dublin being the largest).  He also wants to go to Cobh (pronounced Cove) the last port the Titantic sailed from.

So far we've driven 2100+ kilometers which is about 1304 miles.  Believe me, that's a lot of narrow roads for me to hold my breath.  Some I just closed my eyes and said a prayer..

Slan go Foill

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blue Skies and swans

Blue Skies and sunshine.  Yea!!!  We left Cong this morning and drove 5 hours south to Killorglin where we are staying for the final leg of our trip.  We are in a 3 bedroom townhome that sits on the River Laune.  The picture above is from our deck and the white dots are swan.  I've counted 9 so far.  As I type this I am sitting in the kitchen watching to river flow by.  What a great location for our final week.  Plus the wifi works great.

Our week in Cong was wonderful (except for the wifi or the lack of).  It drove me bonkers.  I'd be on and then off.  Villa Pio, the apartment behind the main house was lovely.  The country setting was quiet waking to birds every morning.  The owners, Marty and Ann, have a dog named Rocky who is a cross between and corgi and something.  He was fun to watch especially when going after birds.  We spent our last day watching The Quiet Man and then decided to drive back into Cong to buy the DVD at The Quiet Man Museum.  Just didn't seem right to come all this way and not go home with the DVD.  

The drive from Cong to Killorglin was an easy one (or I'm getting used to the roads).  Tim says the scariest part of driving on these roads is meeting up with an American driver going the opposite way.  They both hug the middle line.  The lands in the north - County Donegal and County Mayo are rugged with rock fences and millions of sheep.  South of Galway is more pasture land, cows and hedges as fences.  There is more population down here and more tourists.  This leg of our trip will be more "touristy".  Tomorrow we are getting the lay of the land in Killorglin and then will be making day trips to Cork, Cobh (pronounced Cove), Killarney and Dingle.  I am so happy for blue skys.

Slan go Foill

Sunday, May 24, 2015


We drove from Cong to Clifden a couple of days ago.  The roads we were on (345, 346 and N59) took us through Corr na Mona, An Mam, Mam Cross, Derrylea, and Clifden where we parked and strolled the shops.  Of course it was raining...actually Tim said it was a "soft rain".  Quite use to it now...but sure could use some sunshine.  We have read many of Father Andrew Greeley's books (he died a few years back) and Connemara (which is an area) is where his Irish characters are located.  Nuala is one of his female characters and who we named our rescue dog for (she now has a new family and new name of Blue).  So we named our GPS Nuala.  The area is also known for marble and Tim wanted to get some "worry stones". I'm not sure why since I've never know the man to worry about anything.

We left Clifden and continued on to Moyard and Letterfrack.  Don't you just love these names? How did they come up with Letterfrack?  We stopped at Connemara National Park Visitor Center.  Lots of cars, busses and campers.  Their campers here are either Class B or Class B+.  Their Visitor Center is a lesson on "boglands".  Peat is cut from bogs and is still used as fuel.  Google "bog" to get a definition.  We continued on and stopped at Kylemore Abbey and Garden.  This place was beautiful.  And, there were lots of people and a gazillion busses.  It cost 15 Euros each to tour the inside and we took a pass.  Way too many people and we don't do lines.  Got some great pictures of the outside and the grounds.  From the Abbey we drove to Leenane (where many scenes from The Quiet Man were filmed) and then made our way back to Cong.

Yesterday we went to Ashford Castle which is down the road from where we are staying.  It, too, has quite a history belonging once to the Guinness family.  You can stay there (quite pricey) and has award winning restaurants (also pricey).  We thought the Abbey was more photogenic.

We're winding down our stay in Cong and will be heading to the southwest on Tuesday.  Hoping for less rain, some sunshine and better wifi.

Slan go Foill

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Post about Roy

This will be short.  I just spent the last 1-1/2 hours in trying to log on...finally succeeding and writing about our visit yesterday to a sheep farm and about Roy, the border collie sheepdog.  It was great and I fell in love with Tip, a 3 month old border collie. However, I must have hit a button or something because everything I wrote is gone. I'm done.

Slan go Foill

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cong and lousy wifi

I finally have able to get on Blogger to post something.  Whether it shows up remains to be seen.  Someone please add a coment so I know whether it went through.  After having such great internet at Wild Rose Cottage I am, at the moment, going through withdrawal!

We made the 126 mile trek from Dunkineely to Cong without incident (which is a good thing). We had rain on and off plus that dreaded wind.  I have finally reached the point in our trip I have had enough rain and especially...wind.  We are staying at another cottage - Villa Pio - in Cong.  We are located behind the owner's B & B.  It is a lovely apartment that is a kitchen and living room combined with a separate bedroom with a king size bed and separate bathroom with a HUGH walk-in shower.  The apartment is only 3 years old and has all the amenities except sharp knives, cutting board and a cookie sheet.  I would imagine many people who stay here (or any self-catering rental) are not here for cooking.  However, it's what I do and based upon eating out every meal for 27 days it would break the bank which is already strained with the cost of the car insurance.  Tulips, roadies and lilacs are in bloom and they are beautiful.  We are in another rural area about 2 miles from the entrance of Ashford Castle and 3 miles from Cong.  Not able to post any pictures due to wifi which is a shame since I got some great pictures this morning after our visit to Cong.  I'm hoping at some point I can post the picture of the road (?) to where we are staying.  Someone will definitely be backing up.

Today the weather has been decent.  Even the locals are depressed saying it's the worst in years.  There is a dog here - Rocky - which looks to be a cross between a corgie and ??.  He's skittish around Tim and won't come to me until Tim disappears.   Another tidbit is we pay for electric. There's a contraption that you feed euros into.  It's interesting to watch the meter when the hot water is turned on, toaster or any other electric guzzling appliance.  You flip a switch for water - switching from "sink" to "bath".  Another switch for the cooker...really sucks the power.  And, the heat  is also on a timer.   Have to remember to flip switch off or be prepared to feed euros to the contraption.

Nuala (GPS) got us to Tesco (supermarket) in Ballinrobe and I thought I died and gone to heaven.  I finally found yellow mustard and boxed wine.  My needs are so simple.  Tomorrow we are off to Joyce Country Sheepdogs which is a farm about 15 minutes from here and they hold demonstrations 3 times a day.

Slan go Foill

Monday, May 18, 2015

Slieve League FINALLY!!!

The picture is Tim, Jennifer, Sue and Willie taken yesterday at the top of Slieve League!  Willie and Jennifer are the owners of the Wild Rose Cottage where we are staying.

Jennifer read my blog about our attempt(s) to go to Slieve League and decided they would drive us there!!  What a wonderful gesture and what a sight to see!
Also, riding in a car driven by natives is an experience!  And, I am so grateful we had the experience.  Willie took a different way home seeing more sights that Tim and I would never have seen.  Also, they pointed out the cottage owned by Sarah Jessica Parker. (Actually, I think it is owned by her husband, Matthew Broderick whose family is from the area.)  

Wild Rose Cottage - our home for the last 10 days.   Staying here has been a dream come true.  Knowing that we would not ever live in Ireland this has been the closest to feeling like we do.  We did a lot of day trips returning "home" at night.  Killybegs, Ardara, Carrick, Ballybofey,  Glenties, Derry, Bushmills, Giants Causeway, Coleraine, Donegal Town, and Buncrana.  Besides, being able to cook our own meals I was able to hang my laundry outside on the clothes line.  Been a whole lot of years since I did that.  

I can't say enough good things about the cottage or Willie and Jennifer.  If you are considering a trip to this part of Ireland check them out on Trip Advisor...Wild Rose Cottage.  Wild Rose Cottage is also on Facebook.

Tomorrow we are off to Cong for a week.  (Think John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man.) We've had great WiFi for the last 10 days but if you don't see a post on this blog for awhile it may be we may have WiFi challenges in our new location.

Slan go Foill