Ireland Trip – Final days

Crossing the Shannon Estuary

On Thursday we left our hotel in Killarney climbed aboard our tour bus and headed north where we took a ferry across the Shannon Estuary.

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Cliffs of Mother

After traveling through lots of farmlands we headed to the Cliffs of Moher.  These are awesome cliffs that rise 700′ high over the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean.  They are truly beautiful.

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There was a castle built on the cliffs hundreds of years ago.

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Then we traveled through more small towns and farmlands on our way to Bunratty.

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Durty Nellie’s Pub

In Bunratty we pulled into the Bunratty Hotel where we spent the night.  Once I got settled in I headed to the Durty Nellie’s Pub just across the way.  This is a pub that has been there since 1625.  It is a great old wooden building with lots of little rooms everywhere.  This was on my list of the things to do while in Ireland.  I went in and had a pint of Guinness (naturally) and just relaxed for a bit.  Then went across the street to check out the Woolen Mills store.  Lots of great items but expensive.

Bunratty Castle Medieval Dinner Show

For dinner we were treated to  a Medieval Dinner Show at the Bunratty Castle.  It was a great dinner with lots of wine and good conversation.  Then we were entertained by a super bunch of singers dressed in Medieval attire.  I didn’t have my camera so you will have to just take my word that it was a very fun time.  Then it was back to the hotel to sleep it off. HA!

Connemara Marble Factory

Then next day we visited the Connemara Marble Factory in Moycullen on the outskirts of Galway.  It is a family owned Marble Factory that has been in the Joyce family for centuries.  They showed us the different types of marble all found in areas of Ireland.  Much of this marble is very old and extremely beautiful.  They also showed us how they cut it, drill it and form it into many pieces, many of them used in jewelry. We were also treated to lunch at their store across the street.

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On to Galway

We then drove on to Galway and we were able to shop and eat lunch.  Lots of great shops here and very busy.

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After Galway we made our way across to Dublin and our final destination.  We stayed in a different hotel.  A bunch of us got together in the hotel dining room where we had fun talking about our experience in Ireland and our homelands as well.  Then we started drinking wine, wine and more wine.  Nobody was up too late as many of us had to get up very early to head to the airport.

Saturday my flight took off at 7:30am to fly directly to Vancouver B.C. where I landed on Sunday.  Then I got on a short hop to Portland and headed home.  I was dead tired due to the 9 hour time difference.

My Tour

I booked my tour through CIETours and would highly recommend them to anyone interested in visiting Ireland, Britain, Scotland or Wales.  They were very attentive to detail and their drivers and tour directors were the best.  They have modern coaches that were very comfortable and we stayed at 4 star hotels at each stop.  I also got to meet a lot of wonderful people from all over the world.  It was a blast!

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Ireland Trip – Wednesday Day 4

We awoke early and had breakfast in our hotel.  We will we coming back to this hotel for another night after todays adventure so I didn’t have to pack up.  We got on our tour bus and headed out.

We are in a very beautiful area of Ireland that is made up of mostly farmland and mountains and it is so green.  Our destination is a 100 mile drive around the Ring of Kerry where we took in breathing taking sites of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the coastal views of beaches and cliffs.

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Potato farmers homes

We passed some homes that the potato farmers owned during the famine.  They leased the land from rich land owners that charged them high rent.  Once the potato famine hit they could no longer afford to pay the land owners so many of them just up and left with their families and migrated to America.

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Valencia Island

We crossed a small bridge to Valencia Island.  It is a quaint fishing village on the coast.  Lots of good fishing here.

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Skellig Experience

Skellig Experience is two remote islands off the coast where Christian Monks made there home.  They wanted a place where they would not be disturbed.  They certainly found it out there.  Skellig Michael on the left was used in Star Wars VII.  

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We paused to have lunch in a little town called Sneem.  Then it was back on the road.

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Moll’s Gap

We climbed into the mountains at Moll’s Gap with it’s panoramic views.

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The Ring of Kerry offered so much beautiful scenery.  It was really something to see.

Poteen

We stopped at the side of the road to stretch our legs and see what the vendors offered.  Our guide had told us that this guy sold poteen.  Poteen is the equivalent to our moonshine.  They make it in the mountains and sell it in little bottles.

He also was selling jam and honey which he had on display.  I went up to this guy and got right to the point that I wanted to buy some poteen.  Since it is illegal to make he had it hidden under all the bags in the center of the table. HA!  He pulled a small bottle out that was wrapped in a bag and I bought it for 10 Euro.  The guy in blue also bought one and is holding it in his hand.  I will try it with my brother in law when I visit in October.

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Crazy painted home

This person painted the faces of all the famous Irish people.  I wonder how long that paint lasts?

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Here is another home once owned by a potato farmer.

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Lots of Sheep

There were lots of sheep, mostly in the mountains, in this area.  The sheep in the next pic have a red dye on their coats.  Others had blue and some had green.  Since the sheep run everywhere in the mountains the dye is used to distinguish one farmer’s sheep from another.  Pretty clever!

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Sheepdog 

We stopped at a sheep farm and were able to see a demonstration of the sheepdog herding a flock of sheep.  The dog works on the master’s commands.  He is always yelling at the dog and the dog obeys his every command.  It was really neat to see how one dog can round up a whole herd of sheep and drive them into a pen.

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Back to Killarney

We then drove back to our hotel in Killarney where we were on our own for dinner.  I went down to a small diner where I had a nice seafood dinner.  Then it was off to a pub a couple doors down from the hotel.  I enjoyed watching the people and of course a couple of pints as well.

 

Ireland Trip – Tuesday Day 3

Update on the Day 2 post

I mentioned that after the “Welcome Drink” I had dinner in the hotel.  That was wrong.  Instead we were taken outside of Dublin where we went to dinner at the “Merry Ploughboys Pub”.  It is a huge pub that caters to tours .  They offer a great dinner/show with dinner, wine and a great desert.  The also have the Merry Ploughboys who provide some great entertainment.  They are four guys who play Irish ballads and folk music.  They also have several really good Irish dancers.  It was a blast.  Then we headed back to the hotel.

Left Dublin and headed south

Early Tuesday our tour headed south towards Cork.  We made a stop outside of Cashel to take some pics of the Rock of Cashel.  This next pic was probably a few miles away but I changed to my telephoto lenses to get it.

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I would have loved to tour it but it was not in our itinerary.  It was just outside the small town of Cashel.

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On to Cork

While investigating my ancestry I found out my great great grandfather John Moran came from County Cork.  Most of the Irish immigrants during the potato famine came from this area and got on the boat at Cobh.  The Titanic also stopped here to pick up travelers.

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Blarney Castle to get the “Gift of Eloquence”

We then moved further south to the Blarney Castle in Blarney.  This is where you will find the Blarney Stone.  There were lots of people and it took over an hour to climb the spiral staircase to the top of Blarney Castle leading to the Blarney Stone.

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The Blarney Stone is the section at the very top of the castle.  Once you started up the staircase there is no turning back since the staircase is so narrow.  Once at the top you have to lay on your back, grab the bars on the side and bend backward to kiss the stone.  You also have this guy holding you up.  It is the craziest thing I think I have ever done.  Once you kiss the stone you are sent forth with the “Gift of Eloquence”.  In other words you then have the “gift of gab”.  Ha! I thought I already had that.

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Blarney Woolen Mills

Across from the Blarney Castle is the Blarney Woolen Mills.  They have really nice (and expensive) Irish made goods.  I bought a wool scarf that I can really make use of this winter.  But mostly just window shopped.

On to Killarney

Then we started getting into the mountains.  They are not real big mountains but very beautiful.

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We traveled through lots of farmlands.  It was so beautiful.  They don’t have fences dividing the farms, but have hedgerows and rock walls.

Beautiful Lakes

The scenery in this area is very beautiful with many farms, mountains and lakes.

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Arrived in Killarney

We arrived in Killarney where we stayed at the Killarney Towers Hotel.  We ate dinner at the hotel and I enjoyed a wonderful lamb dinner.  Yummie!!

 

Ireland Trip – Monday Day 2

Hop-on Hop-off Tour

We were furnished with a Hop-On Hop-Off voucher we could use so I did get back on the bus and headed to City Center.  Found the headquarters for the tour company and picked up my ticket and got on the Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus.  These tours are great as they tell you a great deal about the city and you can get off any time and then back on again.

Trinity College

Trinity College is the biggest college in Ireland.  I got off the bus here because I wanted to see the Book of Kells.  They are manuscripts that the Monks painted many years ago.  The colors are beautiful and still very bright.  I didn’t get any pics of the manuscripts, but before you leave you enter a huge room called the Long Room.  This is where they house thousands of old books.  It is really something to see.

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Christ Church

I got back on the bus and a couple of stops down I got off at the Christ Church.  The Christ Church Cathedral (founded c. 1028)  is one of the top attractions in Dublin.

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It has beautiful stained glass windows and very beautiful.  I took some pics of the windows but they did not do it justice.

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Guiness Storehouse

The Guiness family produced Guiness Beer which is the main beer of choice in Ireland.  It is a very modern storehouse and tells the history of Guiness beer.  It is very interesting how it is made.  The top floor is called the Gravity Bar and it has great views of Dublin.  You can see the Croke Stadium in the middle of this next pic where I saw the Camogie Finals.

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Another view of Dublin.

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Here I am enjoying my first pint of Guinness beer.

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Outside of the Guiness Storehouse are some of the cabs.  HA!

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I opted for a motorized cab instead as I only had about an hour before the tour started from my hotel.

Cork Championship Team

When I got back to the hotel I sam the Cork team that won the championship.  They were also staying in the same hotel.  Naturally I had to pose with them and they were very nice in letting a old fart like me pose with them.  HA!!!!

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Our Tour Begins

The CIE tour bus picked us up in front of the hotel.  There are 31 people on the bus made up mostly of couples, one single guy (me), and about 5 single women (all but one of them married).  Our bus driver introduced us to our tour guide as we headed out to tour Dublin.

We were taken to Dublin City Centre where we got off to see a park dedicated to Oscar Wilde the famous Irish writer.  They even had a statue of him on this rock.

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There were also many art pieces like this with all the famous quotes from his writings.

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They also pointed out his home as we passed it on the bus.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral

Our next stop was St Patrick’s Cathedral where we got off for a quick photo shoot.  This was built in 1191 in honor of Ireland’s patron saint.  It was raining a bit but cleared up enough to get this next pic.

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Dublin Castle

Then it was off to Dublin castle where we were given a guided tour of many of the rooms.  It was constructed in early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement.  Dublin Castle served for centuries as the headquarters of English, and later British, administration in Ireland.  In 1922, following Ireland’s independence, Dublin Castle was handed over to the new Irish government.

 

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Welcome Drink

Then it was back to the hotel where our group all met in the bar for a welcome drink.  CIE Tours picked up the tab and it was a great time to meet all my fellow travels.  After that we all went into the dining room and had a wonderful dinner (also included in our tour).

Then it was off to bed after getting everything charged up again for a very busy day tomorrow.

 

Ireland Trip – Sunday Day 1

Why Ireland?

I have been a member of ancestry.com for several years and have been working on my family tree.  It is not an easy project but one that I am avidly pursuing.  I decided to have my DNA tested so I spent the $99 and sent away for the kit.  My results came back that I was 35% Irish and 33% English with East and West European making up the balance.  It has been a long goal of mine to travel to Ireland.  

I decided to take the plunge and started checking out travel tours.  I wanted to take a guided tour to be able to find out as much as I could about the Republic of Ireland.  I didn’t feel that driving there would work for two reasons.  One – I have never driven on the left-hand side of the road and I don’t know anything about Ireland.  I wanted to learn.

I checked many tour companies and finally decided on CIE Tours and went ahead and booked the trip.  How exciting!!!

Long Flights

I flew from Portland International to Chicago O’Hare.  That in itself is a long flight but nothing compared to Dublin.  I watched every episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that they had.  That is a very funny show.

I arrived in Dublin about 7:30am and was able to locate the shuttle bus.  While waiting for the bus to leave I sat with some other people who were going on different Ireland tours.  I met a couple from Seattle who were in the same MG car club as my parents (GOF West).  They showed me the pics of their MG’s and I told them all about my folks MG’s.  It sure is a small world.

Can’t check in yet

We got to the hotel but couldn’t check in until 2:00pm so rather then just wait around the hotel I got directions on where I could meet the city bus.  The hotel locked up my suitcase in a room for me so I didn’t have to drag it around.

I only had to walk a few blocks to meet the bus going into Dublin city center.  I wanted to meet a Hop-On Hop-off bus and see some sites.  I noticed many people getting on the bus as we were headed downtown, in fact the bus is packed and it was a double-decker.  Then all at once everyone got off.  Not sure where they were going I thought I would find out so I too got of the bus and followed the crowd.

It turned out they were going to the Irish Camogie Championship tournament at the Croke Stadium.  Before I checked that out I asked a cop if the Hop-on Hop-off buses run on Sunday.  He told me they didn’t (which was not true) so I decided to buy a ticket and check out the Camogie games.  

Camogie is almost the same thing as men’s hurling, but only played by women.  The Croke Stadium it was played in is the 4th largest soccer stadium in Europe holding over 80,000 people.  There was not that many people watching these games though.  It was sprinkling and I left my camera back at the hotel and my cell phone needed charging so I was not able to get any pics.  I did get a program so I included a pic of that.  Dublin lost the championship in the junior women’s  round, but Cork won the middle women’s round.

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Later I got back to my hotel and was able to check in.  Our tour didn’t start until 2:00pm the following day.  I ate a nice dinner in the hotel dining room and hit the sack early after getting my two cameras, iPhone, and computer charged up. 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Summer

Lake Harriet Camp Host again

This was the third year I have been the Camp Host at Lake Harriet campground in the Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon.

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This was my third year hear and I am beginning to see a lot of the same people who come here year after year.  Many of them have become my friends and some of them I meet with after leaving Lake Harriet.

I love this campground as it is not real big (only 11 campsites) and is rather easy to take care of.  It is also on Lake Harriet.  The only problem I have with it is that there is no outside communication such as cell phone and Internet.  I do have a landline provided by my employer PGE for emergency use, but have to drive about 26 miles before I can connect to my cell phone.

Chica is very used to this campground as well.  She stays in my campsite and never wanders off.  She loves just lying in the sun.

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No pack rats but…….

I didn’t have a pack rat problem this year.  I kept checking under my home but no evidence of any pack rats this year.  But I did have a problem with mice.  I think they were getting into the cab somehow as that is where they seemed to be coming from.  Sometimes I would wake up at night and turn on a dim light and they would scamper off.  I know Chica could smell them, but they didn’t seem to make any difference to her.  

I also noticed them when my vitamin D capsule would be gone in the morning.  I take medication at night and in the morning as well.  I would take my evening pills and leave the morning pills in a small container to remind me to take them in the morning.  I noticed that my vitamin D capsule was always missing.  At first I thought I just forgot to put it out, but then realized that something was taking it.  

I got some traps and set them up around my pill dish.  I would wake up and nothing was in the trap and the capsule was gone.  Then I had to get creative with the trap.  I put up a barrier all around the pill dish leaving only one entry/exit available for that critter.  AHA!  In the middle of the night I had a loud bang.  I got up and sure enough I got him.  Here is a pic of the creature with my vitamin D capsule in his mouth.

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Then I started using peanut butter on the trap.  Mice LOVE peanut butter!  I got another one the following night, reset the trap and got another one 20 minutes later.  This was getting easy.  Then I found out why I was getting them.  I found some chocolate lying around that I didn’t know was there.  I got rid of the chocolate and after killing 7 mice, I finally put a halt to them coming into my rig.

Clearing out of camp

I worked through Labor Day and then I had help the following day (Sep 5) clearing out all the signage, unsold firewood and my cleaning supplies and small shed.  I then started working on getting out of there.  It took me most of the afternoon and I didn’t leave until around 3:00.  

The last two years I have stored my RV in a gated storage facility in Estacada about 31 miles from the campground.  I was going to store it there again this year and talked to the manager about saving me a place.  He said he might have to block my rig in since he was also having another rig stored there as well.  I did not like that idea at all.

One of my campers who I got to know quite well offered to let me store my rig on his property (2 acres) for the entire winter for nothing.  He lived in Gresham which is about 20 miles further than Estacada.  What a deal!  He said I come come and go anytime I wanted, so I took him up on his offer.  I drove the rig there and we got it all settled in to it’s winter home.  I will take a pic of it the next time I am out there.  

Left early…

I was scheduled to work until 9/17 but I asked my boss if they wouldn’t mind if I left on the 5th if I got everything done at the campground.  They stopped taking reservations on Labor Day, but campers can come in every year after the campground season closes and camp for free.  There is no gate and we still get a lot of fishermen and hunters in the fall.  My boss had no problem with me leaving early so I was out of there on the 5th.  

I had to leave early because I had scheduled my next trip starting Saturday the 9th.  This trip was going to be different from past trips since I would not be traveling via RV.  Instead I would be flying.  I booked a trip to Ireland and was leaving from Portland on Saturday.  This is a trip I always wanted to take, but hadn’t even thought about it until the summer.  Between my part time job in the winter and spring and my summer camp host job, I had saved enough to cover the trip.  So I was off to Ireland.  I will cover this trip in my next blog.  

 

Alive and well

Sorry to those who are wondering what happened to my blog posts.  I have been busy working a part time job, but am now getting ready to begin my camp host position.  I am working for the 3rd year at Lake Harriet in Oregon.

I have not been traveling at all since I left Lake Harriet last September.  I parked my rig and am living in my new home in Welches, OR.  This has been a crazy winter.  Lots and lots of snow and rain.  We have not had a day in the 70’s for over 200 days.  Yesterday we had a day in the 80’s.  What a switch.

I will be posting more once I get back in my RV.

By the way, China is doing well and looking forward to our summer at Lake Harriet.