Thursday, February 28, 2008

Waking up in a Fairytale

As I have been boasting for months, I went to Ireland.

I wish I could bring everyone to the tiny island and have you experience it as I did; unfortunately, I can only offer stories and pictures...neither of which will do Ireland justice.

During our stay, we packed as much as possible into six days. I feel the best way to blog about the trip is to present a brief overview and leave the best experiences to become entire blogs themselves.

We hit the major sites on the west coast that were near by. We stood in awe at the Cliffs of Moher, we are dumbfounded by the various Neolithic tombs, we explored (with great reverence) several monastic ruins, and frolicked in the Atlantic Ocean on Achill Island.
We usurped the culture by frequenting every pub we could find, we chatted with the locals and understood almost everything they said, and we learned Irish drinking songs and joined in jovially with 50 or so Irishmen with "Soldiers Song."

We discussed politics with Tom and listed to folk tales from Mick. We drove on the left side of the road in the right side of the car. We braked for random sheep that happened to be in the road. We marvelled at the fact that people still use thatched roofs.

We took the train to Dublin (against all of the advice of our dear Irish friends), we trespassed in some one's farm land to find unexplored territory. We hiked half a mile in the rain and sleet so see a grave from a time before the bronze age.

We were blown away on the beach and Katie was called a 'Spice Girl.' We ate some of the best food of our lives and made countless U turns. We saw the Book of Kells which was authored and illustrated in 800 AD. We witnessed the rivalry between Scotland and Ireland on the eve of a big rugby match.

We made a friend in Galway who introduced us to the Bierhaus (a truly excellent find!). We collectively tried mussels (some for our first time) and loved them! We pet an Irish sheepdog (well, I did), and visited the Guinness brewery.

We danced a jig with 80 year old men and saw the most breath-taking sights one could imagine. We wandered in a working Abby and witnessed the most beautiful choral singing from within. We visited several graveyards and went on countless scenic routes.

We learned about the hardships of Ireland and experienced how the people have persevered and thrived. We sang, and drank, and danced. We had the time of our lives.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Excuse me, Miss. Is this seat taken?

As a rule, I have a problem with random strangers starting conversations at 6 AM.

Due to a mandatory computer training, I arrived at the TRAX station at the ungodly hour of 6 AM. Luckily, the blustering storm had calmed and the 28 degree weather was almost comfortable. I stood waiting for the 6:04 train as a figure approached and stood right next to me. Slyly, I stole a glance and saw that it was a man. I looked around wondering why he chose to stand right next to me when the entire platform was vacant. I gave up my curiosity as soon as I saw the TRAX heavenly light.

I boarded the train first and went for the farthest open seat at the very front of the train (many of the seats were empty, it being the ass crack of dawn). I sat down and immediately occupied myself with staring out the window when I heard the dreaded question:

"Excuse me, Miss. Is this seat taken?"

I looked up and saw the same man from the platform. Again, I looked around wondering why he chose the seat directly in front of me when there were so many vacant seats on the train.

"I don't want you to think that I am stalking you. I just like to sit at the front of the train," he explained.

Without an answer from me, he sat down and smiled at me. I gave him a curious look and went back to staring out the window praying that he wouldn't try a pick-up attempt. Thwarted.

"So, do you work at the hospital, too? What do you do up there?"

There was no lying to be done. He saw me at the stop where the hospital employees park. So, I told the truth about working at the hospital. I lied about what I did. "Yeah, I'm in admitting." I turn my gaze to the window. Usually one sided conversations dwindle and die...he persisted.

"I'm an engineer. My name is Bryan."
"Hi. I'm Rebecca." I may be going to hell. I just don't relish making acquaintances on the train. I contiunue to stare out the window.

"So, did you have a wonderful Valentine's day?"
"Yeah, my husband had a lot planned. It was great."

Creepy Bryan considered this.
"So, asking you to dinner probably wouldn't get me very far."
"No. I guess it wouldn't."

Bryan got up without another word and moved to another part of the train.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

T-7 and counting down

I can't believe that we leave for Ireland in seven days. One week from today I will be on my way to a country that is completely foreign to me. I called the travel agency a few weeks ago to clear up some confusion I had; a woman answered the phone with a thick Irish accent. If that is any indication of what we will be dealing with, we are in trouble. I kept apologizing and asking her to repeat what she said. I couldn't understand a word she was saying! Awesome.
So, we leave at 7:10 am on the 19th and set foot in Shannon at 6:30 the following morning.
I have planned out a tentative schedule for our trip:Tuesday- Travel day
Wednesday- Land in Ireland 6:30 am. Find our rental car. Find our hotel (about 1 hour 15 min away from the airport). Shower, primp, EXPLORE Castlebar!

Thursday-Mayo/Easkey/Sligo: National museum of Irish Country Life, Easkey pier, Sligo Abby, Ballinfad castle
Friday- Galway/Clare: The Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Connemara National Park (and spend lots of time in town, too!)
Saturday- Trip to Dublin: We have no clue what exactly we will see, but here are some ideas: Guinness Brewery, Old Jameson Distillery, Trinity College, O'Connell Street, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Athassel Priori, Kilmainham Gaol.
Sunday- This is a free day. I am hoping for a jaunt to Northern Ireland, but we'll see how that pans out.
Monday- Kerry/Cork: Ring of Kerry, Killarney...possible stop in Limmerick!
Tuesday- Travel day. Leave Shannon in the afternoon, reach SLC at 10:25 pm.
I am sad that there is so much of the country we will be missing. Perhaps someday I will make it back to see the Giant's Causeway and Londonderry. But for now...
Adventure, here I come!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ode to the Unceasing Winter

(I will have you know that this is a proper Ode written in the ababcdecde form)

Ode to the Unceasing Winter

To the wind that chills the water down converting it to snow,
To the snow that gently falls atop the trees and frozen grass,
To the long four months that causes ache and make my leg hair grow,
To the frozen ground that makes me slip and lands me on my ass.
I have a bone to pick with you about your hellish ways,
I do not care for the Arctic prison that you have locked me in.
You vomit snow onto our stoop and thus we cannot leave.
I long for warmth and lemonade and 18 hour days.
Although the Winter does provide other forms of sins
I laugh at folks who out of snow their shoes the must retrieve.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Reasons why Andy is the best...

*Good Cook
*Sent me flowers for no reason
*Purchases fuzzy socks and Disney movies because he knows I will like them
*Kisses me and tells me that he loves me
*Plays piano for me
*Is patient with my shortcomings
*Sings to me
*Goes along with my hair-brained ideas
*Takes me to the Symphony
*Supports me
*Listens to me
*Encourages my goofiness
*Is handsome
*Confides in me
*Spoils me
*Shares his thoughts with me
*Accompanies me to Disneyland
*Loves me
*Knows my favorite songs
*Makes me feel special
*Is thoughtful
*Takes care of me
*Allows me to take care of him
*Puts up with my immense love for puppies, weddings, and Styx
*Is my everything

There is so much more. I love my beautiful boy.