In Ireland! Day Three, Killarney Edition Part Two

Today, we got a taste of true Irish damp and fog. Fortunately we decided to take a tour bus around the Ring of Kerry (70), so that I could see the beautiful views during the drive.

Also, so that we didn’t risk panic attacks when passing tour buses on the narrow, wet, winding road. Like this:

20140824-181416-65656024.jpg

There was no shortage of spectacular mountain and water views as we passed by Dingle Bay (really), the Lakes of Killarney, and Gap of Dunloe along the way. (However, to avoid being totally misleading, the first two pictures below are from the Dingle Sea part of the trip and the last from a town called Sneem.)

20140824-181619-65779671.jpg

Our sundry stops included an Irish coffee to start the day — for PIC Sara…I’m pretty sure nothing good can come from giving me caffeine and whiskey then loading me into a packed bus. See, e.g, me in my natural caffeine and whiskey free state:

20140824-190353-68633220.jpg

— rainy cliff side spots, and the highest point in the Ring, where we got the obligatory picture next to the … ehrm … statue of the lady (remembering the actual names of landmarks is not my strong suit). (Update: PIC Sara informs the statue was … Mary. Whoops.)

20140824-182532-66332239.jpg

71. My favorite stop by far was to see a sheepdog demonstration. And not only because it was the sunniest portion of the trip. Those dogs are beautiful and amazing.

20140824-182815-66495694.jpg

And lest anyone think the entire day was rainy and gray, I did manage to find some spots of color by a church in Sneem.

20140824-182954-66594875.jpg

72. Tonight we’re off to see the Celtic Steps: An Evening of Spectacular Irish Music, Song & Dance. Then hoping for dryer weather as we head westward tomorrow!

Update: The Celtic Steps were really really good!

20140824-232154-84114184.jpg

Advertisements

In Ireland! Day Two, Killarney Edition Part One

So. In Ireland, jumper cables are called jump plates.

I’ll let you guess how I know that.

Also, the best way to NOT need jump plates is to line up three burly grizzled Irishmen to push your car out of a parking space. I guarantee that your car will start right up when you try to put it in neutral.

Experience 66. After an auspicious start to day two, PIC Sara and I made it to Killarney just fine, despite the occasional need to share narrow roads with big trucks.

20140824-001601-961832.jpg

Experiences 67-68. Killarney has a booming commercial city district, but also a lovely national park a short walk from the city center — Killarney National Park and Ross Castle.

20140824-001920-1160022.jpg

With lots of wildlife, as well as the occasional horse drawn carriage.

20140824-002255-1375217.jpg

And a lovely river walk that leads to a lake.

20140824-002736-1656872.jpg

Where you can almost walk across some rocks without stepping in the river before it turns onto the lake. Or, in another spot, where you can almost hop from one spot of sand to the next without getting your other foot wet on the way back.

Experience 69. After the jaunt around the park, we had dinner at one Killarney pub then headed to another, Danny Mann’s, where we met local character, Jerry “DeDevil” Horan.

20140824-003559-2159845.jpg

Lives on a farm, works in a grocery store, proposed to each of us when the other was in the ladies.

So I guess you could say an auspicious end to the day as well.

Next up, Ring of Kerry. Hopefully we’ll get an early start, but since we’re both still fiddling around on the Internet we’ll see about that.

In Ireland! Day One, Kilkenny Edition.

I’m trying this whole posting on-the-go thing. Please excuse any typos, etc.

Experience 61. I’m in Ireland! My 1/4-homeland! The trip over was fairly uneventful, aside from being jolted awake at midnight (or 5am Irish time) for “dinner.” I’ll note that I was asleep INSIDE MY INFINITY SCARF CAVE when someone shoved me and the flight attendant tried to get me to make a meal choice. Instead I slung a stink eye in her direction, but without my glasses, I was groggy, blind, and tangled in my scarf cave, so it’s hard to say where it landed. Also, to the genius who decided that chicken curry was a good dinner option? Here’s a very special virtual stink eye just for you.

Experience 62. I drove on the left! It’s wild. (Note to the Parents Pussykat: my driving is not wild. I am driving as much like a grandma as ever.)

20140822-201459-72899309.jpg

Experiences 63-65

-Lunch at a pub called Matt the Millers (so far my meal choices have essentially been cream, cream, and a side of butter. ugh.).

20140822-201838-73118357.jpg

-A jaunt around Kilkenny Castle and Castle Park.

20140822-202424-73464894.jpg

Where I met sweet Fergie the Jack Russell Terrier (named after a beloved Manchester United manager or the like).

20140822-202628-73588398.jpg

Fergie likes to chase squirrels and cats and carry sticks.

-A climb up seven teeny tiny flights of ladder type stairs (121 steps total!) to reach the top of St. Canice’s 1,021 year old round tower (I did not pay sufficient attention when we passed the tower on the way into the cathedral. If I had I’m not sure I would have been quite so excited about the twofer tower climb/cathedral tour special. It wasn’t for the faint of heart but the 360 views were spectacular. The cathedral was also pretty spectacular.

20140822-205625-75385430.jpg

Now at long last I think we can safely go to bed and avoid the worst of jet lag. Off to Killarney tomorrow!

Dragons on the Chesapeake – Experiences 43-46

My latest adventures took me to Chesapeake Beach and North Beach, MD, two lovely little towns on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay, just an hour from the DC area, give-or-take (more if you essentially make a U-turn when you’re 10 miles from the beach then drive almost half way back to DC before you realize what you’ve done. I’ll let you guess how I came by that fine morsel of knowledge). Illustrious partners-in-crime Charlie and Anne bought a house there a few years ago and my promises to visit (read: self-invites) had yet to pan out when the prospect of a weekend full of new experiences finally tipped the
scales. Continue reading

The Pussykat Family Goes to Amish Country. Experience 27.

Sister Pussykat recently walked her first half marathon. Naturally, the Family Pussykat wanted to be on hand to cheer her on. Cue shenanigans.

Initially, due to faulty family communications, Papa Pussykat was M.I.A. when Mama Pussykat and I were ready to leave. After waiting for a bit, MP and I decided to check one of PP’s usual morning haunts, got a quarter mile from home, and passed him on the road driving into our development. We turned around and headed back towards home . . . only to pass PP again as he tried to catch up with us.  Eventually we managed to stop driving in circles around the neighborhood and were all safely in one vehicle headed towards a middle-ish point of the half marathon in beautiful Amish country, PA.

During our travels the following conversation may or may not have happened: Continue reading

How a Grape Becomes a Viognier, or The Grape That Went Up a Mountain and Skiied Down a Viognier. Experiences 5-8.

This report is a bit delayed as I still figure out how to juggle experiencing new experiences with recounting them. A recent ski weekend with friends was itself a new experience and the anchor for three more. My partners-in-crime (PICs) for this latest adventure were Sara (of Peter and the Starcatcher fame), Michelle (the Canadienne), Judy, Randy (a.k.a. Mr. Judy), and Randy’s parents, Wayne and June. In fact, Wayne and June earned the award for superstar PICs. Their Eagle Creek Resort home is minutes from the slopes and served as home base for the weekend. They regularly open up their home to friends and family and friends of family (that’s me!). Life and scheduling conflicts have kept me from what has become a regular ski weekend over the past few years, but I finally made it.

Wayne and June were simply delightful generous gracious hosts and believe me when I say that I would love to visit them anytime! Retired teachers, they are enjoying their retirement years in a welcoming mountain home that Wayne designed, complete with a suite of four (that I remember, maybe a couple more?) ginormous walk-in “activity” closets (golf, hunting, skiing, biking). They spend their quiet retirement days doing the usual. You know, just running/teaching at the ski school in the winter and working at the golf course in the summer, running the church youth program, traveling about, and keeping seemingly everyone they meet along the way well-fed – extremely well fed (June is an all-star baker. Wayne has taken some cooking classes in recent years and is always breaking out a new recipe).

Oh and, what else do they do? You know, in their spare time? Make their own wine. Naturally. Because I learned the basics about the process while, ahem, “sampling” some of their product, my recollection is a bit fuzzy. But as I understand it, they order “juice,” as relevant to this weekend, mostly from Argentina. Then there is some kind of process by which they add some yeast and periodically transfer most of the wine into a new holding container (6 gallon plastic jugs) and get rid of the sludge and whatnot that accumulates at the bottom. They do this at least a couple of times possibly. Maybe at times they add more of something and wait some more, and in some cases they add oak chips for a while to give the oak barrel aged flavor without the oak barrels. Sneaky.

Continue reading