Once upon a time, I had a solid group of friends and family around me on a regular basis. I saw the same folks, more or less, each day of my life. It was nice – it’s a great feeling of security. It’s comfortable.
Nowadays, however, (more…)
I stood saying goodbye on the windblasted deck, as the engines sluggishly turned over and began to push us out to sea. The railing vibrated gently as the gulf between the ship and the dock became wider. I was leaving a piece of myself behind; cutting off and pushing away. Committing another sad sayonara.
A dull melancholy sank itself upon me, as the lighthouse slipped farther and farther away. I’ve always loved Ireland, but never really knew anything about it. Now I’ve got a reason to love it, and it wasn’t easy leaving.
I heard they were building a motorway through an important historical site, the Hill of Tara, the seat of the ancient Irish Kings, just northwest of Dublin. I also heard there was a group of protesters camped up there doing an ongoing solidarity vigil and keeping a sacred fire going. I thought, “Now that sounds like my kind of place,” (more…)
By the time I was ready to get back on the road, Dawn was ready to come with me! I tried telling her how tough it would be, how cold and how wet… what an introduction to bike touring: winter in Ireland. (more…)
When I arrived in Galway, I packed all my stuff onto the bike just so I could carry it all, even though I hadn’t installed the chain or derailleurs or pedals. I had already had a chance to hammer the wheel straight enough to pass through the fork, though. I found I could sit on the saddle and coast almost everywhere, even with a big air-cushion boot on my broken foot. (more…)
I crashed while coming down a hill on a desolate rural track, somewhere in the Silvermine Mountains South of Nenagh. The fifth metatarsal of my right foot fractured and broke through the skin; my bicycle frame fractured in two places and the front wheel bent like a taco. It wasn’t until I was left alone in the Accident & Emergency at Nenagh hospital that I realized what this meant. I tried to keep a positive attitude, though; positive thinking is one of the most important parts of healing, and it’s never good to mistreat the medical staff when you’re at their mercy, just because you’re feeling sorry for yourself. So sure, I shed a few tears when I was left alone. But by the time I was moved to Limerick for orthopedic surgery and moved into the trauma ward, I was sure, somehow, somewhere deep inside, that I wouldn’t be stopped by any mere broken bone and broken bicycle. (more…)
“It’s time to face reality, Charlie. Time to swallow your pride. You haven’t a choice – you must go back to America.” The social worker at Limerick Regional Hospital had taken on my case, and wanted to see it to a resolution. But going home was all she could offer.
I had to disappoint her. In fact, she was so worried that I’d be stuck on the streets, I had to use the phrase “moral objection to flight technology” just so she’d be convinced I was a lunatic beyond help, and be able to sleep at night. (more…)
Going by my detailed map, on which I am 90% sure of my location, I just passed something called Ballyhane – maybe the name of a nearby farm? I put away the map with a shrug and shove off. I turn left at the T-intersection and, just as my topographical Ordnance Survey xerox map predicted, the elevation starts to rise quickly. It’s not raining anymore, so it’s not long before I stow my raincoat to cool off. At a turtle’s pace, I pass a driveway where a surprised-looking man tells me, “That’s a hard ride…” (more…)
The rain did not improve. If anything, it was more frequent in Ireland. I’m pretty used to it by now, but it’s not all that comfortable. Campsites are soaked; wet ground, wet wood. I’d get done with a day of cycling, set up camp, and all I’d want is a hot cup of tea, a sweet steaming mug to take off the chill and sooth my aching muscles… but everything is so wet that it takes me forty-five mintues to start a fire with a tea candle and a windblock. Taking breaks in the pouring rain. Wishing I could take a photograph in the rain. I rued the day I gave up my little campstove for its weight – just for that cup of tea, aah. (more…)
The rain really started to fall when I arrived in Wales. The old fellas on the stoop don’t seem to notice, though, unless there’s a tourist there to joke with. “Fine Welsh weather,” was always my response: “Why would I come to Wales to see sunny weather? That’s not the real Wales, now is it?” And the misty summer rain, rolling like folds of grey wool over the hilltops, really was a fine sight to see. The dripping branches and sodden moss of the forest was a magical product of such a wet environment. Rainy weather – it’s just something you have to get used to. (more…)