Category Archives: Traveling

Ireland: Day 4

As sad as not having an internet connection is, it’s not bad to “have” to stop by a pub to get connected.

Day 4 in Ireland went well and was largely a down day.

In the morning, everyone went to Mass to get a feel for. I stayed behind to do my own sort of worship by walking around the farm and enjoying the quiet peace of nature.

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A fat little speckle-bellied bird.

Then later, we explored Ennis, the county seat of Clare, walking around the town and window shopping.

Especially cool was the ruins of an old friary, the oldest building in town. As it should be, since the main sections were built around 1240!

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Grandma in the friary.

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These little ferns were growing everywhere. Mom loved them.

In the afternoon we came back to the farm and chilled, eating food, reading books, enjoying the sunshine and playing tennis. We weren’t particularly good, but it was fun.

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Mom and Larry, cutting up the court.

All in all, an excellent Sunday full of rest and a little bit of adventure .

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Ireland: Day 3

Not much to share about day 3. It was mostly spent driving from Derry in Northern Ireland to our cottage in County Clare.

Before we left, we did get to see the wall around the city, which was cool.

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An entrance to the walled city section of Derry.

And the Irish countryside was beautiful, full of lambs (and their mums) and cattle.

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Ireland Trip: Day 1

Adventures away!

I haven’t mentioned it around the interwebs a lot, but Kyle and I are in Ireland for the next week. We were supposed to meet my Mom, Grandma and uncle in Philly yesterday and all catch the same flight over, but their flight out of Detroit was delayed and they landed just as the doors were closing for our Dublin flight. Hoping that they would make it, Kyle and I were aboard and so we had an extra day to ourselves.

Since the first stop on our originally scheduled adventures was over 3 hours away and we needed to pick up the rest of the fam the next morning, we followed Rick Steve’s advice for staying in Dublin and headed outside the city walls to the small fishing village of Howth, about 30 minutes away.

None of his recommended places to stay we’re available, but we still managed to find a quaint B and B with the best view.

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This is what I got to wake up to!

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King Sitric’s. Restaurant, bar, cafe and lodging.

Yesterday we decided to head into Dublin as we originally planned. We took the train in, which was nice and easy, then walked over to see the Book of Kells. Being late afternoon, it was pretty busy and the people there seemed exceptionally pushy, but it was still pretty cool. Extra cool because there was an exhibit on Brian Boru featuring the art of the same people who made the movie Secret of the Kells.

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In the longroom at the old library at Trinity College. It smelled so nice, like old books and knowledge.

Then last night we (sort of accidentally) went to a rather nice dinner and a show at the Abbey Tavern back in Howth. We thought we were just going to a local pub for fish and chips and some music, but it was a whole prefix menu with traditional Irish songs sung and even some Irish dancing. It was a bit strange to be thrust into the middle of, but it was nice experience all told. And the food was amazing.

Today we woke up early to enjoy the east coast sunrise. We’ll eat breakfast then head to the airport to pick up the rest of the bunch, then to Derry and Northern Ireland. Hip, hooray!

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Utah Day Three: Final Day of Esplorin’

As I write this, Kyle has just landed in New York, and our days of being footloose and fancy free in Utah are over. Bootcamp starts in 3.5 hrs for me and work in even less time for him.

We took yesterday a little bit easier than the other two days, but we still did a lot. And had a really grand time.

After a quick swim in the hotel pool and breakfast, we headed out around 9a for a scenic Sunday drive. Extra appropriate around here because NOTHING IS OPEN ON SUNDAYS. Seriously. Nothing.

We took the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway/Backway and it was gorgeous. Breathtaking. We took a lot of pictures (as you’re about to see). We made a lot of stops and intended to go on a long hike at the end of which there is a huge cave with tours, but the timing didn’t work out, so we moved along.

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More squinting pictures, hoorah!

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At the very end of the drive was Sundance (apparently a ski resort and also where the Sundance Film Festival is held). They have their ski lift going in the summer and we decided to take it up the mountain.

The camera died halfway there (of course) so I don’t have many pictures of it all, but it was like an really slow and not very steady half-hour long rollercoaster. You’re really high. Apparently they also do full moon nighttime rides. If you live in/near Utah, I am jealous that you can go on one of these. If you don’t go, you’re very silly. (Unless you have a fear of heights or questionably safe guard rails. Then you’re smarter than I am.)

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Our morning full of driving adventures, we went hunting for lunch. And hunting it took. As I mentioned above, there was nothing open. Nothing. We eventually found a SmashBurger (a chain similar to 5 Guys or Bobby Flay’s). It was good. Not terribly earth shattering, but good.

We took quick naps in the afternoon, trying to get me on the later schedule and Kyle ready for his late-night flight. It worked a bit. I slept until 5a (instead of 4a).

After nap-time we headed down to a little local art museum and crashed a massive birthday party. Really, we were only there to see an exhibit of local quilters’ work, but I’m fairly certain we were the only people there that were not guests of Phyllis’. The quilts were pretty, though I was sad there were hardly any hand quilted works. I mean, I get it. It’s a ton of work and they can do such pretty things on the machines, but I don’t think there were any.

Still the piecework was often gorgeous.

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This one was a commissioned work by a woman who had saved all of her daughter’s baby clothes. It’ll be given to her daughter on the upcoming birth of her child. An awesome sentiment, and what a great quilt to have!

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Also: bonus! There were great found object statues throughout the museum and a garden with “regular” statues. I’m fairly certain if we had more of a disposable income at our, well, disposal, we would totally be the proud owners of a little pieced together metal statue.

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After the quilt show we had a few hours to kill and I was getting nervous, so we went to a movie. We saw the Wolverine flick, which was good enough. It did the job of keeping me distracted and it had A  LOT of gratuitous half-naked Hugh Jackman which was pleasant. Mostly I liked the theatre. Our tickets were super cheap, our seats were assigned and they had a crazy computerized candy machine.

Needless to say we had popcorn, RootBeer and chewy SweetTarts for dinner.

And finally, finally we came back to the hotel.

My stomach was in knots and the butterflies were dancing some sort of killing dance on top of them.

Kathleen, OSC’s awesome assistant, was in the lobby and I had to check in. It was completely…uneventful. I said my name, she handed me a packet of info and asked if I had any questions. All of the questions I’d had swirling around in my head all morning disappeared. I blew fish kisses at her, not coming up with anything, squeaked a “no” and walked away. It was awkward, you can ask Kyle. He witnessed it.

We headed up to the room, got him packed up and made a quick trip to WalMart for foodstuffs for me for the week. Unlike Kyle, I cannot live on Wendy’s across the parking lot alone, so instead I have soup and lunchmeat. I plan to supplement with yogurts and other easily steal-able things from the morning’s breakfast buffet.

And then he headed out to the airport and his overnight flight back east. Our adventures are over and now my work begins.

Allons-y!

 

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Utah day 2: Esplorin’ Some More

So yesterday was another amazing day in Utah.

We started it off with a small, pleasant hike. It had a couple of challenging parts, but it was mostly just a somewhat steep walk up a hill to a waterfall. The temperature hovered around 80*, which around here feels perfect. We had a few little raindrops land on our heads, but nothing much. The landscape was beautiful, all rocky, scrub-brush covered mountains and we had a great view of the valley where Orem sits once we got high enough. It was a lovely start to the day.

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Us with the Utah Valley (sometimes called Happy Valley…maybe derisively?) in the background.

 

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Victory is ours. (At this point Kyle was sad that he didn’t have on watershoes, so he couldn’t get on the rocks right up next to the little waterfall.)

From there, we drove immediately West for about 2 hours. When Kyle was in grad school out in CA he made the drive through the Salt Flats many, many times but never in daylight. We figured we were so close and we had the time, we should make the drive. So. Worth. It.

They were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my whole life. Gorgeous and alien at the same time. Also, bright. The sky was totally overcast yesterday and thank goodness. I think we would’ve gone blind had it been clear and sunny. We squinted a lot as it was.

We also took a lot of pictures.

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I love how the cloudy sky and the mountain silhouette’s and the salt flats all blend into one another.

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These people drove off the road (on purpose) and were stuck. We passed a lot of people like this. We never passed anyone who had driven off onto the flats and weren’t stuck. You’d think that would mean something.

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It’s…so…bright…

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For lunch, I did a quick Yelp search again and, based solely on good reviews, we hesitantly tried a mexican place/ truck stop. I wish I had taken a picture of where this place was located, because it’s in the middle of nowhere. Literally. All you can see around it is mountains and salt desert.

And yet, amazing food. Fresh. Homemade. Huge portions. I ate about half of this:

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Full and happy, we headed back to the hotel for showers and a quick nap that I’m regretting this morning. I needed it at the time, but it didn’t help me get used to the time zone and so I was up at 4am. It’s going to make tonight rough.

Anyhow…more about yesterday’s adventures. In the evening we headed over to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point. Kyle wanted to see the dinosaurs and I was game. I’m so glad we went because it was great. Some of their exhibits rivaled the Smithsonian’s in DC or the American Museum of Natural History in NY. Not bad for a little museum in a little suburb town of Salt Lake City.

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The hand stamp was an ancient bug. I am less okay with that than you can imagine.

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Afterward we had dinner at a little Thai place back in Orem and called it an early night.

All-in-all: another great day. It’s so breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful out here.

Today is the last day for adventures because boot camp starts tomorrow. I’m incredibly nervous and excited.

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Utah: Day 1. Esplorin’

Guys. Yesterday. So. Much.Fun.

On the airplane about 6:30a. Do we look tired?!

On the airplane about 6:30a. Do we look tired?!

We started our day at about 3:30a EST in order to catch our flight from JFK at 7a. I’m so glad we were cautious and left a little earlier than we thought we needed to– even without hitting any road delays or any hitches at the airport, we got to our gate as they started boarding. The flight was good. Uneventful. It was a beautiful, not super-cloudy day, and watching most of the country go by beneath us was kind of awesome, especially once we hit the more western states.

I think I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but just in case I haven’t: I haven’t ever spent any time in this part of the country, so it’s all completely new to me. Other than a quick, 3-day trip to northern California when Kyle was in grad school out there, I haven’t been west of Illinois.

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The Salt Lake City temple took over 40 years to build, from the 1850s through the 1890s. On the very top is an angel, heralding the second coming of Christ.

After landing at 10a Utah time we decided we should take advantage of being in Salt Lake City for a bit, so we went and found temple square. The temple is gorgeous. I joked that it looked like a fairy princess’s house (I know, I know not very culturally or religiously sensitive). The grounds were also gorgeous, full of flowers that I’ve never seen.

There were also two visitors centers, set up like sort-of museums. They were really neat, though we didn’t spend a lot of time in those buildings because there were A LOT of LDS missionaries mingling and we didn’t want to get caught up in a conversation.

For lunch we found a little place nearby (thanks to Yelp!) that was perfect called Em’s. It was cute, tucked away in adorable neighborhood on top of a big hill, and the food was amazing. All homemade, all perfectly done. I had an herb, cheese filled crepe and Kyle had a turkey, avocado and bacon sandwich on ciabatta that he won’t stop talking about.

For dessert? We had little scoops of artisanal ice cream. Mine was bourbon pecan.

For dessert? We had little scoops of artisanal ice cream. Mine was bourbon pecan.

After lunch we headed down to Orem to see where I would spend the next week of my life. The hotel is nice. Simple, nothing fancy. We explored the area a little bit and hit up Walmart for things we forgot to pack (of course). The thing that has struck me, especially in Orem is the amount of babies and pregnant women. They’re everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. You can really see how the LDS church supports and encourages families.

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Our big event yesterday was sailing. I can’t really put into words just how amazing and fun it was. Our guide, Dale, was sweet and informative without being know-it-all-y and the other couple that was with us, Buck and Anna, were funny and down to earth. The day was perfect, slightly more windy than average; warm without being hot. There weren’t any bugs, the sunset was gorgeous. Seriously, we couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Also, surprising, I wasn’t nervous at all. At 27′ it was big enough to not fall in my “small boats are terrifying” world. Instead, my love of the water took over and I was in heaven. Is there anything better than the smell of the lake? It’s always the same– in Michigan or halfway across the country in Utah. It reminds me of home and family and good, happy times.

Here’s a ton of pictures (some of which Anna took with our camera. She’s a photographer, so they’re the ones that look better than all of the rest).

Just sitting there and smiling is pretty much what I did the entire trip out on the water.

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Kyle “drove” a lot. For never having done it before, he was really good at it!

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Anna caught us taking a selfie on the very front of the boat. It was so peaceful up there. I can see where people spend a lifetime sailing every chance they can get.

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And to cap off the day:

My first time at an In-n-Out. I thought they were only in California, but apparently they’ve been expanding east. Kyle was beyond thrilled and I’ve been wanting to try them after seeing all of my CA friends posting delicious looking pictures.

The obligatory delicious looking food picture.

The obligatory delicious looking food picture.

It was good and the perfect greasy end to a pretty much perfect (20.5 hr) day.

 

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