10 Reasons I Will Go Back to Ireland

Sitting in Costello's Travel Caffe, I thought it only seemed right to compose a travel-themed blog.  Seriously.  Why have I never been here before?  I have lived in Portland a long time.  This is almost  inexcusable.  But, I found it now.  Wrap-around canvas prints of photos from around the world grace the walls, there is a "travel special" running via tvs around the space and delicious coffee and food.  I even scored a gluten-free donut!  Trust me, that is not easy to find.  And it was tasty.  So I digress.  Back to why I am going to Ireland, sooner than later, ranked in no particular order:

1. Love. I think about Ireland.  A lot.  I am always trying to figure out when I can go back.  I would probably book a flight in a month or two and just go.  But, that might not be the best financial choice.  Or maybe it would be!  Who knows.  When you love something, or usually someone, you want to see them again and will do whatever it takes.  This is how I feel about Ireland.  I have never felt so connected to another place, not even Portland.  I must go back, and sooner, rather than later.

2. Vikings. Not the real Vikings, but the tv show "Vikings" on the History Channel.  After watching the most recent episode, I decided to find out where it was filmed, because it did not look like Norway to me.  And the majority of the outdoor scenes are filmed in the Wicklow Mountains.  Of course they are!  Somehow it escaped me this is an Irish show.

3. Weather.  I experienced every kind of weather you could imagine.  We had more than one windstorm, lots of rain, sun, sleet, snow and hail.  And I still loved it.  It simply invigorated me and I loved being out in it.  And it was January!  If I loved it this much then, how much more would I love it in the Spring or the Fall?  I intend to find out.

4. Music.  What can I say about this?  The music is just as you expect it to be, wild and raucous.  I found one of my most favorite bands ever, the Eskies, at the Shannonside Winter Music Festival in Sixmiledbridge and Bunratty Castle. That was an unexpected treat, and the Eskies now have a lifelong fan.  When I go back to Ireland, I intend to take in more trad sessions and find out where the Eskies are playing, because I am going.  

5. People. The people in Ireland are wonderful.  First, the accents.  I never tire of them.  Full of joy, used to working hard, very wonderful people.  Every where I went, even though technically I was alone, I felt made welcome by shopkeepers, farmers, servers, bartenders....let alone my host Steph and her friends.  They were so hospitable.  I cannot wait to go back and make some more friends.

6. Scenery. Ireland has it all.  Lakes, the sea, beaches, mountains, rolling hills, rocks and so much more.  If you like to fish, go to Ireland.  If you like to golf, go to Ireland.  If you like to hike, go to Ireland.  I think you get the picture.  I intend to go back and explore Connemara and the various peninsulas, Dingle being first and foremost.  And I intend to drive and explore as much of the Wild Atlantic Way as I can.  I picked it up here and there, but I intend to drive all of it. 

7. Alcohol. I definitely did not drink enough whiskey or beer.  I was driving so much, and I wanted to keep my wits about me.  This next trip I intend to settle into some villages for the night where I can walk to a pub and still make my way home without a car.  Be a little more adventurous at night. 

8. Castles. Almost every single castle across the whole of Ireland was closed for the season, except for Bunratty.  I am grateful I was able to spend an afternoon exploring it and an evening at the Medieval Banquet, but there are so many more I did not get into!  Dunluce Castle in the north, Trim Castle, Slane Castle...I don't know, you get the picture.  I want to go when things are open, not closed.

9. Giant's Causeway. I am still pissed I did not get to see the Causeway.  And the Antrim Coast.  The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, one of the harbors where they filmed "Game of Thrones".  The weather was scary windy.  But, this time, I will go up North via Donegal, rather heading up the Eastern side of Ireland.

10. Daylight. If I would have had even 2 more hours of daylight, I could have got around a lot more.  So, I intend to return when I at least might have a full 12 hours of daylight.  I knew going in January I would only get about 8 hours a day, but I intend to go back when I can explore to my heart's content and still have light well into the evening.



7 Things on My "Shit" List.

I have a new Twitter friend, Luke Marlin (aka @BackstreetNomad) who inspired me to write this blog.  And, he writes "Anti-Travel Guides", which I love the idea of!  That is brilliant.  Anyway, he made a comment about my Twitter mantra "Do Epic Shit" and then came the idea for this post.  I'm "sorry not sorry" if you don't like the word shit.  Read no further.

I also have a new Facebook friend, Jeff Buehner.  So while stalking his page, as I do with new friends, I came across this quote photo, which is another "sorry not sorry" post to do with shit.  Love this too. Jeff is one badass musician who plays in a Bon Jovi tribute band, Steelhorse.  He also collaborates with some other badass musicians in an original band, The Loyal Order. But, think on this.....

A few years ago I started writing down every possible thing I could think of that would be epic shit on seven blank sheets of legal paper taped to the back of my bedroom door. I wrote all kinds of things, but then I started writing other things related to shit.  Not just doing epic shit, but other things related.  So...here's my "shit list":

1.  Do Epic Shit.  Of course this is number one.  This became my Twitter mantra, and it lives on in me.  One of my very best friends even bought me a small framed photo of an old-fashioned, angry little girl with her arms crossed, with the mantra underneath her photo.  On the back of my door, I wrote things down like "quit my job", listed places I want to travel to, put down things like "make $120K in a year".  Just whatever came into my mind I listed, no matter how seemingly silly or out of reach. Oh, and I did quit that job.  And then went on to travel, having just spent a month in Ireland, by myself, which is some pretty epic shit, at least for me.

2. Clean Shit Up.  Whatever is cluttering up your life, clean it up.  And I mean physical shit.  Most of us have way more shit than we need, lots of shit we don't use, broken shit, torn shit, whatever.  If you don't love it, get rid of it!!!  Donate what you can first, then trash the rest.  I periodically clean my shit up, usually every 3 or 6 months.  It keeps me light, I'm not burdened down with a lot of shit I don't need.  Not having a lot of shit right now allows me to do what I want to do, which is travel and write.

3. Get Shit Healthy.  We all have areas of health we need to work on.  Our lives are like onions, peeling off a layer at a time.  I'm not just talking about working out or fitness shit.  I'm talking about our soul, our spirit, our personality.  If you find yourself asking "Why is this not working? What am I doing wrong?" find someone to talk to, write about it until you get an answer from yourself, get some books on the subject.  Take a look inside and make sure your shit is as healthy as it can be.  It will never be perfect, we all know onions have TONS of layers, so this will be a lifelong process, if you accept it. We don't need to carry around residual shit from other people either, so get rid of it.  This ain't healthy.

4. Make Some Shit.  I think everyone has creativity.  I don't buy that shit that only this person or that person is creative.  If there is something you want to make, do it! Or find someone to teach you if you don't know how.  Maybe it's writing (that's my shit), maybe it's visual art, music, furniture, maybe soap...candles...I think you get what I mean.  This might turn into your "epic shit".

5. Own Your Shit.  We all say it, we all agree with it, but I'll admit, it's hard to do.  So be who you are, and own your shit.  If you want to be a crazy fool, whatever that means, then do it!  But don't blame it on mom or dad or Obama or the economy or zombies.  Live your shit out and recognize you create your own reality.  And don't get your shoes dirty with other people's shit.  If you own your shit, you have no time to worry about everybody else's piles.

6. Be Happy With Shit. This is gratitude.  Wherever we are in this crazy journey called life, I can bet there is always one thing you can be happy about.  Right now, I'm happy I'm sitting out on the patio in sunshine with birds singing. There, was that so hard?  No.  And guess what...that happiness shit grows.  So try it.  

7. Let Shit Go. This is HUGE!  Probably why we all have such a hard time with it.  Loosely translated, it's forgiveness.  Forgive the guy who cuts you off in traffic, forgive the idiot who parks their cart in the center of the aisle at Trader Joe's, and forgive people's shit even when they DO NOT deserve it.  Why? Because that frees you up.  Holding on to shit, at the very least, creates unnecessary stress in the body which can lead to things like....cancer.  So let shit go.  It only hurts you anyway.  If it's hard, think of whatever shit it is like a balloon.  Send it out to the Universe,  just don't hold on to that shit. 

I am sure there are so many more things I could add to my shit list, and maybe I will, eventually.  But this is a good start.