Monday, April 29, 2013

Revving the Engine All the Way to the West

My first full day in Ireland began with a bang. Katie, the friend I was visiting, picked me up at the airport with an immediate proposition. She knew I wanted to travel to the far of place called the Cliffs of Moher, on the western side of the country. With her schedule the way it was that week she said our best opportunity would be to rent a car and drive there Not more than one hour off the plane, after a restless night of "sleep", we were in a tiny rented car with the steering wheel on the right side and a manual transmission. Off we went to traverse the entire width of Ireland. Ready for anything. 

As I sat in the should be drivers seat, as a passenger, I strapped in for a jerky start. Katie had experience with driving a stick and some experience driving in Ireland but she warned me she was by no means a professional. A lot of revving of the engine took place between shifting gears, which was always a source of a laugh for us.  We began heading outside of Dublin passing tiny towns that were just a simple exit away, looking for a place to grab a bite. We ended up stopping at a place called the Silken Thomas in Kildare, where I ate a BLT which had some of the most delicious thick bacon on it. We sat among people who would be there for hours, just passing the time away with friends and a pint. 

We couldn't stay as long as they, as we had places to go. As the navigator I tracked our progress across the countryside. The farther west we got the more "Irish" the scenes became. I took in the moment knowing this was the stuff of my dreams. We were road trippin' across Ireland. 
  We were headed for the Cliff of Moher which rise over over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale and sandstone. An incredible site that draws one million viewers a year. The closer we got to these large cliffs the smaller our roads became. Swift curves and near head on traffic made for a genuine country experience. The space between passing cars didn't seem like it would ever be enough. 

"How nervous are you? One to ten?", Katie asks me. 
"Zero," I say. "Not nervous at all."
I was 100 % happy to be on this adventure. 

When we arrived at the cliffs we began a journey walking along the coast. We took the chance to walk as closely to the edge as our nerve would allow, thrilled in the fact that there were no man made barriers in this natural place of wonder. As we walked we talked and talked. Talked about our lives, the beauty of the sky, and what it must have been like when someone first encountered this place. The weather was nothing less than a gift from God.  60 degrees with sunshine and a light ocean breeze. We found natural places to stop along our walk and picked one that was in a thick amount of grass that felt like we were laying on pillows. 

Despite lots of travel over her eight months in Ireland, Katie had never been to the cliffs so I was happy to be experiencing it for the first time together.  Since we rented our own car we knew our only time constrains were daylight so we stayed at the cliffs until we had our fill. We jumped in our car and pointed it back toward Dublin, stopping at a grocery store in a small town for some snacks. 

We decided to take a detour through the city of Limerick, for no other reason than because we could. When we reached Dublin again we were both in awe of the day we'd just had.