| Two-Second Travelogue
- U.S., Scotland, Ireland, & England
August 16 - Preparation (Denver) - We'll see Oncle Marc for Christmas! Will we ever see a renter? -- Mark
August 17 - Preparation (Denver) - Let's not worry about Malaysia yet. We need a medical kit and haircuts. -- Monica
August 18 - Preparation (Denver) - Visiting friends for the last time in a year. Chris and Colin spent the night. Today, Duncan and I are going to play Magic with Jay and Joe in Ft. Morgan. -- Tote
August 19 - Preparation (Denver) - Our goldfish left today. -- Mark
August 20 - Preparation (Denver) - Omigod! Come see the basement! It has a floor! -- Monica
August 21 - Preparation (Denver) - I think my passport came today. After months of filling out forms and waiting, how am I going to tell them that my name isn't "Mark Huges"? -- Mark
August 22 - Preparation (Denver) - The boys are amazing. Cleaning and organizing the garage was a challenge, and working with the boys was fun. Like so many other trip jobs, they did it without complaint. I am proud of them. -- Monica
August 23 - Preparation (Denver) - [ . . .] -- Maggie
August 24 - Preparation (Denver) - Eleven years ago Tote beat the midwife to the hospital. We're still trying to keep up with him. -- Monica
August 25 - Preparation (Denver) - We couldn't have better friends. -- Mark
August 26 - Preparation (Denver) - Done with the yard. Done with the basement. Done with the bathroom. Done with the garage. Done with the passports. Done with the vaccinations. Done with the six-pack Elizabeth brought over. -- Mark
August 27 - Preparation (Denver) - Good-byes to everyone. Kind of sad. -- Tote
August 28 - On the Way! - It's hard to go. It's hard to say good-bye.
I feel a sense of loss. -- Monica
August 29 - Ogallala, Nebraska to Atlantic, Iowa - Bouncy shoes, running between cornfields. Bouncy tires, driving between cornfields. -- Tote
The four best things about Ogallala: 1) The UFO watertower; 2) They sell unleaded gas; 3) At least, the cold water works. -- Mark
August 30 - Atlantic, Iowa - Slowly running in the morning heat with Maggie, Mark, Tote, and Duncan. Running along the gravel roadside to Atlantic, Iowa, to breakfast at The Downtowner. Eggs and sausage, tea and cinnamon rolls. Yum! -- Monica
Sea of crops. -- Duncan
August 31 - DeKalb, Illinois - Flowers on walls, flowers on floors, flowers on furniture - Grandma's house has so many flowers! -- Tote
August 31 - Grinnell, Iowa - Stunning to see a small but stunning Louis Sullivan building on an otherwise bland main street. (Next door is Cunningham's Drugstore complete with soda fountain and lunch counter.) -- Mark
DeKalb, Illinois - September 2000September 1 - DeKalb, Illinois - At 5 PM the bank sign reads 97. Could be the humidity as easily as the temperature. We overheard one farmer say to another, "Hey Jim! Nice day to pull some wire in the attic, eh?" -- Mark
September 2 - DeKalb, Illinois - Grandma's teaching me multiplication tables and how to dress her Barbies. She says she doesn't have anyone else to play Barbies with. -- Maggie
September 3 - DeKalb, Illinois - Playing in the park, we were soaked to the skin. Then, big party. Lots of family. Lots of food. (Mmmmm - eggrolls!) -- Duncan
September 4 - DeKalb, Illinois - The evening word game score: Grandma - 0; Duncan and Tote - 2. -- Mark
A romp in the Malta Corn Maze with Todd, Peg, Justin, Jonathon, Dave, Joyce, Grandma, Grandpa, Mark, Duncan, Tote, and Maggie. -- Monica
September 5 - DeKalb, Illinois - We toured the former home of
Isaac L. Ellwood, a barbed wire manufacturer. I liked the numbers (before
barbed wire, the total value of farm fencing in the U.S. was about one-sixth
the total value of all farms); Duncan liked the Persian carpets; Monica
liked the "floating" staircase; Tote liked the "rabid tour
guide"; and Maggie liked the enormous dollhouse. -- Mark
September 6 - DeKalb, Elk Grove, & Rockford, Illinois - What could be more fun, or more Midwestern, than a tour of Illinois's marvelous toll way system, punctuated by stops at strip malls and fast food chain store? There must be something unique about the Midwest. Perhaps it is the absence of any particularly interesting characteristic. -- Mark
September 7- DeKalb, Illinois - Went for a run and read my R.A. Salvatore book. I also factored a few fractions and did some algebra. -- Tote
September 8 - Sandwich, Illinois - The gate attendant wished us a "swell day" at the County Fair, and we had one. Homemade pies and BBQ served by Annette and the other church ladies at the St. Paul's Catholic church food booth. The stunning power of draft horses aglitter in polished leather and chrome-bangles. Twelve foot sunflowers, giant vegetables, and more photos, cakes, preserves, quilts, chickens, and sheep than the mind can grasp. Did I mention my favorite, the swine? -- Monica
September 9 - DeKalb, Illinois - Yankee ingenuity - hah! The resourcefulness of Midwesterners trumps all. Where else would citizens be so resourceful as to devise Taffy Apple Salad (pineapple, nuts, and Cool Whip) and Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Crackers). In fact, where else would the citizens, awash in apples, find such ingenious ways to avoid using them? -- Mark
Uncle Dave, Tote, Duncan, and I played Dungeons and Dragons. We tried to catch a bad guy but then we went into a time warp. Uncle Dave made the monster two years old, and we got him -- Maggie
September 10 - DeKalb, Illinois - This could be called a disagreeable day, though it wasn't. We played more Dungeons and Dragons with Uncle Dave. Arguing is part of the game. I liked our game; it was funny. Later we went to see a community theater play about arguing called Squabbles. I liked the play; it was funny. -- Duncan
September 11 - DeKalb, Illinois - I liked watching the Big Green volleyball team play the Huskies. The Husky mascot pretended to do the same thing as the cheerleaders. The band yelled and played music. I watched the game, gave the mascot five, and kept track of the score. The Huskies won. -- Maggie
September 12 - DeKalb & Oregon, Illinois - As part of our homeschooling efforts, we spent the morning measuring the path of the sun so we can calculate the circumference of the Earth. (This may also be useful when we need to walk home.) I assume the neighbors think we are members of some Colorado cult. We also took a walk through the forest along the Rock River (comfortably soft after the spruces and pines of the West), examined a giant Taft statue of an indian (looks a bit like Rodin's Balzac and makes one appreciate Taft's Thatcher Memorial in City Park even more), and viewed the Oregon Public Library's art collection (a notable collection of work done in the area by people who were once well known, guarded by a librarian notable only for her surliness). -- Mark
September 13 - DeKalb, Illinois - First, we ate bagels. (The place
in DeKalb is almost as good as Finster Brothers.) Then, we measured the
circumference of the Earth with my Uncle Ted's class in Hugo, Colorado.
Grandpa and I had a better measurement than my dad. Later, we smashed
pennies on the railroad tracks. -- Tote
Mark:What's the story? Tote, why aren't the new pages up here?
September 14 - DeKalb, Illinois - A gray, rainy run. The heron has moved upstream. Sunset brings brightness. -- Monica
After two hours at Osco taking and retaking and retaking and retaking visa photos, we are still in a good mood. In the afternoon, I weigh - literally - geometry books. -- Mark
September 15 - DeKalb, Illinois - Wherever we live, our home will always be here, where our parents care about us more than we can ever deserve. -- Mark
New Jersey - September 2000
September 16 - UA Flight 604 to Newark - I didn't think we'd be this high up. -- Maggie
September 17- Westfield, New Jersey - Cousins, cousins race through the place; Seems like half the human race; Every room has two or three; They move so fast they're hard to see; They come in sizes big and small; Sometimes without size at all; The energy that is released; Could power countries, Greece, at least. -- Tote
September 18 - Westfield, New Jersey - I rested up from the big communion party by staying up late reading Star Wars books and racing through Westfield High School with my cousin Abby. It was quieter and not as exciting without all our cousins being here. -- Duncan
September 19 - Westfield, New Jersey -
September 20 - "Down The Shore," New Jersey - When we got to the beach, I pulled off my clothes and ran in the water and learned to surf waves. I did a back flip and almost landed on Duncan. When I got out I saw a gigantic fish. When I walked back with my mom, we found a jellyfish. Luckily I got a great lunch: pizza. - Maggie
September 21 - Westfield, New Jersey - Westfield prides itself on its colonial heritage. This is presumably why so many of its merchants refuse to accept credit cards. -- Mark
I feel a bit like a grandma, my kids past babyhood, in fact Duncan now a teenager, getting the chance to walk and soothe infant Mary Jo. It's wonderful to watch her focus on faces, smiling her left cheek dimple. -- Monica
September 22 - Westfield, New Jersey - The first day of Fall, autumnal equinox, the sun is shining, the crows are cawing, red leaves on the trees, kids walking to school, and Maggie sneaking up to watch Rugrats on Grandma's TV. -- Monica
September 22 - Cranbury, New Jersey - The nice thing about the New Jersey Turnpike is that it highlights how nice trees and grass look. -- Duncan
September 23 - Westfield, New Jersey - The longest dimension of Great Britain is 600 miles (from north to south). Colorado's longest dimension is 387 miles (from east to west). Great Britain has slightly less land area than Colorado. -- Tote
September 24 - Westfield, New Jersey - We have been over our packs so many times that we are about as prepared as we can be. Nonetheless, since leaving wouldn't be exciting unless we had a few things that needed urgent attention, we are running about looking for plastic bags and tiny notebooks. I thought about pointing out that Britain probably has plenty of plastic bags and little notebooks, but why dampen anyone's fun?
Scotland - September & October 2000
September 25 - Newark to Edinburgh - When I arrived at the New
Jersey airport, I was not at all excited. I was excited on the plane only
when we were ready to land. When we landed, it looked a lot like the U.S.,
and my excitement faded. On the train ride to Edinburgh, I got a good
look at the countryside. That's when I started getting excited again.
It didn't look at all like Colorado. The grass was very green. It looked
like a lawn everywhere. There were sheep everywhere. The train carried
us past places where I saw white waves crashing against grey cliffs. Edinburgh
looks very different. The first thing I noticed was a huge wall. Above
the wall I saw the castle. It towers over the city. The buildings have
a very different style from those in the U.S., and the streets are narrow.
The buildings are all made of stone. -- Tote
September 25 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Roaming through the Old Town, looking for a place to stay, the tall stone buildings and narrow streets just seem too charming and too medieval, and the streets too clean, to be real. The castle perched atop a cliff simply looks too much like a castle to possibly be a real castle. There are spires everywhere, some so elaborate they would look goofy anywhere else. If it were not a grey day, and I weren't so jet-lagged, I'd think we had somehow dropped into a musical set.
September 26 - Edinburgh, Scotland - At the castle I liked watching the guards, and I liked looking in the great hall. I really liked looking at the armor and swords. I also liked playing with the army bears in the gift shop. I liked the cover of the Harry Potter English version better than the American version. The cover shows Harry on his broomstick with the dragon over him. -- Maggie
We explored Edinburgh Castle with an audio tour. I learned that medieval coronations involved sitting on stones and putting numbers after your name. Safety tip: Run if your host ends the meal by plopping a bull's head on the table. -- Duncan
September 26 - Argyle Backpacker's Hotel, Edinburgh, Scotland - First rule of hostel living: Figure out how to operate the bathroom lights before turning in for the night. -- Mark
September 27 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Went on a practice hike before
the sky fell; Maggie didn't want to go; At least it didn't snow. -- Duncan
September 28 - Glasgow, Scotland - Charming place, if you like Kansas City.
Today was a day to appreciate just how dull Britain has become. Talked with two policemen who could not think of a single place we could eat in central Glasgow that had any sort of Scottish sense to it. Courteous, as everyone has been, they spent five minutes discussing the issue with us. Italian restaurants, pizza places, and bars there are aplenty but nothing vaguely unique. If we had liked we could have had breakfast at Starbucks, shopped for a book at Borders or clothes at The Gap, lunched at Burger King or McDonald's or had a picnic from Safeway, dined at Pizza Hut, taken in a showing of Space Cowboys, enjoyed Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby for dessert, and nachos with our Coors Light beer. All before retiring to the Holiday Inn to watch the Flintstones, watch a commercial for "Billy Bass" -- the singing fish, and turn in for the night. Of course (with the possible exception of staying at the Holiday Inn) the same could be said of Edinburgh, and I fear, much of Europe. The most foreign thing we encountered all day were the accents of the policemen. (No longer from Glasgow. Now a part of a regional police force which they hope will become national.) Sad all round.September 28 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Yesterday we went on a hike up towards Arthur's Chair in Edinburgh (pronounced Edinburroh). All the terrain was beautiful. And there was a great view! For lunch I had a great bridie, which is a pastry with some onions and minced meat. It's the best food EVER! I also had Irn Bru, the drink to make you strong. It tasted like odd cream soda. I even had Irn Bru Sorbet. I saw the coolest sword on the Royal Mile. On the Royal Mile, we also got a sample of "the best fudge in the universe."
Today, we take a train to Glasgow, near the start of the West Highland Way. I can't wait to start hiking. - Duncan
September 29 - Drymen, Scotland - The first day of our West Highland
Way trip. Our path took us mostly between farm fields and meadows. We
watched pheasants bob about; lots of rams, ewes, and cows, sometimes sharing
their pastures with seagulls and crows; cleverly designed gates and stiles
giving us access through fences and stone walls; hedgerows with a never-ending
supply of brambles (blackberries); moss and lichen-covered rocks, stones,
bricks, and tree trunks; birds calling from dark thickets on the hills;
chattering brooks the whole way. -- Monica
September 30 - Balmaha, Scotland - The second day of our West Highland Way trip. We hiked through Garadhban Forest (reminded me of both the Olympic Peninsula, and where hobbits would live), then up and over Conic Hill. The views from the top were of swatches of farm fields, separated by hedgerows, dotted with sheep; the southern end of Lock Lomond with tree-covered small islands, white sail boats, and every once in awhile a beam of sun splashing out of a quick hole in the clouds; to the north and east, smooth rolling hills with higher, darker mountains beyond. -- Monica
October 1 - Balmaha, Scotland - The window to my right looks out from the second floor towards old whitewashed barns and garages, with a dried-out, heather-covered hill beyond. It's very quiet in this old manse (vicarage turned B&B, built before 1600). Maggie is downstairs poking around and Mark and the boys have dashed out with Chrissy Bannerman (our host) to watch her grandson play rugby. We are in a tiny village at the southern end of Loch Lomond, Balmaha, in Scotland.
We heard that today's weather is to be dreadful. We decided what a perfect excuse for a sit-down day but a sky that is merely overcast, ate a huge Scottish breakfast of cereal, milk, juice, tea, toast with homemade bramble jam, sausage from Mrs. Bannerman's Highland cattle, ham, eggs, and fried tomatoes. We ate it off Spode china and with monogrammed silver and drank our tea from a silver teapot presented to Mrs. Bannerman's father-in-law who was a member of the Scotland and Oxford fifteens and the Duke of Montrose's factor. There are still no signs of gale force winds and rain at 10:30. -- Monica
October 2 - Rowardennan, Scotland - A quick run, literally, into Drymen for supplies and a bus ride home. We're unsure when we will be able to purchase any real food again. With everything we intend to use for a year already in our backpacks, we don't have room for much more. But food does seem a requirement.
One of the supplies we need is cash. Collecting enough of it brought Drymen's economy to a standstill for 30 minutes. The ATMs will only dispense 100 pounds a day to foreigners. (During our first hour in England, I tried to withdraw 150 pounds, and the display told me "your account has insufficient funds to complete this request.") Up to this point, we have gotten by with a credit card and a small supply of cash. Beyond this point, no one accepts credit cards.I ate macaroni and cheese at the Rowardennan Youth Hostel. We are hiking the West Highland Way. I give it a 9 because it had a good cheese sauce, but not enough macaroin. The person who made the macaroni and cheese, his name was Dave. -- Maggie
October 3 - Inverarnan, Scotland - Kindly remind me to think again
before planning a long hiking trip in a place where every home and hostel
contains a "drying room."
We left the tidy, warm, and friendly Rowardennan Youth Hostel this morning. It sits near the path to Ben Lomond, one of Scotland's most climbed peaks. It's the southernmost of Scotland's "munros," one of the 284 Scottish mountains over 3000 feet listed by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. We keep meeting "munro baggers," like Helen and Allison whom we met on the walk up Conic Hill. Helen bagged her 50th munro on her 50th birthday.At twilight, we made our way to the Drovers Inn, a bit like an older version of the Buckhorn Exchange . . . very old sheep-farmer-to-the-market inn . . . with lots of stuffed animal heads mounted on the very sooty walls. It was a very dark, unkempt pub.
The children ate and painted watercolors. Mark and I shared a plate of grilled, smoked mackerel with chips and salad. The boys each had a bowl of stagshead soup and crusty bread. All three shared three plates - one of mince and tatties with side vegetables and two steak and Guiness pies with chips and salad. -- Monica
October 3 - Inverarnan, Scotland - The children have taken a liking to tea, and find the chocolate-covered biscuits a wonderful accompaniment. Tote says he would like to live in Drymen, Scotland some day and be a shepherd. Maggie's current goal is to buy a bow and arrow. When she returns home, she wants to take lessons in archery, fencing, and horseback riding. Duncan's enthusiasm is infectious. His ease and desire to hike help keep our spirits high. -- Monica
aye - yesOctober 4- Crianlarich, Scotland - I'm glad Duncan stepped in the puddle instead of me. Dad never guessed any of my riddles. One answer to a riddle was raspberry seeds. -- Maggie
We're halfway! We spent last night in a West Highland Way "wigwam" - a snug, beehive-shaped, cabin designed by some West Highland Way guru. After we hung all our wet clothes up inside, ours looked like some bizarre Gore-Tex tenement. Apparently designed for three hikers, ours was particularly "snug" with five of us inside. I dreamt we were riding out a huge storm in a boxcar.
Above our camp, a spectacular waterfall, Grey Mares Tail, roared all night. In the morning, we could see three other waterfalls high on the hills around us. The Way follows the River Falloch through the valley above Loch Lomond and all day long we passed short cascades and gorges.Today we hiked along grazing sheep, in pastures along the banks of River Falloch. The Way through the Glen mostly included a sandy/muddy, stone-strewn path with lots of ferns and mushrooms.
Tote and I hiked together after lunch and arrived a good 40 minutes before the others. We hiked well together, kept our spirits up, and hiked a similar pace. Tote helped me up when I took a tumble (slippery stone) and rolled in a rivulet. I wasn't hurt, but I certainly did "sog"my feet (a term Duncan coined.)
Tote and I asked directions to the youth hostel at the small train station's Tea Room and arrived at this impressive, well-organized, impeccable accomodation. The kitchens (and all other aspects for that matter) of these official Scottish Youth Hostels are superbly equipped, and everything is CLEAN and tidy. Both times now we've had one room with four sets of bunk beds. Each bed has a covered pillow and a comforter on a covered mattress. When you check in, you're given a sheet sack with a pocket in it, to stick your pillow in. -- Monica
October 5 - Crianlarich, Scotland - It's time to make a few changes
and take a rest. As we continue north the Way will run through "highlands"
tall enough to have snow on the top. We also need to lengthen our daily
walks, if we are to land in "towns" at night.
The distance between towns is now controlled by the distance a drover and his livestock covered in a day. There are two theories on how that distance - about thirteen miles - was determined. It is either the distance the livestock could walk without trouble or the distance a drover could cover without a dram.
October 6 - Bridge of Orchy, Scotland - Ah, ah . . . what an absolutely
splendid hike today! My favorite so far. Fourteen miles in overcast, low
60's Scottish beauty. Today included one of my favorite parts of the trip
so far: We watched two shepherds and two dogs herd their flock from one
pasture to another farm's pasture. One fellow was about 60, lined weathered
face, lanky body, and totally incomprehensible as he spoke to us about
where to stand to stay out of the way. The other was a silent, young,
robust fellow of about 35.
We're currently sitting in the only place in this tiny village that one can buy a meal. It's a great pub in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. Duncan is writing in his journal, so is Mark. Maggie is drawing a still life of my glasses on the table, and Tote is reading. We looked into staying at this hotel and even the much cheaper bunkhouse is $25.50 per person. Instead we'll be staying at a B&B. It's not even in this village. After we eat dinner, our hostess will come and drive us to her house. -- Monica
I think what was really cool was watching the shepherd herd his sheep.
What was really funny was the sheep dog. I think I'm psychic because I
knew that Mom was going to take pictures of Highland Cattle for an hour.
I'm Little Trailer and Dad is Jet Assist when we go up hills. -- Maggie
October 7- Kinlochleven, Scotland - Today, we went up Devil's
Staircase to the top of a mountain shrouded in mist. We put stones on
all the cairns on the mountain to make a wish. When Tote and I went up
higher, we saw a skeleton floating in the mist above. -- Duncan
The chief of the MacDonald clan made his pledge a few days after the treaty's December 1691 deadline. Although more powerful chiefs skipped the oath altogether, King William approved "extirpat[ing] that sept of thieves,." meaning the MacDonalds. In February of 1692, the MacDonalds were innocently housing 120 soldiers in Glen Coe. The soldiers, led by a Campbell, received orders "to putt all to the sword under seventy." At 5 AM, the troops proceeded to kill about 40 MacDonalds, burned the houses, stole the livestock, and left Glen Coe empty.
October 8 - Ft. William, Scotland - Fourteen beautiful miles through high country and a cold rain has brought us within three miles of the end of the Way. We're just across a river from Ben Nevis, the highest point in Britain. We'd love to climb it, but it's snowing at the top. - Mark
October 9 - Ft. William, Scotland - Today we finished the West
Highland Way and bought postcards. - Maggie
October 10 - Holyhead, Wales - Train, train, train, train, ferry,
bus, bus, bus, no time for a real sleep. - Tote
When we finally board the 3:30 AM ferry, Frank Leonard, a handsome, grey-haired gentleman from Donegal is waiting for us. He had observed the fiasco and had been similarly abused by Max Factor's biggest customer. He insists we take his cabin for the crossing and will not take no for an answer. Monica suspects he has booked the cabin just for us. We end up flopping onto clean sheets for three hours of sleep while the ferry crosses to Ireland.
Ireland - October 2000
October 11 - Beaufort, Ireland - After four trains, three buses,
and one ferry, we're finally here. - Mark
October 12 - Beaufort, Ireland - At 2 PM, Jack, Monica, and Dave
drive off in search of provisions. They return at 7, smiling and bearing
two six-packs acquired during their "brief" visit to one of
the Beaufort pubs. It is a great misfortune that Jack has left his hat
at the pub and will need to return tomorrow at 2PM to claim it. -- Mark
October 13 - Beaufort, Ireland - We went up a big hill today.
The hill was called Coolcummisk (weird name). We went peat hopping. It's
when you're on the side of a peat cliff - about 4 feet high where people
cut out peat for fuel - and you jump from sticking out peninsula to peninsula.
I fell in a crevice and fell forward on the heather so it didn't hurt
but I was surprised.
We call the room where Tote and I sleep "the roost." We built
the coolest forts. Mine was like a big throne room. Tote's was like a
throne, too. There was a courtyard in between. -- Duncan
October 14 - Beaufort, Ireland - We toured Ross Castle and Muckross
National Park in Killarney. We got a tour of the tower castle. -- Monica
October 15 - Beaufort, Ireland - We hiked in the rain to the base of McGillicuddy's Reeks. Then we hiked in the rain some more to Beaufort. Then Uncle Dave hosted a great feast at Kate Kearney's Cottage. -- Mark
October 16 - Beaufort, Ireland - We hiked to the highest point in Ireland: Carrauntuohil. It was the best hike I have ever taken! It started pretty flat. On one part of our "hike" we had to climb up a cliff at about a 50 degree angle through water running down the cliff. We had to walk down small waterfalls and walk through rock-strewn creeks.
I thought the view from the steep section was better than the view from the top. From the steep part, everything was laid out below us, and we could tell what it was. From the top, there was just too much to absorb, and it was all too tiny. It was like ascending in an airplane. During the takeoff, it's really interesting because you know what things are. After you're up, you really can't see things. -- DuncanI went up the highest mountain in Ireland. It was the coolest hike ever.
Grandpa drove us to the trailhead. The beginning was flat, but we made that quick, because we could not wait to go up the mountain.
I went on a pony ride with Grandma. We went through the Gap of Dunloe. One horse, named Old Billy Boy, pulled our cart. I think it was cool, because I saw a rock that looked like there was a house in it. The rock had little tunnels to channel the water so it wouldn't get in the house and the rock looked like it had a door in it. Mike was the driver. -- Maggie
October 17 - Beaufort, Ireland - Today the weather was wonderful. First, there were gale force winds. Then torrential rain storms. In the big wind we ran around outside. The wind pushed us to extreme speeds, and we could go seven feet on a jump! The rain smashed into us feeling like hail. When we ran back to the safety of the porch, we went at sprinting speeds of less than 1 mile per hour against the wind. -- Duncan
October 18 - Beaufort, Ireland - We said good-bye to Uncle Dave, did math, painted watercolors, straightened out our e-mail (I hope), and got ready to move on. -- Mark
October 19 - Dunquin, Ireland - Rushing waves smashing white against
dark rocks. Spray thrown hundreds of feet in the air, creating a mist
that looks like smoke in the afternoon light. -- Duncan
October 20 - Dunquin, Ireland - Today we saw a little beach on
which some colossal wave came in. Tote and I charged in close and ran
as the surf nipped at our ankles. Under the blue water, foamy white tendrils
shot out as the waves crashed in. Later we went to a big beach, and we
built cities in the sand. Mine looked like those "alien" circles
in the cornfields. Then we went to a rocky coast and saw a cement structure
made up of stairs and platforms built into the rocks. We thought they
might have been part of a World War II base. -- Duncan
October 21 - Dunquin, Ireland - The Blasket Center is right across the road from the hostel. It is a long low building aligned with Great Blasket Island, which is just offshore. The building was controversial in this small, relatively isolated place, and its scale is enormous compared to any other structures for many miles around. Inside, the building is filled with slate, fine wood, lovely furniture, art, an enormous stained glass window, a theater, cafe, and library.
October 22 - Dingle, Ireland - From inside our warm hostel, the high winds and rain looked cool. When we decided we were going to hike in it, I felt unsure. After we made it to Dingle, hiking through windblown rain that hurt our skin, I felt so good because I actually did it. -- Tote
One thing that Irish men in their 50s tell us again and again is that young people in Ireland have better educations and better "chances" than they had. They state this simply as a fact, not as if they have been cheated or as if they deserved better. -- Mark
October 23 - Dublin, Ireland - We left the Rainbow Hostel. It
had a Ken Kesey mobile parked out back and the giant kitchen I've always
dreamed of with a piano, fireplace, and two splendidly large, wooden,
farm-kitchen tables. (It also had loads of twenty-somethings, dogs and
chickens, and a cement phallus atop a birdhouse.) We took the bus from
Dingle to Tralee, then from Tralee across the country to Dublin.
October 24 - Dublin, Ireland - I went to Dublin Castle, and we
found the Dublin Garden. In the Garden, there were benches around a circle
of grass. The grass had bricks laid flat in a path making four snakes.
On their heads, there were glass eyes. I think what was really cool were
the six snakes tangled up in a Celtic knot. I like following the snakes,
head to tail or tail to head. My brothers and I were the only ones there,
running and jumping along the snakes. -- Maggie
October 25 - Dublin, Ireland - We spent the afternoon at the Alfred Chester Beatty Library, housed in a new building attached to Dublin Castle. Beatty was born in New York and made his first million mining in Cripple Creek. His passion was collecting sacred texts and manuscripts from all over the world. He bequeathed his collection to Ireland. We found it interesting learning about the texts and connections between Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. -- Monica
One of the most interesting aspects of the Chester Beatty Library and it's collection of sacred texts is the absence of evidence that Beatty appreciated any aspect of his collection - other than the fact that the collection existed, he could add to it, and it was his. Nothing indicated that he had read, pondered, or was in any way affected by the collection's contents. -- Mark
October 26 - Dublin, Ireland - We went to a museum about the famous writers of Ireland. I really liked when the audio tour read something from Dracula by Bram Stoker.
After that we went to a tower where James Joyce lived for six days. Joyce supposedly left after Trench had a nightmare about a panther and fired his pistol into the fireplace to kill it. Later, Trench had another nightmare and Oliver St. John Gogarty grabbed the gun and yelled something like, "I'll take care of him this time!" and blasted away at the pots and pans over James Joyce's bed. Joyce left that night.
I liked watching the scary shows at the writers museum. My favorite story was the last one, called the Hellfire Club. I also liked the one where he said, "You always kill the thing you love and the coward does it with a kiss and the brave man does it with a sword." I didn't understand the crow one. -- Maggie
I know it's just a place, but standing atop the Martello Tower where
Joyce's Ulysses begins and looking out at Sandycove town, its steeples
and the sea, I am swept away by how marvelous life can be. -- Mark
England - October & November 2000
October 27 - Between Holyhead and London - We're currently on
a train to London after a mad dash to the ferry. Last week, there was
a fatal train accident caused by some sort of track defect. A similar
defect has since been discovered in a number of other spots. So all the
trains in Britain are moving quite slowly. Some are cancelled. All the
trains are packed.
Near us, an American couple is doing their best to make the worst of a bad situation. They are whining and complaining, as if they were never inconvenienced in the U.S. I feel so bad for them that I am thinking of having the kids explain to them how to travel a bit better. -- Mark
October 28 - London - Today, we went to the British Museum. We saw artifacts from Egypt and Assyria (largely reliefs and giant winged things). We started looking at things from Greece. They have many tons of things -- the front of a temple and a Greek vessel depicting a satyr balancing a cup on his . . . well, not a place we often balance things. I enjoyed walking around and looking at the hieroglyphics and cuneiform - the written languages of Egypt and Assyria. -- Duncan
It's just amazing to me that the Brits have the best treasures of the world housed in one place. I could visit here every day and never get tired of it. -- Monica
Why did they do this? They stole everything from all around the world. -- Tote
I nearly gag paying the sum that we are paying for this rundown (but
absolutely clean) hotel room. Even the Hyatt Beaver Creek is cheaper.
I know it's the same price as the hostel (which has no space for us.)
I know the location is good, but there are holes in the carpet, virtually
no floorspace, the British Museum might add the furnishings to its collection,
and the bathroom is not only down the hall, it's down the stairs. It pains
me so much to pay for this that I have to send Tote down to the desk with
October 29 - London - We went to a great Chinese restaurant today with Kevin Hawken. We had tons of Dim Sum - like appetizers for the meal. I loved the spring rolls and dumplings. Chinese food's the best! -- Duncan
Today we played Where's Waldo in Leicester Square. How we played was everyone stood in the little area and tried not to be seen by the person looking for them. They had to be visible to the person looking but tried to blend into the surroundings and crowd.
The first time I was leaning against a wall. I was found first. Second, I stood in the middle of all the people. I was found first. Then I sat in a coffee shop window and looked out, and I was found last. -- ToteMark: Don't you think that they could watch a little rugby -- I mean it's an English thing, after all.
Monica: It's just so violent. But I guess you're right. It is cultural experience. . . Go ahead Duncan, you can watch it.
Duncan: Mom, if human sacrifice were part of the culture, could we watch that?
Monica: No! And maybe you should turn that off right now.
While in Leicester Square, which is closed to most traffic, a fellow on a motor scooter marked with a big, scarlet L rolled past me. In Ireland, and I think in England, those big Ls mark the driver as a learner. I thought to myself, "This guy is really a learner: he is completely lost." When I saw that he had a bunch of handwritten notes and a map clipped to the windscreen, I decided he must be some sort of government worker checking things out, but on a Sunday? "Perhaps he's just one of those very organized whackos," I thought.
When we saw the same fellow after lunch, stopped beside another street and looking up at the buildings, we decided to ask him what he was up to. Turns out he is at the end of three years worth of study to become a London cabbie. He has passed the initial written tests, and now is studying full-time for his "orals." He needs to be able to correctly drive between 400 pairs of points scattered all over London. This is quite a challenge. There are one way streets, alleys, ways, arcades, and courtyards, and if there is a single street that runs in a straight line in this city, I haven't seen it on the map. He looked a bit wistful when he asked whether most U.S. streets really run north-south or east-west and when we told him that many city speed limits reached 40 mph. The cabbie-in-training beeped and waved when he passed us again later in the day. (No wonder the cabbie who took us from the station to our hotel was embarrassed when he had to make a u-turn, because I had mispronounced the name of the hotel.) -- Mark
October 30 - London - I played a game with coins, cream containers,
coffee sticks, and tea bags on Duncan's bed. We went to a game shop that
had Warhammer 40,000. I got smashed on the London underground. It was
fun. I was sort of lifted up by all the people trying to squeeze onto
the train. -- Maggie
October 31 - London - That bathroom by the church had wax paper
instead of toilet paper. -- Maggie
November 1 - London -
July 27, 2000- Preparation (Denver) - I was a little bit afraid. When I stopped being afraid, I sped up and left Duncan in the dust. It's the bigger space on Montview that made me more confident on the bike path. I left my dad in the dust. -- Maggie
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