August 18, Tuesday
Killarney->Kenmare ->Eyeries (Beara Peninsula)
Night's Lodging: Eyeries Hostel cow pasture; £2
Weather: Sunny with puffy clouds. No rain!
During the morning we spent tourist time in Killarney. Killarney's a crazy little town full of tourist bicycles - rental bicycles with riders who couldn't ride well - and distracted drivers. We watched a bus try to remove a concrete pole from the sidewalk, and then back into a truck. Very interesting.
The ride to the top of Moll's Gap was beautiful and I made it without difficulty. During our climb, I was amazed how quickly we traveled in and out of different flora zones and glacial moraines, into ferny woodlands, and then into an oak forest.
Kenmare. There was a poster here of bicycles along a public park in Kenmare showing every possible manner to strap a sleeping pad to the bike. We clearly weren't the only tourists in the area!
All the bars: O'Connor's Bar, O'Sullivan's Bar, Maureen's Supermarket and more. The upper stories most buildings had white lace curtains flapping out and window boxes along the sill. It was as if each house had a different pattern of lace assigned to it.
Established on the Ring of Beara (Peninsula) - over on my left was a conifer forest. Almost a lodgepole pine type forest but the trees were shorter with that same barren lower trunk. Along our route it was again lush and green. Water dribbled out from every possible crack in the damp earth ...sounds of trickling streams racing towards the low ground. There was considerably less traffic indicating the lesser tourist influence on this, the most beautiful peninsula, in my opinion, of the three (Dingle, Kerry, Beara). A few bicyclists and cars, but nothing like what we had seen .
Dereen Gardens: Spectacular gardens and botanical refuge planted a hundred years ago by the fifth Lord of Landsdowne at the mouth of the Kenmare River. Hundreds of rhododendrons of every possible variety , Australian tree ferns, Chinese bamboo, and huge trees seen no where else in the world other than in their native lands. The Lord of Landsdowne lived to see all of his plantings come to full growth due to the fertile soil and interesting climatic zone.
I didn't believe it! We lost Jack! Or Jack lost us. The comment between Tracy and me was the refrain in various ways of "where's Jack?" He usually wasn't far behind, but behind he was. And then he was lost! I didn't understand how, on a short route with a mountain pass to our left as we rode along the shore, ongoing hills on our route, and no obvious turnoffs, he lost us, or we lost him. As in our previous trip, we never made an intersection change without regrouping, nor did we stop without putting a bright orange pannier rain cover in an obvious spot along the road. We all knew to watch for this beacon.
Waiting for Jack to catch up, Tracy and I spent an hour wandering through Eyeries, a beautiful little village that competed successfully in the Tidy Town competition. As the Michelin Guide described it, "...looks like the film set of an Irish mountain settlement." There were flower boxes everywhere, paint boxes of colors. Gladiolas lined the town's white picket fences. Cottages were each painted in a pastel shade.
When Jack didn't appear, we talked to three people sitting way up on a porch, asking if they had seen our friend in black with a bright yellow bicycling jacket and helmet. Perhaps he had gotten ahead of us. They said they'd keep an eye out. We talked to the woman in the grocery store. We talked to the people in two of the village's four pubs. We let everyone know. With this, we discovered how friendly people were. Obviously tourists, the village took our problem to heart and rallied around to watch for our missing companion.
After we had a dinner of Guinness and hot soup in the local pub, waiting, we put our emergency plan into action and called my daughter Kim in California.
She laughed and said, "Jack just called. He is in Castletownbere," about 5 miles away over Healy Pass, "at Murphy's Corner House. He'll meet you in the morning when you get there." Incredible. How did he manage to turn left and climb Healy Pass - across the spine of the Beara Peninsula?
Tracy and I camped in the cow pasture behind the independent hostel (we thought the woman just stuck out a "hostel" sign because her two extra bedrooms happened to be vacant). We shared the pasture with a resident recalcitrant sheep which wanted things his way rather than our way. We hoped it wouldn't attack our tents in search of something more interesting than grass.
It would be a gorgeous view if it were sunny in the morning, and we pitched our tents accordingly. We had sun today. Sun and clouds, sun and clouds. But not a whisk of rain. Lovely.
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