August 29, Saturday
Night's Lodging: Garney View B&B in Sixmilebridge
Weather: Fierce rain until 9 a.m. Cloudy until about 10 a.m. while I was at the Cliffs of Moher; pelting rain from the Cliffs to Lahinch. Cloudy/spitty/sunny until 6 p.m. Rain and drizzle again in evening. Rain most of the night.
As we returned late last night to the hostel from the pub, the sky, absolutely black, overflowed with stars: reach-out-and-touchable stars.
The Rainbow Hostel was a funky but cozy small place. A roll your own cigarettes but not of the pot variety place. Groups of college kids were staying there long term - for the summer, some with their tents pitched in the back. A few moms were there; three or four grad students; students from England and Germany. One young man slept on the dilapidated slouch-couch in the living room; his tent leaked the previous night.
By 6 a.m. it was pouring. And continued to rain until we left at mid-morning, by which time it began to clear. Another cyclist rainsuited up and left shortly before we did, fully expecting drenching weather.
As I pedaled the hill once more to the Cliffs (our route out of the area), showers surrounded us, a smidge of blue sky here and there, but primarily imposing thick full dark clouds.
I stopped for a last minute or two look at the Cliffs. As I was leaving, I overheard one man say to another, "My God, she pedaled all the way up here, takes a quick 3 minute look in the rain and is gone again...why did she bother?" I smiled. They didn't know about my hour yesterday, absorbing the views.
The rain came down in sheets for my five mile downhill run from the Cliffs into the beach town of Lahinch. Going faster didn't help, it just put more rain in my face and the pelting drops stung my lips. I thought I could taste ocean salt mixed with the rain. I couldn't outrun it, although with each turn in the road I was sure that I would veer away from it. About 10 minutes prior to the rain, I removed the plastic bags covering my shoes. I jumped the gun too quickly in thinking that the showers were moving away from me.
We stopped to have tea in Lahinch, to warm up and dry out. We both, Jack and I, looked like drowned rats...my hair stringy and dripping in my already wet face, my shoes literally awash. Rufus was soaked, and therefore very heavy. A drenched teddy bear is a sight to behold, but I was told that he looked better than I did. Tracy, by virtue of a 20 minute lead, was warm and dry.
The sky turned cloudy, but with individual chunks of cloud rather than a sky-obscuring mass. Gray bottoms, reaching up into the atmosphere, with white tops. I thought, "If they would just hang on to their water, it would be fine."
Our route took us inland along short easy rolling hills toward Ennis. Emerald green and beautiful, we were 17 miles out of Ennis; a short distance from there, 12 miles I thought, was Shannon Airport.
A note of frustration from my taped journal:
"Here I am going inland, 12 miles from Ennis, and it's still a goddamn headwind.
One thing about the weather - it does change! I'm now about 8 miles from Ennis, totally unencumbered, no raingear. Still have my black tights on. The sky is partly sunny and I'm drying out.
5 miles outside of Ennis and I'm back in my full rain gear. It's raining."
We were out of the wild fuchsia hedgerows and into an area of berry bushes or prickly oak or prickly holly.
Into Ennis, an attractive little town, with a main street so narrow it was a challenge for two pedestrians to walk together. Many young people with unusual hair (colors that didn't naturally grow from the scalp, styles which required copious amounts of gel to maintain the pointy look) occupied those narrow sidewalks "hanging out."
I parked my bike in a skinny alleyway, turned around and saw Tracy's bike parked in the adjacent alley. I clipped my helmet onto his handlebars, next to his, so he wouldn't leave without me, as we had to meet Jack at the outskirts-of-town T.I.
The sun was coming out - I was still in rain gear...in and out of it. Multiple times. When one is bundled up in rain gear, going to the bathroom takes longer - to get in and out of all the snaps, flaps, zippers, elastic, pull ups and pull downs - than the act itself.
The smells emanating from deli at Abbey Meats, drew me in. Lunch! Gooey pastries and a sandwich, in that order. As I browsed the market area, I recalled how different some foods were, UK vs. US. For example: the different types of sugar sold in the markets:
Castor-similar to our granulated sugar
Superfine-more finely ground than any sugar in the U.S.
Off to see the ruins of Quin Franciscan Friary built in the 1400's atop a ruined Norman castle, which had been built atop a previous monastery. Efficient use of the land.... More dead bodies all over everywhere! (Well, actually just their marker stones.) But with plenty of places to pitch a tent-as Tracy said, "we should have abbey-hopped rather than gone campground to campground."
A wedding was ending next door necessitating giving the inside of that church "a miss." But we watched a pony cart pull up to carry the bride and groom to their reception-in the drizzle. I shivered.
Off to Sixmilebridge and a B&B for our last night in Ireland. Shannon airport was only 9 miles away and our flight didn't leave until 1 p.m. We could have walked to the airport if necessary.
Sixmilebridge - my last Real Guinness at the Greyhound Pub. Dinner at "the chip place" on the corner - two pieces of fried chicken plus chips. By adding the malt vinegar, I created my own vinaigrette salad dressing what with the amount of oil in that fried food. It was tasty if not healthy.