Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wind in My Face

Wind in my face never felt so sweet!

I've spent a lot of time walking outside recently. I've longed for the feeling of warm sunshine on my back and the sound of a gentle breeze rustling leaves. Since September, I've looked at my world in a different more deliberate way - a way I now experience through the slower pace of walking. While it has been a nice change of pace, I would not recommend the road I took to get here. Regular readers know that I've been documenting my discovery of the beauty I've found in simple things like backlit trees completely stripped of leaves, and wooden boardwalks and my walking stick with a Boston skyline backdrop as seen from lots of different locations.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Went Walking with the Lovely Bike Blogger

When John and I moved overseas in 2002, we told our family and friends not to think of it as us leaving them, but as an opportunity for them to visit a new and faraway place. Well my words are coming back to haunt me, as friend after friend has moved away this past year. Velouria took off last summer for an extended visit to Northern Ireland. Then in less than 6 months my entire fleche team from 2011 scattered across the USA. I know that it would be boring if things never change, but it's just been a hard year to have so many good friends move so far away. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Went Walking - Hill of Tara

My sister-in-law, Suzanne, had been talking of treating her mom to a day out with chocolate cake at the tea shop at the Hill of Tara. John suggested that he could ride his bike there and meet the three of us for lunch. So a plan was hatched.

Note the helicopter in the background, getting the nice aerial view!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I Went Walking - County Carlow

After spending a few days visiting with family in Dublin, the always affable David drove John and me down to Tullow in County Carlow to visit more family. Carlow is off the beaten tourist track, as it were, and isn't as well known as other parts of the country, like the Ring of Kerry or the Cliffs of Moher.  I'm happy to have the quiet lanes remain quiet, but in my not so humble opinion, the area certainly deserves to be on the list of must-cycle places, thanks to the wide open views of rolling green countryside and windswept mountains, including John's favorite Mt Leinster in Blackstair Mountains between Counties Carlow and Wexford. A couple of years ago, John and I pedaled down from Dublin, and then joined David for a couple of fabulous rides in the area. It was heartbreaking for me to miss out riding here this time, but Daphne humored me by taking me out for a few walks, while John and David went out for rides.

On that last trip, John, David and I rode over the shoulder of Mt Leinster, but did not ride up the brutally steep road to the tower. This time, David and John decided to take in the same route, while Daphne and I planned to drive out and meet them at the gate, where we could park and walk up to the top and back. Poor Daphne had broken her wrist the week before and her arm was in plaster, but she was a real trooper, walking with me all the way up to the mast. The lads decided to pass on riding up, citing a long ride still to go and minimal daylight hours in December. They missed a screaming tailwind for the journey up, and a howling headwind for the trip down!

It was windy and chilly, but sunny when we arrived at the gate, at almost precisely the same time as John and David.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Went Walking - Deep Sinking - Royal Canal

Fear Rothar grew up in Castleknock, about 6 miles west of Dublin City Center. His mom's house is ideally situated for walking, as it is just over a mile to walk to the Phoenix Park or a stroll around the corner to get on the Royal Canal Way, a 49 mile long towpath/trail alongside the Royal Canal stretching from Dublin to Cloondara in County Longford.

On our first day in Ireland, we did a short stretch of the canal and I noticed the signs for the Deep Sinking. Curious, I did some research and found that the Deep Sinking is the name of the deep and narrow cutting of the Royal Canal between Castleknock and Clonsilla. When the Royal Canal was designed, the Duke of Leinster demanded the canal be routed by his ancestral home in Maynooth. This added substantial cost and complications to the project, including 11 additional locks and an aqueduct. In the section known as Deep Sinking, the canal runs much lower than the towpath and in places it is quite narrow and dangerous. In one serious accident in 1845, sixteen people drowned when their boat sank after hitting a rock at night. Also with the towpath well above the canal, horses were often pulled into the deep cutting below to a watery grave.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I Went Walking - Phoenix Park

Last month, Fear Rothar and I headed over to Ireland for a couple of weeks to visit with friends and family. We stayed at his childhood home about 6 miles from Dublin City Center, just at the far side of the Phoenix Park, one of the largest city parks in Europe. The wall surrounding the park stretches for almost 7 miles, enclosing 1750 acres of grasslands and forests. With miles and miles of trails and quiet tree-lined roads to explore in the park, I had plenty of opportunities to get out walking.

After our overnight flight to Dublin had us arriving in the early hours (both body clock time and local time), we gave in to our desire to sleep away the first part of our first day, but then we emerged re-energized and headed out for a short walk along the Royal Canal to shake the cobwebs out. The Royal Canal Way is actually a 49 mile long towpath/trail alongside the canal stretching from Dublin to Cloondara in County Longford, but we only walked a mile or so west from Castleknock train station for our first outing.