Monthly Archives: July 2023

Mayo with mustard

Long ago, we mentioned to an Irish friend that we planned time in County Mayo. “There’s not much there,” he warned.

We beg to differ. After spending more time here than expected, thwarted by the weather and waiting for the parish priest to return, we’ve come to appreciate the varied landscape and the way of life.

We take every blue sky opportunity between storms to drive the back roads and see what we can see. One day we watched as a farmer trained his sheep dogs. Amazing herders, they are.

Turf is still used for fuel in many places, although there are new regulations underway to ban the burning of polluting solid fuels like coal, wood and peat briquettes, and new houses are built without chimneys. Turf cutting is also being banned to halt the destruction of the fragile environment and because newer mechanical methods of cutting reduces the carbon sink properties of the bog. Nevertheless, we see turf drying wherever we go.

Mayo is flat as a pancake in parts and quite hilly in others and on dry days we find the landscape breathtaking.

As usual, we haven’t done any planning or research so as we crossed into County Galway this stately building took us by surprise and precipitated a quick detour.

It’s Kylemore Abbey, home to an order of Benedictine nuns. We didn’t visit but stayed long enough on the grounds to appreciate how beautifully the building nestles into the forest at the foot of the mountain.

The clouds were rolling in and we knew there was a storm coming. We wanted to fit one more stop into our day before we sought shelter.

I had spied this food truck on the map and if I know my man, I know he’ll be pretty excited about a crab sandwich. I assumed there’d be nothing for me, but luckily there’s another truck across the car park with delicious spicy roast sweet potato tacos. Win-win.

We would love to have stayed at that pretty place overnight but it wasn’t permitted so we dashed into Clifden hoping for a supermarket resupply before the rain started. We didn’t make it. It rained so hard even the local shoppers were reluctant to run to their cars. There was a backup at the exit as we all waited. And waited. And waited. One by one they gave up and dashed to their vehicles. Except us. Our van was parked up the hill in another car park and we kept hoping for a wee break in the downpour so we wouldn’t be sodden when we got home. A campervan festooned with dripping clothing is not a pleasant place to be.

We did eventually get a break and made it back to the van with minimal dampness and drove to our planned sheltered parkup. The storm rolled in as predicted and we battened the hatches and hunkered down.

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World turned upside down

We landed quayside in lonesome Blacksod Bay.

It turns out we’re within spitting distance of a small but charming lighthouse and the world famous Old Smokehouse.

About 80 years ago Ted Sweeney was the lighthouse keeper and also the town’s weatherman. After analyzing the weather data one day in June with the help of two female clerks, he felt there would be a small weather window between two building North Atlantic storms coming their way.

In the meantime, at the Old Smokehouse, it just might have been the best hot smoked salmon I ever ate, but that didn’t turn anything upside down. What did became apparent when we met a fellow traveler in a little camper who motioned toward the lighthouse and told us his grandmother worked at the town’s only post office and wireless station, and he’d always wanted to visit where she’d worked. The post office was housed in this very lighthouse.

The weatherman and postal clerks didn’t know it then but their forecast put the D-Day invasion in motion when their message was sent from Blacksod Bay the 4th of June, 1944.

Our camper neighbor was proud of his grandmother and he’d come a long way to see the lighthouse and celebrate her role in D-Day.

Eighty years earlier, famine and poverty dogged Blacksod Bay and West Ireland in general. James Hack Tuke, a Quaker, saw that the land could no longer support the population and he organized and paid for a boat lift in 1883-1884 for some 3,300 Irish families.

They sailed to Boston and Quebec but the last place they saw in Ireland was Blacksod Bay.

A memorial commemorates those families and the ships they sailed away in. Each plaque shows the ship, the destination, and all the names of the crew and passengers.

Marce says this a gift to any family historian descended from one of these families.

The mass emigration in the 1890s probably explains how empty the place still feels to this day.

Heading up into the hills out of Blacksod Bay we found another major blow hole and one of 90 some promontory ring or cattle forts in County Mayo.

Dún na mBó, like most of these forts, is protected on three sides by sea cliffs. Stone walls were only constructed across the land at the narrowest part of the headland.

I’m sure they were exhausted constructing all these bloody walls all over creation.

Not much of the stonework exists but that blowhole sure has survived.

Next we crossed the bridge to Achill Island which, in reasonable weather, is one of the top destinations in County Mayo.

There is nothing reasonable about this weather but adhering to the EV paradigm we POR’ed, which sometimes works.

We passed through areas we assumed were picturesque and charming but for the fog and rain.

We reached the famous beach at the end of the island and parked to wait for Achill’s clouds to part.

We gave it an hour.

Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t.

We cranked up EV and climbed back up the steep winding road over the mountain. The weather, if anything, was worse.

We were determined to rid ourselves of this sopping funk. We set our sights on another beach area called Silver Strand. With the rain hot on our heels, we wound our way down through the adventurous narrow serpentine access road where it was not yet raining, just threatening.

In the morning the water, spread thinly over the shallow sandy bay, had disappeared far out into the Atlantic.

There were warnings and life preservers laughingly distributed far inland around the edge of the huge sandy beach but then I realized given the wrong set of circumstances, like wind and storm surge, this whole bay could suddenly flood and trap people in rip tides. The life saving equipment started to make sense.

The hike across the soft sandy bay had to have been at least a kilometer and the footing was quite difficult.

Somehow we found people swimming further out in the freezing incoming waves. This I do not understand but they seem to be enjoying themselves.

The hike back was just as tough in the soft sand but Silver Strand, surrounded by mountains, still held surprises for us.

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Rain and the family tree

We’ve posted dozens of gloriously sunny photos while simultaneously complaining about the weather. You may have found this confusing. It’s Ireland and we expect rain but it turns out this is the wettest July on record. We were lulled into complacency by a near perfect June, and July took us completely by surprise. Shorts and T-shirts we unpacked on the solstice got packed away again by the Fourth of July.

We’ve not only had rainy days but some hellacious storms as well, when we’ve had to seek shelter from fierce winds and squall lines. The weather affected our intended counterclockwise circumnavigation such that our track is looking like an ornery child’s scribble.

Whenever we get a few hours of blue sky we dash to the nearest point of interest and do our best to make the most of the sunshine. That’s how we still manage to snap some beautiful photographs despite weather that even the Irish are grousing about.

What’s shocking to us, as sailors and perpetual weather watchers, is that we can have clear blue skies with barely a hint of a puffy cloud one minute, and mere moments later we’re socked in with low dense clouds and rain that might be light or heavy, for ten minutes or three hours. There’s just no predicting it.

The next three shots are time-stamped one minute apart. That’s how quickly it changes.

Luckily, as sailors we’re practiced at hunkering down and finding bad weather things to do. Longtime readers know I like to spend time on family history research and while I’ve had no luck scaring up anything useful on my own ancestors, we find ourselves this rainy July in County Mayo, birthplace of my son’s paternal great-grandfather. That’s a good enough place to start.

As I was poking around an old churchyard one drizzly day, a local man asked what I was up to. I told him who I was looking for and he directed me to a different cemetery.

“Keep walking down the road past the cemetery,” he said, and he gave me directions to the home of the custodian of the historical cemetery records.

“She’ll help you out,” he assured me.

I followed his directions and met this beautiful lady. Her name is Rose and when I explained my mission she sat me down in her kitchen and produced the burial records.

As we looked for the right people, we talked about the family. She knew them all and gave me the rundown on who belongs to whom, who went to America, who stayed here. She told me where to find the existing graves, then on impulse put me in her car and drove me all over the townland pointing out the ancestral homes, the church, the school they attended.

I spent a delightful couple of hours in Rose’s company and learned a lot about the McDonnell clan. She thought the original marriage and baptism records were at the church but said the priest is away until next week. That’s my week sorted.

Back at the cemetery Jack was amusing himself watching Formula 1 and I broke the news that we’ll have to hang around for a few days until Father Stephen returns on Wednesday.

No worries. The soggy weather continued and we found a quiet parkup by a lough, and I visited the local library, too.

When Father Stephen returned I met him at the church, the same church where Drew’s great-grandfather was baptized, perhaps in this very font. (The mosaic floor, of course, is new.) I was too excited to remember to photograph the priest in his vestment, but after he changed he took me to the residence where he keeps the parish records in a small anteroom at the entrance. He had other churches to visit, so he left me alone with the records, invited me to stay as long as I liked, and asked me to lock the door when I left.

I wish I’d had the same luck with my own family but I’m happy I was able to see where Drew’s Irish people come from. And so is he.

We’re eager to move on. There’s more of County Mayo to explore and it looks like there might be a break in the weather.

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The story of the broken fort

Today’s parkup features a gorgeous seaside cliff view with a long, gentle grassy slope up towards tomorrows adventure. The day dawned unusually sunny but with the usual stiff breeze. Along the cliff we found a blowhole covered with a much appreciated huge steel grate to keep us funseekers from falling a hundred or so feet down into the ocean.

The ocean views only improved as we climbed the hill along this craggy coast.

Reaching a plateau, we came upon an otherworldly area that had what can only be described as strange puffy pockets of grassy turf.

So springy, it was as though they were filled with foam rubber or air pockets, making it extremely difficult to walk on.

Hilking through this area one feels like a drunken sailor or as if walking through the funhouse at an amusement park. Turns out the pockets are filled with spongy sphagnum moss which absorbs quite a bit of water, and is not the most secure feeling when walking on the edge of a cliff in gusty wind but a thrillseeker’s got to do what a thrillseeker’s got to do.

We’ve seen “Eire 80” spelled out in huge letters and numbers, laid out on Malin Head, also a conspicuous headland, and we’re told they’re to inform airplanes that Ireland is neutral, they are about to enter Irish airspace and — I’m going to make a leap here — it also means YOU ARE HERE at “Eire 64.” We have no drone. Use your imagination.

What differentiates this sea stack from others we’ve seen is that the ruins of an ancient residence still exists on the surface of the sea pillar.

As part of its fortifications, a natural land bridge once spanned the 80 meters to mainland Downpatrick Head. In 1393 a hurricane washed the land bridge away falling the 50 meters down into the North Atlantic leaving families stranded on the new sea pillar island. Eventually they had to be evacuated, rescued using ship’s ropes. Of course the Irish being Irish there are always going to be more than a few myths or folk tales about how the land bridge fell: mythical ogres and such. Even St. Patrick, livid that he couldn’t convert Chief Crom Dubh to Christianity, clove the land bridge with his shepherd’s crook and left him to starve to death on the newly created “island.” A believe-or-die kind of proposition.

No, I agree he doesn’t look that fierce, really almost meek, but I suppose we all have a dark side.

Continuing to the end of Downpatrick Head we find more religious zeal in the form of a sport I call high altitude fishing while clinging to cliffs in a stiff breeze, at a vertigo-inducing height.

Retracing our path back down the hill we found another major blowhole fed with a 400 foot tunnel from the ocean.

It seems that during the 1798 rebellion 25 rebels hid in this tunnel while the British scoured the area. Unfortunately the rebels were trapped and drowned at high tide.

With that grizzly scene replaying through my mind we reached Escape Velocity and I noticed a brilliant flash of light at the top of the mountain across the bay, the same mountain we will cross tomorrow. I’d seen it before. It reminded me of the bright reflection of sunlight that sometimes you see off a car mirror or the glint off an airplane window, but this was randomly flashing brilliantly from the same spot. I focused the binoculars on the source and, if I didn’t know any better, I’d guess that sticking up over the top of the mountain was a pyramid! Turns out it is. We had blunderstumbled onto the welcome center for the world famous (but previously unknown to us) Ceide Fields complex.

At 5,500 years old, Ceide Fields is oldest known field system in the world. The site is queued up for admission to UNESCO World Heritage status.

Stone walls delineated every field for miles around the mountainside indicating a complex farming community. Bog began to encroach on the fields and eventually covered most of it. In these local conditions the bog, usually very slow growing, covered the site at the rate of about a meter per thousand years. Eventually the site was abandoned and forgotten until a farmer in the 1930’s discovered a buried stone wall while cutting turf.

Once again no one knows why or exactly when the fields were abandoned but the only way to find the stone walls now is by probing the turf with a long metal rod until they hit the top of a wall. In this way scientists are mapping the fields without disturbing the landscape.

Two rare insectivorous plants grow here.
That’s Downpatrick Head in the distance.

Get a deeper dive into Ceide Fields here.

Sweet dreams from Downpatrick Head

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Tonight’s parkup features beautiful Lough Glencar, which pales before the magnificent green Truskmore mountains that surround us. Unfortunately the parking lot is nearly as slanted as the mountains. Note to self, buy better ramps.

We’ve scheduled a full slate for today so do endeavor to keep up.

We’d noticed a cute cafe just across the road and in the morning found it, wait for it…closed for breakfast. On the way we noticed a sign that pointed toward a waterfall. I like a good waterfall but opportunity waits for no one so breakfast will have to.

We’re heading for a real crowd pleaser this morning called the Great Horseshoe loop. If getting there is just half the fun I’m not sure I can take much more.

The scale of this bowl shaped valley is impossible to wrap your head around. It’s so magnificent that sound hasn’t a chance to disturb the tranquility of the place. It just dissipates like vapor on a hot day.

And what is the deal with this large mysterious house out in the middle of all this magnificent loneliness?

And why are 30 or so souls (discreetly not shown) gathered around a guy who looks like he is going over a clipboard with statistics and a drawing of property borders? Is this building ripe for developers? Or have I just read this wrong?

Regardless, we pressed on with the Great Horseshoe Loop but soon found we were off the map and lost again.

Google and the gods of GPS found us and we laid a course for what is billed as a megalithic cemetery in Carrowmore. Access to the site, or should I say sites, is through the gift shop and a small visitor center which repeated the mantra: no one knows who they were or what they were doing there. Yes, no one knows who did this or how they did this, or why they did this but it might have been, in this case, just fancy head stones.

I guess these people had little else beside land because by today’s standards, where everyone is jammed in on top of one another, this huge plot of ground contained just 30 odd generous sites. It was a hike just to get to the first small numbered site.

By the time we reached the Big Kahuna in the large stone ring on top of the hill, we were already considering how far away the parking lot is.

Looks like a pet rock cemetery in here.

Marce found a nice little parkup in Knocknarea up on Strand Hill. Early reports boast of a fine coffee/hot chocolate vendor on site. However it was not made clear to Yours Truly that a well known mountain hike up to another massive stone cairn, the largest in Europe, might be in the offing. Before I could protest I found myself wobbling up a 5,000 year old, ankle-breaking stone path, having lost with my lame arguments about how it looks like it might rain, and isn’t it kind of late Hon, don’t you think? Never lead with a question!

You have no idea where the climb will end and it’s so steep that occasionally rudimentary rough steps are cut into the mountain or rocks are placed as steps. I will say that as we slowly make altitude the view improves with every step. It’s just that there are so many steps, and so very steep.

We begin to take short rests just bending over where we stand, and even the occasional bench shows up.

This climb is a tough one.

Finally we begin to see the very tip of the rocky top of what is known as the 5,000 year old Maeve’s Cairn.

It’s a very large round pile of rocks, approximately 15m tall and 55m in diameter. It’s a lot of rocks.

A possible rule #3 violation: no long hikes without a worthwhile payoff.

By this point just walking around it was exhausting but we could see several paths leading off in every direction with plaques that state how far and what kind of monument one might find at the end of that path. Color my mood just too tired to care.

And then the heavens opened up and proved me right, but wet.

Heading down in the rain proved to be a slippery proposition.

All those slick rocks and wet grass became treacherous, but with gravity assist we made it down. Secure in the knowledge that we’d earned a bit of a rest, the heavens really opened up in earnest. It’s probably just as well that I had no Johnnie Walker with which to celebrate. We’re not going anywhere tonight.

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Don’t call it a parade

Sharp-eyed readers will note that we haven’t posted for a long time. This is my fault (Marce.) It fell to me to write about the event below, and I struggled to find an approach that expressed our true feelings about the experience while avoiding offending anyone. The effort led to complete writer’s paralysis and delayed any continued blogging about our experiences in Ireland.

When we sought guidance from Irish friends the advice most often given was “just skip it.” We could have done that but Jack and I both feel that the blog is a chronicle of our life rather than a travelogue, or at least that’s what we meant it to be from the beginning. It’s for us, not for our readers. In the end, I came to the conclusion that worrying about what our readers may think is exactly the wrong approach.

And so, perhaps a little more truncated and diplomatic than I would normally be, here’s a story from July. And this should remove the roadblock and get the blog rolling again.

7 October 2023

We waffled a lot about whether to duck back into Northern Ireland to experience Orangemen’s Day on July 12th. We strive to remain neutral in political issues in the countries we visit and we’re concerned that attending a march will imply support. On the other hand, we reasoned, who doesn’t love a parade, especially one with fifty bands? It was the promise of marching bands that convinced us to go to Ballinamallard. That and the need to swap out a propane tank with UK fittings.

We made a reconnaissance run the night before the march in search of the VIP viewing stand or any obvious place to watch from, and the food booths. We found nothing except a few Union Jacks and a couple of benches commemorating the recent coronation.

By the time we finished our second cup of coffee on the 12th the Ballinamallard football club car park was beginning to fill up with marchers and musicians. The weather, predicted to be cloudy but mild, was instead windy and damp, with intermittent rain showers.

We circled the area for B-roll shots of the preparations and found that not only did most of the participants completely ignore us, but many of the older men pointedly turned away from our lenses. This was a first for us. In every place we visit, most people we ask to photograph respond with a big smile or a thumbs up. We were starting to get the impression that this is not the kind of celebratory parade we Americans grew up with, for example on the Fourth of July.

We walked into town and found a spot along a low wall across from the grocery store and beside the church. It seemed as good a place as any and we could sit, always a bonus.

When the parade started we were focused on the musicians and it was only later that we realized the bands aren’t the point of the march, but rather each band heralds the officers of their lodge of the Orangemen.

It was a long and rather joyless parade. The bands were not the kind of marching bands we expected but rather usually made up of one or two instruments (accordions, flute and drum) and the same few tunes were played over and over, all in march tempo: Jesus Loves Me, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Nearer My God To Thee, Tipperary. One rogue band offered the only levity in the hours-long event by playing Sweet Caroline, a song Jack pointed out was written by an American Jew.

There was no viewing stand, the bands didn’t “perform” in the way we expected and we came to understand that the march is a show of strength as much as a celebration of victory at the Battle of the Boyne as it’s billed.

Scanning the spectators I’m pretty sure we were the only tourists there. And unlike everywhere else we’ve been no one asked us where we were from or welcomed us or thanked us for coming. It may have been my imagination but I felt that we were considered with suspicion rather than interest. We have never felt more like outsiders.

When the last Orangemen passed, we had no desire to follow them to the grounds where there would be prayers and speeches. We couldn’t shake our disappointment. Our expectations and the reality couldn’t have been more different and we trudged back through town to the van where we had lunch and waited until the traffic cleared enough to extricate EV from the car park and head south.


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Always a flight risk

Yes, we’ve been lolly-gagging in this general area of Ireland for what seems like ages. After complaining that we really hadn’t heard much in the way of local music, an old sailing friend swore that a July 12th demonstration, or march as they refer to it, was not to be missed, and to just think of it as a fun show. As it happens, there’s one scheduled not too far away in Ballinamallard. We can wait around for that.

Still, there’s always something to see in Ireland and, as anyone can see, our track at can only be described as drunken wanderings. Always a flight risk, apparently we Escapees really need goals and strict adult supervision. Nevertheless I thought I might have a word with you about what we’ve been up to while waiting for the parade in Ballinamallard, while still trying not to wander too far away.

We’d been waiting for the police to find the missing person who disappeared at Slieve League so the mountain would reopen and we could visit the cliffs, but it was more than a week before they found a body and declared it a homicide and by that time we had moved on.

After a brief stop to exchange an empty LPG tank with UK fittings for a rather pricy full tank we soldiered on and, while it wasn’t raining, we thought we’d get reacquainted with the megalithic world at Drumskinney Stone Circle.

The sheer number of stone circles, cairns, and alignments spread over these many acres begs the question, “Who did this, why did they do this, and what does all this mean?” It’s awfully quiet on the answer side of things.

With the resumption of the classic on again, off again light Irish rain, we took to Escape Velocity to enjoy a circuitous forest drive up to a stunning parkup high above Lough Swilly on the Urris Hills.

The following morning dawned sunny and still, only disturbed by 50 or so Audi enthusiasts, determined to shoehorn their cars into our small car park on top of the mountain. We went for a hike.

I’ve noticed aggressive speed bumps bolted all over many car parks in Ireland and I’m beginning to understand why. About the time we got back from our hike the Audis took turns leaving with a burn-out and a horn toot, just as mysteriously as they came. Nobody knows who they were or what they were doing there.

We decided on a change in altitude and Marce found a charming riverside parkup on Lower Lough Erne with a small dock, toilets, and — be still my heart — showers, with enough sunshine to get these photos.

Later those beautiful clouds you see contained plenty of rain and hail which chased us off our folding chairs on the dock, and had us sprinting for EV. Apparently our sailing weather prediction skills have atrophied.

We decided to keep things at or near sea level while working our way towards Ballinamallard. Not content with just a beautiful parkup with a river view, Marce found a place that included an unsolved mystery. I was concerned with the narrow access road that wound its way through dense trees and scrub along the shoreline.

Really it was little more than a path. Sure enough, at the end we found a tiny car park with one of the few trash receptacles in all of Ireland, filled to overflowing with beer cans. Not a good sign.

Taking a walk we noticed a small old rough concrete pier with a municipal looking number on a post right in front of it.

Turns out there are several dozen of the narrow 20 foot long piers with a small T at the end of each, equally spaced and numbered, all along the waterfront.

No one knows who they were, why they did this, or what it all means.

If it’s true that every rain drop that falls on you is a teardrop you’ll never have shed, we should be in good nick this morning for our drive to Ballinamallard.

We have to navigate all the way through town to get to our reasonably priced mid town parkup for the weekend. We found ourselves immediately diverted upon entering town but somehow stumbled back onto the road toward the parkup. No harm no foul, but I’ve never seen such a large empty and barren gravel lot that was supposed to be the rendezvous fall-in central party area for all the bands.

Told to park anywhere, I chose a spot near the front gate but when I realized they were setting up an outdoor beer bar and we’d be directly between the port-a-loo and the beer, we moved to the back of the empty lot. We weren’t born yesterday.

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Poised for Greatness

As we serpentined our way through Donegal suddenly there was trouble. Barriers blocked our way with the only explanation a small sign that read “traffic diverted.” Google said we were poised for greatness with just a few circuitous blocks to go before we reached the bottom of town where we expected to find a longish strip of a parkup on the River Eske . Just our luck and now this, but we persevered and stumbled back onto the intersection just as it joined the parkup entrance. The next problem was that the parkup was apparently all parked up, looking more like a used RV dealership than a public parking lot.

We slowly trundled through the blinding white sea of aluminum motor homes when just as I was searching for a plan B, I saw it. A small camper van had just vacated a last chance parking space, probably tired of walking so far into town. I admit that I had to jog Escape Velocity back and forth, sometimes making scant progress, sometimes not at all. It was incredibly tight in this lot filled with oversized vehicles, most of which were proud of their designated parking space.

I thought I’d take an orientation walk around the lot, eventually running into an explanation for the crowds and traffic. Welcome to the Donegal Summer FunFest, read a large poster at the entrance to the car park. Live music, vender carts, Celtic classic car meet, special savings at the pubs, even, my personal favorite, face painting were some of the fun filled activities listed, while this vaguely Nordic looking dude points menacingly at Main Street Donegal.

We took his suggestion and headed up towards this charming hamlet.

Dodging the obligatory Irish rain shower or two, we located the stage in the center of town where a fun band called The Tumbling Paddies were knocking out what we’ve found to be a strange worldwide phenomenon, John Denver’s “Country Roads.” Seriously, we’ve heard energetic renditions of this sing-along ditty from Zanzibar to Kathmandu, Thailand to Tasmania and beyond. We’re no longer surprised, we just wait for it.

Back at Escape Velocity we found her inadvertently taking part in a Morgan auto show.

We couldn’t leave Donegal without a tour through the ruins of Donegal Abby which is conveniently located at the end of our parkup.

Turns out the parkup at the end of Donegal was actually centrally located.

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Look but don’t touch

I’ve often felt that the Irish road system was like a hierarchical circulatory system without any evidence of an aorta, a bare minimum of arteries, a fair number of veins, and RV drivers have to fend for themselves on the capillaries. Today we capillaried our way to the Malin Beg headlands, Ireland’s most northernly point, where we were assured to expect a semi level parkup with stunning views, sunny beaches, pleasant hikes, and as a bonus, a Napoleonic era signal tower.

In the US there’s almost always a town in every state that bills itself as “Upside down world” where up feels like down or a ball rolls uphill and everything is magnetic. This parkup was so tilted — or maybe it was the lay of the land surrounding it — that was so discombobulated that it was quite disorienting and every time one of us spotted what looked like a level looking space we’d drive over, park only to find it 4 or 5 degrees off level.

We have an iPhone with an app that gives what we’d thought was an accurate digital readout when left on the floor of the van. I’m beginning to wonder if it works at all. As I’ve said before, we’ve become quite adroit at spotting the most level space in a given lot, but this place has us considering agonizing reappraisals of our skill level. Honestly, we tried them all and even with the help of ramps we were living at a 2.5° deficit. At a 2° tilt things like refrigeration doesn’t seem to work as well in Escape Velocity.

Regardless we’re here for the night but first a hike to the old signal tower was in the offing so it was boots, poles, and due to the wind speed, caps.

There was nothing posted that would help guide us to a trail to the tower. Truth be told we never made it out to the headlands either.

We passed by an awesome flight of stairs that led hundreds of feet down to the beautiful beach below but with respect to rule #3 we are not going to swim in ice cold water, especially in this wind, we can see it very well from up here, thank you, and that’s a lot of steps.

We followed fences through a grassy sheep poop infused path till we came upon this sign .

Now we know that 90 something percent of the time this is not connected to anything electrical but, just the same… Still, this is a beautiful place even though it seems you can’t get out to the headlands. You can still photograph it, you just can’t touch it

Tomorrow we have a serious mountain pass to cross and a waterfall to check out on our way to Donegal. By the way, for you mystery buffs, Slieve League is still closed. No body found yet.

We’ve an old Irish city to navigate to find a parkup. It’s sometimes chock-a-block with campers. Wish us luck.

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