Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Travels with Dad: Cliff at the Cliffs

Lovely weather, but windy and cold on the cliffs!
My Dad's name is Cliff. So a stop at the Cliffs of Moher was certainly in order while we were in Ireland.

Now Dad doesn't get around so well, anymore. He can walk with a cane for balance just about the length of a parking lot to a sanctuary without getting too winded, but beyond that, he can only go for very short distances without stopping for a breather. Which is why we have rented a wheelchair for us to use when we stop at a tourist attraction that requires a lot of walking.

The Cliffs of Moher require, as you might guess from the background of that top picture, a LOT of walking. I will give the people who lead, plan, and manage the attraction big marks for making it as handicap-friendly as possible. What they have not managed so well is the placement of the wheelchair ramps. Specifically the steep angles at which they rise and decline. To use a wheelchair at the Cliffs of Moher you either have to rent two strapping young lads to power the thing, or be pushing a hamster.

We did neither of those things, so our time at the Cliffs was not as extensive nor as enjoyable as it could have been. However, to be fair, I realize that this is nature right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and there's only so much terraforming possible to accommodate the tourists and maintain your environmental responsibility to the Cliffs' natural majesty. So Dad enjoyed what he could and, as you can see, he did get a pretty good look at things. We payed our respects to this wonderful piece of Irish geography, payed even more with a gaggle of souvenirs at the gift shop, and took our leave. A few more pictures, as always, are at my Facebook Page.


From the Cliffs, we made an all-too-brief stop at St. Brigid's Well, which is a sacred place of quiet contemplation in a cemetery behind a pub. Quite lovely and peaceful, really. I would have enjoyed it more had I not missed the turn and not seeing a place to turn around quickly, I stopped in the middle of the road, backed up, pulled forward, backed up, pulled forward, backed up, and finally was able to complete the turnaround. All under the watchful eyes of a lorry driver, who patiently put on his hazard lights for the motorists behind while he enjoyed the show. To be fair, there wasn't ANY traffic on the road when I began this foolhardy maneuver.

At any rate, we eventually found ourselves in Lahinch, where we met the daughter of my good friend Tim - Amy - and her toddler daughter Estlin. Because you can't go all the way to Ireland and not stop to see someone you know from back home.

I had known Amy as a young girl and had watched her grow up into a lovely, charming, and intelligent young woman. She eventually found herself living in Portland, Oregon, where she met the sister of her husband, Helen (who was here for a visit and kindly snapped this photo for us). It was through Helen that Amy and Vinnie met and their relationship blossomed into marriage and now Amy lives here in Ireland, in a nearby town, with Vinny and Estlin and they are making a happy home for themselves. By the way, Amy is one heck of a wordsmith herself and writes deeply and passionately about her life at her own blog - I Will Arise and Go Now. Recommended! And, by the way, the Cliffs of Moher are the background on her page.


Then it was a nearly three-hour drive down winding Irish roads (with a gorgeously wide 20-minute divided highway segment) on to Cork and, more specifically, the "biggest little village in Ireland," Blarney.

One word to whomever it is that plans and signposts Irish roads. You do not need this sign:
That sign, which we see every few miles, is totally superfluous. This sign is, in essence, merely a drawing of the entirety of Irish roads. It is, you could say, the natural state of things here from inside a motor vehicle. What the Irish need - really need - is this sign:
Now *that* is a sign to inspire hope, stir the heart, and bring audible sighs of relief to any who sit behind the wheel of a car on the Emerald Isle. Traffic Engineers of Ireland - make it happen!

P.S. - No washcloths in our hotel room tonight. I'm starting to think it is the main difference between a four-star hotel and a five-star hotel.


Mark's Musings is published on a semi-periodical basis that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/markmusings. Facebook link is over there to the right. This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Tomorrow: Blarney Castle!

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