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August 8, 2007

European Camp Daddy - Day 8: Dingle to Dublin

The Dingle Peninsula

Living in Ireland is like living in a dollhouse. Everything's perfectly immaculate, but mind-numbingly small. Every room is too small to serve the role it's serving. The rooms are too small and the tables too small and the plates and silverware and all. Too small.

Like Alice in Wonderland in a bad dream. I want to go back to my 4,000 square foot house in Colorado and lie down in the middle of the floor and throw grenades out into the forrest. But not yet. Not yet. For now, we're still in Ireland.

We woke up this morning in Dingle and drove across Ireland to Dublin. It's a long way. I couldn't say exactly how many kilometers it is, but we left Dingle at 10:30 and got into Dublin at 18:30. And I drove like a bat out of hell the whole way.

We were driving our rented Ford Focus from Avis. The top speed on that beast is 162 km/hr and I know because I stuck it in 5th gear and held it down until the engine nearly seized up. Jennifer was laughing like crazy. It was pretty funny, that little beater rental car and me pushing that thing for all it was worth. It has zero acceleration. You have to plan your passes well in advance. Floor it long before it's time to pull out.

Every 30 or 40 kilometers, there's another village...Killthis...Killthat...Killsomething-or-other. The road has all these signs, we have no clue what they mean. Jennifer and I would laugh hysterically when we saw them. "GO MALL" painted on the road every so often. No clue what it meant.

I figured out a lot of them, but there was one with 3 bars, then 2 bars, then 1 bar. We never did figure out what that one meant. But, I learned to navigate the round-a-bouts driving on the left. Learned to read the signs before and in the roundabouts. That took a bit, but I got it.

On the way back, Jennifer even suggested that I should take the big red "L" letters off of the car that I'd installed on the first day, as I'd learned to drive sufficiently that they were no longer needed. I was pleased that I had graduated in her eyes, but I'm not sure the other drivers would agree.

I think the roads in County Kerry were the worse we encountered on the island. Jennifer swears the roads in County Cork were worse. Either way, the roads got steadily better as we reached Dublin. By the time we were within about a hundred kilometers of Dublin, the road was a proper 4-lane highway, with a divided median and a shoulder, similar to an interstate in the United States.

That was when we really opened it up and got up to 162 km/hr. The speed limit was 120 km/hr, but I figured, "We'd better see what this little car will do while we have the opportunity" and we ran the wheels off that little car.

We were listening to some dance tracks and a group called the "Vegetable Orchestra", as I recall.

Driving in Ireland is a harrowing adventure. The next blind corner my hide a hike, a bicycler, a herd of cows or sheep, a tractor, or a tourist on the wrong side of the road. Somewhere just outside of Dingle, we encountered a herd of cows. It is very common to find a tractor driving down the road, without so much as a "Slow Moving Vehicle" (SMV) triangle on the back end. We narrowly missed countless bicycles and hikers.

The middle of the day found us in Limerick. We went to the tourist information center and all the tourist agents were on a nice long two hour lunch break in celebration of the first Monday in August. I asked Jennifer what she wanted to do and she wanted to go to a museum, so we toured the Hunt Museum for about an hour.

They had a little Treasure Hunt worksheet for her to fill out, so she went through each room of the museum, answering each of the questions. She learned the names of Gaugin and Leonardo Da Vinci. I told her we'd see more of their work in the Louvre in Paris, and she seemed excited by the idea.

"While we're on the subject, there's good news and bad news about Paris. The good news is, we won't have to do a bunch of driving around. The bad news is, they don't speak English."

"Oh. OK. Do they speak English in England, daddy?"

"Yes baby. It's hard to understand them, but they do, technically, speak English."

"Oh. OK."

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 8, 2007 at 4:45 AM


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