Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the tag “Travel”

How Did They Do That Without Fred And Barney?

NO MATTER HOW MUCH I TRY I have trouble relating to things that are 5000 years old. There aren’t a lot of those things around, at least not in my neighborhood. I’m as close as it comes. It was just the other day that my ability to relate to things older than Sophia Loren was put to the test.

One of those places that everyone should visit if you are coming to Ireland is Newgrange. It is a U.N. World Heritage Site and is only about an hour north of Dublin. Once there you will be greeted by something to make your jaw drop. 

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This Is No Way To Treat A Nervous System

 

IF THERE WAS ONE THING I COULD SAY ABOUT IRISH ROADS IT WOULD BE THAT ONE THING IS NOT ENOUGH. I NEED MORE.

Much like the roads back in the U.S. most roads in Ireland have a number designation, but they also have a Letter attached and that is where the story really gets told.

At the top of the bill are the “M” Roads. The “M11” or the “M7” as an example are super-duper ultra modern divided highways. In Ireland a divided highway is called a “Dual Carriageway.” These roads are in much better condition and better laid out than anything on the American Interstate System.

A slight notch below the “M” Roads are the “N” Highways. These are also excellent roads where you make good time at 120 kph or about 70 mph. They are a good way to travel about the country.

Now, it is on the “R” roads where everything starts to fall apart.

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Rolling After The Rock

MAYBE I AM GETTING OLD, BUT GETTING UP AND WALKING JUST ISN’T AS GRAND AS IT USED TO BE. I had that change pushed in my face this week.

We loaded up the car on a fine Irish morning (That means it wasn’t raining as hard as it was last night.) and headed out from Enniscorthy to play tourist. Our destination was about a 90 minute drive away. We were going to revisit “The Rock of Cashel,” an ancient Royal Castle perched high on a hilltop with a commanding view of the countryside. Anyone with plans of conquest would come around the curve in the road and see that humoungus Fortress Castle up there and think, “Perhaps we should forget this and just go to the beach. We could get a shrimp roll maybe.”

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Connecting All The Way To Disconnect

OH, SWEET JESUS, I DON’T KNOW HOW THEY DID IT. 

Our traveling companions arrived more or less on schedule, but it was a schedule that appears to have been designed by the travel agency of the Marquis de Sade…on a bad day…when his feet hurt.

The “Cousins from Alaska” were coming to Ireland for the first time trusting us and our judgment as to the best way to get from Anchorage, Alaska to Dublin, Ireland without going mad.

No matter how you slice it if you live in Alaska going anywhere takes some serious planning.

For them to get to Dublin their itinerary read something like this: Fly from Anchorage to Seattle. Just about all flights from Anchorage go through Seattle. A layover in Seattle of several hours. Then fly from Seattle to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Several hour layover in Minneapolis. The next leg was the biggie. They then boarded an Aer Lingus plane for the trip nonstop to Dublin overnight. They landed in Dublin at 8:45 AM local time. This made for an amassed time change of NINE HOURS. Their internal alarm clocks must have been screaming by this time.

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Pick Up In Aisle Seven

WE GET ON A PLANE AND FLY ACROSS THE OCEAN to another country where we expect things to be different and they are in many ways. Despite this thought there is a mountain of ways where the differences are merely cosmetic at best.

Back home in HoosierLand (AKA Indiana) when I have the need to go grocery shopping I just hop into the Toyota Stretch Limo and zip down the street to the Kroger Supermarket. In Ireland the differences are minimal. Instead of Kroger we go into the Tesco Supermarket where I can find everything I need. It might take a bit of a search, but I can find it all eventually. I go to Kroger and I leave happy. I go to Tesco and I leave happy.

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We Have Lift Off

WE ARE DOWN TO THE WIRE. We take off tomorrow for a very long day of travel…waiting…more travel and a landing in Dublin at 8:30 AM local time in Ireland. Then comes the not so much fun part of our trip – getting the rental car and relearning to drive on the left side of the road in a car with the wheel on the right side. (There will be moments of screaming for the first twenty minutes.)

Our first destination will be in the town of Enniscorthy. We will have it to ourselves for the first few days until “The Cousins” arrive from anchorage, Alaska. Then we morph into tour guides/relatives. Our first attraction to show them will probably be a Tesco Extra supermarket – a true sight to behold with the 37 different flavors of Potato Chips (Crisps) and to join us in the Applesauce Hide and Seek Treasure Hunt in the store.

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I’m Packing It In

 

WE ARE GOING TO BE HEADING OFF FOR IRELAND IN A FEW DAYS. I think it is time for me to begin deciding what to take and what to leave behind. My wife, the lovely and highly organized, Dawn, started her side of this process in 1973 give or take a day. We tend to operate at different speeds.

I’m not saying that my way is right or hers wrong. No. No. No. I think it is just a difference in the basic structure of our genders.

I have spoken to a number of men and women about this topic of packing for a trip and the answers have been running consistently along gender lines.

The Question is: How and what do you pack for a week-long trip?

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I’ll Eat It, I Just Don’t Know What It Is.

 

IF YOU’VE DONE ANY TRAVELING IN THE UNITED STATES IN THE LAST TWENTY YEARS I’m sure that you have encountered something redundantly called the “Complimentary Free Breakfast.”

At more and more hotels the Free Breakfast has become almost unavoidable. The big chains, such as Holiday Inn, Marriott, and a dozen others trot out the hot trays every morning to feed their guests between 6 to 9 AM. During those hours you can see the early risers slumped over their plates of eggs, sausage, and potatoes.

While I admit to being among that crowd on most mornings I am doing so for mainly medicinal purposes. Every morning I have my own buffet of medications that I take to stay alive and I am obligated to have something in my tummy to buffer the explosion when the pills kick in. So, I head down to the hotel lobby and the “Complimentary Free Breakfast.”

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Ch – Ch – Ch – Ch – Changes

 

BRACE YOURSELF – A CHANGE IS ON THE WAY! It is a temporary change to be sure, but a change nonetheless.

Starting in about a week or two…or three you will notice that the Monday through Friday (Excluding Thursday) postings will be coming from Ireland. We are heading off for another excursion to the Land with Forty Shades of Green.

This will be our fifth trip to Ireland since 2006. We will be there for five weeks returning to the States in early November. By that time I will be completely exhausted, chilled to the bone, and not at all in any kind of “Holiday Mood.”

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Drinking And Driving Can Go Together

 

I HAVE SEEN IT ALL NOW! Just when I think I have it all figured out and understand what is what and who is who, and what I can expect in my daily experience – Life throws me a curve.

My wife, the lovely and equally amazed, Dawn, were in Cincinnati last week. That, in and of itself, is nothing worthy of amazement. Cincinnati is, after all,…Cincinnati. If you’ve seen one fast food chili shop, you’ve seen ‘em all. But then we saw something that stopped us in our comfortably shod tracks.

We had stopped into a Kroger Supermarket to replenish our “Goodies” supply. Our shopping cart wobbled up and down each aisle ending up over near the Deli department and the in-store mini-St. Arbucks.

That is where we saw it.

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Is That Too Much ?

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN. After two weeks in Texas I’m back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “There is nothing in the fridge.”) and trying to sleep through the night again after being in a strange bed.

The luggage hasn’t had the chance to cool off and plans are underway for the next test of my ability to digest the food and water of another part of the globe. This time the passports are aimed at Ireland for a five to six week stay.

Do I enjoy Ireland? Very much. Do I enjoy being away from comfortable and familiar surroundings? Not so much anymore. Somehow I have suddenly become an old man and my adventuresome spirit has dimmed. There was a time when I would go anywhere at any time with less than a moment’s notice. Now I have a need to sit in a chair that knows my shape and sleep in a bed where I can be warm and where I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark.

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On This August Occasion

My Name Was Augustus. My Finger Hurts.

HOW IN THE WORLD DID IT GET TO BE AUGUST ALREADY? I just got the Christmas decorations down and now I have to start shopping for Halloween candy. I’m certainly not going to give any of it away to those grubby little kids who’ll come knocking on my door, but if you want to get any of the really good candy you’d better start shopping early.

August is one of those “in-between” kinds of months. It doesn’t have any big holidays to speak of. Oh, sure, the third of August is “National Grab Some Nuts Day” and on the 8th we all celebrate “National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day,” but Hallmark doesn’t put out a line of special cards for either holiday, do they?

In July the whole country goes up in smoke with the 4th of July shindigs and in September kids go back to school and millions of parents celebrate until they get so smashed that they make little brothers and sisters for the kids who are already in school. August just doesn’t have anything to compare to that.

I rest my case.

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It Is Not As Easy As It Looks

 

SEND OUT THE SEARCH DOGS I THINK I’M LOST. My surroundings look familiar, but different. Nothing is where I know it should be. I have never been as disoriented as I am on this trip into an unfamiliar supermarket. Help me!

I am so comfortable in my own personal Kroger store. I could find my way through that store blindfolded, but when we are down south in Texas I am sent figuratively naked and afraid into the Terra Incognita of the local H.E.B grocery store.

(For those of you residing outside of Texas – “H.E.B.” are the initials of the founder of the chain of stores strewn across the state. They don’t stand for anything like “Hellaciously Evil Brotherhood.”)

Trying to find my favorite bagels or canned soup in the H.E.B. is beyond my ability. The odds are somewhere on the side favoring me finding the Ark of the Covenant first. It can’t be done. They don’t carry the brand of bagels that I like anyway and in the soup aisle nothing looks like anything I want in my favorite Hopalong Cassidy bowl at lunchtime.

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Look! Up In The Sky!

WHEN YOU GOTTA GO…

Half of the Internet, it seems to me, is filled with photos and video clips of the most extraordinary things: mysterious creatures that look a lot like ET, time traveling people from the future all using cell phones in 1920 and UFOs here, there, and everywhere. I look at these things and I am filled with enough doubt to float Judge Judy. Seeing all of this nonsense makes it really difficult when I – me – myself see something that makes me say to myself, “What in the name of Robert Stack is going on here?”

I am currently down in Texas (AKA The Surface of the Sun) lollygagging about in the 99+ degree heat with humidity somewhere above 700%. Conditions like that can easily induce a Trance-Like State (Other than Nevada) where you might see things that aren’t really there. Such is the situation where I find myself these sunlit and heat distorted days.

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A Mistake On The Lake No More

THINGS CHANGE OVER FORTY YEARS. Me? I know that I’ve changed.  I’m more handsome – Dashing even. Of course, my eyesight has deteriorated a bit over the years as well. I must rely on the opinions and observations of others…mainly family, friends, and people who are paid to say flattering things; barbers, tailors, and car dealers.

Cities also change. I moved out of Cleveland in 1978 and my recent visit proved to be like going to a city I’ve never seen before. I recognized street names, but in the intervening decades those streets have been rerouted, shortened, lengthened, and built up beyond my ability to remember anything at all.

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Screaming In The Rain

IF THERE IS ONE WAY TO SPEND A DAY that can make you contemplate several versions of crimes ending in “icide” it is driving from Terre Haute, Indiana (That’s French for “Road Work Ahead”) to Cleveland, Ohio. I’ll save you some time here – its 391.8 miles according to Google.

The most direct route from Point TH to Point C is via Interstate 70 to Columbus, Ohio, and then by Interstate 71 north to your final destination – The Marriott Whatchamacallit in Cleveland. There is only one – no – make that two flaws in that plan.

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Throwback Thursday from June 2016 – “The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death”

The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death

Lag 2QUESTION OF THE DAY – What is the difference between Jet Lag and death?

I’m going to have to think about that for a while – as soon as I am able to think again.

(Musical Interlude while brain cells attempt to realign themselves. This could take awhile.)

OK – let’s try to answer the question before the assembly – “What is the difference between JetLag 4 Lag and Death?

It is said about Death that “You can’t take it with you.” The same thing can be said about Jet Lag – in particular if you are flying with United Airlines. You may check two pieces of luggage, but you can’t take them both to your destination. Two bags checked in Dublin with Aer Lingus, the Irish national air carrier, sent to Washington DC along with our bodies. In Washington, however, is where United enters the picture – they get one bag, but for some reason the second bag, that looks just like the first one, mystified them to the point that they left it in the bowels of Dulles Airport while putting the bag number one neatly in the cargo hold of our flight to Indianapolis.

It took us two and a half hours to get through security in Dublin. They even photographed our bags and got them to the correct plane. I suppose that the one hour layover in Washington and the task of taking both bags from one plane to another was too vexing for them. Oh well, after luggage_large_1xfiling the proper missing luggage report with “Untied” Airlines we received an email from them celebrating the fact that they have found our bag – in the bowels of Dulles Airport – and that they will be delivering it to our home today. They are going to have someone drive to Terre Haute (That’s French for, “We don’t need no stinking baggages.”) to deliver our wayward suitcase. And Wall Street wonders why airlines suck as investments.

Still trying to find the differences between Jet Lag and Death.

Well, how do I feel today after 8 hours of flying and a five time zone shift? I feel disembodied. It is as if I am seeing the world from about three inches to my left and nothing seems to fit into the frame.

Never having died I cannot truly compare the two on this aspect. Death is the ultimate in being “disembodied,” of that there can be no doubt. Yet here I am feeling the way I do in addition to the fact that my feet hurt today. I’ve never heard of that being a side effect of Death, but who knows? Not me. Maybe the late Dr. Scholl knows, but he’s not talking.

We arrived home from our trip at about 10 PM. It had already been a 22 hour day. I went to bed. My eyes popped open (something else that rarely happens in Death) at about 5:45 AM and I knew that attempting to roll over and go back to sleep would be futile. So, I did the perfectly normal thing – I got up, dressed, made out a shopping list and went off to the Kroger store. After Lag 3seven weeks there was nothing left in the fridge that anyone wanted to eat.

There I was tooling around Kroger’s at a little past six in the morning detouring around clerks who were trying to stock the shelves. Shopping at that time of day is surreal – or at least it was for me in my altered state. While looking over the “Jams and Jellies” selections I wondered if this was what Purgatory was like – looking for Peach Jam, but finding nothing but Apricot. Eternal browsing and perpetual frustration.

After rereading the above I am beginning to arrive at the rather sketchy conclusion that there just might not be any substantial difference between Jet Lag and Death. Maybe Jet Lag is like a Temporary Death and Death is like a state of Neverending Jet Lag. And behind it all is United Airlines playing Hide and Seek with our luggage. I’m going back to bed.

Lag 1

Searching For The Saint

ON THE MORNING OF THE THIRD DAY – in Adrian, Michigan a small open window of opportunity presented itself. From about 9:30 until Noon I was free to pursue my main personal goal for this trip. I was determined to get myself a decent cup of coffee…and maybe do a little writing on a story I’ve been wrestling with for a month. From 9:30 until Noon, two and a half hours, 150 minutes. Not much time, but better than a kick in the chronograph.

How was I going to achieve this lofty goal?

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “A Starlit Night”

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “A Starlit Night”

IT IS ALMOST MIDNIGHT AND THERE IS STILL LIGHT IN THE SKY. 1The horizon is sharply dividing the ocean from the sky and the crescent moon is reflected off of the water.

The last few nights have been overcast here in Glencolumbcille in County Donegal, but not tonight. Tonight the clouds have melted away and we have our eyes looking upward, taking in the blanket of stars.

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Our home in Glencolumbcille

Jupiter is large and bright, and untwinkling. It stands out like a lantern among the shimmering stars around it. The Big Dipper points the way to Polaris, The North Star. Castor and Pollex stand in line, but Orion and his belt are still below the horizon.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

Spending a week or two in a foreign land is one thing, but going for seven weeks changes the way you see and do things.

Being in Ireland brings to mind an old quote from, I forget whom – Maybe Mark Twain, maybe Winston Churchill, maybe the Spice Girls,- that noted that, “The U.S. and the U.K. (forgive me if I lump Ireland into that mix) are two great nations separated by a common language.” I say this because, just as at home, there is more than one accent in play. It all depends on what part of the country you are in and your social status.

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