A Travellerspoint blog

Hawaii Day 8: 360

Today we drove the infamous Road to Hana, and took the even more infamous "back road" around Haleakala. The road has several names and numbers on its path around the island, one of which is "360," which we felt made that the perfect name for today's title.
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The first stop we encountered on the Road to Hana was Twin Falls. We hiked up to the falls, and enjoyed the jungle-like environment which was so different from the more arid west side of the island. It was very sunny, which perhaps caused us to look a bit angry in the picture above.
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Our next stop was at this beautiful grassy meadow. As beautiful as it was, it was not the reason for our stop...
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...the reason for our stop was the breathtaking rainbow eucalyptus trees that grow here. They were apparently introduced from the Philippines, and the bark takes on various colors at different stages of their growth. It creates a beautiful painted look. They are unbelievable, by far the most interesting trees we have seen.
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Shortly after, we stopped at the Kaumahina State Wayside, where we ate a picnic lunch we had packed and enjoyed the views of the beautiful Keanae Penninsula below.
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Our next stop was the Keanae Arboretum, which was beautiful and had many native and non-native trees (including more rainbow eucalyptus!)
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The many trees of the Keanae Arboretum, which was an absolutely fascinating stop. While we did encounter mosquitos, the information and opportunity to see the wide variety of plant life that thrives in this environment was well worth it.
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Our next stop was one we have been waiting for for a long time: Aunt Sandy's Banana Bread stand! It's on the Keanae Penninsula and serves banana bread, shave ice, and various types of candy and food. It is consistently mentioned as one of the best banana bread stands on Maui, along with Julia's which is on the other side of the island. We purchased some bread and a shave ice, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
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More pictures of the beautiful penninsula.
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Two attempts at a picture...it was very windy.
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Some views of Wailua, another village along the road. The church is St. Gabriel's, which doesn't appear to be in use anymore. We also stopped near here at the "Halfway to Hana" banana bread stand. We plan to do a blind taste-test between that and Aunt Sandy's.
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Our next (quick) stop: a waterfall along the way.
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The black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. We were able to get in and swim a little bit in the ocean here, although it was a little rough so we really just waded. It was a lot of fun!
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We got to the 'Ohe'o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) which were unfortunately closed. We had to decide whether to go onwards around the back side of the island, or go back through Hana, etc. We decided to go forward!
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The road was not all that scary. It was a little narrow in places, but it certainly wasn't any scarier than the roads on Achill Island in Ireland. It was an eerily and amazingly beautiful drive. It is hard to describe in words what it looked like: otherworldly, desolate, and beautiful.
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A store along the way.
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The landscape on the drive. We are incredibly glad that we came this way: it was beautiful, the road was not all that scary, and we got to see a side of Maui that most people miss.
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First glimpses of Kaho'olawe to let us know that we were back on the western side of Haleakala. It was a great relief to see where we were as it was getting dark. We knew at this point that we would get through to our side by the time it was fully dark!
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Celebrating our adventure with margaritas and a delicious dinner!

Posted by danielcatherine 03:28 Archived in USA Tagged road wailua hana keanae wainana Comments (1)

Hawaii Day 7: Wine in the House of a King

semi-overcast 83 °F

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Today, Katie and Anthony had to fly back home. We got ready a little bit earlier to take them to the airport, but thankfully their flight was at a reasonable time and we were able to have a nice breakfast. Daniel prepared one of our pineapples from the plantation tour, and Katie and Anthony went on a walk and returned with malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) from a nearby bakery. We had a nice breakfast, then helped them pack and drove to the airport. We had lunch at the same food truck court as we did on our first day, then dropped them off at the airport. Although we are excited about our next few days here, we were sad to see them go. We had a lot of fun snorkeling, hiking, and playing cards with them. It has been a wonderful trip so far.
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After dropping them off, we decided to see the town of Paia. It was an interesting little town, but seemed to consist of nothing but women's clothing shops. Eventually we found a souvenir shop where we got a print of three sea turtles.90_BBA21CA3-F..232A2F97E52.jpg90_1D921ED5-8..A1D4D63A832.jpg9FB338B3-2..B75AD6F78B1.jpg
We also found a shave ice place. Catherine got blue vanilla and fruit punch, and Daniel got "mounds," which consisted of coconut flavoring, chocolate syrup, and macadamia nut ice cream. After we finished there, we decided to go to a wine tasting at a winery that Daniel had heard about. They use Maui Gold pineapples for some of their wine, and have tastings in a building that was used as a residence by King David Kalakaua, who wrote the book Daniel is reading. It was towards the other side of the island, along the southern slopes of Haleakala, so we had to drive a little ways.
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Holy Rosary Church in Paia. It is a very beautiful church. We just happened to drive past it, but we decided to stop in and take a look. It was completely open, and there were a couple other people visiting it as well.
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Outside of the church is a shrine to St. Damian of Molokai. There is a great deal of interest in, and devotion to, this saint in Hawaii for his selfless care of the people suffering from leprosy who were housed in a colony on the island of Molokai. As we continued our way, we came upon...
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...another church! This one is amazing. It is called Holy Ghost Church, and is built in a unique octagonal style. It was the parish for the Portuguese community, who traditionally have a great devotion to the Holy Ghost.
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Pictures of the inside of the church. There is a beautiful altar, and the Stations of the Cross were carved in Europe and have inscriptions in Portuguese. The information book inside the church suggested that the octagonal shape was either based on the design of the original crown of St. Elizabeth (or Isabella) of Portugal, or simply that it was architecturally strong in the high winds the area gets.
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The dome.
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The view from the church.
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As we drove into Upcountry Maui, we started encountering mist and this verdant landscape, complete with rock walls. If it weren't for the heat and the lava rocks used for the rock walls, we would have thought we were in Ireland!
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Some views of the beautiful winery. It was a perfect place to go: it was cooler than the lower areas of the island, and the wind was more like a pleasant breeze. There were several interesting trees and other plants, and the setting was so incredibly different from the rest of the island that we've seen.
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This land belonged in the 1800s to Captain Makee, from Boston. He was friends with King Kalakaua, who at one point was his guest. It was seen as inappropriate for the king to stay in a house with commoners, so a cottage was built for the king's use on their land. This is the house, and this circle of statues sits on the stumps of the trees that ringed Kalakaua's hula grounds, where dancers would perform while he and guests watched from the porch.
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The small museum at the tasting room. The pictures show the entire story of the lands, from the first purchase by the Captain, to the King's stay, to the use of Maui wine at President Reagan's inauguration, to the present day. It was a fascinating story. They had a complimentary tasting, and we purchased a bottle of the pineapple wine.
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We had a wonderful time! Afterwards, we went back to the hotel, then got ready to go to dinner and watch the sunset in Lahaina. We went to an Italian restaurant, which had delicious pizza and bruschetta. The pictures of the sunset seem unbelievable, but they look exactly like what we actually saw. After dinner, we walked around Lahaina a bit, then stopped at a grocery store to prepare for our drive to Hana tomorrow morning!
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Posted by danielcatherine 02:32 Archived in USA Tagged churches sunset airport museum dinner cottage wine lahaina portuguese hula food_trucks shave_ice kalakaua reagan lizard_count:12 Comments (1)

Hawaii Day 6: Exploring the Island

semi-overcast 84 °F

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We started our Sunday by going to the Traditional Latin Mass in Waihe'e, which was a little bit of a drive away from where we're staying. It was nice to see a different part of the island, and the people we talked to afterwards were very friendly. It is an extremely small community. Across the street, there was a warning about some rather dangerous dogs, but thankfully we didn't encounter them.
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After we left, we went to Tasty Crust, a diner in Wailuku. It was an interesting, small place. The clientele seemed to be almost all local, and most people obviously already knew each other. Nevertheless, the service was friendly and the food was delicious.
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We had banana pancakes, linguiça, and a biscuit. Katie and Anthony got omelettes, and we all split a piece of macadamia nut pie for dessert. Everything was excellent.
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We then went on a hike to see some ancient petroglyphs. We parked near the general store, and then hiked along the trail until we got to the cliffs where they were. It was very hot as we hiked, but we persisted until we reached our destination.
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The petroglyphs. These were close to the road, and may have been faked, but looked a lot like the ones we saw at the actual site.90_C1AB3D1A-4..B9B8381F500.jpg90_E6A8980C-B..61EDDB31976.jpg90_F8974F8D-1..2926D207933.jpg90_5EBF7DA0-0..4CDDF41ADE2.jpg
The definite petroglyphs. These apparently tell a story, and we were able to identify several human figures holding various objects, as well as what appeared to be a canoe. The information card explained the glyphs but didn't say what the story was.
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More of the area around the glyphs.
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We had a great time hiking!
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Found this by the side of the road. The perfect souvenir? But it probably would be hard to bring it home...we left it by the side of the road.
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Post-hike shave ice!
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We then sat at a table downstairs overlooking the ocean and played cards for a while.
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We ended the evening at Mulligan's, an Irish pub in Wailea. There was live music, which was vaguely Irish (they played a couple Pogues songs amid mainstream pop and rock). The food was very good, and we had a great time.
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Posted by danielcatherine 02:04 Archived in USA Tagged church music hike pie irish brunch petroglyphs latin cards pancakes bread wailea tasty mass waihe'e wailuku crust Comments (0)

Hawaii Day 5: Honu Adventure

overcast 81 °F

Today we have very few pictures because our main adventure was not documentable with our phones. In the morning we drove to Honolua Bay, north of Kapalua. We parked in a small parking lot, and then walked through the jungle to reach the rocky beach. There were "falling tree" and "falling coconut" warnings everywhere, but thankfully we did not encounter either. We did, however, encounter countless chickens, including hens with baby chicks. They made a great deal of noise, but mostly got off the path when people walked by. Though the path through the jungle seemed somewhat deserted, the actual beach was full of people, and there were three snorkeling/ scuba diving catamarans in the bay. We got our snorkel gear on and started snorkeling. There were beautiful, colorful reefs there, and there were tons of fish. We snorkeled for about an hour and a half to two hours. At one point we heard someone yell "turtle" and we went to where she was. There was a green sea turtle (honu in Hawaiian) eating algae on the reef. We kept snorkeling, and saw three more turtles. They would come up for air very briefly, then go back down for more algae. As we were looking at one turtle, we saw a giant eel swim by. Afterwards, we swam back to the shore and started to get ready to go. Daniel noticed a stand where a man was selling fresh coconuts and papayas. We didn't have any cash, so Daniel went back to the car to get his wallet and we bought a coconut. First we drank the coconut juice/ water, then the seller broke it and we ate the meat. We all liked it except for Katie, who felt that it tasted too different from the "coconut" flavor she was used to.

We went to the Times Supermarket to get lunch, and had the pineapple that Steve gave us yesterday in the field for dessert. It was Catherine's parents' wedding anniversary, so we had reservations at Duke's, which is within walking distance of our hotel.

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We saw a plumeria tree on our way, and there were a lot of flowers on the ground, probably due to the aforementioned fiercely-blowing trade winds.
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We picked up some flowers for Catherine and Katie to wear in their hair.
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Anniversary dinner.
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Some pictures from our dinner. The restaurant is right by the ocean and we were there for sunset, which was beautiful.
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The food was delicious: taro rolls before the main course, then our dinner: chicken and mashed potatoes, and Maui onion soup (suspiciously similar to French onion soup, but made with Maui onions).
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The famous "hula pie" which we had for dessert.
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We went for a walk on the boardwalk after dinner. The stars were coming out and it was a beautiful night. It started raining as we were walking back.
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Pictures with the statues in the lobby of the hotel.
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We stopped at the gift shop and picked up this souvenir. We got a metal sign in Ireland last year, and this year we bought this one. We can add them to the same area in our garage to decorate.

Despite the lack of pictures, today was a wonderful day and we loved everything that we did. Seeing the turtles was spectacular, and we had a pleasant and happy day overall.

Posted by danielcatherine 02:34 Archived in USA Tagged fish rain adventure reef snorkel coral stars turtle honolua eel honu duke's Comments (0)

Hawaii Day 4: Pineapple Princess and the House of the Sun

sunny 86 °F

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This morning we got ready (with delicious banana bread from the luau for breakfast) and drove to Hali'imaile for the Maui Pineapple Tour. The Maui Gold Pineapple is grown on Maui, and the growers are the last pineapple plantation in Hawaii, and thus the United States (since pineapples aren't grown commercially in other states). While people often associate Dole with Hawaii, in fact Dole pineapples come from Dole's plantation in Costa Rica. The company that is currently growing Maui Gold mostly supplies the market in Hawaii (in fact, we've hardly seen any pineapples that aren't Maui Gold), but they do send twenty percent of their pineapples to the mainland, especially the West Coast.
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The tour guide (one of the two best pineapple plantation tour guides in America, as he pointed out...they have two guides...) drove us over from the distillery (more on that later) to the pineapple packing house. These two pineapples were the first harvested pineapples we saw, although many more were to come.
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Crates of pineapples. These are shipped by boat to the mainland or to other islands, or by truck around Maui.
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Putting on our hairnets to tour the packing house, which was made harder by the fiercly-blowing trade winds.
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Pineapples rolling down the line to be washed and inspected. It was amazing to see the process.
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Fashionable hairnets!
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They sort the pineapples by size and by color. Fully golden pineapples are too ripe for transportation, so they go to the distillery and the winery to make wine, vodka, and gin. Small ones are separated from the crowns and softened in the sun to feed to livestock. The crowns are used to plant new pineapples! The fully green ones that are large enough go to the mainland, and the half-green half-gold ones stay in Hawaii (they are the ripest and best tasting, but are too ripe to make it to the mainland). The company only wastes a tiny percentage of pineapples: they don't harvest unless they already have a buyer for the batch they are harvesting.
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The sorting chart that they use to determine where each pineapple ends up.
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Every person on the tour received a box of carryon luggage-approved pineapples. They last a week, so we will have to eat ours before we leave. We'll buy more to take home with us.
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The cold storage room where the pineapples are kept. The different labels show where they are bound. There is even some pineapple mash fermenting for use in the distillery across the street (the tour guide said a person with a straw could have "a good time" in the cold storage area.)
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Daniel in the cold storage area.
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The tour guide, Steve, drove us through the pineapple fields. The pineapple did not originate in Hawaii, but rather in Brazil. It's natural pollinator is the hummingbird, but there are no hummingbirds in Hawaii which allows the plants to develop seedless fruit. It takes eighteen months to two years for one pineapple to grow. They have fields at all levels of ripeness, to keep up supply for year-round demand. However, he did mention that there are upswings in demand around holidays, especially summer holidays like Fourth of July. Sometimes weather conditions result in the early or late ripening of some pineapples: it is typically not worth re-harvesting a field to look for these, although he said that they sometimes have volunteers glean for leftover pineapples for shelters and other care facilities. The fields are beautiful and unique-looking: they look like absolute chaos, but Steve insisted that they are in perfect rows when planted, and that it is the subsequent growth that leads to the chaos. He also said that the workers can plant thousands in a day and get paid a piece rate. Most of the workers are Filipino-American, and are rather elderly. However, he did say that with the piece rate they are some of the best-paid agricultural workers, so it is conceivable that they will be able to replace these workers when they retire.
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As we drove through the fields Steve taught us this song, and had us sing it along with the CD he had. Catherine loved it.
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Pineapple Princess (pineapple shirt, earrings, and necklace, and holding a pineapple.)
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Steve showed us how pineapples are picked and cut a few to show us what the different ripeness levels taste like. He described the riper ones that are sold in the Hawaii market as tasting a little bit like coconut, and having a "piña colada" flavor. He kept opening pineapples and letting us taste a wide variety. Eventually he started back to the bus. We still wanted to taste pineapples, and he handed us the one he was holding.
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Preparing pineapples...
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...and enjoying them!
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Among the pineapples.
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The tour guide suggested a restaurant...the restaurant affiliated with the company! It was actually delicious, and a beautiful setting across from our next tour. The restaurant is in what was once the general store for the area. It is still called the general store, but is a restaurant.
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We split a kalua pork enchilada pie with mole sauce. It was absolutely delicious.
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Next, we visited Hali'imaile Distilling Company. Their most famous product is Pau Vodka, which is made from Maui Gold pineapples but doesn't have any pineapple flavor (it is not a flavored vodka--although they do sell those--but a pure vodka made from fermented pineapples. These barrels are full of their Paniolo Whiskey (a paniolo is a cowboy, thus the elaborate cowboy-style mustaches on the barrels).
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The Quonset hut where the distilling takes place.
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Some of the operations inside of the distillery.
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The glass stills where they are distilling the fermented pineapple into pure alcohol to make the vodka. They water it down to 40% before bottling.
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More of the distillery. The second picture shows the fermenting pineapple juice.
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The tanks of Pau Vodka and Sammy's Beach Bar Rum (which is owned by Sammy Hagar and made from Maui sugarcane. The only problem is that the only company still making sugarcane on Maui just closed down their operations). After the tour we had a tasting. Because the distillery was not a bar they were only allowed to give us each three small taste. They had many options: oak-aged vodka, flavored vodka, vodka mixed with cognac, gin, whiskey, various rums, etc. We each tried a variety. After the tour, we drove up to the town of Makawao, which is famous for its cowboy history. Catherine's dad wondered how far we were from the road to the top of Haleakala. As it happened, we were quite near, and so we started up the mountain.
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Some views as we drove up the mountain.
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The drive up the mountain is somewhat nerve-wracking for the driver. The passengers can see how the mountain slopes down into the clouds, but from the driver's perspective it looks like a sheer drop from the side of the cliff. Also, as we got higher and higher the air became noticeably thinner. We stopped at this pull-out to look at the view and feel the cool air. It was almost cold, and extremely windy.
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Some pictures of us at the pullout.
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The top of Haleakala. This structure is at the summit and provides amazing views and shelter from the wind. It is a beautiful place to see the crater and over the water.
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There is an observatory near the summit that is operated by the military in conjunction with the University of Hawaii. The top of Haleakala is one of the best places for astronomical observation in the world.
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Can you believe we were all the way up there?
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From the summit you can see the Island of Hawaii, the Big Island. If you measure from the bottom of the ocean, Haleakala itself is larger than Mt. Everest, and Mauna Kea on the Big Island is the largest mountain in the world.
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The crater of the volcano. Haleakala means "house of the sun" and there are legends about the sun living or being imprisoned in this crater.
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More views from the summit.
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Anthony and Daniel on top of the mountain.
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We then drove down. The top of the mountain seemed so far away. We headed back to the hotel and had dinner by the poolside, played cards with Katie and Anthony. It was a wonderful day.

Posted by danielcatherine 02:14 Archived in USA Tagged sun pineapples vodka observatory rum princess distillery whiskey haleakala hali'imaile makawao Comments (1)

Hawaii Day 3: Bug Free's the Way to Be

sunny 86 °F

This morning, Catherine called to "battle" with the rental car company. They said at first that we would have to bring the car all the way back to Kahului to exchange it for another car. There was a sister company in Lahaina which had cars they could give us, but a variety of paperwork problems prevented it. So in the end, Catherine's parents drove all the way around the north-west side of the island to exchange cars. Thankfully, the new car appears to be bug-free.
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While they journeyed around the island in search of a new car, we had a relaxing lunch of pizza from the poolside restaurant. We sat at a table overlooking the ocean.
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After lunch, we went for a walk and sat by the beach. These pictures show the view of Lanai and Molokai. We also saw some land in the distance that might be a faint view of Oahu. It is a beautiful view.
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After our walk, we had a ukulele lesson! The class was interesting, and we learned how to play several songs. We are interested in obtaining a ukulele so that we can continue to learn.
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Afterwards, we went to Lahaina for the Old Lahaina Luau. These pictures are us at the beginning, before dinner or the show. It's in a beautiful setting near the ocean.
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Catherine at the luau.
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The table at the luau, including taro and sweet potato chips.
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Views from our table.
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Catherine has been very excited to try poi. She read Hawaii by James Michener and felt like poi sounded like an interesting and potentially good food. This picture shows her very first taste of poi. "It tastes like nothing!" was her immediate reaction. It ended up being rather good with the kalua pork.
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Our plates of food. Everything was delicious. Daniel especially liked the laulau and the taro leaf stew, and Catherine loved the sweet potatoes and the kalua pork.
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The desserts. Brownies with hot pepper, lavender cookies, passion fruit bars, and haupia (a coconut-milk based custard that was delicious.)
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A toast.
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The dancers who performed, as well as a view of the stage towards the end of the night. The chanting, singing, and dancing were spectacular.
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Catherine and her dad with the waitress for our table. She was very helpful and gave us extra banana bread to take with us at the end! We had a great time at the luau. Afterwards, we went back to the room and re-taught Catherine's parents how to play 500. This was fun, except that some of us were having trouble staying awake.

Tomorrow we are visiting a pineapple plantation, where Maui Gold pineapples are grown. It is one of the last pineapple growers operating in Hawaii, and we are excited to learn more about it!

Posted by danielcatherine 02:28 Archived in USA Tagged car pizza lahaina hula luau chanting haupia laulau kalua_pork mai_tai Comments (2)

Hawaii Day 2: Our Car is Bugged!

all seasons in one day 86 °F

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Our flight was at 10:20, so we had to get up early to get to San Francisco and get through security on time. Daniel's mom drove us to the airport, and we made it just in time to get a couple of coffees and get on the plane. Hawaiian Airlines names its planes after stars or constellations that were important to ancient Polynesian navigators. Ours was called Keali'iokonaikalewa, which is the star Canopus. Daniel appreciated the astronomical connection.
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Catherine arranged for the lei greeting at the airport. Kahului Airport is interesting: very open and outdoor-feeling. It was very hot and humid and extremely windy. The palm trees were bending in the wind, and everything looked like the quintessential tropical destination.
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We landed at about lunch time, Hawaii time. Catherine's parents had not yet eaten, and we had only had a little food on the plane. Catherine used Yelp to find a parking lot with several food trucks and a place to eat, very close to the airport. We all found food to eat from the various trucks, and enjoyed a delicious first meal in Hawaii.
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We were especially excited about "Thai Mee Up," a Thai food truck. The spiciness scale went from 1 to 10. We asked for a seven. It was spicy but edible, and delicious. Both of us thought it was some of the best Thai food we've had. After we finished, we headed to our hotel in Kaanapali.
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Catherine's dad thought he had found such a good, empty parking space. At first he couldn't see why we all objected to him parking there.
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Some pictures of the hotel where we're staying. It has a similar open design to Kahului airport, and seems very comfortable. Currently, only Catherine has spotted lizards. Her current count is two.
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The view from our room. No ocean view, but the side of the mountains and a beautiful double rainbow (which isn't technically permanent, but was present for most of the day today.
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Catherine and her mom with matching leis and matching hats on the balcony.
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We went to the beach to wade into the water, and saw a lot of people snorkeling. Since we had, courtesy of Daniel's parents, all of our snorkel equipment in the room, we went back to the room and got it, then went snorkeling. We hadn't expected to do so much on our first day, but it was a fantastic experience. Catherine's dad went with us, and we saw (judging by the "Snorkel Bob's" fish guide available in the room), a couple coronetfish, many varieties of butterflyfish, a humuhumunukunukuapua'a, a few redlip parrotfish, some unicorn surgeonfish, and some others that don't seem to appear on the card. And this was in the later part of the day, when the hotel staff said there would be lower quality snorkeling.

After this, we decided to go to the store to pick up some supplies. We went to the parking garage and got in the car. As Daniel was about to sit down on the seat, he noticed what he thought were flower petals from the leis. He went to pick them up, and they moved! As it turns out, they were small, flying cockroaches. Catherine was especially disgusted, and screamed when she saw how many there were. We decided not to go to the store tonight, and we will call tomorrow and hopefully get a new rental car. Rather than going to the store, we walked to the hotel bar/restaurant for dessert and drinks, then back up to the room to write our blog for today. Hopefully tomorrow we will have a non-bugged car!

Posted by danielcatherine 01:08 Archived in USA Tagged fish ocean mountain car maui rainbow bugs reef snorkel hats kaanapali thai_food leis kahului lizard_count:2 Comments (0)

Hawaii Day 1: 500 Days of Summer

sunny 105 °F

Today Daniel had his last day of summer school. Once everything was done and ready, he came home so that we could head to San Jose. We packed, made a few last-minute preparations, and got on the road.
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We had a few tomatoes and some basil that were ready, so before we went we had a nice snack of bruschetta.
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Off to San Jose! We had dinner with Daniel's parents at Pieology, then back to their house to play 500! Tomorrow, we head to Hawaii

Posted by danielcatherine 00:58 Tagged 500 tomatoes prius basil selma summer_school bruschetta Comments (0)

Ireland Day 18: Sláinte!

overcast 64 °F

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One of the great challenges for Americans driving in Ireland is keeping the side mirrors. Daniel's dad had insisted that it wasn't possible. The roads are much more narrow than most American roads, and they usually have walls on either side that make it hard to get over. We took these pictures to show our car, undamaged and with both side mirrors.
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We went in to Dublin airport, and picked up a few items in the shops there: Coole Swan, and most importantly Lyon's tea (which we have not allowed ourselves to run out of since that day, and which we drink on a daily basis). We got on the plane and got ready for the flight to Toronto.
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Our last glimpse of Ireland. We had with us the teapot and the Infant of Prague figurine Mary Kathleen gave us, two loaves of treacle bread, and the bittersweet feeling of a beautiful experience coming to an end. We were sad to see it end, but happy that we have had yet another adventure and that this one has been so perfect.
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Plane travel is never all that comfortable, but we tried to have as cozy a time as possible. Catherine realized that there was a bar in the back of the plane (or a "speakeasy" as she called it) and we got some Bailey's to drink a toast to Ireland.
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There were no clouds over Greenland as we flew over. The pilot said he had not seen Greenland that clearly in his whole career. It was absolutely beautiful, and these pictures do not do it justice.
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Back in California, having tea and treacle bread with Daniel's family. Mary Kathleen had asked us to take it to them. We had a great time reminiscing about our trip and sharing our memories.
Our trip to Ireland was a beautiful experience. We talk about it all the time, and can't wait to go back. We feel so lucky to have had this experience, and love the adventures that we are able to take together. We are also happy that we were able to finish our blog and get these pictures and memories compiled so we can remember them in the future. And as always, we can't wait for our next adventure!

Posted by danielcatherine 23:43 Archived in Ireland Tagged airport toronto dublin plane san_jose greenland bailey's lyon's coole_swan treacle_bread Comments (1)

Ireland Day 17: The Rocky Road to Dublin

overcast 65 °F

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Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture with the whole Moran family. However, we had a time wonderful visiting with all the Morans. Daniel was happy to see everyone again, and Catherine loved meeting them. We took this picture with Mary Kathleen, who was a bit shaken from her fall but doing much better in the morning. We made so many cherished memories with her and the family. It was hard to leave. Our time there was one of the major highlights of our trip. We hope to go back as soon as we can.
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Isabella (Adrian and Mikal's daughter) introducing a feral cat at Knock Shrine to Peppa Pig.
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Isabella loved "flying" around the lawn at the shrine. Daniel tried to teach her to fly on her own, but she seemed to prefer being picked up and flying around that way.
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The beautiful grounds of Knock Shrine. This church means a great deal to Daniel, as it is the place he decided to become Catholic and where his great grandfather was baptized. It always has a serene and peaceful feeling. Adrian told us some stories about miracles at Knock, and we had a wonderful afternoon before leaving. It was another sad parting, but again we hope to return and visit our friends and family in Ireland as soon as we can.
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We then set off towards Dublin. We had an AirBnB for the night near the airport. We had a nice drive across the country, seeing the sights and listening to music as we went. We tried to find a place to stop for dinner on the way, but it got late and we ended up eating at a Traditional Irish Italian Chipper in the apartment complex where we were staying. We had a cozy room, and the place was close to the airport allowing us to get a decent night's sleep before flying the next morning.

Posted by danielcatherine 23:06 Archived in Ireland Tagged dublin adrian mikal knock isabella mary_kathleen feral_cat peppa_pig chippers Comments (0)

Ireland Day 16: There's Goodness In It

rain 63 °F

Note: It is just under a year since our last entry. When we came home we got back to our regular, day-to-day lives, and it was hard to blog. However, we wanted to finish our blog so that we could use it as a photo album, and so that we could use it to show other people our trip.

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We ate a delicious breakfast, including Mary Kathleen's treacle bread and coconut bread. It was a beautiful rainy day, and we spent most of the morning and afternoon visiting with the Morans in front of the cozy turf fire.
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We did make one outing, to Claremorris. We wanted to buy one last gift: a Mayo jersey for Aubrey. Attracta had made some calls to track down small sizes. We were not able to find one in a baby size, but we found one that was sized for a three-year-old. Thankfully, going to Claremorris gave us the opportunity to try the best chipper in Mayo (according to a recent poll): Val's. Adrian and Fr. Eugene worked there as teenagers, and Val talked with us about them when we told him we knew them. The chips were absolutely delicious: ever since, we have often wished we could eat Val's chips again.
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Jillian, who does Irish dance, gave a demonstration of her skills.
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Daniel, imitating his cousin Robbie. Apparently, when Daniel's family all visited together in 2003, Robbie was fascinated by the turf fire. Catherine and Mary Kathleen had Daniel recreate the way Robbie sat waiting for the fire to start.
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Some views of the cloudy and rainy weather outside. It was wonderfully warm and cozy within.
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We spent some time playing cards and talking with everyone. It was a wonderful day, and we were happy we had the chance to return to Kilkelly after our first visit. Later that night, we sat by the fire with Attracta and Mary Kathleen. Mary Kathleen started feeling sick, and got up for a moment. Shortly after we heard a yell, and Attracta went to help her. A moment later, Attracta called to us to come help. Mary Kathleen had fallen. Marie came down to the house, and we did everything we could to help Attracta and Marie. Mary Kathleen seemed to be feeling a little bit stronger after a while. Although it was scary, we were glad there were people in the house to help her.

Posted by danielcatherine 22:18 Archived in Ireland Tagged marie chips mayo turf jillian kilkelly mary_kathleen attracta ciaran val's claremorris Comments (0)

Ireland Day 15: The Pilgrims' Road

rain 61 °F

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Clonmacnoise is, in a sense, at the center of Ireland. The River Shannon flows by it, and the Pilgrims' Road (really a glacial esker) which bisects the northern and southern halves of Ireland runs directly to it. We stayed right off the Pilgrims' Road, and only had to drive a short distance to get to Clonmacnoise. This statue is outside the gate, and it depicts Aedh, the son of a king of Oriel who died during a pilgrimage in 606.
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Clonmacnoise is similar to the Rock of Cashel, but was predominately an ecclesiastical site. It was alternately under the patronage of the King of Connacht or the King of Meath, as it is locate immediately between those two ancient kingdoms. Luckily we were here early enough to watch the informative video and get a guided tour. The monastery was founded by St. Ciarán in the 540s. It was sacked several times, by Vikings, the English, and other Irish kingdoms. There are several high crosses, including the scriptural cross in these pictures.
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One of the buildings (probably the pharmacy?) at Clonmacnoise. Our tour included a Franciscan priest originally from New York, but now serving in Limerick.
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Some views around Clonmacnoise.
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St. Dominic, St. Patrick, and St. Francis. The Franciscan in our tour was easily able to identify St. Francis by the stigmata and the cord.
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Some more of the buildings around the site. It has two round towers: a very large one and a much smaller one, as well as a cathedral.
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The modern oratory, where Pope John Paul II said mass when he visited Ireland in the seventies. He was aware of Clonmacnoise and St. Ciarán before coming to Ireland, and wanted to say mass at Clonmacnoise, where thousands of local people appeared when he landed in his helicopter.
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The nuns' chapel, which is a short distance from the main site, and has a sheela na gig on one of the arches. It is a fascinating little chapel, founded by Dervogilla, the wife of Tiernan O'Rourke who was abducted by Dermot MacMurrough, thus inciting the Norman invasion of Ireland.
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Us at the nuns' chapel.
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Some more pictures of the site.
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St. Ciarán's chapel. The legend is that soil from the floor, if sprinkled in the corners of a field, ensures the fertility of the field. The walls are bowed in from all the dirt that has been taken from the floor, which now has stone pavers on it. Some people have left coins near a stone inside. We asked the tour guide what the stone is, and he said no one knows. Daniel suggested that the people who leave coins must at least think they know what the stone is.
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Daniel in the scriptorium, and a view of a cross from inside the scriptorium. This is where monks would have copied manuscripts. There are several extant manuscripts from Clonmacnoise, which include historical records.
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The real crosses, as well as other artifacts, are inside the museum. There was a large tour of nuns going through while we were there. It was kind of interesting to see priests and nuns touring an old religious site, but on the other hand it was sad, just like at Cashel, to think that if history had gone differently there would be priests and nuns living and working here rather than simply touring ruins.
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There are several hypotheses about this image. We thought it was probably St. Michael defeating the devil.
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When we drove through Athlone we texted Adrian, as we were planning to see him that night. Daniel said "I bet Adrian will have a food recommendation in Athlone." A moment later, we got a text urging us to go to Seán's Bar. It is the oldest pub in Ireland, and most likely in the world. It was built in 900, making it older than most of the buildings at Clonmacnoise. The original wickerwork of the walls is on display on one wall.
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Athlone Castle and the River Shannon. After this, we headed to Kilkelly where we met Martina and Mary Kathleen. We had a conversation with them, then headed to Adrian's house in Knock.
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We picked up some food in Kilkelly village along the way: Shish kebab and chips to split. We went to Adrian's house and had a nice visit. We were there very late: somehow we lost track of time and it was 3:00 AM when we headed back to Kilkelly. We had an interesting night, particularly when Adrian's mother came to the door with two hypodermic needles in her hands (for the dog's bee stings) and expressed the opinion that Americans being bitten by a dog was far worse than Irish people being bitten (she meant that since we have to fly home soon, she wouldn't want us to have to deal with medical treatment or quarantines, but it sounded funny.) Adrian pointed out that this is the first time we've visited his house that there hasn't been a coup, which was very true. It was a great night.
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When we arrived back in Kilkelly we found these creatures that Martina had left in our bed for us. It was nice to have the companionship of stuffed animals.

Posted by danielcatherine 10:14 Archived in Ireland Tagged cross adrian pilgrim athlone martina knock clonmacnoise kilkelly mary_kathleen st._ciarán river_shannon Comments (0)

Ireland Day 14: Cork, Youghal, Cashel

overcast 64 °F

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The view from the kitchen of the house where we stayed. A beautiful north Co. Cork landscape.
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We drove through Bweeng again on our way to Cork. This is the pub.
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St. Peter and Paul's Church, Cork. This was an absolutely beautiful church. We went to a Traditional Latin Mass here. It was a low mass, and not very long, but it was beautiful and the building was so incredible. We also got an excellent parking space right in front of the church, and went to lunch right nearby. Cork City is a little bit crowded and hard to navigate, but it was pretty and we were glad to see it during our trip.
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The outside of the church.
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After leaving Cork we drove to the town of Youghal. Daniel's parents went there and highly recommended it to us. We went to the museum and drove around the town a little.
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So is the group called Batty and they're playing tonight? Or is it called Batty Tonight?
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More pictures of Youghal. It was once one of the most important harbors in Ireland. It reminded us a lot of New England, mostly because it had an intriguingly similar history involving puritans, witch trials, etc.
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More of Youghal.
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Some sights along the road to the Rock of Cashel.
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We arrived at the Rock of Cashel just before it closed. The staff seemed eager to lock the doors, so we were lucky to get in. We went to the museum first.
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Cashel was both an ecclesiastical and political site. It was the capital used by Brian Boru, and before him, by the Eoghanacht rulers. It was also the site of a cathedral (to is day the diocese is called The Diocese of Cashel and Emly, even though the cathedral is in Thurles.) There is thus a great variety of buildings and artifacts here.
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The saddest thing about these ruins is that they don't have to be ruins. If history had gone differently, this could still be a thriving cathedral, with masses being said and people traveling to see the historic church. It lasted for centuries being used that way, and churches just as old are still in use in other countries. These were part of a patrimony that was sadly stolen from the people.
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More pictures from the Rock.
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And some more. It's a beautiful place.
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Some pictures of us at the Rock of Cashel.
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It was extremely windy there that day. It was very difficult to walk around without being blown off-course, and it made Daniel's allergies really bad. Still, it was a nice day to see the ruins with no rain.
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This monument is visible for miles around. It is only when you walk behind it that you realize...
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...that it used to be a cross! It would have been incredibly huge as a cross. Unfortunately, without a guide we don't know if it was wind or human action that blew it down.
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In the gift shop, Catherine tried on this cloak. She said she wishes that cloaks were a more socially acceptable thing to wear. Unfortunately, the €500 price tag prevented her from doing her part to bring back the cloak. (Also, she wondered if daggers were a necessary accessory with cloaks.)

We went to dinner at a pub called Brian Boru's, where people were watching a darts competition, and the Italian waiter kept promising the owner that he would bring in Italians, then delivering on his promise (he must have brought in at least four Italians while we were eating there.) Only after we finished eating did we find out there was another side, which was a restaurant with live music. It was a nice dinner. We then set off on our drive to our next AirBnB, which was near Athlone and especially close to the ruins at Clonmacnoise, which we were very excited to see.
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Some pictures of the sunset along our way. We arrived at our AirBnB on the Pilgrims' Road, and met our hosts who also had large dogs, had a farm, and the husband was named Joseph. We had a nice conversation with them, then went to our room and went to sleep.

Posted by danielcatherine 12:53 Archived in Ireland Tagged history ruins church museum cathedral dogs farm cross latin wind athlone joseph cork mass cashel clonmacnoise rock_of_cashel bweeng dromohane youghal Comments (0)

Ireland Day 13: A Very Quick Tour of the Southwest

overcast 66 °F

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First, we went to a shop in Liscannor to buy some gifts for people. Catherine found a couple pieces of jewelry to buy. A shamrock necklace and a St. Brigid's cross. Here, she's wearing the St. Brigid's cross.
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Classic-looking haystacks. Usually we see perfectly square or round ones, not ones that appear this "natural."
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We stopped to visit the old cathedral of Kilfenora. This tiny diocese is run by the Bishop of Galway now, but is supposedly technically without a bishop, supposedly making the pope the bishop here. Whether this is canonically accurate is debatable. There are several High Crosses here, and the ruins of an old cathedral, part of which is now a Church of Ireland church. It was a very interested place to see. Daniel had seen it when he was here last, and wanted to show it to Catherine.
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The village of Corofin. We were thinking of having lunch here, but there was a horse festival that day and the village was very crowded with nowhere to park.
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We visited Dysert O'Dea Castle. Daniel had visited some of the sites here, but not the castle which was closed when he came here last. These show the views from the top, as well as the workshop in the castle. This castle is intereting as it actually belongs to a member of the O'Dea family who lives in Michigan.
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There's a small exhibit in the castle of objects related to various risings, especially 1916. There are some weapons which were used in 1916, and letters and other documents of people involved. It was very interesting, especially as Catherine had been reading a book on the Easter Rising.
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This is a murder hole, where defenders could drop objects on invaders from above. Strangely enough, it is located in the chapel.180_404B1524AE2E8EAB367B98DCAE8B6C67.jpeg
A person risking her life by standing under the murder hole.
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More views of the castle.
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We had lunch at a pub in Ennis called Dan O'Connell's. Co. Clare was playing Co. Roscommon in Gaelic Football that day, and the game was on. The pub was crowded with people watching the game. It was fun, but we didn't stay and watch the whole game as we had places to be. We wanted to visit Adare Castle, which was on our heritage card. When we arrived, however, they were closed for a wedding (which is impressive...we wondered whose wedding it was to close down a public heritage site.). We moved on from Adare and, since we had some extra time, headed to Killlarney to see Ross Castle before going to the place we were staying.
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Ross Castle was closed by the time we got there, but it was still an interesting place to visit. We walked over to the lake and got as close as we could to the castle. It was much larger than most of the castles we have seen.
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A cute dog we saw on our walk back from the castle.
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Some of the beautiful hills of Co. Kerry. Catherine pointed out that the green is particularly green in Kerry, and started referring to the color as "green green."
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We stopped at a small pub/disco bar for dinner.
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Some more pictures of the beautiful scenery as we drove from Killarney to Co. Cork.
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When we were planning our trip, Catherine noticed that there is a village called Bweeng in Co. Cork. She wanted to go there, and looked forward to "Bweeng Day." Today was Bweeng Day. These two pictures show the metropolis in all its glory: a post office, and a selfie in the church car park. We didn't really stop in Bweeng because it was getting late and we had to move on to Dromohane where we were staying.
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The sunset over Dromohane. Our hosts there were wonderful. We had a nice tea and a lengthy conversation about Irish and American politics and current events. They were very nice and helpful hosts, and the room at their house was a perfect place to stay. It is a dairy farm, and the owner also has seven German shepherds. Also, the host had a very strong Cork accent. At first, Catherine thought he was from the Netherlands.

Posted by danielcatherine 19:47 Archived in Ireland Tagged castles wedding green pub heritage disco ennis ross cork killarney hay adare st._brigid o'dea corofin kilfenora diocese bweeng dromohane Comments (0)

Ireland Day 12: Moher To See

overcast 64 °F

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We started the day by driving to the city center and finding a parking garage. We went to the Claddagh Jewelry shop and got a Claddagh ring for Catherine. While Daniel had purchased other jewelry for Catherine when he was living here, for some reason he hadn't gotten her a Claddagh. We got one today.
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Then had a delicious lunch at Busker Brown's before heading to Co. Clare.
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On our way to Liscannor, where we were staying, we stopped at Dunguaire Castle, which is a restored castle that can be toured. It was built in the 16th Century and is a fascinating thing to be able to see. It is really more of a "tower house" than a castle, as it was not really intended as a strong fortress but more as a fortified home.
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Some pictures inside the castle. The different floors are arranged to show different eras: the 17th century is depicted by the banquet hall, and the 20th century (when an Englishwoman restored the castle as her home) is depicted in the top floor. The castle hosts a "medieval banquet" which the staff was preparing when we were there.
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The passages on top are very narrow and difficult to get through.
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But there are beautiful views from the top once you get out there.
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Us at the top of the castle.
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More views from the top.
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More pictures from outside.
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The burren, a barren landscape of limestone in Co. Clare. It is strikingly different from the landscape of the surrounding area, and seems to lend itself to the preservation of ancient sites, or at least make them more obviously visible.
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Yes, it seems like something you would see on a postcard from a rural area: "Co. Clare Traffic Jam" with a picture of cows walking down the road. And yet, it happened to us in real life. These were dairy cows being taken to be milked, it would seem. We only had to wait a little: the farmers moved the cows fairly quickly. Of course, it was a frightening experience for Catherine after her run-in with the calf the day before.
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Some pictures in Liscannor, where we stayed. Our hosts there also owned a pub, and they have a house across the street from it. We drove to the pub, and our host had us follower her to the house and checked us in. It was a wonderfully comfortable room, and our host recommended that we go to the Cliffs of Moher (which were right next to the house and pub) after 9PM so that we wouldn't have to pay to park. We decided to go to the village for dinner, then go to the cliff.
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Dinner in Liscannor before going to the cliffs.
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The O'Brien Monument in Liscannor, right near the pub. This was constructed to honor Cornelius O'Brien, who was a well-liked landowner in the area despite being part of the British power structure (the O'Brien family has an interesting history: they are descended from Brian Boru, and are thus native Gaelic nobility, but the senior heirs of the family embraced Anglicanism and fought for the English and against various rebellions by other Gaelic nobles like the O'Neills and O'Donnells). Cornelius, however, was known for building projects and other well-regarded projects in the area.
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St. Brigid's well is right next to the O'Brien monument. It is unlike any of the other holy wells we have visited on this trip: less "polished" than St. Catherine's in Killybegs, but far more trafficked than St. Dymphna's and the others. There were rocks that people had written "thank yous" to St. Brigid, and a statue in a glass box.
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The upper shrine. There is a graveyard hear, as well as some more small objects that seem to have been left by people frequenting the wells. There were also ribbons tied to the trees, which apparently are left by people who have prayed for something there.
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The really numinous part of it is the lower shrine, where there is a tunnel leading to the well. The inside has all manner of offerings: statues, cards with prayers written on them, funeral Mass cards, missing person reports, stuffed animals, candles, rosaries, scapulars, icons, photographs, etc. It was an amazing thing to see, and a testament to belief in another plane of existence beyond the world we see around us. Most striking were the "thank you" notes: letters detailing how St. Brigid helped a person. Really a small, easily-missed thing but one of the most intriguing places we saw on the trip.
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Then, it was time to see the cliffs. The parking lot was now closed, which meant that we could park for free and walk to the cliffs. Unfortunately, it meant that all of the visitors' center buildings were closed, including the tiny "meditation room" which Catherine pointed out should probably be unnecessary, considering that a person who wants to meditate about the cliffs should probably do that...at the cliffs, and not in a tiny windowless room sort of near the cliffs.
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There's not much to say about the cliffs. They are stunningly beautiful, and the pictures sort of speak for themselves. It was nice seeing them in the semi-darkness: no crowds, and the light seemed perfect. Since they are on the west coast it was a beautiful sunset and a great way to spend the evening.
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More views of the cliffs as night fell. It was an incredibly peaceful night: we were the last to leave the cliffs as far as we could tell.
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More of the cliffs after dark.
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The twinkling lights of the village.
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A drink at Considine's Bar, across from our AirBnB and owned by our hosts. It was a nice, small pub, not too packed but not empty. There is a house attached, but the Considines no longer live there, and apparently use it for storage, etc. The house where we are staying is rather new, having been built around six years ago. We loved our stay in Liscannor and would highly recommend it to other people staying in the area.

Posted by danielcatherine 00:37 Archived in Ireland Tagged cliffs village meditation pub beautiful castle farm cows burren clare moher the_cliffs_are_closed st._brigid o'briens considine traffic_jam dunguaire_castle Comments (0)

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