Monday June 11th
Dear Family and Friends,
I have been out on the road now for a week and I am starting to get some insights into this trip.
First I passed through Wales on my way to Ireland.. It is interesting that once you enter Wales all the road signs are in English and Welsh even though I doubt 2% of the population can speak or read Welsh. The Welsh language is totally unpronounceable. Imagine dropping all the consonant tiles from a Scrabble game on the floor. Whatever letters aligned on the floor would look like Welsh…
In Ireland it is the same thing, the road signs are in both English and Gallic. I have yet to hear anyone here speak in Gallic, yet as a point of pride they retain the language in the local signs.
It makes me wonder if we humans are so tribal that we can’t let go of ancient languages and we retain our traditions so rigidly that maybe we are not genetic engineered to mix the way we do today? Maybe the American experiment of being a melting pot for all cultures is a mistake? I personally don’t feel that way and enjoy multiculturalism but it does seem to be a major fault line in America today that makes our country almost totally dysfunctional. I am not promoting one idea or political point of view or another, just wondering?
Another insight I developed this week was about the challenges of riding in Ireland.. Every place I have ridden my motorcycle there seems to be unique road challenges. In Alaska it was huge pot holes and gravel, in Mexico gigantic speed bumps, in the UK riding on the left side of the road.. In rural Ireland on the back roads the biggest challenge is horse poop! It is everywhere and large!! When riding a motorcycle you don’t want to hit horse poop. First it splatters all over the bike and you and it stinks.. That should be enough, but also it is also slippery as heck so when you hit it the bike tends to slide a bit.. After a week of weaving in and out of piles of poop I have definitely improved my riding skills..
This morning I started out my ride around the Ring of Kerry. It is a big tourist attraction. Below is a map showing where it is in relation to Ireland.
I have been told it is a beautiful ride and it was not disappointing. I could have ridden the entire ring in a day but I am taking my time, enjoying the views, taking photos, and stopping for tea here and there.. With no set itinerary I just rode along where ever I felt like. By mid day I came to a split in the road and took the one heading to Valentina Island. A small island just off the coast of Ireland. Before long I was at a ferry crossing to the island and decided to explore the island. A 10 minute crossing and I rode off the ferry right up to a beautiful Victorian style hotel. I decided this is where I would stay tonight. I checked in and found they had a beautiful room for a very reasonable cost. I told the young man at the front desk I would like a room on a lower floor since I was riding a motorcycle and had a lot of gear to carry in. His face immediately lit up. Turns out he was a motorcyclist too and we shared some stories. When I told him where I had been over the last ten years he was so excited. Turns out the lower floors only had the larger suites, but he gave me one for the cost of a single on the top floor. It pays to ride a motorcycle.
I unloaded my motorcycle gear and changed into so lighter clothes and took off on my bike to explore the island. There was a beautiful old lighthouse I went to visit, some dramatic hills with great views I rode up to, and quaint fishing and tourist villages.
One of the more exciting views was of Skellig Michael island which was just off shore from the island I was on. If you have never heard of it you may have seen it. In the last Star Wars movie the remote island that Luke Skywalker was hiding away on was Skellig Michael Island. The ancient stone villages featured in the movie are not sets but actually sights on the island.
The island was settled in about the 12th century as a monastery for monks to live on. A more difficult place to survive would be hard to find. No fresh water, only rain water, sheer stone cliffs, and very little soil to grow food. You have to like seafood to survive there.
Don’t under estimate the influence of American culture everywhere. This scene from the Skelleg island was in Starwars and the WiFi password in my hotel tonight is “STARWARS”!
What amazes me is why men would leave the lush green paradise of mainland Ireland to struggle to survive on this island in the name of god? Humans certainly have some odd behaviors…
After an afternoon of riding around the island I returned to my hotel and I am enjoying the comforts of 19th century culture.. Dark wood rooms, a warm bar, a pool room, and lively conversation. Almost time for my afternoon gin and tonic and then a fine Irish meal.
Where I am staying tonight.. It is funny but whenever I tell people I am riding on a motorcycle trip they automatically assume I am camping out… no camping!! 😉
Go to my blog for more photos and tidbits.. by the way it is hard to please the public…. I have been getting emails saying I show to many photos of food, and others saying more photos of food! Then I get emails saying they don’t want to see photos of me, and others saying include more photos of yourself so we know you were actually there. So at this point I will do what I do and probably ignore your suggestions and do what I do….
The country side along the Ring of Kerry. When you look at these peaceful villages you wonder if this is really how humans are meant to live. Much less stress, people have to get along to survive, and generally tend to be friendlier because you need your neighbors and if you piss them off who else is there?
Great views everywhere you look.
This gentlemen was selling hand made hats. I was more surprised to see the MG way out here in the middle of nowhere than a peddler. We talked for a while The man was from Germany but had lived the last 30 years along the coast of Ireland so he must have loved it here. He asked me where I was from and I said California. He smiled and said he had never been there but always wanted to. Right now when you say your from California it gets a much better response than just saying America.. Our current reputation is not good.
Me taking a picture of me taking a picture of me.. Gets confusing..
In case you wondered this is where Irish wool comes from.. Sweater on the hoof.
Great roads to ride a motorcycle on. By the way if you ever ride the Ring of Kerry, go in the clockwise direction. By law tour buses must go counter clockwise!! Clever those Irish!
Ferry time.. Obviously not a big tourist spot. Only about 6 cars and me going on the ferry.
Once I added an Ireland sticker to my bike the trip was for real.
My hotel tonight,,, much better than camping.
My GPS directed me to this fine two lane road….. watch out for the horse poop!
I barely got through this door and stairway on my way to the top of the lighthouse…
A nice manor house I stumble onto on Valentina Island.
Lots of old churches.. They seemed abandoned but on Sunday morning as I rode around they were packed with cars and people. Still a very religious country.