Friday, June 21, 2013

Connemara Peninsula - On to the mountains with a stay at a B & B

                 A farmhouse with a view. The mountains are green right to the top!

After a brief shower in the morning, the sun came out as we said goodbye to our chartered boat at Carrick-on-Shannon and headed west into the mountains of the Connemara Peninsula. The roads in Ireland vary greatly. You may find yourself on what appears to be a one lane country road except for the white strip down the middle and a speed limit of 100Km/hr (62 m/hr). Where the road ends on the left side is a stone wall and the right side can often be the same or worse. Now, here comes one of the many tour buses in the area with the driver side wheels over the white line, what to do? First you look for any slightly wider spot in the road, a driveway, a place where the wall leans away from the road, anything to help pass by that bus! If you make it, then you can look forward to many more chances of having less than full success. Throw in dozens of blind curves bordered by stone walls and the driving can be interesting. The ultimate insult is when you think you're getting pretty good at passing cars with about 6 inches spare, you'll see a sign with the caption, "Road Narrows". That usually means a truly one lane bridge with stone walls on either side that have obviously been hit in the past. You'll know you're getting the hang of it when your passengers shy away from the wall or light pole on their side of the car that you barely missed by inches. Oh well, it's all part of Ireland.

         Along the way we stopped by a rhododendrons field to admire the view

We were blessed with sunshine in the morning on the way to the peninsular. Everywhere you look you'll see green. It's the greenest green you'll ever see. After being in Ireland for a week, you'll know exactly why it's so green - it rains all the time! They don't know what a drought is. They never heard of faucets with 2.5 or 1.5 gal/min limits, the water pour out at firehose strength in the shower stall. 

           We were greeted by all manner of livestock

The other stunning vista (in addition to green everywhere) are the flowers in all directions. Today it was the rhododendrons, As we headed towards the coast, they were in full bloom, growing wild along the road, in the fields, up the sides of the mountains, everywhere. Just magnificent.    

         The peat bog was being mined for bricks used for fuel in fireplaces, cut and then dried

We stopped by a peat bog along the way. We had heard of a "quaking bog" so we wanted to try that out. We stood about 10 ft away from Leathen as he jumped up and down. Sure enough, the bog "quaked", strange. When he hit the ground, we were moved upward enough to notice.

After we checked into our B & B, we took a ride along the mountain road. It climbed out of the town, following the side of the mountain towards the Atlantic Ocean. There are no guard rails and the road is just as narrow as any in Ireland. On one side is a 1000 ft drop, on the other side is the rocky cut that comes right to the edge of the road - and it's raining and windy - and there are cars careening down the road towards you. At one point, I stopped to allow an on-coming car to pass and found that two cars behind me took the opportunity to whiz by doing a slalom between me and the on-coming car. Everybody missed, and we continued on our way. 

              How would you like to live here?

Now the weather is not so good for the next few days with winds up to 40 m/hr and a high temp of only 59F. So we'll decide over breakfast how to make the best of it. It is truly a beautiful country when you can see it.