April 21st, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

I really needed to do something different so I decided a few days ago to make a few changes to help myself get through staying at home better and easier. As a preface to this post, I am REALLY trying hard to keep my political opinions mine in this blog. I have to say it is sure as hell not easy given what is currently happening in this country.

First and foremost, I quit watching the news and haven’t watched the news for the last 3-4 days; in fact, during this time I have not even had the TV on until late at night and that was to watch a movie (and having some beautiful weather here has helped in many ways). There is entirely too much negativity and misinformation along with the political lies and bullshit. That alone has made me feel SO much better and has helped rid myself of the bad moods and given me more energy. I really suggest trying it to see if it helps you feel better.

Granted I still do get on the internet and do see things on there but I filter through said political lies and bullshit on there as well and don’t click on much news even on the ‘net. I am doing the things I am supposed to do (and much more) according to my state’s orders to stay healthy. I do pay attention to my local news to some extent so I am aware of what is going on close to home. As far as national politics I will be quite blunt –  I don’t fucking care.

Second, I am finding other more productive things to focus my energies on and spend time doing (other than mowing grass). I am looking at new recipes and making up a shopping list with new ingredients that I don’t have on hand (one recipe I really want is the cottage pie recipe from The Shack in Dublin, Ireland). I have an Instant Pot recipe magazine a friend sent me so I am looking through that along with some of the cookbooks I brought back from KS that my mom had.

I will be spending LOTS of time deep-cleaning my house starting tomorrow (supposed to rain so I will be in the house anyhoo) to get rid of the pollen that is all over everything in my house. It was so bad yesterday that I actually had to go inside – my nose plugged up and my eyes watered relentlessly just sitting outside enjoying the day. I am not looking forward to doing it but it has to be done and hopefully it will rain later today and tomorrow to clear the air. At least I got the yard mowed before the rain gets here. I have also been getting more motivated to do a few other things I need to do but have been low on my priority list.

It is easy to get wrapped up in current events but I am now approaching things differently and I feel MUCH better. I wanted to pass these things along in case someone needs some ideas.

February 17th, 2020 – Day 9: Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Kansas City, MO USA

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

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On the way to Schiphol Airport from Amsterdam Centraal Station

I woke up at 4:30, an hour before our alarm was supposed to go off. I laid there in the darkness, contemplating our trip during that time; all the things we saw and did and the fun we had. We have a 9-hour flight to ATL then a couple more hours to MCI.

It was such a great trip and after getting back home I am still thinking about it all. For me returning from this trip was much different than the first time over; having been there I already had that initial excitement of being in Europe. I also knew what to expect for not just going to Europe, but parts of the trip (Köln and Amsterdam, and a little bit in Dublin). I really had no idea what to expect about being all over Ireland and that’s the part I am still having trouble processing. The people were so wonderful and friendly. Everywhere we went in Europe everyone was friendly and helpful but Ireland has the overwhelming feeling of belonging. Galway (and the areas around it) was an even more comfortable place to be…not surprisingly, a feel of home given the centuries-long family history in the area.

The adventure of travel – domestic or international, be it by foot, transit, air, sea, or land –  is so fun and amazing. It is also what you make of it and to be self-reliant in a country where you are a visitor/outsider gives one pause to think about that a little deeper (at least it should) when they return home.

You must get out of your comfort zone to actually learn things and have great experiences when and where you travel; it’s not just about taking pictures of the same famous things like everyone else has posted online. Get in the alleys, go in a coffeeshop or a smart shop, do something you wouldn’t normally do, go someplace where your language is not spoken primarily, eat foods you cannot pronounce, try to have conversations with a local. I guarantee you will have some amazing life-changing experiences and countless stories and memories that last a lifetime.

This trip also included my first stay in an Airbnb property (Landsmeer) and I think that its a great way to travel now that I have done it. I will be looking into doing that more on my own – it’s a great way to get the local flavor of where you are and a great alternative to the same old boring chain hotels here in the States. Being retired, most of my travel will probably be with the trailer but there will one times I need to fly someplace and need a place to stay.

A few thoughts about Amsterdam – it’s a fun, easy city to be in but it is so overrun with cannabis tourists and all of the businesses play it up pretty well – to me it is really overblown and gaudy. I can stay home for that without the commerciality but Washington is overrun with people as well, especially the Seattle area.

I do feel really bad for the residents of Amsterdam; it is tough enough just living in a tourist area but what they deal with is pretty bad. Many tourists don’t care about or respect the locals and that is bad – trust me I know firsthand, having lived in touristy areas since 1996. We avoided being in the city on Friday and Saturday night and waited until Sunday to walk around at night.

I will probably be back, but will stay in the outskirts since I not only want to minimize my impact on the city but I also have other places I want to see in The Netherlands. I really do like Amsterdam’s progressiveness (which some call “freedom”…but only if it fits into their own morals). If you have a closed mind Amsterdam is just not for you.

…and some more thoughts about Ireland – I will definitely be going back to visit this beautiful place, full of some of the friendliest people I have ever met in my life. Dublin is fun and there’s a lot of history there that I still want to explore. There is so much more of the island I want to see. I had a lot of fun driving the car and really enjoyed the challenges and the differences (but not the Dublin traffic madness) and I will definitely get a car every time I go there. There is so much more to see and do in Ireland and I have to see and do it. For me, Galway has that indescribable special magic I feel when I am in the mountains.

In all we walked a total of about 58 miles in 8 days; not counting the day we left that’s an average of 7.25 miles a day. Some days were more – I know one or two were 10 miles a day! Pretty good amount of exercise! The girls did great figuring out the public transit and they fit right in. The only issues we had were the mapping apps not updating like they should (slow data speeds on our free international plans) and sending us in the wrong direction for a bit almost every time we wanted directions.

It was their first trip abroad and their first trip carrying everything around on their backs in a backpack and they did fantastic. They really adapted to this new style of travel really quick and they looked like experienced travel pros from the moment we left. To share travel with someone else makes it even better. When it is with someone you care about it is even better yet. I am so glad we got to go.

Thanks for a great trip, girls. I am looking forward to our next adventure!

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The End!!

February 14th, 2020 – Day 6: Dublin to The European Continent

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

COFFEE!!! We need coffee.

It’s up well before the chickens and off to the airport. Destination: Germany. One more trip (for me) to Köln (Cologne) to see that huge cathedral. We didn’t sleep much last night.

We are flying the ultra-budget carrier Ryanair over as I got a screaming deal on the flights and it was cheap enough to put up with the no-frills BS – a savings of $200 a seat. Unfortunately it comes with another price for us – getting out of bed at 3:30 in the morning. Honestly, the price of the flights makes it easy to say “yes” if you can travel with a small carry-on bag. For example, I saw flights from DUB to London for 12 euro. That is amazingly cheap.

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On the tarmac at Dublin airport and up the stairs! Boarding like this is very common in Europe.

Over here, airplanes are looked upon as a bus with wings and that’s what helps Ryanair succeed. Public transportation is what makes Europe run pretty efficiently. It’s too bad we don’t have more of it in the States. In fact, Ireland is going to ban petrol fuel vehicles in 12 years. That is forward thinking.

We landed at Cologne-Bonn airport and got our train tickets to the city.

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Train station in the airport – Bonn, Germany

We got to Köln Hbf and went in to leave our bags. At the train station there is an automated baggage storage- put in €3.00 and your bags whisk away to parts unknown and are stored for two hours so you can walk around unencumbered by luggage.

We stepped outside there was that huge, imposing behemoth in all its dark-stained gothic glory – Cologne Cathedral. I think the girls were quite surprised just how big the building actually is and the look on their faces when we stepped outside said it all.

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The cathedral is still mesmerizing to me. I can’t stop looking at it in amazement and wonder. I just cannot fathom how this was built so long ago without modern methods and tools.

We went into the old market area and I bought frites and a curry wurst for the girls to try. Like the girls said – it’s good but they wouldn’t eat it regularly.

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Köln, Germany

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Old Market area – Köln, Germany

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Old Market area – Köln, Germany

Köln was our entry into the European Continent. After our visit we needed to get train tickets for the next leg of our journey. It was a bit of a challenge but with the help of a nice lady we got it done finally and went to the train platform.

This is probably my final trip to Köln as a destination. I have been here twice now and if I am this way again with someone who wants to see it I would stop again for a quick visit but not on my own. Nothing wrong g with the city – I just want to see other places.

We got on the train and headed north toward our next destination- Amsterdam. It was a 2.5 hour or so ride, with the girls on their own in one car and I was in another due to reserved seating. Once we arrived we took a quick lap a few blocks from Amsterdam Centraal Station to see some sites.

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Goes great with a visit to the coffeeshop!

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For the meat-loving traveler – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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For another kind of meat-loving traveler – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We then figured out getting transit to our place in the ‘burbs.

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It was such an early morning and busy travel day we were tired so we relaxed for another early morning tomorrow.

Check back!

February 13th, 2020 – Day 5: Dublin, Ireland

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

Today we got up and left our rental to go to another hotel close to the airport. We got to the hotel and went for food across the street at a chain called Supermac’s. For a fast food burger it was unexpectedly juicy and delicious and I would compare it to manny “gourmet” burger here. It was a home style patty and it tasted like one my grandma used to make when I was young. An amazing burger for the money.

We got back on a bus to head back to Dublin city center so we could get one more pint and check out some more of the city in more detail. That, and I was also on a mission…more on that in a minute.

Here are a few pictures of our stroll:

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Chelsea and Angie in front of Christchurch – Dublin, Ireland

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Dublin, Ireland

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Irish Rock & Roll Museum – Dublin, Ireland

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River Liffey – Dublin, Ireland

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Dublin, Ireland

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Inside The Temple Bar – Dublin, Ireland

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Dublin, Ireland

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Dublin, Ireland

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Angie in Dublin, Ireland

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You think about that! Dublin, Ireland

One thing I wanted to do when I was here was get a new tattoo but we were so busy I didn’t ‘t think any further about it. Now that we are back in town it is my mission to get one.

And I did.

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“Sláinte” – It is a toast that means “Good Heath” and I got it in memory of my parents.

Chelsea even got a tiny shamrock tattoo on her ankle.

Back to our hotel to prepare for tomorrow’s adventure! See you then!

February 12th, 2020 – Day 4: Dublin, Ireland

Adventure, food, Just things, Music, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

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Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. The bench on the lower left is actually a sculpture of Jesus as a homeless person sleeping on a bench, complete with crucifixion holes in his feet.

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Close-up of sculpture at Christchurch, Dublin, Ireland

When we dropped the car last night we got a bus pass for a RT from the airport and a 48-hour Hop On/Hop Off bus tour around the city. Basically the buses (which operate in many cities around the world) circle in a loop and hit a stop about every 15 minutes. Just as the title says, you can hop on and hop off anywhere along the route for 48 hours after the first use.

We woke up this morning at 10:00 and there was a giant orange ball in the azure blue sky. Finally a good day! I guess we were still a bit jet lagged somewhat but part of the trouble falling asleep may be the excitement. We got ready and hit the bus for a drive around Ireland.

The first part of the tour was recorded. We got on it near our hotel an d went all over the city and saw various sites. It is a great value to get on one of these buses with the access you have to points of interest all over the city.

The big park in Dublin is called Phoenix Park and it is beautiful. It is FIVE times the size of Central Park in NYC. It’s over 1700 acres! It has a polo field, the President’s House and other state buildings, a zoo, hospital and other buildings. It supports 50% of the mammal species in Ireland as well as 40% of the bird species.

We pulled up in front of the bus office and a new driver took the wheel. He did a live narration as he drove us around and it was fun and entertaining. The Spire of Dublin is a huge spire on O’Connell Street – the main street through the city. The tour driver said locals have given it some wonderful names, such as “the Stiffey on the Liffey” (The River Liffey runs through Dublin), “the Stilletto in the Ghetto” and “the Erection at the Intersecrtion”. Apparently some don’t like it.

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Spire of Dublin

We hopped off the bus near the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum and walked across the street to see the Irish Famine Memorial. Very haunting statues commemorating the Potato Famine, which killed about half of Ireland’s population and it didn’t get back to the same level for many many years.

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EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum – Dublin, Ireland

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The Famine Memorial – Dublin, Ireland

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The Famine Memorial – Dublin, Ireland

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Sailing ship museum on the River Liffey – Dublin Ireland

We headed back toward Temple Bar area and went into The Temple Bar for a pint and picked up a few souvenirs. Temple Bar area is where many famous Irish musicians honed their craft and earning their place in Irish music history.

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Chelsea and Angie at The Temple Bar in the Temple Bar area – Dublin, Ireland

When we came out of the bar a guy was coming around the corner up the sidewalk and instead of colliding we hugged and swung around each other. Then the guy behind him, about 6’4″ tall, yells out “I want a hug!” So I said “come on over here!” and we hugged it out and he started jumping up and down like a pogo stick and we were hugging so I did too, my feet off the ground!. We had a great laugh and went on our way. One of those awesome travel memories!

We walked around a little more and I got to see the Rory Gallagher Corner memorial, which was on my list of things to see.

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A tribute to a guitar legend – Temple Bar area, Dubin, Ireland

Rory was a legend; an amazing blues guitarist who unfortunately died in 1995. I was lucky enough to see him open for Rush back in the 80s though. Someone once asked Jimi Hendrix what it was like to be the world’s greatest guitar player. He responded “I don’t know…go ask Rory Gallagher.”. That says quite a lot about the man. I like the album “Top Priority” – check it out.

We then went back to our hotel to heat up some of that delicious leftover dinner from last night. We had wanted to go to visit a historic church a few blocks away but didn’t make it in time.

After some dinner Angie and I went out for a walk and Chelsea stayed in to kick back a bit. We wanted to burn off a little energy to hopefully sleep earlier and also grab a few things for breakfast at the local market. Dublin is quite alive at night and is so much fun. So many interesting people to see and things to eat.

While we were out we also walked over to the Phil Lynott statue. Phil was another legendary Irish musician who founded Thin Lizzy. He died in 1986 but in his short time he influenced many musicians. “Emerald” and “The Cowboy Song” are my favorite Thin Lizzy songs.

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Phil Lynott statue – Dublin, Ireland

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Urban artwork in Dublin, Ireland alley

We grabbed some dinner for Angie and some breakfast groceries then went back to our rental. Tomorrow we move to a different place so we are doing up some laundry and trying to get a little more rest while we can.

More adventures tomorrow! Be here!