Trip Post #3: Doolin and Ennis

Mary's 4On our fifth day of the trip, we took a bus to Doolin, a teensy little village on the west-coast of Ireland. We arrived at our bed and breakfast, Riverdale Farmhouse (above), and our host, Mary, treated us to some warm home-made scones and tea. It was a really nice treat after being out in the chilly, windy, rainy weather.

Before we headed into town, I met the farm’s horse:Horse Doolin 5I went into her pen because she was far away from the gate when I got there. When I approached her, she walked away from me and went back up to the gate where I just came in. I stayed where I was, and she came back over to me, made a “harrumph” sound and swung her head toward the gate (which translated to a very obvious “Come with me, you idiot human.”), and walked back to the gate.

I figured out that she was saying, “The only use I have for you is to be fed by you, so get back out to the other side of the gate and feed me the grass that I can’t reach. You dummy.”

So I followed my instructions, and she allowed me to pet her once in a while in between fist-fulls of the nicest grass I could find.

Horse Doolin 4“More food, dummy!”

Horse Doolin 1

Horse Doolin 2“And you stopped feeding me because…?”

Horse Doolin 3

“*Sigh* There better be some grass in your hand when I look back.”

After I hadĀ fed the horse every single blade of grass I could find, we took the 20 minute walk into town.

Doolin 1

Doolin 2

Doolin 4We passed a sweet little garden center, and talked with the nice guy there:

Doolin Garden Center

Artichokes 2Artichokes!

There’s this type of rose there, Sanders’ White Climbing Rose, that smells like the best smell on earth.

We continued into town, where I overheard a visitor’s center clerk complaining about a group of male travelers who couldn’t figure out their lives. “When men travel without women, it doesn’t work.”

After walking for a while, we stopped for a rest at the Doolin Hostel, and had a treat.

Treat Doolin 1

Treat Doolin 2

Doolin Treat 3This mix-in hot chocolate was one of my Aunt Lyn’s highlights of the trip. šŸ™‚

After our treat, we continued through town, and checked out the shops.

Doolin^ That is pretty much “town.”

We kept going, and reached the coast, where we could see the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher Portrait 3Wait, where are the Cliffs of Moher?

Cliffs of Moher Portrat 2Oh, there they are!

Cliffs of Moher 6

Cliffs of Moher 7

Cliffs of Moher 1

Cliffs of Moher 4After that, we visited the ruins of a church, which were now basically a cemetery.

Church Doolin 1

Church Doolin 2Then we had dinner at McDermott’sĀ pub, featuringĀ traditional musicians.

Pub Music DoolinWe were seated at a perfect table just in front of the musicians, but we had to share the table with whomever needed a spot. We ended up with a really nice French family, with whom I had a fun half-French half-English conversation.

After the family left, an older American gentleman sat in the seat next to mine, and shared life wisdom with me. Things like, “Invest in mutual funds.” “Get married before you’re 30” (Oops!) and “Don’t blow your money on a new car and a fancy coffee every day.”

In the morning the next day, we had a delicious breakfast (poached eggs, toast, warm scones, and tea) at the farmhouse, and Mary drove us to the bus stop in town.

While on the bus to Ennis, we overheard a man who was perturbed that he hadn’t been picked up at his usual stop (which wasn’t an official stop). When the driver asked him how long he’s been using that stop, he said, “I’ve been standin’ there my whole life!” “Have they been lettin’ ye on there yer whole life?” Angry Irish men šŸ™‚

Anyway, we arrived in Ennis, and checked into our lodging, The Rowan Tree Hostel (an excellent hostel):

Hostel EnnisAfter checking in, I set out on my own to check out the town. Not five minutes into my walk, two tourist guys stopped me to ask if I knew a good place for dinner. Umm…I just got here. :/ It was a theme throughout the trip that people kept asking me for directions. 10 people in total! Apparently I look like a friendly, approachable, knowledgeable local. šŸ™‚

After checking out the shops in town, I met Aunt Lyn at the hostel for some bruschetta at the Rowan Tree Hostel Cafe, which had beautiful Rowan wood floors datedĀ from 1740.

Then we checked out the Ennis Friary, which was originally built in the 13th century.

Friary Ennis

After shopping a bit in town, we had dinner at Brogan’s Bar and Restaurant (which stops serving food at 6..???), and who promised to have good live traditional music.

Dinner EnnisServing food on a wood tray was a popular thing in Ireland/UK.

The musicians were good (I suppose? I really don’t know), but they didn’t know one another, and they didn’t seem very seasoned (they would just chat with each other between tunes and talk through what they should play next).

And there was no singing.

Oh well.

We got to do laundry at the hostel, and putting on all three of my sweaters warm from the dryer was one my highlights of the trip. jk

Laundry Ennis 2It really was pretty great, since I was cold basically the entire week.

Next up, England!

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Family Camping

This past weekend, I went camping with a bunch of my extended family. Wellll….when I say camping, I mean this kind of thing:

Photo (43)It’s an actual camp, like that kids go to in the summer. We all grew up going to it, and they have these family weekend things that we do once in a while. It’s as close to real camping as this girl gets.

So guess what I did first. Find all the animals!!! The camp has a little nature center where they have various animals that you can hang out with.

Photo (41)When I was a kid camper, I would basically spend all of my timeĀ there. One year,Ā they had like 6 baby goats. They were tiny and adorable and soooo friendly. They would all just come up to me and head-butt my legs and then play king of the hay bale with each other. They were the best! They also had a litter of golden retriever puppies once. So much fun!

This year they basically just had chickens, rabbits, and two goats that were really cute but weren’t as friendly as my old baby goatĀ pals. They pretty muchĀ just wanted me to feed them weeds and then get the heck out of their lives.

Photo (50)I did get to go on a horse ride.

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Those velvet noses!

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Photo (45)My horse, French Fry, was a bit of a princess. She wanted to eat at all times (which of course, you’re not supposed to let them do). And she tried to trick me into letting her by acting like she was going to scratch her leg, but then surreptitiously grabbing a mouthful of greens. The little sneak. This picture is blurry because I had to take it very quickly before she tried to grab more food.

Then we hung out by the beach.

Photo (48)And watched people climb stuff. Like crates!

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This is the camp director.

Then the whole fam got together for aĀ raucousĀ late night Bible Trivia sesh!

Photo (32) - CopyIt was WILD! Really, though, it was probably my favorite part of the weekend.

We left the next day, but we had just enough time for a little relaxation in the woods overlooking the lake.

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Annual Horse Ride

Just went on my annual horseback ride with my dad.

There was this cute little kitty at the ranch, so I cuddled/played with him a little before the ride.

His name was Cutie Pie!
His name was Cutie Pie!

 

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My horse, Bob.
My horse, Bob.

 

My horse seemed to prefer to be by himself, so we ended up at the end of the line, pretty far back from the rest of the group. It was kind of nice, since I didn’t have to keep pulling his nose out of the next horse’s tail, and it kind of felt like I was on my own little ride.

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The group. See how far back we are? That was all Bob.
The group. See how far back we are? That was all Bob.

We also went to an art fair, where we saw this cat-on-a-leash:

Named "Maestro". He actually spent most of his time on his owner's shoulder.
Named “Maestro”. He actually spent most of his time on his owner’s shoulder.

 

 

 

Trip to Kentucky

My parents and I just visited my cousin Debbie’s horse farm in Kentucky. We drove down, and stopped in Madison, WI on the way.

When we arrived in Kentucky, this was our Welcome Committee:

Stacy the cat, Otis on the left, Oliver on the right.
Stacy the cat, Otis on the left, Oliver on the right.

I love me some animals, so I spent a lot of time with these guys and the other creatures around the farm.

One of the first things we did there was to gather the goose eggs. Cousin Debbie doesn’t want any more geese, so she makes sure to collect the eggs as soon as possible (there are new ones basically every day). There are three or so nests around the farm, and the nests are made under the earth and covered with straw on top, so you just barely see the tops of the eggs in the grass. Here I am, giving Debbie the eggs we found. Trying to be very careful!

DSC00747Debbie made omelets with the eggs. This is what they look like when broken. So orange and big!

DSC00758Then we visited the horses and their babies!!!

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DSC00742That’s Amelia, the pot-bellied pig. I’ll talk more about her later.

First things first, vet check for a pregnant horse! ACK!!

photoHere’s the sonogram machine (the horse fetus is 30 days old, it’s about the size of a cashew).

DSC00761Then we took a tour of the Woodford Reserve Distillery, where they make Bourbon Whiskey. As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, this is where I learned a lot about something that has no relevance to me personally. But it was very interesting!

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Below is a fermentor. It’s filled with sour mash (one of the first steps of the process). It looks like an enormous vat of bubbling vomit. And it smells like yeast. And they just leave them open like that, for anyone to just drop in their sunglasses or camera or… spit. On the right is our tour guide, who was fantastic.Ā 
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Here are the 3 copper stills.Ā 
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Finished product. It’s kept in one barrel for at least 2 years (at this distillery, they keep them in there for 8 years). They’ve recently started moving them into a second barrel (which they treat slightly differently to infuse the Bourbon with a different flavor) for a few years.
Photo1 (6) - CopyOn the next day, we hung out at the farm for a while, where I got to make friends with Wilbur (on the left), and Patty (on the right), the German Shepherds. We were just hanging out, when Wilbur made it very clear that he wanted to be chased (he nipped another dog and gave a little bounce away/look back smiling move). The other dogs didn’t take the bait, so I chased him, which he seemed to love. He was fast! Afterward, he got shy and seemed to want to ensure that we were okay again. He seemed to be a little shy with strangers, usually approaching them (even me, and I’m quite a bit smaller than he) cautiously with flattened ears. I ended up just kneeling whenever he approached, and that seemed to make him feel safe. They were the sweetest, most beautiful dogs.

DSC00840I also made friends with Amelia, the pig. She made me nervous at first, because I had heard that she had started to get a little snippy with people, so I tried to give her space and let her know that I wasn’t a threat. But while I was in the big pen with the dogs, she came up to me slowly (she does everything slowly) several times. I didn’t know if she just wanted to check me out or if she was trying to tell me to beware, but I found out later that it was secret option #3, she wanted me to pet her! I found this out while I was sitting in the grass, and she ambled over to me, and she sloooowlly laid down next to me. Debbie was there, and she told me to scratch her belly. I still wasn’t so sure, but I did so cautiously, and the bristles on Amelia’s back raised (see the blond mohawk in the below pic). I’m used to cats, who raise their hair in fear or aggression, but I soon learned that Amelia does it when she’s pleased. And boyyyy was she pleased. Here’s a pic of that historic moment:

"Uhh...you're sure she's not going to bite me?"
“Uhh…you’re sure she’s not going to bite me?”

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Zoom in on that happy face. "Hog heaven" my mom called it.
Zoom in on that happy face. “Hog heaven” my mom called it.

So I ended up spending lots of time with Ms. Amelia. She would usually come over to me grunting her request to be scratched, and then she would ease herself to the ground (it looked a bit like a tree being felled: slow slow slowww KABOOM! TIMBERRRR). Then I would scratch her up, and after a while I’d take a rest. She would eventually awake and realize that I was no longer fulfilling the scratching duties, so she would make her little pig noises, roll over and nudge me with her snout. “Um. Excuse me! You must continue the scratching!” So of course, I had to comply. I wasn’t familiar with pig noises prior to this, but she gave me a crash course. She usually did the little grunts (a greeting grumble, a pleased grmm grmm grmm), but sometimes she gave out a little low squeal, which had the cadence of an old timey ah-OO-gah horn. This meant, “Ooohh yeah, right there” or “HEY!!! I’m not happy that you’ve stopped scratching me!!!!!”

Oh, and Amelia is a family pet, not a farm animal. She spends as much time in the house as the dogs do.

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That night, we had a HUGE bonfire, and made s’mores and sang.

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This is not a forced perspective, that is the actual size of the fire.

Here are some pictures of the farm.

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The house on the right, the barn in the background.

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The trip was wonderful.