The Wild West

ws west

Sunday, August 11, 2013

We rolled into Dublin at about 4:30 p.m. and picked up Emmy outside the bus station. After a few wrong turns we eventually found our way onto the M6 via the M4 whipping our way toward Galway and the west of Ireland.

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We cruised right through Galway and headed north up the coast toward the town of Clifden, which is located a few miles from the gate of Connemara National Park.

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It took about two hours for us to reach Clifden, and of course Tarynne insist that I stop the car so she could take some pics of the scenic drive.

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When we arrived in Clifden we made an immediate stop at the first gas station we came across for gas, booze and a few snacks for the night.

Of course it wouldn’t be a successful first day of a road trip without me making a wrong turn in the complete opposite direction of our destination. Shortly after leaving the gas station I turned left instead of right and we bombed down the road for about 20 minutes before realizing I had gone the wrong way.

Tarynne and Emmy can’t be mad though, because my wrong turn resulted in some of the best photographs of the entire trip…

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After back-tracking 20 minutes I finally got us on the right road and about half an hour later we arrived at our campsite, Acton’s Beachside Camping.

It only took a few minutes for us to set up the tent, build a campfire and crack a few brews.

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Oh, and cook a tin of beans and a slice of sandwich meat for dinner. No expense spared.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Well, it didn’t take long for our trip to take a massive turn for the worst.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning in excruciating pain, unable to open my eyes. It felt as if someone was taking about ten needles and stabbing them right through my eyeballs.

Obviously an ideal situation when you are camping in the middle of nowhere.

Given the fact we had just spent the night sleeping amongst a bunch of tall grass, I chalked it up to me being extremely allergic to the foreign Irish grass surrounding our tent.

While I stumbled around the campsite with my eyes clenched closed basically screaming in pain, Tarynne did what Tarynne does best and took pictures of the beautiful campsite I couldn’t see.

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With me blinded by what I though was the alien Irish grass, our trio faced a horrifying, but unavoidable situation. Tarynne was going to have to commandeer the right-hand drive, left-hand shift, manual VW Golf.

It was one of the most terrifying 30 minutes of my life, especially because I had my eyes closed and had absolutely no idea what was going on.

Thankfully we made it safely to Clifden. Upon arrival I went immediately to a pharmacy to get allergy medicine and eye drops. While I tended to my dire medical situation, Tarynne and Emmy picked us up coffees and some breakfast supplies.

With drugs and breakfast supplies in hand, we climbed back into the Golf and cruised out of Clifden toward Connemara National Park. Well, if you can call it cruising. I think we might have left the clutch in the middle of the road somewhere between Clifden and the park gate.

By the time we arrived at Connemara National Park I had managed to get my eyes half open, but only with the assistance of Tarynne’s pink sunglasses and both my hands as sun visors.

Despite some initial reservations I decided to accompany Tarynne and Emmy on the hike into Connemara National Park and up to the summit of Diamond Hill. Although I didn’t see much from the top, it now looks like the view was pretty spectacular.

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By the time we got back to the car my eyes weren’t any better. In fact, they seemed to have gotten worse.

Once again Tarynne got behind the wheel of the rental car and drove us safely 80 kilometers back to Galway where we planned to stay the night.

By the time we arrived in Galway I was in absolute agony and we had to spilt up. Emmy went to find us a place to stay, while I, guided by Tarynne’s hand stumbled through the streets of Galway looking for an Optometrist.

We finally found one inside the Eyre Square Shopping Centre. There was a line to see the optometrist, but I quickly made it clear to the lady behind the counter that I would not be waiting in a line and that the eye doc would be seeing me immediately.

Fortunately, the lady behind the counter abided and I was ushered into the back room to have my eyes inspected.

It took the doctor all of 15 seconds to tell me I had ulcers in both eyes and that I needed to go to the emergency room immediately. He quickly wrote a note for me to hand to the emergency room doctor that said what was wrong and he sent me on my way to University Hospital Galway.

Just our luck. For the first time in six weeks we try to take a trip to see the sights of Ireland and I end up in the goddamn emergency room. Classic.

Anyway, after Tarynne bull-dosed everyone in sight at the hospital and got me to the front of the three-hour line, I saw the doc and got what I needed: a local anesthetic and some antibiotics.

The local anesthetic worked immediately and I spent the rest of our trip pouring it into my eyes so I could somewhat see and enjoy the sights around us.

The good news was that while Tarynne and I dealt with my medical perils, Emmy was able to secure us a nice fancy 35 Euro room for the night.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

On Tuesday we woke up and headed straight to the bus station to catch a ride to the ferry terminal so we could spend the day on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands.

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When we arrived at the island we immediately hit up the Spar grocery store for lunch and then rented bikes to explore the rest of the island.

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Oh, and of course before leaving on the bike ride we went shopping for wool hats…

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Just in case you were wondering, riding a bike with your eyes closed in a place you have never been before is not exactly the greatest idea.

Although I once again missed most of it, the bike ride around the island was beautiful.

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It was a very wobbly ride, but we all made it to the main attraction of the island, Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric fort on the edge of a 100 meter high cliff.

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After spending about half an hour at the fort we walked back to our bikes and began the ride back to the ferry dock.

On the way back we stopped at a beach and relaxed for a few minutes in the surprisingly hot Irish sun.

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When we got back to the ferry dock we had time for a quick pint before catching the boat and bus back to Galway where we once again spent the night.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Wednesday morning we grabbed a coffee at Butlers Chocolates and then a quick breakfast sandwich before setting out in the car due south toward the Cliffs of Moher.

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Google drive time says the trip only takes 1 hour and 23 minutes. There’s clearly not a line in Google’s code that accommodates for the difficulty of navigating the tiny Irish roads in the deathtrap on wheels.

This paint job is probably the only thing that could have made the situation any better.

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Where’s Xzibit when you need him?

Anyway, about three hours after leaving Galway we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are well worth the trek and without a doubt the best “tourist attraction” we have seen in Ireland to date.

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With the low clouds and mist coming off the sea we might as well have been on the set of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.


We spent a good three hours at the Cliffs before starting the drive back home.

On the return journey we drove back via Limerick where we dropped Emmy off so she could catch the bus to Dublin.

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We finally arrived back home by 10 p.m.

If we learned anything from the trip it’s that Galway is cool, the Cliffs of Moher are dramatic, eye infections suck and despite the shaky start, Tarynne is actually a better driver than me.

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