Well, today is our last official day of vacation. Tomorrow is a day of travel back to Dublin and then we wake up and head to the airport to see Kaia off to France and the rest of us to Chicago.
After our rain soaked day yesterday we were thrilled to wake up to see the sun and big puffy white clouds today. What a difference the sun makes! Our departure this morning was slightly delayed as we were still drying shoes and clothing from yesterday, and (I suspect) because most of the group was in Roundstone partying at the pub until late last night. The Miller family stayed and had dinner at the castle last night as we are all showing the wear of nearly four weeks on the road.
I can't imagine what the maid must have though when she came into our room this morning. I had been sitting on the floor drying 3 pairs of shoes with the blow drier; the shoes I've worn every day for the last 3 weeks, Josh's tennis shoes, and Jane's walking shoes. The smell was indescribable.
When we did take off we headed out toward Roundstone, a beautiful little seaside village which is becoming very popular among the well to do here in Ireland. When you come into town you go right past the house of the guy who wrote the original River Dance. From Roundstone we made our way along the coast toward Ballyconeely where we had our first 'table stop' of the day. Padraic was busy setting out a table with fruit and granola bars and juice for us.
We only had a little further to go to get to Clifden, so we decided to do the Sky Drive loop before lunch rather than after. That turned out to be a great decision as the weather cooperated perfectly and we were treated to magnificent views of the sea. Based on the color of the sea you would think that you were in the Caribbean not Ireland! As you might guess the Sky drive was a bit of a climb but it takes you right out to a point where you can see ocean in three different directions. Here's the Miller family at our stop on the point.
Of course by this time our guides had already schemed to set up another table stop. They had gone to the store in Clifden and bought some more Bulmers cider, this was the new berry flavor that Padraic had not had before so he was even more excited than usual for us to give it a try. We toasted a great trip and all of our new found friends.
The ride back into Clifden was mostly downhill, but by this time we really were ready for some food. We ate at E.J. Kings pub, Jane and I had the chicken curry, Kaia had ravioli, and Josh had a club sandwich. I think Padraic was a little disappointed that we had strayed from traditional irish fare but by this time our palate's were ready for something a little more spicy. We all had to laugh at Josh during lunch because we were talking about the weather and how lucky we were that it wasn't raining like it was yesterday. I said yes, it only rains in Ireland on days that contain a 'y.' Jane and Kaia laughed and the conversation moved on. Suddenly, from out of the blue, Josh says, "wait every day has a 'y' in it." We still love him.
By the time we finished lunch it was almost 3:00 and it was time to head back to the Castle. The Miller family took off a little ahead of the pack, and then Josh and I separated from Jane and Kaia, we made it back in record time. It was our flattest ride yet. The interesting thing about riding through the bog is how similar it looks to the prairies of Southern Minnesota, except where the glaciers flattened all the granite in Minnesota there were no glaciers here so the granite still stands in small hills and big chunks of rock sticking up out of the landscape.
Josh and I were so fast that I missed the last table stop. A little bit of Jameson Irish Whiskey to toast our final ride. Not being a whiskey fan, that did not hurt my feelings except that Padraic insisted on pouring me a glass in the parking lot of the Castle when he caught up to us.
Tonight we have our final group meal in the main dining room here at the castle. Based on the look I had at the menu last night it will be a feast. This has really been a great way to finish up our vacation. The people in our group have been a lot of fun, and DuVine really lives up to their motto, Bike, Eat, Drink, Sleep. In the photo above we have in the front row, Dan, Craig, Kaia, Laurie, and Joanna. In the back row we have Patty (Dan's wife) Bobby and Brian, Brad and Jane, Josh, and James (Joanna's fiance)
Not in the picture are our two amazing guides for the week Padraic and Kirk. These guys are amazing and made for a really fun week. Its easy to forget that every time we were having fun and sitting around enjoying ourselves they were tending to every minute detail to make sure that our trip was a success.