Monday, May 28, 2012

Don't Hold Your Breath

What kind of ingrate goes on an all-expense paid trip to Ireland and Iceland, then waits nine months to blog about it? You’re lookin’ at her. OK, so you’re not – you’re just reading the first of her very belated blogposts about the trip.

After our very inspiring and character-building 200-mile hike on the Camino de Santiago in the fall of 2010 – about which it also took me months to get around to writing, I figured 80 miles on the Kerry Way in Ireland would be a relative piece of cake. So when Kathie told me that Kathleen was planning the trip and asked if I would like to go…well, really, what would you say? 

We took off on Friday, August 12th, for Dublin. The overnight flight was the crampedest – yes, that is now a word in my dictionary - I have ever experienced. I mean, really, Delta? We’re not 3 feet tall.  A few more inches between rows would not kill you, would it? Or maybe those seats should have been reserved for leprechauns. 

Upon arriving in Dublin on Saturday morning, we caught a bus that stopped right in front of the Portabello Bed and Breakfast, a lovely Victorian row house on South Circular Road, owned by Paul and Eileen Coughlin. We dragged our stuff in, chatted with Paul a bit, got situated in the front basement apartment (1 room with 3 beds and an itty bitty bathroom in a closet-sized space – which is not really so unusual in Europe), grabbed some euros at the ATM across the street, and hopped on the bus to downtown. Later we found out that we could easily walk there, but taking the bus this time was a good thing because we met a young lady who recommended Taste Food Co. for lunch.   


I had the roasted Mediterranean vegetable something or other (the menu description: “toasted focaccia buttered with our own hummus, topped with rocket tossed in balsamic dressing, mozzarella, basil pesto & roasted med veg”), which was quite tasty.

Then we wandered around a bit on our way to the tourist office. Along the way, we passed this sign for McDonald’s.

(Whaddya think – is that a hoot or what?) Then picked up some tickets for River Dance on Sunday evening.  We finally made it to the tourist office where we bought tickets for the hop on-hop off bus and got the scoop on Molly Malone from the tourist office lady.

According to Wikipedia, “Molly is commemorated in a statue designed by Jeanne Rynhart, erected to celebrate the city's first millennium in 1988. Placed at the bottom of Grafton Street in Dublin, this statue is known colloquially as 'The Tart With The Cart', 'The Dish With The Fish', 'The Trollop With The Scallop(s)', 'The Dolly With the Trolley', and 'The Flirt in the Skirt'. The statue portrays Molly as a busty young woman in seventeenth-century dress. Her low-cut dress and large breasts were justified on the grounds that as ‘women breastfed publicly in Molly's time, breasts were popped out all over the place.’"

In Dublin's fair city,
Where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"
"Alive, alive, oh,
Alive, alive, oh",
Crying "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh".

She was a fishmonger,
But sure 'twas no wonder,
For so were her father and mother before,
And they each wheeled their barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"

She died of a fever,
And no one could save her,
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone.
Now her ghost wheels her barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"

Apparently U2 did a version of that.  Huh.

So we hopped on and off the hop on-hop off bus – which is obviously what you’re supposed to do - to get the lay of the land.  Somewhere about halfway through the route, the three of us started nodding off.  Having slept all of 3 minutes on the flight, we were pretty tired puppies.  When the route ended, we were not sorry to hop off for good and get some dinner at O'Neill's, where Paul had recommended we get the fish and chips.  The fish and chips were so-so, but what do Yankees know about such things?

When will I write about the rest of the trip?  Who knows?  It might be tomorrow…or it might be in another nine months.  Don’t hold your breath.  It's been so long since I've blogged that I have to catch up on all the new Blogger tricks.  Oy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunset Trail, Laguna Meadow, and More

A couple weeks ago, two friends and I set out on a Jim Duggan adventure to the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego - and an amazing adventure it was. Jim is a horticulturalist for the Getty Museum Central Garden, a wonder of the art and plant world, and an expert on San Diego hiking. I can remember the first time I looked over the edge to the Getty Central Garden, a Wow! experience, unforgettable like where were you when you heard Kennedy died.

Everyone goes to the Anza Borrego desert for early spring flowers. How many know about the spectacular mountain meadows and hillsides of the Lagunas in springtime? Our mission was Noble Canyon in late April to hike and see the flowers.  The original trail was put in by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's.  Why aren't we putting people to work these days with lasting projects like this?


We set off through  pine and oak forests, Kathleen (pink shirt) covered head to toe due to severe allergy to poison oak, Jim in his trademark shorts regardless of rattlesnake risk.  While our trail head was Penny Pines leading onto the Noble Canyon trail, Jim cut off at one point to our destination, the Sunset Trail skirting Laguna Meadow.

We climbed to a ridge with view to a beautiful valley below which may be Filaree Flats. 

Still everywhere is evidence of the wildfires that raged through this area almost a decade ago.  I worried about all the critters that must have been crisped, but Kathleen reassured me that many smaller animals went underground, the larger ones were able to flee, and not many carcasses were found after the fire.

Life renews itself in the spring., like these sprouting black oak leaves.  The very baby ones are still red.

Farther on, the long Laguna Meadow opened up and I got a Wyeth Christina photo of Debra.

After heading into the forest ridge down to Big Laguna Lake in the distance, we headed back along the edge of the meadow, Jim and Kathleen stopping to examine, photo and note the botany of the area.  Deb said later she was grateful for their stops.  He's a hard guy to keep up with.

 I took a few flower photos of my own,

we headed back to the trail head, and climbed into the car to head north on Sunrise Highway.  Hillsides on both sides of the road were filled with Ceanothus, the California version of lilacs, and magenta western redbud. How many times can you say Wow!

We got out again at the Pedro Fages Historical Marker,

which reads,

On October 29, 1772, Colonel Pedro Fages headed east from San Diego searching for army deserters.  It was the first entry by Europeans into Oriflamme Canyon.  From there, Fages and his men travelled on through Cajon Pass, around the Mojave and the Central Valley, and eventually reached Mission San Luis Obispo.  As a result, he discovered the Colorado Desert and the San Joaquin Valley.

Whoever placed this marker was clearly having a Columbus discovered America moment.

Colonel Pedro Fages commanded the original Spanish army sent to stake a claim in California.   Along with Father Junipero Serra, they all climbed the Presidio hill in 1769 and planted the cross for Spain.  

You gotta wonder about a guy willing to head this far out into uncharted- for them - territory looking for a few deserters.  I wondered how they made their way, fed themselves,  and kept on track until I read this letter written by Don Pedro to Don Jose de Galvez.  If you're from San Diego, take the time to read this part of our history.   You've also gotta wonder about anyone who would desert in an unknown land into the back wilderness of San Diego County.

An old road could be seen going east, crossing into Oriflamme Canyon, used by travelers and stage coaches in the 1800's, but we turned west along an unnamed trail with wonderful tree skeletons,

and a view toward Cuyamaca Reservoir.

We were all walked out for the day, ready to turn back, when Jim pointed out a stripe through the valley below.

"Part of the old road where it turned to go into San Diego", he said.  

History, it's everywhere.