Finn McSpool Pedals Into the Bronze Age

After the hustle and bustle of Cork and narrowly escaping the swirling pit of evil in Galway, Mr Husband, Finn McSpool, and I woke up to the fresh air and bird song of Inishmore. Even better? Breakfast was ready!

After slogging through a vast amount of protein, a gallon of tea, and a mountain of mushrooms, we waddled down the hill into the heart of the big town (okay, village) of Kilronan to rent bikes for the two full days we’d be on the island.

Now, before we get too deep into the next bit, let me just state that I used to cycle A LOT on my 20-mile round trip commute to work, but with Portland drivers growing more aggressive, no commute forcing me to ride, and simply being too lazy to pump up the tires, I’ve slacked off on my cycling skills.

Still, they do say once you learn to ride a bike you never forget. Um, clearly “they” haven’t met me.

About five minutes into our first outing, I was on the ground with the bike (aka “Killer”) physically attacking me (or so it felt).

Finn’s ready to go, but it looks like I’ll be doing all the pedaling.

In my defense, I’m used to “real” bikes that require swinging your leg over to mount. Killer was a step-through (“girly”) frame with a rack on the back. With my natural inclination to swing my leg over, I misjudged the distance of the swing and got tangled in the metal puzzle of that damn rack.

There was pain, both physical and mental, but we had sights to see and the first was Dún Aengus (or Dún Aonghasa if you to get all Celtic about it), a Bronze Age fort that’s touted as Inishmore’s Must-See attraction. So, recalling Harry Potter’s introduction to Buckbeak, I cautiously approached Killer and, after he gave me permission, climbed into the saddle.

Soon, I was nervously pedaling along 9 km of coastal road and enduring scenery like this to get to the Dún Aengus visitor center. Continue reading

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Finn Learns the True Nature of Evil in Ireland

Don’t get me wrong with that post title. The Irish aren’t the evil ones. The majority are, in fact, helpful, welcoming, and able to talk circles around you. However, they aren’t always good at keeping evil Englishmen off their island.

This inability of the Irish Border Control to recognize evil was true in the past and led to a lot of strife for the Emerald Isle. As we’ll soon discover, some of that evil-induced strife continues today.

With our trip to Kinsale having taken up most of a day, Finn McSpool, Mr Husband, and I only had one more day to endure in Cork (and by that I mean, one more day to spend as much time  away from Mr. Weirdo’s AirB&B as possible) before we caught the Citylink bus to Galway for our next adventure and an encounter with evil.

Unfortunately, this malevolent encounter turned out not to be our first for this vacation, nor would it be our last.

Besides a spin around the Crawford Art Gallery, a linger over a coffee at the English Market, and a wander along the river, we wasted a good amount of time in an Aldi we stumbled upon. Since there’s few things more fascinating to me than non-American grocery stores, this was a great way to kill time. And Finn even found a bag of snacks made just for him…

Notice that monster on the bag of “Creepies” is a ginger? That should have been a sign of the evil to come. Continue reading

kinsale, ireland, charles fort

Finn McSpool: Star of Kinsale’s Charles Fort

War, huh, good god, what’s it good for?” The next line is supposed to be “Absolutely nothin‘” but war is actually good for one thing (at least in Kinsale, Ireland, anyway): fascinating architecture to explore.

After Finn’s self-discovery/holy revival in Cork, I thought we better get out of town to let things settle down. Since Kinsale is an easy bus ride away — and since Mr Husband and I made a little error last time we were there (more on that in a sec) — we grabbed Finn and headed for the bus station.

Now, if you want quaint, Kinsale is your kind of place! This bayside town sits on the southern coast (southeast, to be exact) of Ireland and is about 28 km straight south of Cork. The town itself is a tourist mecca due to its colorful shop fronts and status as foodie central.

But we weren’t there for the food. We were there to explore Charles Fort. First though, we had to get to the fort. As usual, Finn took up his napping position in the backpack while Mr Husband and I trudged 3 km uphill to the site. But the views along the way were amazing! Continue reading

Finn McSpool: Treasure Hunter of the Oregon Coast

Yes, it’s time again to hop back across the pond from Finn McSpool’s trip to Ireland for another local adventure — this time on the Oregon Coast where Finn not only tries his hand at rock climbing, but also uncovers buried treasure.

With the thermometer hovering right near 100 degrees (about 37-38 degrees C) Portland has been trapped in the sweltering temperatures of a heat wave (and after a brief reprieve, we’re about ready to embark on another one…ugh), which means about eight-five percent of Portlanders have been heading to the beach for some relief. Finn, however, wanted nothing to do with those crowds, so we made our trek to the Oregon Coast a few days before the sun launched it’s assault.

Our first stop was the fabulous stretch of sand called Oceanside. Longtime readers of this blog will remember Finn’s previous excursion to this beach and the super scary, safety-schmafety tunnel. This time we skipped the tunnel and, with Finn kicking back in the backpack, Mr Husband and I took a long walk on the beach picking up all kinds of treasure…Treasure that Finn took credit for once we stopped for a photo shoot. Continue reading

Beastie Self-Discovery on the Streets of Cork, Ireland

After our little side trip into local library culture last week, we’re back in Ireland this week. And while we may be bidding a sad (and buttery) farewell to Kilkenny, it’s time for new locales and for Finn McSpool to experience his version of self-discovery. Yeah, probably best not to guess what that means, just keep reading.

Our first stop on our final whirl through the streets of Kilkenny, according to Finn, was Black Adder. I need to stop letting him watching so much British comedy, because we’re actually stopping in at Black ABBEY. Since this place seemed a bit more somber and reflective than St. Canice’s, I kept Finn firmly locked inside my bag while Mr Husband and I checked it out.

“borrowed” from the Visit Kilkenny website

This Abbey was built way back in the early 1200s and was founded by the Dominican Black Friars (hence “Black” Abbey). These fellows may have been obedient to god, but they had other opinions about more earthly authorities and so built their church outside the city walls (which we’re going to get to in a sec) so they could retain some of their freedom to come and go as they pleased. In other words, curfew, schmerfew.

After picturing a Rowan Atkinson-esque monk thumbing his nose and making some snarky comment at a wall guard, you can step inside and marvel at the abbey’s stained glass.

After this moment of reflection it was time to stroll down and grab some lunch in the cafe in the undercroft of the nearby St Mary’s Cathedral. Seriously, if you’re ever in Kilkenny GO there…the food is inexpensive, filling, and super tasty and the staff is warm and welcoming. This guy heard we were going and look how sad he was that he couldn’t join us.

Poor puppy

After lunch it was time for more exploring of Kilkenny’s medieval streets that (much like Edinburgh and York) feature oodles of narrow little secret passageways between the main thoroughfares such as this… Continue reading