Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sammy on Saturday

"How's that girl doing at the university?"

"Dad ... are you talking about the President?"

"Yes ... her."

"She is doing fine."

"I hope she does something about education."

"Well, I think she does something about education every day."

"I mean something about how expensive it is. I read that we are spending a ridiculous amount of money. Maybe we should try to find other things to keep kids off the street."

"What?"

"Yeah that's right ... we spend too much money on education and health care and ... entertainment."

"Entertainment?"

"You didn't know that?"

"Dad ... the government doesn't ..."

"And ... I think we should probably get rid of football."

"At USF?"

"Everywhere."

"What? College football is your life. You watch every game played on TV."

"I could do without it ... it's ruining the country."

"LSU included."

"No ... that's different Joel. You know that."

I looked at Sammy and just shook my head. Last week ... the doctor said that he was on his last legs. His heart was failing, he wasn't eating and he was quarantined from the rest of the residents with a bad eye infection. He looked like he was about ten years younger.

"Dad ... your eye looks better."

"I know ... no more mensa (translation: mersa)."

"You're getting out more?"

"First time in weeks I went to Red Lobster."

"Good."

"You know what I decided? I want to eat a shrimp."

"That's a switch."

"I always was taught I'd go to hell if I ate that stuff. Anything that wasn't kosher"

"You used to eat bacon every morning."

"That was different."

Ahhhh ... what a surprise.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Irish Adventures Part 4


One thing that you notice immediately when you arrive in Galway is that you are VERY OLD if you are over 30. There are two major universities in town and apparently, anyone our age (over ... um ... 40) doesn't come near the place.

Our hotel was located right on Eyre Square, filled with great little shops and quite a few pubs. Get this ... across the street was a TX Maxx (no relation to TJ Maxx) and a Penney's (no relation to JC Penneys ... or JCP).

What we also found out ... later that evening ... was that there was a nightclub behind the hotel that played loud music until 2AM and the walls in our rooms vibrated with every bass note. To get to the lobby, we had to crawl over drunken bodies and rivers of ... well, you don't want to know.

Undaunted, we decided to venture to the streets and found the greatest little restaurant/pub that featured Irish dancing and music.

The guitar player sang traditional ballads like Rose of Tralee, Danny Boy ... and Ring of Fire by Johnny O'Cash.

The bar even had two Irishmen who sat in their usual chairs and talked politics and traded barbs about each other's wives ... and then played who could drink the most Guinness before passing out in the black pudding.








We headed back to our Disco/Hotel for the night and got about 10 minutes of sleep before venturing out on our next adventure ... The Kylemore Abbey in Connemara.

The Abbey in inhabited by Benedictine Nuns but was built by a wealthy doctor from London for his wife. It has 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a Gothic cathedral and a family mausoleum. The wife must have been high maintenance ... either that or they had a lot of guests spend the night who didn't have alot of bathroom needs. Anyway, as the story goes, he sold it to a Duke who had a gambling problem (really) and went bankrupt.

It costs about $50 now to tour the abbey (some tour ... you can only see 5 rooms and a few statues).

The nuns bought it in 1920 and turned it into a boarding school for kids who liked to hide behind bear cut-outs.

They closed the school a few years ago (bears must have gone out of style) but continue to reside there.




After this tour ... we headed to the Ashford Castle to take ANOTHER tour. Fortunately ... it was closed.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Irish Adventures Part 3

We got an early start from Killarney in the morning.

Dennie was our resident tour guide and read about every historic and non historic fact that Steve Rick or Rick Steves (whoever he is) wrote about as we drove.

We headed to the Dingle Peninsula.

Ed note: Had to laugh at the name. In New Orleans ... Mr. Bingle is Santa's helper at Maison Blanche during Christmas time (he's a snowman with the ice cream cone hat) As a kid we used to sing the song: "Jingle jangle jingle ... here comes Mr. Bingle"


The town of Dingle was right out of a movie.

Fish and chips were the order of the day ... Guinness of course was served ... shopping ... sightseeing ...

The coastline truly is one of the most incredible places I have ever seen in my life...


Incredible views ...


... in every direction ...



... literally ...



There is even a full size statue of Jesus sitting in the mountain. If you look very closely ... you can see that there is a candle sitting at the foot of the statue. I held Debbie's feet as she placed it in the mountain. (Just kidding ... actually she WANTED to get a closer look but I took the picture instead).

Then back to the car where Dennie read to us about ... our next stop for the night ... Galway.

Irish Adventures Part 2

Landed in Dublin on Tuesday morning and began what was to become the longest day of my life. (and a lot of fun)

We rented a car at the airport.

Enterprise was in a little room removed from the rest of civilization ... they must have ticked off someone at the airport. Tom agreed to drive (an act of unselfishness that I am sure he has regretted ever since).

After agreeing to the insurance clause by depositing our first born children, we were off.

Those of you unfamiliar with the Irish countryside, the roads were apparently constructed by sheepherders who had just finished off a few hundred gallons of Guinness. First of all ... the steering wheels of their cars are on the right. Secondly, they drive on the left hand side of the road. Third ... and most importantly ... the roads are about 12 inches wide and sheep have the right of way.

No one returns rental cars with rear view mirrors still attached. They are ripped off by the foliage along the sides of the roads.

I rolled down the window to get a picture of a sheep and my arm was almost severed from my body.


It was a pretty cool picture though.

Poor Tom had to have driven about a thousand miles that day.

We drove from Dublin to Kinsale .... the food capital of Ireland ... and had lunch at the Blue Haven Cafe.

Great cafe with lots of atmosphere. The Irish are not known for tasty food but I discovered that the food DID have a taste.

All the food pretty much tasted the same.



Except for the gas stations ...

The gas stations were the best. Not only did they serve good food but they had hair salons, spas, pharmacies, dry cleaners, everything.





AND ... they had 3000 forms of Cadbury chocolates. 

We then drove down to County Cork and Baltimore ... to a great Pub and had our first Guinness. (See top picture

We FINALLY wound up in Kilarney where we spent the night at the Riverside Hotel.

Here is the view from our room.

Despite rain showers every few hours that last about five minutes ... Ireland is truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Part 3 to come ...

Irish Adventures Part 1


Just got home from Ireland. I went through withdrawal without access to my computer so I am writing it all now.




Sunday morning ... our journey began.

Debbie and Dennie, twin sisters who were celebrating their (fill in the blank) birthday, were flying to Ireland with Tom and I. That's right ... Ireland ... on Delta. 

Those familiar with our airline disasters will love this one.

I was not feeling quite myself on Sunday. I had no energy and really could not open my eyes. We ordered breakfast at the airport and I fell asleep in my omelette. I can't tell you what the conversation was but I know it was something like ... "What the hell's wrong with him? Move his sleeve ... He's in my coffee." 

Meanwhile our ever-present stand by status was in jeopardy ... What started out as plenty of space turned into a waiting list of 325 ... We didn't even make it to New York. They propped me up in a corner while Debbie frantically searched the computer for alternate routes ... Finland, Vietnam, Cairo ... 

Nothing.





Even Dennie helped.





Even Tom ... wait ... he didn't help ... he was doing a few emails to Doug. 













We decided to go through Atlanta . There was a window. (Actually ... That window was really the next day.) 

After I walked into the Ladies Bathroom and wiped the drool off my shirt (all true) ... I realized I had accidentally taken a strong form of Xanax that looked exactly like the small dose of synthroid I take in the morning. Ironically, the Xanax was prescribed by a doctor friend for sleeping on long fllights.

Brilliant.

Our luck changed on Monday in Atlanta. We all got Business Class to Ireland, I was not comatose, Debbie was now a genius ... And we were off.  




(I was really still a little comatose .. or maybe just a little bit ... stoned.)