Oh, where to begin.
After our brimful week in Iceland, we headed on to Ireland for another month-plus of travel.
If you’ve been around for a while, you might recall the September that we spent here two years back, exploring our way around the country, following the Atlantic coast.
That trip inspired this one, as we longed to return and dive deeper into this fascinating, history-steeped land.
We revisited some favorite spots from our previous trip (including two days at the free and fabulous National Museum of Ireland), returned to our favorite Irish pub for sandwiches and stew, and even a sought out a jewelry vendor from last time, from whom Lupine and I each purchased a treasure when we were here before. Lupine was so hoping they would still be around!
Not only were they, but amazingly, they remembered her (and the rest of us) from our last visit. They recalled how well behaved and polite both kids were (something they told us the last time we were here as well), and might have said something about us being a “hippie family” but don’t quote me on that.
They shared wonderful stories, and we must have spent most of an hour with them before moving on with the rest of our day (with a new piece of jewelry each for Lupine and me, of course).
We set a few goals before returning to Ireland, to improve upon our last visit. One was to find local, organic produce instead of eating mostly plastic-packed, imported, conventional veggies from the grocery store.
And we did it! With a little noodling around online plus talking to our Air B&B host, we found delicious raw milk, vibrant local eggs, and fresh organic veggies. Even kombucha and live kraut. Yes! Such a triumph. We talked about food miles with the farmer, then loaded our packs with nourishing, local fare. Our bodies and hearts were delighted with the shift.
From Dublin we headed south to a spot that was the highlight of our trip last time: Mahon Falls and the Magic Road. Our first visit there was pure magic, and we hoped for more of the same this time.
We arrived, and were delight to find the towering bracken ferns, the gnarled fairy tree, and our delight in rolling our car uphill in neutral, as we had last time.
But the forest across the road from our favorite tree had been clear-cut (yes, it was a plantation, but the landscape was barren and it was something of a shock, despite the trees being a crop in their own right). Traffic was heavy on the road, unlike last time, and things felt a bit “off” as we wound our way up the valley toward the waterfall.
When we arrived at the falls we found–not the isolated, quiet valley we experienced last time–but a parking lot overflowing with cars, and people everywhere. It seemed arriving on a weekend with gorgeous weather made all the difference from our previous misty, windy, mid-week visit the last time we were here.
Nonetheless, we set off down the trail toward the beautiful falls.
We hadn’t yet reached the water when we heard an approaching helicopter, and were concerned to see it was mountain rescue. We watched with worry as it hovered over the falls, very near the spot where we scrambled up the hillside two years ago, and took this photo of our family (after climbing as high as we felt comfortable along the rocky, craggy slope).
A rescuer was lowered from the craft, and we watched with concern over the next hour, as a hiker who had fallen was airlifted off the mountainside.
It was heartbreaking to watch the scene unfold (for Lupine in particular), prying into this intimate and heartbreaking moment in one family’s life, as the scene played out before so many watching eyes.
To watch and wonder at what had happened, to worry for this family, to question what the outcome might be. One nearby couple told us that they heard that someone had fallen, and that it was “really bad”. Lupine and I hung back, sitting quietly behind a boulder and working on some calming breathing techniques, while Pete and Sage (who has a serious interest in a career as a paramedic or other rescue field) stayed on the trail and watched the rescue from a distance.
The next morning we heard the tragic news that, despite the effort, the hiker’s fall proved fatal.
Needless to say, we didn’t have a hike left in us after watching this scene unfold, and stepping aside to allow his distraught family to hike past us on their way out of the falls. We turned back long before we reached the mountainside.
Despite this being a spot that had topped our list of places to visit again, we let go of the idea of the day and hike we had planned. We were keenly aware that in losing our hiking day, we lost very little indeed.
What perspective that tragic event provided.
I can’t stop thinking about that hiker, his family, this terrible event.
So it was with a sigh that we left the south of Ireland and headed westward for the remainder of our trip. And with relief, the green hills took us in, and proved a balm for our worried hearts.
We found a magical fairy woods, hiked beneath towering pines, and foraged usnea from the mossy forest floor.
It was just what we needed to rest us for the chapter of the journey that was yet to come. Because, as it turns out, there were bumps waiting, just around the next bend.
Because our very next lodging left the intuitives among us feeling deeply uncomfortable. So we bolted before bedtime, opting to sleep in our car on a quiet, seaside road, rather than in a house that somehow just didn’t feel right. (Though “sleeping” is probably the wrong word, as I think we only managed 2 to 4 hours each.)
It was a great lesson in honoring our intuition, in following your gut, in doing the hard thing if it feels like the right thing. Even when you’ve paid for lodging. And from now on, shared housing is officially off the list.
As Sage put it, it was certainly an adventure, and a night we won’t soon forget.
Here’s hoping our next adventures come with a few less bumps in the road!
More soon, dear ones.
With love from the road,