Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ireland: The Long and Winding Road

   All the troubles and stress I encountered the days prior no longer mattered once I hit the open road of Atlantic Way ... even if that road was backwards and the width of a sidewalk while traversing cliffs. Given my affinity for driving picturesque scenes and visiting old, abandoned places... Ireland was a lovely fit.
Cork County

The southern most county, containing the Mizen Head, which is the southern most point of the island.

On the way I came across Duckett's Grove, an old abandoned castle, but with a still maintained courtyard.

Clare County

Even with all the hype, the Cliffs of Moher were one of the greatest places to behold.

Galway County
This expansive county contained some of the most interesting abandoned structures including the Clifden Castle

And the Tyrone House, which was destroyed during he Irish War for Independence

Mayo County

 Some of the finest [and craziest driving] I've ever had the joy of having since it features such views as Killary Harbour, and because the curvaceous stretch of road known as Skyway [and yes, the picture provided is SUPPOSED to accommodate two way traffic... in theory].

Sligo County
What would be most likely my favourite spot, the Dun Briste [The Broken Fort] at DownPatrick Head [,,,I might have been biased]

Donegal County
The Final Chapter of the Wild Atlantic Way, and the northern most county, which included some of the black beaches.

Dublin - Deserted

Due to pressing threat of Hurricane Ophelia, I had to cut my Northern travels short and head back to Dublin to hunker down before flying out. Visiting Dublin this time versus my arrival was eerie and wonderful. No longer could I hear the morning sounds of empty kegs banging against cobblestone as they were delivered to each pub, but instead I was met with an almost entirely deserted city, with businesses closed ... except a couple choice pubs. So I filled up on beer and toasties, hunkered down for the night, and flew out in the morning.

And of course, following the storm, Ireland gave me a signature farewell. 

Until next time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


This is the first bed I've slept in for the last four days. I've slept on a bus, plane, backseat of a car, and a church pew... but not a bed. I am very happy to be in this bed, because so far this trip has been exhausting.

I left straight from work to catch a greyhound bus to the airport. I neglected to see if there were any major events in Chicago that could potentially delay my bus route, like the Chicago marathon. I was incredibly anxious about missing my flight the entire taxi ride to the airport from the bus station. Though the taxi ride was expensive, the taxi driver was kind and offered me some fruit from his lunch since he worried with all the travel I hadn't had time to eat.

My rental was over the quoted price, my feet are already incredibly sore, I'm getting sick, I'm dehydrated, and due to a bent rim I'm delayed by at least a day from my travels. I feel kind of miserable, and want to go home.
However, at this moment, I'm in a comfy bed of a Venezuelan family. Even if things continue to worsen, I'll be okay. I'm already over budget, but I can adjust. I cushioned by schedule with an extra day, so I can still see everything I'd like to.

No matter what, I'm in a beautiful country experiencing very new things, and that's exactly what I was hoping for. The rest is just semantics.

Let's go exploring.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Misty Mountains: The Magic and the Mundane

The Trans-Canadian Highway [1] would be my path leading me back to Michigan through the shores of British Columbia, the mountains of Alberta, and the plains of Saskatachewan, featuring such colourful cities as Moose Jaw, Salmon Arm, and Medicine Hat ... Man, I love Canada.

This leg of the trip had minimal stops and instead I as able to take in the natural beauty while listening through the last of my CDs and spending a lot of time in thought. Per usual, any lengthy interaction with other people was usually peculiar. A mountain hostel was run by a gentleman named Tony "with a cold", as he identified himself.
" ... Withacold? ... is that Danish?"
Tony was a delightful and charismatic woodsman who took time out of booking to usher me outside when the sun started setting. A few minutes of beautiful silence and we were back to chatting - at a speed that even I, as a Midwesterner, had a hard time keeping up with.

The only other night that wasn't sleeping in my car or camping was at a hotel where I had arrived past closing hours, but took an educated guess that the bar across the street might be my figurative and literal key to getting a room that night. I was correct. After paying for a round of Spotted Cow with Joe, the off-duty manager, I was all set. Well, except that the room he gave me had the pesky problem of having people already in it. Joe straightened that out... and decided that was probably the time to stop drinking for the night.

This entire trip, there and back again, was simply magical. I remember lengthy sections of driving [particularly through the Rockies on highway 191] where my mouth was agape. I knew that end of the trip would bring a return from the magic to the mundane. That was the problem, before I took this trip the last day I took off was in the fall of 2016, and by my last day leaving I was in dire need.
I don't ever want it to become that, where I feel that the vacation is a necessity rather than a luxury. I knew I needed to find was to find the magical in the mundane parts of my life, which I knew I could do if I tried. And that's what I plan to do, continue to find the magical in the mundane, AND continue to find new sources of this magic by God's generous provision.

One things is for sure, travel will still be part of that, as I truly feel a sense of wonder when on the road. My father once told me that I should pay attention to when you smile the most ... and I gotta say, my cheeks are pretty sore as I write this.

To the Magic, and the Mundane.


P.S. Most of the pictures for this were taken at various mountains and lakes along the Canadian highway, but before I headed north, I had to explore at least ONE abandoned place on this trip...

The Vance Creek Bridge [Old Railway]
[okay, I've done stupid explores before... this one was my most careless. Please don't do as I do]

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Misty Mountains - Westbound

Saturday - 6/10
Michigan to Iowa

There isn't much to take pictures of when you drive from Michigan to Iowa in a day, but a short hike outside of a small Iowa town will lead you to the High Trestle Bridge. As I camped out under the stars in my hammock that night... I had no idea that would be one of the last nights warm enough to do so. 

Sunday - 6/11
Iowa to Badlands (South Dakota)

After the plain plains of Iowa (and the plains with granola of the rest of South Dakota), it was refreshing to arrive at the high dessert Badlands. I camped just outside the park and spent the remaining daylight hiking around, filling my boots with some significantly uncomfortable rocks as I traversed what I imagine mars would feel like. 

Monday - 6/12
Badlands to Teton Village [Wyoming]

Going from 100 degree dessert to the high elevations of Wyoming felt... a bit like going home in the winter. It was jarring, to be certain, but very familiar. Before I left South Dakota, I visited with an old camp friend and his adorably dramatic daughter, he gave me direction through the Black Hills that would lead me to the Teton mountains, a sight to see to be sure. I would stay at a hostel at the foot of the range, and bunk with a 80-year-old doctor Polish doctor named Paul. Paul survived Nazi-occupied Poland, believes marijuana is the downfall of humanity, hates Trump, thinks teachers are overpaid, and thinks some races are inherently lazier. I learned all of this due to him speaking in length on each of these topics while entirely naked. There are a lot of layers to Paul, even if clothes weren't any of them.

Tuesday - 6/13
Tetons to Glacier [The Beautiful Highway 191]


How are you even. 





Wednesday/Thursday - 6/14-6/15
Glacier to Portland to Seattle

After spending the entire previous day with my mouth agape, I enjoyed a wonderfully uneventful and scenic drive to visit Portland, visit with some of my coworkers in the area, spend the night at a hostel, and head to Seattle. Once there, I met up with some more camp friends who showed me around the boardwalk and market before I headed east to meet with my brother and sister.

Friday - 6/16
Rattlesnake Mountain

Now that I've finally settled in Seattle with my brother and sister for a few days, I end the first half of my trip before I head back to Michigan through Canada. I caught my brother and sister [in-law, to be more accurate], near the end of their school year and looking to relax, which was perfect. But that doesn't mean we didn't hit up some nearby hiking at Rattlesnake Mountain.

I've spent a lot of this trip in prayer and petition about certain things in my life. I think best with an open road in front of me, and while I don't expect answers, I don't know what God will provide on the last half of my trip, but so far he has provided a wonder time of peace, love, and adventure, of which I am grateful, and curious. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Great Michigan North

There are some who would not consider Marquette, MI in the upper peninsula to be a 'day trip'... These people are wrong.

However, the journey was not without its disappointments. 
The locations I was going to explore in the U.P. ended up being demolished or under renovation.
One of them had people working on it when I arrived so... 'no go' on that one. 
Fortunately it wasn't all a bust, on my way to another location in Escanaba, which turned out to be demolished, I came across a large stretch of abandoned factories running along the coast.

On the last couple hours of my ~14 hour round trip, just outside Baldwin, I was forced to stay the night in a hotel due to the freezing rain that made travel impossible. 

The following morning, I visited an old cement factory.
Due to the icy conditions, I opted to not explore the rest of the grounds, and will return on a slipperyless day.

Marlborough Cement Factory

On the way back, I paid a visit to my friend Nick, who is the brew master [and co-owner] at Newaygo Brewing Company. He took the afternoon to show my a nearby site of the old Newaygo mill.

In order to get to the mill, we had to take a downhill service road covered in ice,
though we had our doubts, my car got us both up and down that hill with no problems, 
like the champ it is. Traction (and lunch) is for wimps
My car, Appa, is cooler than your car.