Rideau Canal 2022
I have to laugh at the name of this boat rental company only because I owned a Le Car Renault in college. Some of my readers will remember this story.
It was a cool blue roller skate of a car with a soft roof… so I could open it like a sunroof. One night at Fitchburg State (in my day, it was FSC) some drunk college neighbors in the middle of the night lifted my Le Car and Rolled her down Myrtle Ave.
My room mate Chuck helped me “right side up her”… in the morning two blocks from home.
One of the doors would never open again…it was like driving a crushed soda can….
Then weeks later, I came home one afternoon after class and Chuck had taken white paint, crossed off “car” on both sides of the “Le Car”
And wrote in “Dent”.
So my senior year we drove around in “Le Dent”… often climbing in and out of the roof to access.
A true clown car.
I think of this now as I sign over a hefty security deposit on a floating luxury hotel for a week of touring the UNESCO world site, the Rideau Canal.
We are not boaters. Can I repeat this? We love our friends who have boats… but we are not boaters.
I wonder if “Le Dent”will look good on the side of this Horizon3 #31 and if our security will cover our lack of seaworthy experience!
The Magic of getting Lost…
We set out with the hotel pedal bikes on an afternoon adventure through the Killarney National Park.
We are bicycle enthusiasts after all… we didn’t count on getting lost!
we meandered the 25,000 acres enjoying the estate of the Muckross family who, in 1938, bequeathed the land as a National Park. It’s so very special. We intended to visit the palace, the gardens, the Abby and the Torc waterfall over an hour and half cycle… but we took a wrong turn. Sure we got to explore all those cool places but we found ourselves on deserted trails in the back woods with no cell/internet on bikes with rickety tires…thinking “this could be bad!”.
We even lead some other tourists a stray because we were so confident we weren’t loss! I look at these photos and think… sure we look smiley happy but we were sopping wet from sweat and getting increasingly irritable! Ha ha
We saw the whole park. We returned the bikes an hour and a half late. We figured if we never returned the bikes The hotel would send in help… but eventually I turned on “map my ride” and gps got us safely home with a story to tell after a shower and a Guinness!
St Brigid Holy sight! I knelt and scooped some holy water…I got dirty but I’ve got holy knees to prove it!
I circled her statue 5 times saying prayers as instructed. It took a good bit of time and by the 4th time round I was running low on prayers…
so know you are ALL covered by St Brigid
She is patroness of many things, including poetry, learning, healing, protection, blacksmithing, livestock and dairy production. The saint shares her name with a Celtic goddess. Brigid's feast day is 1 February!
Brigid is celebrated for her generosity to the poor. In her case, most of the miracles associated with her relate to healing and household tasks usually attributed to women.
Nell, will you bless my water when I’m home?
Pubs..,for the fun of it
Tim the butcher (72 years of age) comes in around noon having worked on the sheep since 6:30 am, he tips his hat and says to Dennis the Bar Man at Laurels on Main Street Killarney, “when does happy hour start, Dennis?
Dennis replies “the minute you walk back out the door happy hour begins!”
they have a good ‘crack’ (laugh) then Tim sits next to us. He opens up his paper and says to Dennis “give me a blonde in a black dress, now would you man?”
We are curious.
Dennis plops a Guinness down in front of the butcher Tim. He looks up from under his specs and says to us “she’s the only gurl I can handle at my age as he takes a long draw on his beer!”
we smile. We hit the jackpot for bar neighbors! Oh the stories! What fun!
Intuitive. That’s John. He’s an empath of sorts. He feels things deeply. John was our “trap and pony” driver. He and his horse “Boots” took 3 of us up the winding 7.5 mile single file road through the Gap of Dunloe.
it’s a slow go. John jumped off the carriage and walked 3 of the miles ..,then Fran, then Mark… less weight meant less strain on this magnificent beast working so hard to navigate the hairpin turns.
it was spiritual. Imagine being a “trap” guide? You have signed on for a 2 hour walk /ride with 3 perfect strangers and you’d better have something to say.
john was not at a loss. He shared about his life in the Black Valley. He shares how in his life time he’s seen the population go from hundreds to 40 people. He’s renovated his grandparents home and found a century old “smokers chimney” in the walls. He suspects it was for smoking fish and chicken. It’s now a closet feature in his daughters room.
he talked about Electricity coming to the black valley in 1976 and the school closed recently due to lack of children. It’s not an easy life-The Black Valley yet it is an easy life.
his daughters (both) are athletes. Competitive athletes. One daughter is living in Chicago playing soccer. She made him proud the last time they spoke. She said “Da, I’m beginning to understand your manner of sarcasm”… he said what do you mean?
“Well someone asked if I spoke German because Ma is German. And I said of course I do… “. So the man asked so your Da must speak German to? And I said, hell no, my father hasn’t spoken to my mother in years…”. John laughed with pride … even if it’s not true… his daughter made people laugh…
he raises horses, sheep and sheep dogs. He and Mark shared stories of dog training and farm life.
john..,.he gave up tourism for 3 years and then his brother called him back into service. He only does two days a week. If you’re lucky enough to have John for a 7 .5 mile pony and trap -then you’re lucky enough
“The trouble is in your head”
Dux. Donald, but call him Dux. Born in 1989 this 5th generation boat man is a prophet.
A man raised in nature with the heart of a steward and the soul of a countryman. He adores his country, his county, his fiberglass boat…he is a conservationist.
DUX spoke of his father with deep pride. Dad was the last generation to row 12 tourists on these waters over 3 hours…
Dux appreciates his motor.
Dux sports tattoos and piercings and has a laugh that lights up all of us. He loves to travel and therefore reveres we on the boat as kindred spirits.
he shared stories of invasive rhododendrons, a massive fire that ruined the mountains ecology, and the introduction of eagles back into the National park.
He spoke of lock down and his “walk about”.
He passed his phone around to share photos of his discoveries. When asked how did you climb that mountain … “the legs can do it , the head gets in the way”!
“it’s true”, he said “the trouble is always in your head.”
I fell in love with this guy. I couldn’t help it. Maybe it was his accent, maybe it was his hat, certainly his sense of humor and without question this man can turn a tale!
jack Burtchaell guided us through the streets of Waterford. Did you know the crystal is now machine made in Slovenia? Of course it’s still sold in its namesake city but the glass blowers and carvers have been replaced by machines.
anyway, back to Jack… I know you will understand when I say this man loves his job. It’s clear. His enthusiasm about his City, about the history, the government and his community is infectious.
he’s been leading tours for 35 years. He told me he was in Boston two weeks before Covid shut the world down. He loves Massachusetts!
he taught us of the revolutionary Thomas Francis Meagher who was sentenced to be drawn and quartered after being captured as a defector against the king! The Christian community was so appalled by the brutality of the sentence that his death sentence was changed to banishment to Australia. After 4 years in Australia he escaped Australia And found himself in Montana USA!
There he became very successful and a leader of the Irish. He organized over 1500 Irish to fight in the revolutionary war and they were named the “fighting Irish”. In Helena Montana there’s a matching statue of Meagher who died mysteriously at 43.
waterford was full of murder , Mahem and debauchery during the Viking years… Jack made it all very interesting and entertaining!
if you find yourself going to Waterford you must go onhos walking tour of Waterford! Jburtch@iol.ie
thanks Fran Cross for such a great morning!
She was precious…
She pressed her nose and fingers up against Logan airports window and spoke in vowel sounds as planes, trucks and luggage got moved about on the Tarmac below. She traveling to Dublin on our flight.
Amy is 18 months old and all things are new to her. Her excitement and surprise is muttered in her language with exclamation points of joy. We all agree, when Amy starts talking she will have a lot to say!
Her Dad is corralling her well. He’s young. He’s alone. He apologizes for her high pitched glee. We smile and agree she’s great entertainment. After all, crying could be so worse.
She’s at the mimic phase. Dad jumps, Amy Jumps.
Dad claps, Amy claps.
Dad waves Amy waves.
And every single time. Every well done mimic sets her off with a gleeful almost surprised screech!
As if she’s saying, “can you believe I did that? Me? Like I accomplished that jump, that clap, that wave! Man, I am something!”
And we, her grandparent-like audience celebrate every silly surprise that gives her wonder.
Amy is truly something…
Then, without ceremony, she reaches up to Dad to pick her up. Amy lays her head on his familiar safe chest and falls off to sleep.
As sweet as a baby could be.
Her dad’s primary language is French. He sends her to a bilingual day care. He’s hoping she will thrive in both languages.
Oh, don’t you worry Dad, Amy has a light bigger and brighter light than her 18 months.
She’s going to be just fine.
She truly is something!
Northern Italy by bike saddle…
We’ve had beautiful weather. We have cycled thru magical woodlands, state parks with flamingos, towns with heavy traffic and towns with historical significance… so much of it unable to catch on film… just captured in our memory.
We’ve learned that a gallon of gas is $7-$8. We’ve learned that they have man made “valleys” where they farm fish. We’ve learned that Covid is still very real here. Stores have signs saying “closed due to Covid”. Masks are prevalent.
We’ve stuck our feet in the Adriatic and lathered up in sun block. The afternoons have been full of wines, beers and wobbly cyclists.
Sunrises and sunsets have been the highlight of this voyage. I think the sunrises are most special because I am the only one who witnessed them… mine and mine alone.
We’ve met new friends and reunited with old ones. We’ve shared the bumps and bruises of the road and the stories of our falls. Badges of honor these scrapes and black and blues. Just as the wine gets shared so does the arnica!
We’ve all complained of our tender tooshies and how the saddle makes us wince… no amount of training prepares you for this much time on a seat on bumpy roads. Yet there is solidarity in knowing we all share a common plight.
At the end of each ride there is a collective sigh of gratitude. How blessed are we to share this remarkable experience.
Trouble at home…
My phone started blowing up with text messages. The shooting on Old Main road…how could I help? Most folks didn’t know I am in Italy. I shared this prayer.
I Kneel before you today for my Cape Cod family.
My Community of Falmouth is suffering with the senseless loss of of “our daughter” Kianna Barrows. She’s come to you at 21 years young, she’s all of ours, too young to be taken by a bullet at the hands of a boy who once professed to love her.
Please hold her parents, siblings and immediate family in your hands as they navigate her loss.
I ask you too to hold up the first responders. Those men and women who witnessed this cruelty first hand and now will live with the memory of when horror came to Old Main Street.
Wrap your care around the children of North Falmouth School, their teachers and their parents. Thank you for keeping them safe.
My heart breaks for our Community, Lord.
Hold all of my neighbors in your loving embrace as they process this horrific event! Amen