Wednesday, February 22, 2012


From my window I can see the place on the mountain where rain turns to snow.  It is wet here, and cold. The beauty of this place is shy, only allowing a glimpse for those who happen to be looking.

I awoke yesterday in a hazy clarity of my own temporariness.  The day's list of pressing items to be done lost somewhere on the sheer slopes on the mountains standing still and tall in the sea.  To them, like the generations before me, neither I nor my actions are of any consequence.

Last night I stood across the water watching wood pallets reduce to smoke and ash.  Someone had a squeeze box and played.  The smoke rose up to the peaks with the broken melodies.  We were a band of people united for a moment by the chance of ten-thousand previous things happening just as they did.

My chair is red with designs of flowers that may have been white once. Now the smell of coffee of coffee fills the room, and the grey sky fades once more to darkness.

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Monday, January 9, 2012


There is just something about good Jazz.  I don't necessarily mean classic jazz in the big band or small ensemble sense; I'm talking about any improvised music that is born out of a real need for expression.  I think this is a theme for most things creative from art to music to policy.  When something burn within and you feel like you have to express it or die trying, That is Art.

I saw a concert last night.  In Scotland there is an arts program designed to support Scottish artists.  Last night they brought a band called Delgado to the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.  A flat rate of £10 got a ticket to the show which was opened by a local band and headlined by Delgado.

The opening band was young and inexperienced.  The lead singer/rhythmic guitar tuned his guitar in between every song for several minutes.  He didn't talk to us or anything. He just left us in silence while he struggled with his instrument.

This would be forgivable if they were good, but they really weren't.  They played their songs with the emotional connection of a relationship gone stale.  Their songs were trivial and severely lacking in substance.  Their first song, for example, is the story of a band that booked a gig before they had any songs.  In 8 days the band had to write a full set.  The hurriedly constructed, shoddy result of which being songs born out of a need for filler.  Mindless fluff about "Dancing Queen"being the #1 song on the day of the bassist's birth and the extent to which the lead guitar player gets drunk.  Not the stuff of fire within.

Delgado began their performance.  Obviously seasoned professionals, this was a band, a cohesive unit, acting as one.  Their sound was big and full.  Musically, they were excellent.  A bit simple as there were few truly original arrangements and chord progressions, however they were great performers who know how to rock a crowd.

Still though, something was missing.  It seemed that the music was committed and soulful, but, having been together for ten years, having done countless tours, whatever burning need created the songs, seemed to have been traded for the mask of a good rock show.

Every performer does this.  In fact, I might argue that Most public performance of music is this type.  Certainly enjoyable.  Even great and memorable, but to reach a level beyond that takes something else.

The Enniskillen bombing did it for Bono in "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in the Rattle and Hum tour.  You can see the fire in his eyes and as a result, the song has never been more powerful.  It happened again with the death of Bono's father.  The Slane Castle performance stood out from all of the other Elevation Tour shows because of the smoldering pain in side the artist.  Kite remained as stunning throughout the tour, but that night Bono dedicated all I want is you to his wife (and only family member left).  It brings tears to your eyes.  Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendricks, fire.

I suppose the same is true for acting.  The actor who can truly feel what the character feels and with the same intensity will blow an audience away.  As my acting career goes, Fiddler was as close as I came.  After that, insecurity masked by ego kept my real emotions safely hidden.  My performances may have been adequate, even good, but not stellar.  Not Art.

Thursday night, Craig and I saw Look Back in Anger at the royal Lycium Theatre in Edinburgh.  A well directed, tightly timed and blocked production eerily mirroring the disfunction that has existed in two of my past relationships.  The lead man spends much of the play trying to provoke the leading lady, his wife.  He equates emotional outburst with real love, deep and fiery.  The lady, however, ignores his insults and avoids a fight.  He keeps at it, going further an further until he is just plain abusive.  He is childish and seems selfish.  At times, she will briefly loose her cool and lash out, but she quickly regains control and resumes her silence.  The man takes this as a lack of emotional commitment, or as he calls it "a sterile, reserved love which has never experienced and is therefore afraid of pain.  He goes into a rage and storms out.

As the acting was concerned, if there is a middle ground, an almost, or partway connected, they all didi brilliantly.  It was an excellent show, but, if only just a bit, the actors fell into their own traps.  The Lady, reserved and demure as she was written seemed honestly not to care.  It seems to me that we, the audience, should feel her intense struggle to stay calm.  The Man knew he was supposed to pick and prod and fly off in a tirade, and so he did, but at times it seemed he did because he was supposed to and not because he needed to.  Clearly, this is a very nit-picky comment on one hell of a good show, but it matters, if only a little.

As it relates to relationships though, I have played the part of that leading lady.  I have tried to diffuse conflict through calm, collected, sterile discussion, which at the time, sent my girlfriend off the wall.  Their interpretation of love is passion and dedication.  Passion means fire and fire means deep love.  Unsuccessful in arousing fire, they begin, at least subconsciously, to doubt love.

A healthy relationship councilor will tell you that discussion by way of screaming is not healthy relationship behavior.  But if I examine love in the same was as Art...  The play aroused some interesting questions.  Do you have to experience the depths  in order to experience the heights of love?  Yin and Yang would seem to suggest that.  Is there something intensely more romantic about tortured love enduring through extreme challenge?  To care enough about someone that even happiness becomes less important than sticking out hard times?  Is "healthy" love with its support, rationality and ground rules a bit sterile or at least prude?  Interesting question.  Is the truth in the balance?  Craig and I had a great discussion on these and related questions, but no decisions or enlightenment was attained.

The most amazing performance I've seen though was in the upstairs part of a bar called hootenanny.  There was a hippied-out guy who laid a guitar across his lap and played it like a steel guitar.  He was stunning.  His whole set was improvised, but he just closed his eyes and went for it.  He had a need.  His music silenced the room and this was a bar!

This wasn't a professional, he just loved his music.  He learned to play to channel himself through it.  That is the goal of study I think.  To know something well enough to just let go and express something.  Theater, Art, Music, Writing.  That is the goal.  It isn't about fame or fortune.  The only one who can be relieved by it is you.  Purging, working through and sharing.  Art should be cathartic - even when it doesn't result in catharsis.  Getting it off your chest makes it identifiable, whether in words - Images - or melodies.  I want to resume violin study.  I want another chance on stage.  Maybe I could even paint.

Traveling is making me Bohemian.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


For some reason, as I was planning my European adventure, I kept retuning to the idea of hiring (renting) a bicycle and touring around on it. First I considered Ireland, then Italy. Mileage considerations among other reality checks steered me away from my dream until Liz White and I went to Wales.

Liz is a friend and acting partner from the University we both attended in Greeley, CO. After deciding against an organized tour of Wales on account of the price tag, we arrived in Cardiff with two bags and a craving for adventure. The first night, adventure lead us into a great Indian restaurant which advertised entrees at 2 for 1. Elegant, delicious and filling, the restaurant, with its linen tablecloths and neatly folded napkins was a welcome change from the usual cheap food options.

The post-dinner discussion lead back to the bikes dream. Liz's main transportation has been a bike for years, and though I haven't seriously ridden in a long while, I am full of Indian food and ready for anything.

The next morning we wake up in the hostel and after a breakfast of toast and tea, we set out to hire bicycles. As we walked, we tried to guess the mileage from city to city on the map. We liked the idea of riding along the coast from Cardiff to Swansea. On the map, it was only as big across as my thumbnail, and in a country only a big as four of Liz's fingers, how long could that take?

No Way! The man from whom we were renting the bikes was certain. Maybe on a summer day when there were more hours of light, but in January? Starting around 12:00? No Way. A little put off, Liz asked for his recommendation. The Taff Trail, he said. We would go from Cardiff Northwest to Castle Coch and from there turn Northeast to Caerphilly and the castle there. There was only one problem the man said: there is a hill.

A hill? In Wales? Right. Liz in from Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, and I am from the latter. We didn't care if it was the biggest hill in Wales, we weren't scared. Ignoring our arrogance, the man said if we wanted to, once we got to Caerphilly, we could hop on the train with the bikes and get back from around £3 each. After a brief episode with foreign tire stems and our pump, we were off the quickly book another night at the hostel.

In England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Etc. people ride bikes. Everywhere. Sometimes there is as much bike traffic as car traffic. On small city streets in particular, bikes are treated as traffic. It is actually rude to ride on the sidewalk. After a few brushes with death, I came to like that system a lot.

We arrived at the hostel to find in our absence it had been booked full. They called the other Hostel in Cardiff and they only had female beds available. Rather than wait longer looking for accommodation, we decided to set off and deal with it later.

A brief stop at Tesco for some pack lunches, we were on our way. The bikes we got were old 18 speed mountain bikes. Roadworthy, but not road bikes. The gears worked only when they wanted to. Liz faced the task of hauling herself and the three coats she was wearing, while I hauled myself, my camera bag, the lunches, the water bottles, the spare tires, the repair kits, the pump etc. All of this was in bags that straddled my rear wheel.

The trail is breathtaking. It follows a river upstream as its ancient water, green and calm with age, slowly meanders to the sea. Surrounded by trees and vegetation still green in the Welsh winter, is a firm dirt trail made for effortless riding. Fly fisherman stood in the water up to their waists, waving as we rode by. Big city or not, this place had the feel of a small town.

The trail joined a paved street and in the distance Castle Coch revealed itself up on the hillside. A sign signaled a turn onto a steep hill. At the lead, Liz effortlessly glided up the hill and around the curve. I, full of confidence, attacked the hill with all I had. I understood that the extra weight I was carrying would make it more difficult, but really how hard could it be? I made it 100 yards. Rather then get a hernia, and aneurysm or worse, I sheepishly dismounted, and walked up the hill. Half a mile up was the turn for Castle Coch. This road was twice as steep as the one before. The incline was ridiculous. 500 yards later, we reached a small plateau whereon sat a castle out of a fairytale. It wasn't all at that big around, but it was tall, It towers round and solid capped by spires reaching even higher. A huge trench dug around the castle was crossed only by the drawbridge which, it seemed, had not been used in quite some time. Great spot for lunch.

Marveling at the castle as we ate our sandwiches and crisps, we looked at the map. Not knowing whether we were to go back down the ridiculous incline to the main road, or up a small, steep dirt path, we chose down. Liz teased me asking if I would have to walk again when we returned to the uphill of the main road. I flippantly replied that it couldn't be much more uphill and that I would be just fine, thanks.

It would seem that going down to the main road we could gather momentum and just rocket up the rest of the hill. Unfortunately, there was a gate at the bottom which forced riders to dismount and maneuver bikes through a series of poles.

Armed with renewed energy, determination, and the knowledge that the post-lunch load would be lighter, I began pumping up the hill. It got steeper. I pumped harder. Steeper still. Downshift and pump harder still. Even steeper - stand up and pull against the handle bars to force my legs to keep pumping. This caused me to swerve into and away from oncoming traffic. Finally, it was just too much. I was getting faint, out of breath, and I just couldn't bear the muffled cackle Liz was emitting a the sight of my toil. I gracefully dismounted and began walking. I looked back at Liz hunched over her handlebars howling with laughter.

As soon as she got it together, we continued to walk together up the hill. We walked and walked and walked. The hill was never-ending. The only break from the monotonous climb came every few minutes when, generating a mental image of my struggle from minutes before, Liz would loose it all over again.

Finally, we reached the top. All around us were great views of the seemingly endless hills and valleys, gently rolling in shades of green, that make up the Welsh countryside. After a few minutes it was time for the fun part: down.

Wind whipped through our hair as we flew around corners, past trees, bushes and vines. Before we knew it we were down. Ahead of us lay the town of Caerphilly. We went into town and found the train station. The trains ran every ten minutes so we locked up the bikes and went on a search for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate or the like.

Down Main Street we stumbled upon huge castle. Caerphilly Castle is Gai-normous. It looks like two castles - one on the inside is surrounded by a great big moat, which itself is protected by an outer wall. Across the bridge from the inner castle is an expansive outer castle, surrounded on the remaining side by a separate moat and drawbridge. It is the largest, and in my opinion, the most original castle in Wales.

Coffee was finally found in a Safeway. It was a very odd experience: but for the Welsh accents, that Safeway could have been anywhere. Liz warned me that culture shock sets in on the return.

We walked back to the train station and boarded the train for Cardiff. Unfortunately, the driver didn't leave the doors open long enough for Liz and I to get our bikes off the train, so we rode on to the next stop. We got off, and the train promptly reversed its direction and went right back to the stop we had missed. Undaunted, we mounted the bikes and rode back to the Cardiff City Center.

Maneuvering through traffic was something of a trick. At one point, I found myself on the sidewalk trying to ride through a space a foot wide between a bus stop and the gutter. I thought I was through, but my saddle bag caught and I clum

sily averted falling into traffic. I looked back to see if Liz made it and she still hadn't tried. She was leaning over her handlebars cackling at me again.

Eventually, we returned the bikes and paid another visit to the 2 for 1 Indian. I ate a pepper so spicy I almost died. Liz almost died too, but she, yet again, from laughter. And so, a bicycling adventure was had, and now, three days later, it still hurts a bit to sit down.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Oxford is moew or less how I expected it. A smallish town with a bustling city center. Nothing built after 1800. Plenty of old churches and towers and bells. O a walk one day, I went into the Oxford Botanic Gardens. Not as stunning or aesthetically pleasing as the gardens in Denver, but it has an atmosphere of constancy and stability. You walk in and are overcome by the history of the place. It must have looked just like this up to 400 years ago.

I came upon a particularly ancient tree. A sign informed me that it had been planted during the English civil war in 1645. I walked on and noticed stone pots with intricate carvings that, due to the forces of nature, were now only suggestions of the things they once exemplified. The smells were vibrant and alive.

Oxford University, as best I could tell, stretches across the better part of the town. Different schools and colleges are around virtually every corner.

The people are young and bicycles abound. There is also a great live theatre scene in Oxford. I had the pleasure of seeing both "The Laramie Project" and "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh. It was dark, like most of his, but this one was far more chilling. Mary Schuttler and Matt Lang will love it.

In Oxford, I had the pleasure of staying with Liz White, who is a great friend from UNC. We acted together in several plays, most notably, "Tartuffe" and "The Laramie Project".

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Think Outside the Bottle

This blog was originally posted at TheSocioCapitalist.

My dad has always wondered about bottled water. He jokes that if he went to a bottled water factory, he'd probably find a guy out back filling thousands of bottles of water with a garden hose. It's funny 'cause its true.

According to Corporate Accountability International, 40% of bottled water comes from the same sources at tap water. So when you are shelling out a couple bucks for a bottle of Coke's Dasani, Pepsi's Aquafina, or Nestle's Pure Life, you might as well be drinking from my dad's garden hose.

If you're like me, you buy bottled water, not because you think it is better than tap water, but because of the convenience of having a bottle of water AND getting to throw it away (hopefully in a recycle bin) when you are done. You probably even know it is not a good thing to do, but what choice do you have? It's a pain to go to the drinking fountain, again and again, if there is even one around.

The truth is, environmental and social problems you are contributing to when you buy a bottle of water are something we all should be ashamed of. It may be convenient, but the costs are unbelievable. The reason the system I am about to describe exists is because of us. If you don't like this, stop supporting it.

Water is essential to life. We need to drink it every day, and without it, we cannot produce any food to eat. Access to water is a human right, yet the production of bottled water is draining wells and depleting stores of groundwater in places like India, were the people who rely on their wells have no feasible alternative to get clean water. Because bottled water manufacturers are not required to disclose the source of their water, there is no way to hold them accountable for the impact they have on communities whose water they are taking. Not cool.

Plastic bottles are an environmental disaster. This is no surprise, but if you haven't heard it before, the vast majority of trash in the ocean is plastic. To quote Wikipedia,
"Unlike debris, which biodegrades, the photodegraded plastic disintegrates into ever-smaller pieces . . . This process continues down to the molecular level."
At some point, the plastic is small enough to be ingested by fish and other critters and enters the food chain. Not cool.

Bottled water is big money. About $15 Billion per year is spent on bottled water in the US, and about $110 Billion globally. It is no wonder that people make bottled water. It is making them rich. That will be the case, including the nasty human rights and environmental impacts, as long as people still buy it. According to Corporate Accountability International, spending that same amount annually, on ensuring that all people had access to clean water, would achieve that goal by 2025.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., three out of four of us drink bottled water, and one out of five drink it exclusively.

Okay, Okay, but what about when you're flying or forgot to bring your metal water bottle? You can bring those bottles through airport security empty, and fill them up at a drinking fountain near your gate. That way you don't have to wait for the flight attendants to get to you with the cart either. As for when you just forgot your bottle, think about who needs a drink more: you, or the kid in India whose well you could be taking it from. Seriously.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Jerry Springer Opera

Liecster Square is a touristy, trendy, yet charming little area on the West Side of London.  The actual square is fountain surrounded by statues and hand prints of movie stars.  Charlie Chaplain stands above a few bendies and Sir Sean Connery, Jude Law, Patrick Swayze and  host of others have had thier hands immortalized in gold-colored cement.

Liecester Square is at the heart of the theatre scene in London as well.  Everywhere you look there are advertisements for shows, and more importantly, discount tickets for those shows.  It was here that I found two relatively cheap tickets to the Jerry Springer Opera.

I had arrived in London's Victoria Station via Gatwick Airport the day before.  Finding the hostel, which turned out to be on the Northwest side of Hyde Park turned out to be something of a trick.  However, after refusing to attempt the underground on my first day, my aching feet and back were able to finally relax at the hostel.

That night I met a fascinating 26 year-old woman named Rebecca.  We talked for hours and she mentioned seeing and liking the Jerry Springer Opera.  Now, she was not the kind of person you would guess was a fan of Springer, so I asked her to tell me about it.  At three in the morning, we parted company with the agreement that I would try to get tickets the following day.

And so, after a brief phone conversation with my sister, an attempt at sleep despite the 5:00AM arrival of my roommates, and a narrowly missed free breakfast, I was off in search of tickets.  While tickets were the priority, there was also the small matter of where to stay that night. The Hyde Park Hostel was expensive and I olny booked it for one night.  My hope was that I would be able to contact a friend in London (Lauren) and stay with her.  But first things first: tickets.

I asked in one shop and the man said £35 or £40.  The conversion rate is nearly 2-1 so that meant $70 or $80.  I knew I could do better.  I went to the official TKTS booth where they advertised £27.5 or $55.  On I searched.  I saw sign with a huge banner reading: "Jerry! Jerry!"  Ah!  A clue Sherlock!  In that shop: £20 or $40.  I thought I would get two tickets, and give one to Lauren (if I ever got a call through to her).  When the clerk called to get my tickets, the voice on the other end informed her that £20 tickets were sold out, but she still had a few for £25.  I decided to splurge.

Several hours later, I had successfully contacted Lauren and was on my way out to see her.  After a few tubes followed by a few busses,, I found myself in an area of Northeastern London called Angel.  Angel is to London as the Bronx is to New York, very ethnically diverse, and predominantly low-income.  I found her flat with little trouble and was astonished by how nice it was.  Two big bedrooms, a big bathroom, living room, dining room, and a kitchen.  Nice view, nice furniture, nice flat.  We chatted for a while and then decided to go.

The show started at 8:30.  We took a bus into the West End theater district.  I have trouble reading my watch.  So we sat down to have dinner at an Indian restaurant only to see we only had 10 minutes 'till curtain.  We apologized, got up and went to a coffee shop to get a pre-made sandwich.  7 minutes.  The clerk apologized for his lack of familiarity with the register stating that he had just transferred.  This, of course, was after he had left us standing for what seemed like and eternity as he finished a conversation with a coworker. Finally, we paid and told him to forget the water we had asked for. We rushed out of the store and sat in the middle of a traffic circle to enjoy our sandwiches. 2 minutes.  We didn't bother to finish chewing when we got up and darted into the theatre.

We took our seats and as the lights went down, the woman in front of us shouted "Jerry! Jerry!"  It was a harbinger of things to come.  The show opens with the cast who are all decked out in , shall we say white trashed-out clothing, chanting in Gregorian fashion, these extremely complicated harmonics and inspired runs of melody on the word 'Jerry'.  An exaggerated hit on the 'J' was the only clue of the ridiculousness that was to come.

They slowly come down the stairs and begin to, still in Operatic Gregorian style, sing thins like 'chick with a dick' and make crude and vulgar references to to all manner of socially and sexually deviant acts.  The Gregorian suddenly transforms into a rock opera.  The unruly, spotlight-seeking nature of the real Jerry Springer audience is masterfully captured by the cast.

So as not to give anything away, I will simply say that the first act ends with a full Broadway tap number performed by the KKK in front of a burning cross.  The second act is so amazingly irreverent that I am at a loss for words.  All I can say is that I am glad Lauren and I had a beer at intermission.

After the show we went to Lauren's favorite Kabob place and finally back to her house.  The bus ride back was the English version of a Springer audience.  A few girls decked out in part Goth-schoolgirl, and part raver, complete with extacy pacifier with blinking lights.  Also some socially conservative black cockney guys who's most memorable comment was: "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Walking in Irish

On the Northwestern coast of Ireland, in County Donegal, the official language is Irish. Everyone speaks English as well, but all of the street signs are in Irish.  That wouldn't be a problem for people who don't speak Irish as well except that all of the town names are vastly different in English.  For example, if you fly to Ireland, more than likely you will arrive in Ath Cliath, which most people call Dublin.  I was blissfully unaware of this fact until the day I went for a walk.

There are many small peninsulas in the Northwest of Ireland and toward to south end of County Donegal.  Donegal Town is just inland of a peninsula.  Further North, Borbag (sp?) is another such town.  Between the two is Dungloe.  The Peninsula to the West of Dungloe is bordered by spectacular cliffs that drop into the sea.  Waves crash into and explode off of these cliffs in a constant, awe-inspiring display of the force of nature.

About 5 miles from Dungloe is the tiny town of Maghery.  The only shop or business of any kind in Maghery is the Strand View Bar, owned and operated by Conol Gallagher.  A road, in places only big enough for one car, winds through the hills of the penisula to an even smaller town called Crowley.  The road is another 5 miles.  About 3 miles down this road is an even smaller 'track' or 4wd road that also goes to Crowley, but runs along the coast and adds another mile.  From Crowley back to Dungloe, there is another road that runs for 3 miles and then hooks back into the road from Dungloe to Maghery 2 miles from Dungloe, and 3 miles from Maghery.

The plan for the walk was to go with my friend Danny to see a special cliff, continue along the road and then on the track to Crowley, and back to Dungloe where Danny and Di would meet me for a pint at a bar called Sweeney's.  We would depart at half eleven, and meet up around 8:30, giving me time for dinner in Dungloe.  An estimated 10 miles in all.

I packed a rucksack with an apple, a plumb, a flask of tea, some chocolate and the camera.  We were off right on schedule. Danny took me to a place he called the blow hole.  It is an amazing geologic anomaly.  There is a huge ricks shelf that drops into the ocean, but in one place there is a thin, deep crevasse.  It is about 7 feet wide and 200 feet long.  Waves crash into the rocks and are channeled into the crevasse where they continue to rage and boil forward until there is no where to go but up.  Danny says on a stormy day when the tide is in, "up" can be more than 100 feet. 

After exploring some of the cliffs, Danny drove me to the top of the hill and sent me on my way.  I took my time enjoying the breathtaking countryside.  Everywhere there were ruins and streams and free-roaming sheep, all amid spectacular views of other peninsulas with spectacular cliffs far off on the hazy horizon.

Along the road there was a great tree that had fallen in front of a peaceful wee waterfall.  The tree was covered in the greenest moss I had ever seen.  Shortly after passing the tree was the track.  I took it and was stunned by the beauty.  All around me were fields of wheat nestled below white cottages, some with thatched roofs. The golden sunlight dripping off of everything it touched.  I made my way down to the shore.  A boulder field about 300 feet wide and a miles long stretched out before me.  I found a nice boulder and sat watching the back-lit waves crash against the shore. 

After a few minutes, I continued on to Crowley.  I walked on the road to Dungloe (the only road in town) until I came to an intersection.  I walked straight, but soon the road was bad and had vegetation growing in it, so I turned back and took the other road.  I thought of what excellent time I was making.  Only 5 miles to Dungloe.  I would be there in no time.

The road I was on was steep and winding and I began to get tired.  About two miles up the road, there was a great tree that had fallen in front of a peaceful wee waterfall.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  I was almost afraid to look, but there it was: green, green moss.  It was time for a decision.  Continue 8 miles to Dungloe, or turn and walk 7 miles back the way I'd come.  I did what anyone would do in this situation: neither.  I left the road and made straight for the top of the mountain that stood between me and Dungloe.  I reached the top just as the sun dipped below the horizon.

Never underestimate the size of a peninsula in Northern Ireland.  The distance of wild land that stretched out before me made me laugh out loud.  I had to strain to even catch a glimpse of the road far off in the distance.  Trying to hurry now, I made my way down the other side of the mountain.  It was wet and steep and muddy.  There were fences and cliffs.  I fell several times and slid down a fair amount of the mountain. 

I reached the plateau relieved, and a bit bruised.  As I began to walk, I also began to sink.  The ground was so soggy that walking through a field was like walking through a foot of water, but water with roots.  All tolled, the mountain climb and swim through the field took me 2 hours.  I finally found a road and began walking toward the Crowley-Dungloe road.  About 1/2 mile later, my shoes had stopped squirting water, my pants began to dry and I was back on track. 

After dodging cars (as it was now pitch black) I reached the crossroad to Dungloe and Maghery.  Of course neither sign read anything close to either name.  I had a good idea of where I was, so I kept walking.  I had 2 miles to go.  I passed a thick grove of trees and a small river and a school house where the road curved left and an intersection that caused me to turn right.  I thought I must be coming to the town soon.  On the road went and I started to second guess myself, but remembering what happened last time I did that, I kept going. 

The road started to slope down and I thought I would surely wind down into town.  That is exactly what it did.  I saw some lights that were obviously a business.  As I got closer, the lights started to look familiar.  As I got closer still, I'm sure I went pale.  Was it?  Could it be?  Oh God it was!  I was at the front door of a bar owned by Conol Ghallagher: The Strand View and I was in Maghery, not Dungloe. If I thought the top of the mountain was funny, I nearly died laughing here. I had 5 more miles to go after having walked 14. 

I turned and started again.  I turned left at the intersection, right past the schoolhouse past the small river and the thick grove of tress.  I was almost back to where I had made the wrong turn when an angel in a Nissan heeded the call of my outstretched thumb.  So the last two miles of my walk were in the comfort of a much-needed seated position.

I got into Dungloe at about 8:00 (it had been dark for 3 hours).  I got a quick, cheap plate of fish and chips (which never tasted so good), and headed to Sweeney's.  I ordered a hot whiskey and started reading.  I finished the drink and a few chapters and it was 9:00.  No sign of my friends.  I ordered a pint and when I had that finished, it was 10:00.  I asked the bartender if there was another Sweeney's in town.  Yup.  Just down the street.

In the other Sweeney's I found Danny, Di, and 5 or 6 of their friends.  I had finally arrived.  After several pints, it was 2:30 and time for the bar to close.  Luckily, someone had a full bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey.  We went to the home of one of the party and drank the whiskey. All of it.

Politics dominated the discussion that night, and together we found solutions to most of the worlds problems.  The evening finally ended and we all went to sleep.  It was 6:30 AM.  Danny and I woke up the next day around 3:30PM.  Try though we might, we couldn't remember the previous night's brilliance.  It was so hazy, it might as well have been written in Irish.