A Travellerspoint blog

Choose for me dear Santa Clause what you thinks the best

I've made it back to Glencree, but have failed to impart many of the details of my wonderful time at home. That would include the tons of snow or as I like to say s#*!tons of snow. I really don't think I've seen that much snow in Iowa in a very long time. It even impeeded? my flights back, but that's for later.

The six of us had a really great Christmas. Sunday evening brought Matt home from Tulsa and Stephen and Libby back from a wedding in Missouri. And while the weather in IC was not the nicest everyone made it home safely and semi-sanely. Monday had us all doing our own thing until we went to church and then had our traditional Christmas Eve meal of ham and swiss on rye and clam chowder - yummy! Then we sat down to open a few presents from everyone's favorite guy who might have come a little early;) We all got a lot of great gifts and had a fun time with the opening and sharing! Here's a few pics from the evening . . .

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Dad with a package of socks - yeah for socks!

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Mom with her fancy new blender - straight off of Top Chef!

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Me with some of the goods

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Matt hanging out

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Stephen pondering?

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Libby with her fur-lined crocs - fancy

We finished up the evening with a great round of cards, in true Drop style! Can't remember who won, but Dad ended up with a quite amazing amount of points (in the game points would be the opposite of good.)

Christmas Day was really nice and fairly laid back. We were joined by Stephen's girlfriend, Maren, and just spent the day playing Wii, playing cards, opening gifts from each other, munching, and so on. For dinner, Matt (assisted by the other men) made an awesome Shrimp Risotto and Baked Scallops - double yum!

On Wednesday Matt headed back to Tulsa, and I spent that day and the next running around town, getting stuff ready to go, and meeting up with people. Thursday night Mom and I headed over to our friends Deb and Rodney's house. Their daughter, Megan, was home with four kids, who are all just cute as a button:) We had a fun evening chatting and watching the kids open their presents. And here's some pictures of the gang . . .

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Megan with her three boys from youngest to oldest.

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The four kiddos

The next morning we got up to some not so nice weather and braved our way to Moline for my supposedly on time flight. Needless to say, it was actually cancelled when we got there. After waiting quite some time in line I was finally able to rebook my flight. Unfortunately this meant that I wasn't able to get to Belfast for the Meet Up:( While it was sad not to get to meet people, it was nice to have the extra time at home, and to leave on a more mellow note. After some craziness with all three of my flights home, including almost getting stuck in O'Hare for the night and flying through Heathrow, I finally made it safely back to Glencree. More to come from the mountain!

Posted by Wonkerer 10:23 Archived in USA Comments (0)

If All Else Fails

You Can Blame It On Me

I've finally come back to tell you about our Volunteer and Intern trip up north, though I think the incredible delay has taken the excitement out of it. Here goes!

The trip took place over the 6th to 8th of November. On the 6th we all piled into a couple of minibuses (aka vans) and headed to Belfast accompagnied by Sean who works on Iternational Programmes and who grew up in the north. When we got there we went to check into the Farset International and then had a very hurried lunch:) before going to Stormont for a meeting with Daithi Mckay. Stormont is the parliament building that now houses the Northern Ireland Assembly. Daithi McKay is a young Member of the Legislative Assembly, a member of the Sinn Fein, and went to the same high school (though at different times) as Sean. We had a really great discussion with him, though unfortunately we were unable to meet with someone a MLA from a unionist/loyalist background.

The view of Belfast from Stormont is amazing:
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And here's a pic of Yukari, Majorie, Krystal, and Nadia in front of Stormont:
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Next we started a tour of Belfast and the murals before going to meet some great people from a "housing project" located in a loyalist community. They are doing a lot of rebuilding within this community to make it a more desirable neighborhood as well as to get rid of and revamp a lot of the murals.

After this we headed out to Sean's favorite place to take people in city centre Belfast, La Sparanza. We had a great time and delicious food. Here's a pic of Ken, Courtney, and I at dinner.
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Then we went to the historic Crown Pub for a few drinks. The woodwork in the pub is gorgeous and they have these great little booths. Here's a photo of us in one of them.
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The morning of the 7th started out with a beautiful view of the city.
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Then we went on to finish up our tour of Belfast and the murals. One place we stopped this morning was the International Wall which housed murals in support and protest of more worldly issues. This one being my personal "favorite":
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From there we took a scenic tour of the coast while heading to Corrymeela. Along the way we stopped at Sean's mother's house for evelensies aka tea and biscuits. We also stopped at some ruins along the coast. Here we had some fun with pictures.

One of me along the coast:
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A fun group picture:
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A nice "senior photo" of me:
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A great one of the van amongst the greenery:
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And a picture of Gordon, the goat we met that apparently didn't want us to leave:
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After this sidetrip we went to Corrmeela, which is basically the Glencree of the north, located right outside of Ballycastle. We met up with their vols and talked about the possibility of a volunteer exchange, as well as having dinner and enjoying everyone's company. It was a great time and really refreshing.
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Of course we still had to drive to Derry/Londonderry that night. When got there we threw Sean a quick surprise birthday party! It was good and silly, and he had no idea, even though people had been collecting supplies throughout the day:)
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The next morning we had a great tour of Derry/Londonderry, given by some local friends of the centre, both walking the city walls and driving around. We also visited the Museum of Free Derry. While walking around I encountered this in a shop window:
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An interesting little bit:) After we finished seeing Stroke City, we headed back home, more relaxed and more informed, but in need of little sleep:)

Posted by Wonkerer 11:32 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

So Much to Say

0 °F

Well folks, it's taken me an extra day to get back to this, but here I am. I've been thinking about all the things I need to update you on. So let's get to it.

First off I'd like to say a big Congratulations to my friend and fellow Wonkerer Jeffery Scott Bailey on his "lead role" in this HGTV commercial. I finally saw it on the TV yesterday (I've been scoping for it since I've been home) and it kinda rocks!

Next up is little informative bit for my fellow Glencreers, especially the Irish amongst them. After a snowstorm last year the North Americans requested snow shovels. Apparently Irish people (at least the one I've talked to) don't know what a snow shovel is. More than one person even suggested a spade. Seriously though, if you've ever shoveled snow, the idea of using a spade might make you laugh, more than a little bit.

So first off here is a picture of my mother in front of our house showing everyone what a snow shovel looks like.
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And here is picture of me "demonstrating" how one uses a snow shovel")
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As you were probably able to tell, we had a lot of snow the night before last. We had already planned to have some people over for dinner, and in spite of all the snow everyone still made it. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of kiddos around as well. One of them was Anja, the daughter of my high school friend Jenni. It was fun to have them over, especially since Jenni hasn't been here for more than 10 years, and hasn't seen my siblings in as long either. I guess they may have grown up a bit in that time. So without further ado a few pics from the night.

William Michael and the ball
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Eryn and my brother Matt - she was having lot of fun with his earrings:)
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Jenni and her husband Wim
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Their little one Anja and the ball (in a repeat performance)
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I need to run now and get ready for church, so I leave the rest of November to December still without comment and yet again promise to get back to it. Wishing you and yours a truly wonderful Christmas!

Posted by Wonkerer 12:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

My Footsteps Guiding Me Away

But in My Mind I'm Always Going Home

I'm an awful person, and unlike I said in my last blog, I haven't been back here is a while. I have no real excuses other than it's been cold and once I'm in my room I have absolutely no initiative to go back out in the cold, into a unheated room, to use the probably in use, and always insanely slow computers.

However I am now home - yeah! - and can sit writing you from the comfort of a cozy chair in my parent's living room (well heated too) with quick and wireless internet. Really who could ask for more:)

My trip home, while generally uneventful, was crazy long! This did afford me the opportunity to meet up with my friend Anne for a bit in O'Hare during my layover. She was nice enough to point out to me that I could have long been home driving by the time my second plane even left Chicago, but then she wouldn't have been able to see me, so who loses out then?

During my long flight I had the good fortune of #1 being in one the new Aer Lingus planes and #2 sitting by a guy also from Iowa City. It was great to have someone pleasant to talk to and the plane rocked as we had individual seat back tvs which allowed us to choose from a variety of movies, tv shows, music, and games. Sadly for us, Reversi wouldn't work, but I did play some rockin' games of Battleship (even won a few as well.)

Then I arrived home to find that Mom, Dad, and Libby had all come to pick me up - very exciting (though sad for them as it was 12:30a.m. by the time we left Moline on Sunday night/Monday morning.) Also I came back to lots of snow! Hip hip hooray! And oddly enough while the temperature is actually warmer in Ireland, I feel so much warmer here - that damp really gets you to the bone - but back here in Iowa we've had really nice weather so far this week.

So, I'm soon off to meet up with some high school friends. I plan (though you may not truly believe it) to get back here tomorrow and update you on Ireland from the trip north up to coming back home. I hope that you are all having a great holiday!

Posted by Wonkerer 14:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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