On the wrong side of a good road

Saturday began day two of driving (on the wrong side of the road in a backwards manual car).  It took a few minutes, but I quickly regained my confidence with my temporary dyslexic driving.  The day turned out to be an even nicer day (weather wise) than Friday, so we headed to Northern Ireland to visit Giants Causeway, a large volcanic rock formation that was unbelievable.

Luckily we had Jenn’s brother Kevin in the car, who was able to give us good directions along the way and help me get comfortable with navigating the 78 roundabouts along the way.  One thing I quickly learned about Northern Ireland…their signage is in miles and miles per hour…WTF?!  Now on top of trying to keep up with awkward turns, backwards gear shifting, and crazy partially yielding roundabout drivers, I also had to try to convert miles per hour to kilometers so that I didn’t get a ticket.

I am not too proud to admit that I kept trying to do the math in my head and I wasn’t very good at it at all.  Luckily, Jenn has tried her best during our marriage to keep me physically fit, therefore I knew that 5K was 3.1 miles.  I was then trying to divide the miles per hour by 3, multiplying by 5 and adding 1 for every 10…it got way too confusing, so I just started driving a little slower than everyone else.

We stopped at Dunluce Castle prior to getting to Giants Causeway which Nolin loved because there was a large grassy area for him to run around and pick flowers.  When we got to Giants Causeway, it was packed.  We decided to walk the path versus taking the shuttle and enjoyed the walk and scenery.

The best way to describe Giants Causeway is to simply say that it looks like a movie set.  it consists of about 40,000 volcanic rock columns (you wonder who seriously takes the time to count these things) that are perfectly formed and similarly shaped and it is stunning.

We arrived back home only to realize that part of the reason it was so busy was that we were getting close to Northern Ireland’s Orange Day celebrations (7/12). This is apparently the Protestant response to St. Patrick’s Day.  There are marches and parades held in celebration and unfortunately these have the opportunity to turn violent which we heard news reports about later.

We never saw anything bad, but needless to say we did not head back into Northern Ireland again.  This was a welcomed relief as I was able to put my superior math skills to rest and just get back to concentrating on the road.

Sunday we woke up and decided to meet some of Jenn’s cousins at Glenveagh National Park in Donegal.  This is where the legend truly begins…

We got back into the car and made our way to the park.  We were all excited because this was something that even Jenn had not done before.  As we got closer to the park, we began following the well-marked signs to the entrance.  Then Jenn’s brother told us we needed to take a left onto this old dirt road that didn’t seem to lead anywhere.

Not putting up much of a fight, Jenn simply commented shouldn’t we just follow the signs?

You can’t trust any signs in Ireland because the kids always turn them around to mess with drivers her brother responded.

Really?!  Because so far I haven’t noticed one sign that led us in the wrong direction, but I didn’t say anything and I simply followed his lead and figured I would let them handle the directions and I would spend my energy focusing on the wrong side of the road.  So we drove…and we drove…and we drove some more.

Finally Kevin quietly admitted that he knew where we were because he had accidentally taken this wrong road before so at least we were able to get back in line and start following the signs again…which led us uphill on a 3 foot wide gravel road to a walking path entrance for the park…awesome.

After a 10 point turn, we made our way back down the hill and stopped and asked directions from a lady on the side of the road.  We found out that we really weren’t too far from the entrance.  So we continued to make our way when we heard a strange noise coming from the car.

It’s official…we were now the proud owners of a Volkswagen Polo tire!  It’s kind of like winning the lottery, but not really.

Luckily, they had a full size spare tire in the trunk so with a little time, a little dirt and (what I am very proud to announce) no drama (from anyone) to speak of, we changed the tire and made it to the park where Jenn’s cousins had been patiently waiting.

Just like everything on this entire trip, the park was awesome, I just wish we had a little more time to explore (but that is what next time is for).  We did find (once again) that Nolin is not as into tours as we were.  When we took the castle tour, he kept trying to give it himself and when we would try to calm him down he wasn’t too happy.  So I spent most of the tour trying to find different areas of the castle away from the group to hide out in and we made up our own tour stories along with a special Old McDonald Had A Farm Glenveagh Castle edition.

It was another great day, and the tire simply made for a funny story.  That night we got home and Jenn’s cousin and brother watched Nolin so that Jenn and I could head out to dinner to celebrate our 6th Anniversary (which had been the day before).

We decided to get dropped off in town, and then we would just walk back.  No sense in stressing about the car when we didn’t have to.  Jenn ordered a salmon dinner (which she loved) and I ordered my favorite, Sheppard’s Pie and we enjoyed a fantastic meal and a Guinness or two.

We figured we should make the most of our night out, so we went to another pub.  There was only one really old man in there, so I had a drink and we left to make our way home.  With dinner, a drink and the walk home we managed to stay out for a whole hour and a half…not necessarily making the most of your time out, but we enjoyed it.

Together at Glenveagh National Park
Nolin exploring Dunluce Castle
Outside the Castle at Glenveagh National Park
Nolin taking in Giants Causeway
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