Part 3 – Puffin Hunting at the Cliffs of Moher

M. James Thompson

One Fine Adventure: Ireland Road Trip

Without major incident, Cara and I arrived at Nick and Catherine’s well before we were expected. Dan was fresh out of the shower, thanks for the show. A bit of planning, on my part, would have relieved them of the rushed start and or would have given me more time to fall asleep on the couch. After safely collecting them we were off on our whirlwind Irish adventure. I was showing off my roundabout skills and the Garmin was showing off its ability to keep me from getting constantly lost.

Our first stop was the Cliff’s of Moher. If we had only known what lay we could have changed everything. None of this would even be funny without this stretch of our adventure. Looking back on the experience I can see that it was probably more terrifying than comical, but just about anything is comical compared to Old Delhi Railway Station.

If my memory serve me well we made the Dublin to Galway trip in less than twelve parsecs. I’m not Father Time and my watch only informs me of my altitude and temperature so don’t quote me on our trip time. Galway to the Cliffs was an absolute time travesty. I was the fortunate member of our party who slept through most of the sadness. The problem is that I was driving. Most of the trip has been blocked from my memory, but I think we did the trip in about two hours. We had murdered so much time before we finally pulled up to the visitors center. It was a bloodbath, and it’s all the Goog’s fault. Hours, minutes and seconds had been slaughtered in an effort to create a road trip with great memories. I opted to skip a bus trip in hopes of saving some cash, but I ended up nearly driving my Skoda off the cliff.

Fuck you Google. You’re a liar and a whore. Yes, the speed limit on the local roads connecting Galway and the Cliffs is between 80-100 kilometers per hours and if you ask how fast that is in real speed before you Google it first I will slap you. Even our friend Skoda never stood a chance, we were too tired for a proper name, of getting above sixty-five on the winding and narrow roads. If you are keeping score that means whatever the romanticized trip time that we had swooned over during our planning was a joke. A lie. I could admit that Cara, Dan and Becky’s travel planning faults were the problem with the my terrible underestimation of travel time, and that would free me from the guilt of trusting them to manage my inabilities, but being the Spartan travel warrior that I am I have taken this all upon my shoulders. Even as I sit here and scribble this story of woe my beating heart glows with my own personal glory. It was all my fault though. I never expected our drive to last so long.

Taking a moment to photograph the road conditions seems like it would have been a completely reasonable idea. At the time I would have been more likely to throw myself off the nearest nearest cobblestoned cliff edge had I gotten out of the car. It was a wonderfully scenic route and the countryside is endearing. If any of the locals heard me call their towns endearing they would beat the hell out of me, but picturesque seaside villages and quaint towns are half the reason people visit. The other half is to try and drink more MGD than Paddy Cotter. He’s like a glorious beer sponge and I love it.

The Cliffs of Moher are really far from the rest of the world. Every part of it. You could literally be right next to it on a map and it’s still terribly far. The people who work there must live with the puffins. Sorry Cara, no puffin sightings this time around. Nothing is close, but that is why the cliffs  are so amazing. The formation and shape of the cliffs are breathtaking, even in gale-force winds. I was worried that Cara was going to be blown into the ocean.

My time on Inishmore taught me that a hurricane that cripples the east coast of the US about a week before you arrive turns the waves into heaps of bananas. Bad weather helps to create an inspiring atmosphere along the cliffs, but the rain, cold and wind can make the area a bit uncomfortable.  But really, when the waves are crashing into the cliffs along Ireland’s west coast they can produce incredible views. Hope for bad weather. And if you go try and get a picture of a Puffin for Cara so I can tell her that I got it for her.

During our visit the waves were fairly tame. The upside to the quiet waves is that the view is generally better. We got to hiking and walked everywhere that was accessible. Unfortunately quite a lot of the area was under construction to create new walkways. One of the highlights along the cliffs is O’Brien’s Tower that looks like a small lookout. Ask Cara about that. I don’t remember what is was for, but they wanted money to climb to the top so we skipped that part. All around it was a great addition to the trip, but Dan can drive next time.

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