August 28, Friday
Bellharbor->Ballyvaughan->Doolin and Cliffs of Moher
Night's Lodging: Rainbow Hostel
Weather: Rain all night long. Morning showers during breakfast. Generally party sunny except for a few brief squals from the ocean. Then rain all night long.
I stood in the garage loading up my bike, ready to leave. Drizzly. Sunny. Drizzly. The smells of cows and earth assaulted my nostrils. A morning chill hung in the air as I watched the cows being milked. On the late side, I thought. Not that I was now a cow expert, however.
Pedaling in the just-finished-drizzle towards Ballybaghan, I looked across the channel - the Aran Islands, bathed in sun. I hoped for sun.
Along the coast, we were back in fuchsia territory, and in an area of small purple Irish hare bell-type flowers, and daisies. The Burren, to my left, was desolate. Unlike the isolated beauty of the rocky Beara Peninsula, the Burren was a gray limestone rock base left after loggers decimated the area. Shelf-like. I wondered how anything grew there, how the cows could manage to get to, and eat, the grass that grew between the rocky layers.
In Clare County, citizens patriotically flew the blue and yellow Clare Country flag - it waved on houses, barns, flagpoles, street signs. More so than what we'd seen in the other counties we'd visited.
As I pedaled past the beach at Fanore, the Burren just ended. No tapering into other landscape. It just quit. We were back to green fields separated by stone walls. The sky was getting cloudier, but we still had moments of sun. I decided then that my tan lines were "rain stains" rather than sun tan.
Along one lonely stretch of road, Jack and Tracy ahead and out of sight, a car pulled up beside me and a man leaned out toward me. Unnerved, I slowed and moved away. With a lilt to his voice and a twinkle in his eyes, he asked, "Are you all right? Do you need help?" I felt chagrined that I had expected the worst instead of the best.
I tried to outrun a little squall coming in off the ocean. I could see it coming. It was a question whether I could pedal faster than the wind could blow it to me. The wind won.
And then...we LOST JACK AGAIN. How could that happen? He wasn't waiting at the hostel in Doolin as we passed through, and I knew I was last to reach Doolin. "Where could he have possibly gone?" I wondered.
Coming around a bend there in front of me, far away, were the Cliffs of Moher. Impressive! Five miles of nearly black sandstone cliffs rising 600 ft. straight up out of the Atlantic Ocean. Boom! Right there. My friends who had visited Ireland lectured me prior to the trip, "You MUST plan your route so that you see the Cliffs of Moher." They were right.
The road to the Cliffs of Moher seemed straight up, just like the cliffs. Difficult pedaling.
On the way to the Cliffs, we found Jack returning from the Cliffs. He was first into Doolin, didn't know it, and headed to the Cliffs to catch us.