What I Learned.

I admit, I can be a bit naive at times. I don’t take the appropriate amount of time to extend beyond the bubble of life that I’m in. I don’t bother much with politics or celeb gossip, although I do have a deep admiration for a select few. I don’t want to get in the middle of office drama or give a shit what kind of lifestyle choice people make in one fashion or another.. But I’ve always known that I’m just a small puzzle piece in the world. The world is so vast and I try not to ever forget that.

I do my fair share of complaining and throw pity parties just as much as the next person but I always feel so guilty because I know that someone, somewhere has a life much more worthy of sympathy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that traveling across the world didn’t give me the “omg, the world is so big” feeling like I’d read about and perhaps what you’d assume to read in my “What I Learned” post. Because, I already feel that way. Has it been accentuated a bit more, sure. But what I learned on this trip has surprisingly taken me on down a different path.

I learned that no matter how much research you do, you’ll never have all the answers. You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s a tough thing for me to wrap my head around. Going into this trip and trips in the past, people have given me so much shit for being an organizational spaz, for lack of a better term. I do my research. I have my binder full of all the important info, I have extra copies of everything, two versions of itineraries; the list goes on. While I know that I might suffer a bit from extreme org probs, it gives me a sense of comfort knowing that whatever issue or question might arise, I’ll likely have the answer because I looked into it already. But, I don’t have all the deets and each year I take away something from our trip so that the next trip can be better.

This time around, I dropped the ball on two things I’ll keep in mind for the future:

  1. Resting is necessary. While on vacation or traveling to somewhere new, I don’t want to take time to rest. I may never be here again. I always have it in the back of my mind; that we’ll need a mental, physical, wellness type of day but I always fail to properly insert it. This year involved a lot of activity. Expected, sure. But probably not to the degree that I had intended. This caused both my mom and I to call a timeout near the end of our trip. We’d hit our wall.
  2. Check out the terrain, girl. One thing that is important to me is easy access to public transit. It’s been a key component in each trip we’ve taken and even more so this time around because we had to rely 100% on it. I was successful in that every accommodation we had, it was no more than a 12 minute walk from either our activity, city centre, or public transit. However, I didn’t check terrain. Who would have thought to? And maybe that might not matter to the majority but it mattered to my mom and me. Hauling 45 pound suitcases and 15-20 pound backpacks up a steep Edinburgh hill to the hotel wasn’t our best moment.

Okay, now I’m majorly off track from what I’d intended to write in today’s closing post.

While not directly related to anything specific on our trip, the greatest thing I learned over the last two weeks is that I am worth it. I’m worth having dreams and fulfilling them. I’m capable of doing anything I could ever imagine wanting to do from travel to career to relationships to family. I am so worth it. I can do anything and I can go anywhere. I can talk to anyone and be anyone I want to be. I can laugh and be goofy; I can be crabby and have a meltdown in the middle of a 5 Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant; I can help and care and I can be selfish. I can do and be all of those things and still be worth it.

And so can you.

I feel so lucky to be able to travel with my mom. I’ve heard over the last handful of years and I know she has to that people are so surprised we can “stand each other” enough to travel together. It’s not easy. We’re not the definition of a perfect mother/daughter relationship; that doesn’t exisist, I don’t think. But what I think is most important isn’t our compatibiilty to travel together but rather our sense of adventure and curioustiy for the world and the unknown. We’re not afraid to explore beyond our comfort zones. Well, we are. But not enough to let it stop us. And we just so happen to be mother and daughter.

My mom is my best friend, she always has been even when I didn’t know it. Charles Schultz was quoted saying “In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.” This is so true. I’ve been on a handful of places without my mom and every trip is different. Hell, all of ours are different as well. But every trip I take with my mom, I know that she is just as ready to conquer whatever we have planned as I am and that, you can’t find often in a travel partner. Thank you, mom, for being that person for/with me!

“Once a year go some place you’ve never been before.” -Dalai Lama

And thank you to everyone that has been reading and following along on our first big world adventure! It’s been an absolute blast to see more than just the dual-state area that we live in. A true bucket list adventure that I was able to cross off my list! I am so very glad to live where I do and have the luxuries of the middle-class American way but I do miss it already, I miss the adventure. I miss the foreign landscape and the bustling cities. I miss the ocean and the buildings higher than we could see. To those still with me on my ramble of the day, where have you been? Where do you want to go? Where are all of your favorite places? I can’t wait to add more stamps to my passport and I’d love to hear where I should go next!

Day 13: That airport life, though.

Series of events:

  • Leave Academy Plaza in Dublin at 7:15 AM.
  • Board AirLink bus stop 747 at 7:35 AM.
  • Arrive at Dublin Airport around 7:55 AM.
  • Go through clearance and U.S. Customs pre-clearance over the next hour. Or so.
  • Board our flight DUB > ORD around 9:10 AM.
  • Depart Dublin Airport at 10:12 AM.
  • Watch a few movies, take a short nap, and fly back in time, like they do. For 8ish hours.
  • Arrive in Chicago at 12:15 PM.
  • Find our gate, grab lunch, stay preoccupied during a 5 hour layover.
  • Connecting flight pushed from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
  • Flight delayed again.
  • And again.
  • And again.
  • Gate change + another delay.
  • Another gate change.
  • Finally board ORD > MSP just before 10:00 PM.
  • Pass out on said flight.
  • Somehow manage to drive to the hotel feeling sleep deprived and maybe a bit disoriented. Now, I cannot sleep so I’m here, writing this post nearly 25 hours after I woke up. Does it make sense? Eh.

Tomorrow, we head home after a much needed massage and zen hour.

I hope to write one last post closing this series but I may not do it for a few days. I’m going to spend the last couple days of my vacation catching up on sleep and hanging out with a few of my favorite people. Oh, and snuggling up big time with my lil’ bug, Bodhi.

To those that have kept up with reading this incredible adventure of ours, thank you! I’m seriously thinking of doing a solo trip soon. I’ve always wanted to but have been sort of terrified of it. I think I’m ready to conquer it! Where should I go next?!

Day 12: The North of Ireland

Today was our last full day exploring the green lush wonder that is Ireland! A bittersweet day it is. We are ready to go home, 2 weeks is a long time. I’m starving for real food and high fructose corn syrup; I’m tired and want to take a real shower in a real sized bathroom with light switches on the inside of the bathroom, ha! But I digress.

We ventured to Northern Ireland today, as the Protestants would say. Or, if you’re Catholic, The North of Ireland. The difference being “Northern Ireland” is a part of the UK. Those that are of a particular faith acknowledge and are proud of the union with England, Scotland, and Wales. While the Catholics still consider themselves part of the island/land mass/sort of probably still the Republic of Ireland. I had done some research on The Troubles, as they are known, before our travels but after today, I need and want to dig into it more. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking.

We had the option of doing a Black Taxi Tour or to visit the Titanic Museum. Up until this morning, I had been totally sold on the Titanic Museum but our tour guide changed my mind as he talked about the Black Taxi Tours and the history of The Troubles in Belfast. The BTT left me a little bit feeling like “meh.” The accent in the Belfast area is extremely unique and while I like to think that I can decipher accents pretty well.. Our tour guide was unusually difficult to understand so I don’t feel like I got much out of the experience. It was very interesting, though, seeing all of the murals and learning what I did from what I could understand.

Following Belfast, we drove about an hour north to visit the Giants Causeway. And holy crapoli, wow! I know that I keep saying that each place is better and better and even saying that sentence alone is redundant from posts in the past but the Giants Causeway and the legend behind how it was created is just fascinating. (My computer can’t connect to the internet so I’m typing like a peasant on my phone. I will try to remember to elaborate on this later or link to some information/articles about it all.)

Lastly, we made our way to Balleycastle, Northern Ireland. There, we hiked 75 million miles up and down steep hills to reach the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. A bridge that is only 20 meters long but is a thin narrow wobbly bridge connecting Northern Ireland to another little Ireland crossing over the Atlantic Ocean. I’m not sure I thought this at the time but the hike and the views were so worth it!

Tomorrow we fly home. Today was such a beautiful end to our once in a lifetime bucket list vacation!

Day 11: Haste de back.

One thing I failed to do on this trip and every other is to allow adequate down time. I keep it in mind, always, but underestimate the ratio of ‘relax’ vs ‘do’ year after year. This time was no different.

We’ve been running full steam ahead every single day and have officially hit a wall. Today is ‘fly back to Dublin’ day. I had a small tour planned for this morning and early afternoon but for the sake of our physical and mental well-being, we decided to sleep in and just enjoy the quiet of the morning and day. It was much needed and deserved for us both.

While I wish we could have pushed a bit longer to see more of this phenomenal city, I’d rather us press pause today than tomorrow when we head up to Belfast for the last leg of our vacation.

Until next time, Edinburgh! I can’t wait to see you again and explore so much more than I have. ❤

Day 10: With a wee bit of whiskey, you will believe in the legend that is Nessie.

John, our kilt-wearing tour guide today, was the best yet! I’ll probably regret not detailing out today’s events in detail later but I’m exhausted.

In short, we traveled up through the Scotland highlands from Edinburgh to Loch Ness. Up through Glen Coe and The Three Sisters mountains, over the curviest of roads for hundreds of miles and passed the most picturesque of Lochs I’d ever seen. I took more time today to observe my surroundings than to take photos and I’m so glad I did. So refreshing to be surrounded by the nature that Scotland holds dear!

Day 9: Edinburgh is a city which encourages you to think about what a city is. -Murdo MacDonald

Our day started brighter than the sunshine today with our flight departing at 6:40 AM. The screening process at the Cork Airport was a lot more intense then when we left Minneapolis. If you’ll recall, MSP was weirdly seamless. Today was more what I had expected which was totes fine but weird that it differs so much from place to place.

We arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland shortly after 8:00 AM and grabbed the first AirLink bus available enroute to City Centre. I made a point of making sure all of our hotels were within walking distance from the nearest public transit but I failed to check on the terrain in Edinburgh. Our trek from the bus to the hotel was all uphill. Sorry, mom. But it was a pretty hike!

Once we dropped our luggage off, we made our way to the closest stop for the Hop On/Hop Off tour we’d purchased. Even before arriving at that stop, I could already tell that I’d regret not spending more time in this beautiful city.

We first popped off at The Palace of Holyroodhouse which is the official residence of the Queen herself when she’s in the area doing her Queenly duties.

The Palace is phenomenal in size and in beauty. Photographs were permitted outside, in the abbey areas, and the garden but inside the palace, they were not. Which actually was a bit refreshing. It gave everyone (me especially) time to slow down and take everything in a bit more. We purchased a self-guided audio tour and ventured from room to room learning about the history of each and the stories that live inside the Palace.

Second, we stopped at the bottom of the Royal Mile and made our way up to the Edinburgh Castle. A place in and of itself that we could have spent an entire day at. I saw this quote today and I don’t know if it’s in direct reference to the Castle itself or perhaps the city of Edinburgh, but either way I couldn’t have said it better than this about either: “It possesses a boldness and grandeur beyond that I have ever seen.” -Thomas Pennant.

Each day of this vacation, I see things I’ve never seen before and I fail to find the words that appropriately describe them. Every building has a story and the architecture is so extraordinary, it’s stupid. Every ocean view is absolutely breathtaking. Every curve in the road, every local going about their day, every single interaction with this trip is changing my life by the second in more ways than I even realize. I feel so lucky to be here.

Day 8: Wool you be my valentine?

Rain drip drap dropping on your window when you’re waking up on an Irish Saturday isn’t that unusual so you won’t be surprised to hear that that’s how I woke up today. I actually love the rain. I’ve always had a dream that I might end up in a rainy city someday, like Seattle.

Anyway, today was the one day I had hoped it wouldn’t rain. Oh well, though. It makes the adventure all the more fun, I suppose!

We headed down to Blarney today to visit the one, the only, Blarney Castle. I’ll cut to the chase; the part you’re all wondering.. And the answer is no, I didn’t get a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone. And, I KNOW! How could I not? Well, we were typical tourists today and as with all typical tourists, we were on a bus. The bus arrived, gave us about an hour and a half, and then planned to leave. FYI to all future travelers, an hour and a half is sadly, not enough time to get to where you need to be and wait for the long line of other well wishers gripping tightly to the promise of the Gift of Gab.

Now with that disappointment out of the way, on to the good stuff. We decided to take the opportunity that I bet a lot of typical tourists don’t take the time to do and that’s explore. We wandered around the grounds and around the castle itself. I found Badgers Cave and followed that, whilst crouching, until I hit the dead-end. Then, I turned around. Exciting, I know. But it really was. 🙂

Oh! I did splurge on an authentic lambswool throw and I can’t wait to snuggle up with it when I land stateside! I almost didn’t buy it but someone (mom) told me I’m worth it and I figured I should listen to her. Moms are always right. Right?

After Blarney, we ventured to Cobh. I’ve been way too excited to go here for the silliest of reasons. I haven’t been able to figure out how to pronounce Cobh. Is it “Cob” as in corn? “Cob-ha” with a hard H? Guess what guys and gals? The Gaelic language doesn’t have a “V” so when they need to make that sound, they plug in a “BH.” Makes sense, yeah? Anyway, it’s pronounced “Cove” as in a small type of bay or coastal inlet.

Cobh was a beautiful little nook in Ireland. We had lunch at a weird tasteless cafe and hiked up the steepest hill I’d ever been on to visit St. Coleman’s Cathedral. Well worth the hike even if my mom thinks I’m trying to kill her by jazzercising every stinkin’ day! She said she’s going to live to be at least 100, so I think of it as adding days to that.

Cobh is really a neat place in southern Ireland. As with everywhere we’ve been, I wish we could have stayed a bit longer. There was a museum up another hill that we didn’t get a chance to explore and the inside of the cathedral was spectacular. Going to mass in a place like that would have been lovely. There’s always next time.

Day 7: The poetry of earth is never dead.. -John Keats

Today was breathtaking. We spent the majority of our day at two of the most beautiful and untouched places in Ireland; the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren. If you ever find yourself in Ireland, which I hope you will, put these two places at the top of your list.

It’s difficult to compare each day we’ve had on our trip. Every day is better than the last but at the same time, nothing can compare to the day prior. With that being said, both the Ring of Kerry (yesterday) and today’s trip were worth every single step and ounce of tired in our bodies. The views were spectacular. The ocean’s wild waves smashing into the side of the rocks and hitting us was refreshing. The wind, both literally and figuratively, took my breath away. Even with all of the people and the noise (of the people), I was still able to just be there and soak it all in for as long as I possibly could.

And with that, I can’t say anything more but to show you what I saw. Bucket list item, check.

Day 6: The Ring of Kerry

Boarding the kelly green Paddywagon Bus with a giant leprechaun head on it at approximately 8:20 this morning, we set even further west then we were when we awoke and headed towards the Iveragh Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry was our destination. I’m sure my friend Wikipedia will give you a better description, but the Ring of Kerry is a twisty, curvy, super duper narrowly thin stretch of road that loops around all of the most amazing views you could ever dream of when visiting Irelands west coast. It’s said that this same loop was taken by the Vikings back in the day when they were being buttheads and invading Ireland.

We started our day in Killarney or as Mike, the 2nd singing tour guide we’ve now had, calls it, ‘Larney.. Killarney, and so many other towns and villages we’ve visited, is bright and full of color even on the most rainy of days like today. I wonder if this is intentional? I guess Ireland gets rain 225 days a year, on average. I think I’d need a bright colored door and even brighter painted home as well if I lived here. Or rather, when I live here.

We had a handful of stops today. Some, we had enough time to take in our surroundings. And unfortunately some, we did not. Our driver stopped in the village of Sneem, the town that sells a lot of ice cream. No joke. While most of the bus lined up for some Irish Cream (I swear, I didn’t mean that to sound as bad as it does), I wandered around in the village park looking for a 4-leaf clover. I picked a few 3-leafers; I’m not sure I’ll be lucky enough to score a four but I have a week left!

My first view of the Atlantic Ocean, actually any ocean, was at a stop somewhere along Dingle Bay overlooking the peninsula and Inch Beach. We pulled along side the road where a local man was sitting with his goat, weaving Bridges crosses. To some, water is just water. The ocean looks the same as Lake Superior and Lake Superior looks the same as Lake of the Woods which looks the same as the Mississippi. To those people, I’ll proclaim fake news all day.

The views I had today of the Atlantic Ocean looking over Dingle Bay and then again in Waterville and Ballinskelligs Bay were next to none over and over in such a short time. One panoramic view isn’t like the other and no shot (or video) I could ever take would do it justice without being there yourself. The small islands that are scattered around the big island we’re viewing from have so much history; most of which is untold to tourists like me. It was all just so incredible.

The last stop of the day was Killarney National Park, home of the Torc Waterfall. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love exploring the state and national parks in the States and today was no different in Ireland. The only park stop on the tour was the waterfall specifically so I didn’t get a chance to explore much but we did have a short hike of about 200 meters up to the falls from where we parked. By the time we arrived, the rain was coming down again (I’d been off and on all day), so the dirt incline was a little on the slippery side. But the hike up there in the rain was so worth every second of “ope!” I whispered to myself as I almost took a misstep. Have I mentioned that waterfalls are probably my favorite thing in this world? I hope you enjoy my photos from today. 🙂

Day 5: No, Nay, Never!

We’re running a little low on energy today. I think it’s a mixture of getting used to the time change, the various activities we’ve been partaking in, and the ever-changing weather.

Today was a semi-travel day. We made our way early this morning to bus stop 325 otherwise known as 704X by the locals. Good thing we listened to the GPS and not the front desk dude at checkout!

The walk to the bus stop was about 15 minutes and we crossed over Lake Liffey for the first time by foot. It’s even more beautiful while walking at our own pace vs the pace of the tour bus yesterday.

The ride to Cork was about three hours. I’ve always been cool with long rides as long as I’m not the one in the drivers seat. I planned to read and/or write a little bit; look through the photos I’ve taken, etc. My body had different plans. I’ve never been one to be carsick but I was getting queazy from the drive today and I fear it’ll be a recurring theme for the rest of the trip. Closing my eyes helped but it wasn’t until we arrived in Cork that I began to feel better. Anyone have tips to prevent this from happening?

We walked a few blocks to drop our luggage off at Jury’s Inn on Anderson’s Quay and then ventured out to explore the quaint streets of the city in what is known as the Rebel County for a bit before ending the day early and taking some time to relax at the hotel. Perfect timing too because it’s been a rainy and blustery day today. It sounds like we were on the tail end of Storm Ali in and around the entire southern portion of Ireland.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Irish songs that we’ve heard on our trip so far. It’s been stuck in my head all day and I hope it’ll bring you as much joy as it brings me!

Day 4: 2B anyone? Or not to be.

Our first truly full day was packed with more options to do than time to do it; something that’s preferred in my book. I’d rather have too many things than not enough.

We hopped aboard our aptly named Hop On, Hop Off City Sightseeing Tour and were greeted by the singing tour-guide I remember seeing on the brochure. Jackpot! Declan was his name and covering Elvis Presley perfectly was his game.

Declan, the tour-guide, was wonderful. He displayed the Irish kindness and humor you read about and even though it was his job to go through the talking points of the tour, we learned a bit about him as a person, as well. His wife died of cancer a few years ago and his daughter was recently diagnosed with the same sickness but she’s thankfully doing well and is strong. Declan also made reference to growing up in Dublin and how he’d suppressed a lot of the horrible things he’d seen, up until recently. He mentioned the frustrations and annoyance he had with the Pope paying a visit to Dublin a couple of weeks ago and how he worked through it among other topics. Even providing the struggles he chose to share with a bunch of strangers, he had the most delightfully jolly of personalities. It just goes to show that no matter who you are and what is behind you, it’s our choice to make the most of every single day. If I learn nothing else in life, I hope I’ll always remember Declan, the songbird of his generation.

We hopped off at a few places today. First, was Dublin Castle. We toured the main part of the Castle, The State Apartments and The Castle Gardens. Construction on Dublin Castle began in 1204 and was finished around 1230. A timeframe that I can’t even make sense of. Until now, the oldest buildings I’m sure I’ve ever seen have probably been homes built in the late 1800’s.

The Castle is just as intricately designed as I imagined it would be, both inside and out. There’s a grand staircase leading to a formal dining room. The actual name of this room is The Portrait Gallery. I should have counted the seats and the paintings, but I didn’t. Beyond the dining room was the Throne Room. Queen Victoria sat in the throne when she visited the Castle as did Kings before and after her. The last time a monarch sat in that throne before Irish independence was a few years short of the first World War.

There was a long hallway and some additional rooms in the area that we toured. They are mostly used now for displaying various mediums of artwork which I enjoyed taking in. We then made our way through the Castle Cafe and meandered around the The Castle Gardens basking in the beautiful and (per the locals, unusually) sunny day.

After leaving the Castle grounds, we walked a couple of blocks up the hill to see Christ Church Cathedral and Dublina. The cathedral was under some sort of construction in the front of the building and service was in session so we just went ’round the outside. The cathedral is connected to Dublina, a stop that turned out to kind of be a dud. We pulled the typical tourist card and were like “Oh, lets check out this super cool looking building and learn about the Viking and Medieval history of Dublin.” Meh. I did decide to hike up the 96 steps for a good view overlooking the city. The guy at the front desk talked me into it. #doitforthegram

We also hopped off at Guinness for a quick look around. I tried it, guys and gals, Guinness.. And I’m not a fan. I didn’t expect to be either but you know what they say: “When in Rome!” Or rather “When in Ireland, do as the tourists do!” Why do I always give into social norms? The walk around the Guinness Storehouse grounds were worth checking out though.

Without question, the best place we stopped today was Glasnevin Cemetery. The cemetery holds over 1.5 million graves and as morbid as it may sound, is absolutely breathtaking. Any photo I could take wouldn’t give you nearly the scope of the feeling you get when visiting the cemetery. Both my mom and I enjoy going to cemetery’s; I think we always have. I used to visit my grandpas grave a lot in Warroad growing up and we did a Ghosts and Graves tour of Minneapolis a few years back.

The O’Connell Tower overlooks the entire cemetery and beyond. Although it seems obvious that it’s the focal point, it’s just a small part of the grounds. There of dozens upon dozens of crypts and mausoleums that have been on display for hundreds of years and thousands of family graves that seem to be intertwined together. I could have spent an entire day here, if not more, providing we had the time.

Tomorrow, Cork. Are corks made in Cork? That is the question.

Day 3: I thought our hotel room entrance was through a half-door.

We’ve arrived! Or as the Irish would say, “táimid tar éis teacht!” I’m trusting Google translate on this one so just go with it. Out of the three airports I’ve now been to, the Dublin airport is the most visually appealing. Lots and lots of glass and green; very easy to navigate. Minneapolis’ is too but it’s much larger or seems to be anyway.

All was semi-well today. Maybe more weird than anything trying to adjust to a new normal for the next 12 or so days. The views coming into Ireland were spectacular. We watched the sun rise on the horizon while descending this morning. That, paired with the green island and blue sea.. It was one chef kiss away to a perfecto!

All was good until we hit customs. I had been prepared knowing what our plans were; I have outlines for both my mom and me. We did some reading knowing that we may be asked questions on our purpose for traveling but damn, Daniel was it nerve-wracking. There’s a dude at work that once told me “kindness if free,” yes with the typo. I wanted to share that nugget of wisdom today but I’m sure she wouldn’t have been happy with me if I did. We got through it though!

On our ride to City Centre, there was a couple celebrating 50 years together this year. He and his wife are spending three days in Dublin and then heading to Rome for a couple of weeks. He was trying to figure out what stop to get off on and said something along the lines of just being a small town farm boy from Indiana. He just wants to get to Rome so he can serende his wife on a gondala. At that moment on an Airlink Express Bus somewhere in Dublin, my heart literally melted.

We found our hotel pretty easily after the bus stop and dropped our bags off before hitting the streets to find our first tour bus. With the help of a local Irishman, we found where we needed to be in no time and took a loop around the city just to see the sites and get used to our surroundings. Parts of Dublin remind me of Madison, WI. I think it’s mostly because of the pedestrian only areas. It was unusually mellow and relativly quiet though, in Dublin. We had expected more of a hustle and bustle vibe.

After a pit stop back to the hotel for a power nap (because we were crashing hard) and a break to watch a violinist play Somewhere Over The Rainbow (one of my favs!), we jumped aboard an evening sightseeing tour. Dublin in the evening is just as beautiful as in the day. Our tour guide sang us songs the entire time and played guitar to boot. It was a perfect way to end our first day in a new ‘land.

P.S. I’ll update this post sometime tomorrow with photos. I need to figure out how to get to sleep tonight. 🙂

Day 2: The Nerdvana Annihilation

Not much to report on a day full of time traveling. We made it to MSP a couple of hours early as advised because we’re both paranoid and prepared flying newbs.

It was my moms first time there and my second. I had a good idea of what to expect because my friend Alicia and I hit up Cleveland a little over a year ago but it was a bit different this time around.

We just zoomed right through the security checkpoints like it was no big thing. I had expected to remove our shoes and unload half of our personal item/carry on bags contents because of the whole “electronics go in their own bin” thing. Guess not. Or at least not today.. Or maybe not this airline? Who knows. The simpler the better was cool with us.

My favorite part of flying is the takeoff and landing. The ascent reminds me of the Starship 3000, that spaceship county fair ride growing up. AKA, so relaxing. Why had no one ever made that comparison when I had asked countless times what flying is like in years past? Jeez, guys!

I was curious to see what my mom would think of her first “real” flight. Prior to today, she’d only ever been on a 4-passenger and 6-passenger plane. Both were years and years ago. She liked the ascension also. She definitely didn’t act as giddy as I did on my first flight ever but she’s also not as dramatic as I am; if you can believe that. My mom did say though, while we were waiting for our connection, that she’s not sure what she thinks of flying in general. Her ears didn’t pop the entire 3ish hours we were waiting so everything was muffled as if there was a wall between us which is a very frustrating feeling.

With that being said.. Family and friends, you’ll be happy to hear that we made it to our connecting city of Charlotte, NC and miraculously didn’t get sucked into the hurricane threatening that region of the country. Our flight to Dublin did end up being delayed slightly but only by about 45 minutes. We’re safe and sound. I hope someone called Grandma Darlene.

The Charlotte Douglas International Airport was lightly illuminated today and at about 60% operation if I had to choose a random percentage. We did overhear an employee tell a waiting passenger that a lot of people haven’t been able to come to work the last couple of days due to the weather, thus the ghost-town vibe we kept encountering.

As I type this, I’m sitting in seat 26A on flight 724 eastbound to Dublin, Ireland. A surprisingly delicious dinner (I mean, supper) was served about 20 minutes ago. I need to ask my mom when we land what the round pea looking pieces of food were. (The flight isn’t full so my mom moved up a seat because why not?) They weren’t peas; they didn’t taste it and were very pale in color but I don’t even know if they were veggies. They were good AF though. She’ll know what they were because she’s a mom and they know everything. Thank you, Jesus, for mother’s. 🙌🏼

Well, I should try to catch some zzz’s. I hear traveling through space and time causes this thing called jet lag and we’re hitting the ground running when we land. Until you read again, slán.

Day 1: What about a bog? Say that 3 times fast.

Operation world traveler wannabe to will be is about to begin! Some of you may or may not know that I have a binder full of our to-do’s while on vacation. I’m an ultra-planner by nature and my mom, not so much.

Our first trip was planned out to a T. It eased my stress to know what we were going to do when but it did have downfalls, of course. Being so attached to my “plan” made it difficult to stray from it and there were a couple of activities or days where we would have loved and preferred to stay awhile longer.

Trip two, I tried to be a bit more loose with our plans. I still had our time away organized as shit but I had a lot more “ehh, we can decide when we get there” pockets and days. This trip made me a lot more of a stress ball and I feel like we had wasted time that we could have used a bit more wisely had I made some decisions ahead of time.

Present day, I’m trusting in the motto “third times a charm.” Our days are planned out via day trips around the Emerald Isle and Scotland and our evenings are free for adventure and spontaneity.

Before we left for Minneapolis, we met up with Bodhi’s godparents, Nick and Katie to go over my helicopter cat-mom of a list and visit a bit. They’ll be taking care of Lil’ Boat and my apartment while I’m away. (THANK YOU!) Then, funny enough, my dad was also in town so we all hit up Qdoba (otherwise known as Kubota, thanks to Dad) for lunch before leaving.

We stopped in Albert(s)ville for a minute or 30, Wiki’d all the different types and true definitions of bodies of water, stopped at Minnehaha Falls for a break from the humidity and ended the night walking on the very dimly lit Stone Arch Bridge.

‘Twas a great first day to the start of our vaca. Even if Mom compared the heat to St. Louis!

Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself.. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tomorrow ’tis the day my mom and I embark on our 3rd mother-daughter trip! When my mom turned 50, she super informally announced that she wants to see all 50 states before she dies. Providing that she’s going to live to 100 (she knows this for sure), that meant at least one state a year. Obviously, she’d already visited a couple of pockets in our country because one, she’s been on a trip or three with my truck-driving dad and two, she’s not a hermit. The math isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun story. 50 states in 50 years.

Our first year, we knocked off five states and in our second, five more! The third year, we decided instead of a “ma and Or” trip, we wanted to get our family together for a mini-vacation. So, instead of another road trip, we swooped up the rest of the fam and spent just about a week up at the Zippel Bay Resort in Lake of the Woods.

This year, we are resuming our travels. We’re going bigger this time. The 50 state goal is still one of both my mom and me but we decided to reach a little further this year. We’re breaking free of the single-continent life and jetting off to a new land, or two rather. Ireland and Scotland!

There are a handful of reasons why and how we picked our destination this year. Around this time last year I had just announced, what had then been, a very important date. I had been engaged about nine months and had been 51 weeks from the big day. Fast-forward a couple more months to the holidays and the story was very different. During the most difficult time in my life, my mom and I were having a conversation about our yearly trip; where were we going to go this year? Which states?

I’m failing to remember the exact moment that Ireland came up but Éire has been my number one bucket list destination for as long as I can remember. And when I brought it up, my mom said YASSS. Okay, maybe not actually YASSS, but pretty close. Quite honestly, the entire world is on my bucket list but the Emerald Isle, for so many reasons, is a bright and shiny green star right at the tip top. It might have still been a dream at the time of our conversation but it was one I was ready to make a reality during an otherwise Boulevard of Broken Dreams time in my life.

Stay tuned for more on our mother-daughter travels in the coming days and weeks! Yes, weeks!

-XOXO, Ori