Our Day of Days

April 16: Before leaving lovely Letterfrack, Dear Readers, I have to mention the awesome breakfast served each morning at the Old Monastery Hostel by Steven, the owner. Steven opens the door to the dining room promptly at 9 am and guests come in for porridge (cooked oatmeal), fresh-baked breads and coffee or tea. Most of the younger people didn’t seem to go for the porridge but it’s a filling and delicious meal for bike touring! After cooking our breakfast, Steven and his staff sit at the table by the window, with Steven toiling over a hot laptop noting future reservations and other hostel business. He keeps an eye peeled for infractions, the most serious being the use of the porridge bowl for bread. He WILL pop up from his chair, take the bowl right out of your hands and carry it into the kitchen. The plates at the table are for bread and don’t you forget it!

That was the weirdest thing about Steven and Gang. He runs an awesome hostel. He is an old hippie who has done his share of bike touring and other adventure travel. He also cooks vegetarian dinners and apparently has a restaurant down in Clifden.

Now, Dear Reader, what about the Day of Infamy? Let’s start with a picture. This is me, sometime in the afternoon, huddled against a pile of peat bricks that had been cut out of the ground nearby. We were headed to Rossaveal to catch the ferry to the Aran Islands and had just spent hours fighting head- and side- winds and this was the only shelter we could find for a refueling stop. How did we get there, you ask? After breakfast and packing we hit the road, retracing our path for a few Ks on N59 to R344 south. We stopped for lunch in Recess, after which we headed a couple of Ks west to R340. At some point we turned due east on R342, a deserted, wind-swept godforsaken part of the world. This makes it look kind of pretty, doesn’t it?

Okay, so it was scenic. It was also brutally windy. We fought the winds every direction we turned. The bike was never upright. Larry seemed to enjoy himself, bellowing loudly against the elements. I, however, just hunkered down and pedaled. It occasionally occurred to me that it might feel satisfying to have a tantrum but I didn’t have the mental or physical fortitude! It was such a relief to get to Rossaveal and take the ferry (on fairly choppy seas) to Inishmoor, the largest of the Aran Islands, where we stayed the night.

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