Kevin and I decided to go to California for our honeymoon and hit up some big places. We spent one night each in San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Maria, San Diego, and two in LA. It was so nice to do all the touristy things in each city. In San Francisco we caught a trolley on the Powell/Hyde line. We stood in line for over an hour, but we got to see how the conductors have to physically push the car onto a circle spinner to turn it for the trip back. Since it was so hot in Indiana and we were heading to sunny California, we packed only shorts and t-shirts. The air off of the bay was brisk, and although the heat from the direct sunlight helped, we were chilly. While there we bought a hotdog at a corner stand. Interestingly, the stand was manned by a lad from Limerick; he didn’t give us the Irish discount though, kind of disappointing. In San Jose we met up with one of my cousins who is a chef . He took us to his favorite local restaurant and then to his place for drinks. Just as any artist doesn’t give their work out for free, Brendan doesn’t cook unless he has to. He’d rather entertain and order his favorites than cook leaving his guests on their own. We had a great night talking and sharing travel stories. Next, we went to old town San Jose for lunch, but everyone was out of the city for the holiday. In Santa Maria, we stayed at a cute house whose owner is revamping to bring back its glorious corral and horse barn. The house decorations and theme were perfect for the area and really fit into what she wants it to be. It sparked the idea of AirBnB for Kevin and me once we get our house finished. I originally picked this house as a quick stop over, but we had great conversations with the host and her daughter. In San Diego, we spent the whole day shopping in and around Old San Diego. I loved it there. It reminded me of my immersion in Spanish and the Latino culture and food I’d had in elementary and middle school. I felt at home. LA was just as amazing. We stayed in a little casita at the back of a house. We saw Huntington Beach, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica. Kevin rented a vintage Porsche that we drove up and down the mountains. I felt like a famous actress from the ‘50s with my sunglasses and a scarf to protect my hair from the wind. Our last night we met up with family friends. The boys, Kevin and Danny, bonded over engines and cars while Tara and I caught up on family while trying to follow what the guys were talking about. We had an amazing honeymoon.
Kevin and I spent the next day and a half with my family before I made the major move to Ireland. I packed and repacked four suitcases. I had one, Callie took two, and I took over Kevin’s (Corrie and Callie shared one plus we each had a carry on, too). I still have a few more trips to take to get everything over, but I plan on leaving some clothes for trips back home.
For my bridal shower, my sisters had organized for the gifts to be donations to get my dog, Mr Darcy, to Ireland. He needed shots, required deworming meds, and paperwork completed by the vet and processed by a travel vet in Kentucky. Trying to book animal travel is hard and expensive. You have to connect with the airline to determine their rules, mine didn’t allow any animals in the cabin; and Mr isn’t the ideal dog for that as he yaps at everything. The animal service could only be contacted through email, so I sent them questions about the steps I needed to take. I sent the email then forgot about it. The vet in the meantime, continuously said we were working under an impossible deadline that wouldn’t go through, but somehow he worked magic and got everything approved and in on time. So the morning of our flight I frantically called around trying to figure out what to do. Through a roundabout way I got to the airline’s animal transport. It didn’t go well because of many things: my not following through, and them lying about answering emails and such. I found we had to have a vet in Ireland pick Mr up and give him and his papers a look. After getting a hold of the Irish vet and scheduling someone to pick him up before their opening (which added to their costs) the transport lady told us the dog needed to be dropped off at the airport four hours early, and only four hours. After the four hour drive time, we would only have Mr there two hours early…not enough time. If he went on the next flight, he’d be there six hours early…too much time. All the rigamarole and calling could have been avoided if the transport lady had said that from the beginning (and I had sent a follow up email). I was stressed to the max, and it turned my last few pleasant hours with my niece, nephew and mom into a disaster. Everyone says that it’ll be fine because social media will keep us together, but a whole ocean and five hours between us is a huge emotional distance for people I was with every day.
Our drive to Chicago and flight to Dublin went well. From the airport we went to the car rental place. A few weeks before the wedding Kevin had backed into the barn, breaking the tail light and making his car unsafe for the road, so we needed a rental. Through their magical Tetris minds, they packed five large suitcases, four carry ons and three backpacks into a European BMW SUV that was made for much smaller luggage and more elegance. Lucky for us, Mark our brother-in-law, married to Kevin’s sister Leeann, was working in Dublin. We met and gave him our big suitcases. Then we set off towards Northern Ireland to the Carrick-a-rede, the Giant’s Causeway, Ballintoy Bay, the Dark Hedges and Derry. Being the 12th of July we needed to be in and out before the bonfires started.
We spent the next few days showing my sisters about. Friday we went to Foxford, Co Mayo to introduce Corrie and Callie to Kevin’s grandmother and her sister, a retired nun. We then went to the woolen mill where his mother had worked when she was younger. That night we took them to the pub for their first local experience where they heard trad music and were serenaded by a group of drunken lads. Callie had her first Guinness in Ireland and we all had shots of Baby Guinness, a mix of Tia Maria and Baileys. We couldn’t stay out too late because we had our Irish wedding reception the next day.
We woke early Saturday so that we could do a photo shoot in our wedding gear on Achill Island. We were supposed to go the day before, but as we left Foxford we could see the rain and clouds in Achill’s direction. Putting it off a day was worth it. The sun was at its best, we even got a little burned! Achill was where Kevin proposed last August (2018). Every one of my visits we always made a point to go to Achill, and that day last year, he decided was the perfect place…and it was. We’d had the beach all to ourselves except for a few hippies camping in a van up the hill.
On the day of our photo shoot the beach was packed. People swimming and scuba diving, bodyboarding, and just lying in the sun. With about thirty people watching we did all kinds of poses. We were famous! Two sets of people came up to us wondering if we were doing a photoshoot! One group of people were from the US (Virginia) and we even posed for a picture with them. Then we zoomed over to Kiltimagh to the hotel for a second reception for all of Kevin’s family and friends who couldn’t make it to the USA. It was great craic.
The next day (Sunday) two of our friends, Kevin and Catriona, were coming over, so they followed behind us from the hotel. While driving home we came upon his uncle, Colman, and his huge draft horses who were giving Kevin’s dad and some family friends, Mickey and Les, a ride up and down the road. We all jumped into the buggy and had a nice chat before heading to our house where we had a nice visit. After they left we took Wiena, Kevin’s favorite horse, for a ride on the beach near Strandhill, Co Mayo. Everyone took turns riding her around the beach and into the water. She loved it and loved the water. Corrie and Callie were in heaven.
Monday we went to Galway. We were lucky that the Arts Fair was on. So on top of all the regular street performers there were even more, and stalls with local art pieces: Connemara marble jewelry, local honeys, street foods, pottery, and even an artist who carved avocado nuts into amazing faces, beetles and realistic mandrills. Galway is an experience of its own with cobbled streets and painted buildings with flags draped zigzagging between them. The atmosphere is unreal and wonderful. After lunch in a cute cafe, we drove down to the Cliffs of Moher to see the majesty of the shear drop down the cliff side.
That night we stayed at a house with three donkeys, two ponies, and an alpaca. Guess who wants an alpaca now…Kevin. He sees us shearing the two (yes, he wants two) and me spinning the wool like I’m in Rumplestiltskin or something. It was cute though and I actually wouldn’t mind having one or two as a pet. In the morning we went to Kinsale, Co Cork. We spent the day walking around the port town. It was similar to Galway, in that the buildings were colorful and the streets were small, pre-car, but the feeling was more relaxed than the free-spirit feeling of Galway. Then we sped off for an evening visit with Mickey and Les and their farm with 12 Arabians. They are the ones who teach Kevin so much about Arabians. Mickey is lowkey famous, and a quick, broad search brought me to their website in one-click. Mickey and Les are like Kevin and me. She is an American who immigrated to Ireland and lives in Laois. She shows me my future, and I am fully ok with that.
That was Corrie and Callie’s last day in Ireland; spending the day traveling, visiting friends, and loving on horses. This was their first taste of what my life is like in Ireland. It is completely different from my life in the US. Some of the responsibilities are the same (keeping house, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc) but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When we dropped the girls off at the airport there were only hugs, no tears. I think them seeing what I am moving to eased their minds because this place is so great. I realized that them traveling to me and me back to them is very possible. It’s not like hundreds of years ago when you’d never see each other again. We will take advantage of the internet and social media and we will share our lives just as before. I’ll have more late nights and calls after midnight so I can catch up on the gossip, and hear how Jace and Jayden did at school and sporting events. They are already planning their trip next summer, where they will spend more than just a week, so we can spend more time together.
After the wedding, Kevin and I did a lot of traveling and cemented the fact that we can travel together. However, I don’t think I’ll let him do city driving in the US. He doesn’t like when a driver with a green light and who is turning left has to halt for pedestrians, as we had a few close calls near the boardwalks in Venice and Huntington beaches. I’ve learned I am a great co-pilot and give the best instructions after the Google voice shouts out directions. We are in for a lot more adventures and I am looking forward to every single one of them.