112. Chasing the Sun

Chasing the Sun: It was a beautiful Saturday morning, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the deep blue sky. Sloan and I were staying at this incredible hostel on a riverbed in the middle of the mountains, 50K from the nearest city. It seemed like the perfect day to tackle the 5-mile hike to the top and back of Diamond Peak in Connemara, County Clare. A hike that was listed as “hard” in my guidebook. But much like the weather in Portland, only about 10 times more finicky, the weather in Ireland is known to change rather rapidly and as soon as we arrived at the trailhead, it started to rain. We walked over a mile anyway before it started to pour and we realized we were surrounded by an unending view of heaving black clouds. We did the only thing we knew how to, we got the hell out of there. Once we left the mountains and headed for the coast the clouds broke away and our new mission became clear, chase the sun all damn day.

First we started the drive around the Connemara coastal loop and had our lunch on a hilltop overlooking the quaintest farmhouses with their sheep and cows and rocky sea cliffs. Then we drove some more and found a small, bent, falling down sign pointing to a beach 4K down a very narrow, mostly dirt road. Bingo. This beach had no name and was sparsely populated by us, a few white cows and some very ‘in the know’ locals. It was also gorgeous. I’d been saying to Sloan that I want go swimming in Ireland even though the water temperature makes Crater Lake seem tropical but as soon as we saw this beach, we both looked at each other and quickly stripped down to skivvies and jumped in. It felt fantastic once the burning numbness subsided. After an hours nap on the beach those eerie dark clouds started to slowly creep across our beautiful paradise (inset). We gathered our stuff and headed back on the road in the opposite direction of the clouds again. Next on our way to somewhere else we stumbled upon a small seaside town in County Clare during their once yearly Regatta festival. We switched gears and spent the next two hours drinking pints in the streets with hundreds of locals. We cheered for the rowers with everyone else and all laughed to each other about the local drunkard doing his worst jig and then together we all fell under the musician’s spell and the most fantastic step dancer we’d ever seen.

Not five minutes later, our beers were empty, the band took a break, the races were over, and the rain clouds found us speeding away again.


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