Sunday, June 20:  Homeward

Overheard at breakfast at the table across from us: Two ladies from British Columbia were having a long discussion about nutrition, with much talk of “complex carbohydrates.”

“I believe that if you eat right, you will get enough of each of the nutrients you need. That is probably at the core of my belief system.”
“Then why do you take a multi-vitamin?”
“Because Bill does.”

Left the B&B after a nice breakfast of Irish cheeses, backtracking just once on our way out of town. Two hours later we pulled off the motorway around Dublin at the airport exit and the alarm for low-gasoline (I mean low-diesel) sounded signifying another successful return with a nearly-empty tank. Paid part of the lodging bill with cash, the rest with a credit card, and used a part of my 5 euro reserve at the unexpected tollbooth on the ring road. The remaining coins went for chocolates from the duty-free cart on the airplane, and the leftovers from that went into the Aer Lingus charity drive “Change for Good.” Its back to greenbacks, in particular the two smelly C-notes I’ve been packing in my pouch the entire trip.

A brief rain squall at the rental car return area prompted the attendant to suggest we drive our bags up to Departures and then return the car empty solo. By the time we endured the traffic jam to get curbside, the sun was back out. Did about 600 total car miles in Ireland. The line at the Aer Lingus counter took over an hour to negotiate, dashing Robert’s hopes for a final Irish pub meal for lunch. Since boarding time was fast approaching, we hurriedly bought sandwiches, chips and drinks to go and hustled to our gate. Cleared the US Immigration “Pre-Inspection” center, and then waited almost another hour (standing) for the plane to actually board. Having shown our tickets and passports to the gate agent, we were then asked to stand right there a further five minutes, owing to some problem loading fuel on the plane. In total, three hours from arrival at the airport to walking on the plane, mostly standing in lines, with nary a chance to sit and relax along the way.

The boys did well on the long flight over the Atlantic to Chicago, and it helped that Scooby Doo 2 was the second in-flight movie. David did some more of the typing of Robert’s journal, so we might get that caught up soon. We touched down a bit in front of 5 PM Chicago time, which would be 11 PM Dublin time. Robert was beginning to show signs of missing his bedtime, but there would be lots to do in the two hours between flights. An immigration office waved us all through, since we’d showed our passports in Dublin. We collected our bags off the carousel after a wait, and piled into a line for Customs. I’d marked on our form that we’d been on a farm or pasture, since the boys had been herding sheep at the Staigue Fort just a few days earlier. That got us shunted over to the Department of Agriculture, where they also became interested in David’s ham sandwich I’d made him save from the flight. Owing to our sheep adventures, they took our shoes away to be cleaned and disinfected, and we forfeited the lunch David didn’t really want anyway. Never was given the opportunity to discuss our alcohol allowance, so our Figeac wine and Scotch whiskey came through unquestioned.

Had to wait in another long line to check our bags back through to Seattle, and each was carefully tested for explosive residues. Then a short train ride took us from the international terminal to the American Airlines terminal. Through the security scanners, and Pat’s bag with wine, placemats and other imported goodies elicited a hand screening. Finally we reached our departure gate with about a half-hour to spare and the boys still in reasonable spirits. Whew!

Our last leg into Seattle saw us just catching the sun as it finally descended for the evening. Kathy Samms met us in the terminal, and it was nice to see a familiar face and to have somebody else drive.

The boys are looking forward to being home and seeing their pets and friends again. I’m looking forward to driving familiar roads and having three or four computers to myself rather than sharing one computer four ways (to say nothing of nearly constant Internet access). And I may burn my smelly pouch I’ve worn over one shoulder, and under my shirt, for all this time. Some bike riding on the backroads of Gig Harbor will be welcome.

The trip has been everything I’d hoped it would be, and I hope to someday return to some of the places we sampled. I know the boys will be forever changed by the experience. In exactly what ways, only time will tell.

Photo 235  Robert’s Bird
Photo 236  St. Canice’s, Kilkenny

Photo 237  Kilkenny Castle