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The Dingle Way

Well, we are alive and travelling around southwestern Ireland.  Since our other backpacking trips were cancelled, we will be on vacation for the next few weeks.  Currently we are in Kenmare, Ireland enjoying the quainte town, which in some ways reminds us of Aspen.  Tomorrow we fly to London and the next day to Switzerland.  Yesterday we got to drive around the Ring of Kerry, which was really beautiful!  James had fun getting used to driving on the left side of the road…no accidents yet.  Since you may want to know about our backbacking trip around the Dingle Penninsula, we will give you an overview:
Day One
We left the grapevine hostel and drove to Brandon Bay on the north side of the Dingle Penninsula.  We started hiking up over a pass near Brandon Mountain in the rain.  We hiked, it rained, we hiked more and it rained more.  The further up we went the harder it rained.  When it finally stopped a bit, we decided we should eat some lunch, but after setting up one of the rain flies, it started to pour along with crazy wind.  That was probably the worst part of the trip.  We cooked outside and handed tomato soup to the freezing campers who hudled in the tent.  We think we were all experiencing the first stage of hypothermia.  However, once we reached the top of the pass, the bad memories were behind us and we had an incredible view of the sea, rolling hills, and cliffs.  We hiked down and eventually reached a little pub.  James went in to see if they might be watching the Czech vs. Greece game that night, and fortunately they invited us to join them and camp next door on their lawn (for free even).  People here are extremely nice!  So, while some drank a guiness, we watched Czech lose on a big screen tv.  The Czech students were disappointed, but promised it wouldn’t affect their attitudes for the rest of the trip.
Day Two
We woke up to lots of rain, but had to continue hiking anyway.  By now we were all getting used to being wet all the time.  As we neared the coast, the weather cleared up a little bit – enough for us to have a nice lunch on a pier while we watched the waves crash against the rocks.  After lunch was everyone’s favorite section of the trail.  To our right were cliffs that dropped to the ocean and for the next two or so hours we admired the amazing views.  Along the way, we stopped and layed on our stomachs to look over the cliffs and watch the waves hit the really beautiful black rocks.  The wind was blowing pretty hard and sometimes foam from the sea would blow up over the cliffs.  It was pretty incredible. 
Day Three
We woke up to rain, but it turned out to be a nice day and we could finally take off our jackets.  We hiked from the north side of the pennisula to the south side.  Along the way we got to see some of the ruins on the penninsula.  The coolest was a very old oratory (we don’t know what that means) that looks like a stone hut, which was built by monks.  It was made  completely of rocks with no mortar and is still water tight.  Once we get our pictures on here, you’ll get to see it.  We ended up on a small beach.  Since the weather was nice, we played for a while.  Some of us built a sand castle/fort thing.  We set up camp on the dunes near the beach, our best campsite of the trip.
Day Four
We hiked through lots of vegetation over a small pass and reached the outskirts of Dingle, where we camped at the Rainbow Hostel.  The Czech students wanted to hike a bit more, so they climbed a hill near the hostel that overlooks the town of Dingle.  We had our first night without rain there, which was great!
Day Five
James and I walked into town to get breakfast for everyone, and when we had finished eating, we packed up and walked back to the Grapevine Hostel.  It was great to take a shower and walk around town a bit.  We all had dinner together that night and stayed up late talking.  The next day we went to the airport with Barb and the students, said goodbye, got our rental car, and went back to Dingle where we got to walk around town really for the first time since all our time there before was filled with trip preparation.
Trip Reflections:  Overall, it was a very different trip than what we are used to doing in Colorado.  Czech students are much different than American students in how they relate to us as guides.  Another difference was that they wanted to hike much farther each day than we had planned, but we weren’t able to go as far as they probably wanted to because of the content we had to fit in (life stories and reading the Bible).  We enjoyed getting to know each of them…they are all very unique and really great to be with.  We also enjoyed getting to know Barb, their leader.  She is an amazing person!  We hope this trip had a lasting impact on them and we look forward to following up with Barb to see what happens in the future.

Czech meets Dingle

Today 7 kids from the Czech along with their leader, Barb, arrived at the airport.  We got there an hour early, so we wandered to an internet cafe to make our Cique Terra reservations for the last part of our trip.  We picked the kids up in a taxi/van after greeting them and headed back to Dingle.  The kids were very excited to stop at Inch Beach along the way (many of them had never seen the ocean until today…they were beyond excited).  Tomorrow morning we leave for our 4 day trek along the coast.  We will be back on July 5th.  Sorry we haven’t posted pictures yet…we will have time to try to do that when we get back from our hike.  We love the Czech kids!  They all speak English really well (Lukas and Vera especially).  They all have great personalities and we are looking forward to getting to know them over the next 5 days.  Can’t wait to tell you more when we get back.  Make sure to root for Czech against Greece in Euro 2004 tomorrow night!  We will try to find a pub tomorrow when we set up camp so the kids can watch it…it may be a sad trip if they lose.

Here in Dingle…

Yesterday we ended up wasting away most of the day sleeping in until 1:30pm.  Wow!  That jet lag is a killer!  Once we got our barrings, we walked to downtown Hertford for lunch.  Downtown Hertford is a quaint town full of inviting restaurants and a surprising number of salons.  At night we went to a church service with Jenny, which was only a 2 minute walk from her house.  We really enjoyed it!  It was great to worship with people from a different country.  We then went to an Italian restaurant in town and enjoyed Jenny’s company while eating a very good meal.   We got up at 4:30 this morning and hopped in a taxi to the Stanstead airport.  After an uneventful flight, we arrived at Kerry County airport in Ireland around 9:00am.  Greg met us around 9:30 and drove us to the small and charming town of Dingle.  We checked into the Grapevine hostel, where we will be staying for the next 3 nights.  The buildings here are very colorful and full of life and people are delightful!  We are enjoying soaking in the sights, walking around town, eating lunch, and catching up with Greg.  This afternoon we drove to the spot where we will be dropped off for our trip with the Czech kids, who will arrive on Wednesday morning.  We saw many sheep and beautiful grassy hills along the northern coast of the Dingle Penninsula on our drive.  On the way back we picked up a couple from Spain who now live in Germany and are on vacation here.  We are almost ready for bed.  Tomorrow we have to buy our food for the week, find some fuel for our stoves, and wrap up some other details.  Hopefully we will have a chance to upload some pictures of this beautiful place tomorrow.  Thanks for your comments!  Jason…no more rubbish (aka trash) posts…we know it’s you!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Well, here we are in Hertford England!  We arrived at the Heathrow ariport a little past noon London time after an uneventful 9 hour flight from Denver.  Just as the flight attendent had said before we arrived, the weather was "dull."  After retreiving our 3 backpacks and giant North Face bag, on our second attempt, we made contact with Jenny, a Young Life intern from the states who lives here.  The first of our treks began after Jenny gave us the name of the train stop where she would pick us up.  With all our 200 pounds of gear we headed for the Tube (London’s underground subway).  At the Tube we stood clueless of how to get from the airport to "Hertford East."  Two nice people gave us tickets to use on the Tube, but that didn’t solve our problem.  We resorted to buying another ticket at the ticket counter so that we could get the needed directions.  (Later we relized that we don’t need to buy a ticket to get advice.  Oh-well.)  So we hopped on the Tube and headed for Hertford.  After an easy switch to a different Tube line we arrived at a train station where we boarded yet another train which actually stops at Hertford East.  Everything went smoothly and we arrived at Hertford East.  A few minutes later Jenny picked us and our 200 pounds of gear up.  Good thing she had a big (on European standards) car!  She drove us to the place where she lives with a Young Life comittee family and showed us where we will be staying for the next two nights before we head to Ireland Monday morning.  After a shower and a nap we got to eat a wonderful dinner with Jenny and her friend Sarah.  Things are good.  Tomorrow we might go see some sights.  Check back tomorrow for (possibly) some pictures.  It’s 11pm London time (4pm Denver time), so good night.

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow at this time we’ll be weaving our way through the London tube trying to find a place to stay. We’ll be meeting up with a Young Life leader named Jenny and then flying to Ireland Monday, the 28th. Our first, and possibly only, backpacking trip will be on the Dingle Penninsula beginning July 30th. We are taking 7 kids from the Czech Republic (4 girls and 3 guys) and their Young Life leader, Barb. From what we’ve heard, most of them speak decent english, but we will try to brush up on our Czech just in case. We will have 4 extra days in Irleand due to a small ticket booking mistake, but don’t know yet what we will do…probably just explore Ireland. July 10th, we fly to Zurich, where Greg Fuchs, the brains of Eurotreks, will meet us and take us to his home in Germany. From there we may head up to Poland to help with a camp (we don’t know too much about this yet). Then, we will get to spend some time resting in Italy for a little over a week…at least that is our tentative plan. Keep checking our site for updates!

Europe 2004!!!

This summer Jenny and I will be embarking on our first adventure to Europe.  We will primarily be guiding backpacking trips for Young Life in Ireland, Switzerland, and Portugal.  These trips will be around 4 days long each and have European kids on them.  We will be leaving June 25th and returning August 1st.  From Europe we will be updating this web site with news and pictures.  Stay tuned!!!