My second day in Ireland with Corky was supposed to be the day she ran the Cork City Marathon. Instead, a couple of weeks before the race her doctor advised her that a nagging foot injury would need some time off, so we just watched and cheered. A shame, because pre-race scouting suggested she had a chance to win some money.
The city of Cork straddles several islands in the River Lee, in a county of the same name within the Southwestern Irish province of Munster. Unofficially known as the “Rebel City” (and County Cork as the “Rebel County”), Cork is remembered for resisting Anglicization and a strong Irish nationalism. Locals half-jokingly refer to Cork as the “real capital,” owing to the repeated English occupation of Dublin while Cork, mostly, remained Irish.
The marathon course is mostly level, winding around the city and out to nearby Lough Mahon and Cork Harbor. It saves its few hills for the space between miles 18 and 22, but as we watched near the finish, the runners looked pretty fresh. The day was perfect, clear and cool, and I know Corky was disappointed to miss out.
Photo Shoot at University College Cork
Since we weren’t running, we opted instead for drinking, touring some of the city, and shooting photos on the campus of University College Cork, just across the street from our bed and breakfast.
Built in 1845, and now part of the Irish National University system, UCC is rated as one of the top colleges in Ireland, and among the best in Europe. Graduates include famous scientists, athletes, and actors–including Fiona Shaw, who played Harry Potter’s nasty aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter films, and Paulina Novacek, the villain of Undercover Blues, an underappreciated 1993 spy comedy with some outstanding performances.
For us, it was more important that the UCC grounds are beautiful, including that classical ivy-covered gothic architecture common among European universities. Being that it was both summer and a bank holiday, the campus was very quiet, and no one objected as we brought along some cans of stout and did our best to reinforce stereotypes.
Gallery: Corky takes University College Cork
Exploring Cork and Nearly Getting Kicked Out of a Gay Bar
From UCC, we headed north, past our B&B and across the River Lee again, following a little nature path along the far shore, then back again. We wanted to explore, but didn’t want to do too much walking, with Corky nursing her injured foot and me still recovering from an ankle break in February. We stopped by churches and pubs, chatting up some of the locals and taking in sights.
Of course, as tends to happen with a stout or two (or ten), we started feeling confident, and decided to check out Chambers, one of the local gay bars. We also thought it was a good idea to order a fishbowl full of vodka. It wasn’t long before Corky had stripped down to her sports bra and unbottoned her pants, prompting the bouncer to inform me–me, not her, please note–that if she didn’t button her pants again he’d have to ask us to leave. Even in a gay bar, the Irish are still a little repressed.
From there, I’m going to be honest… I don’t remember a lot more of Day Two. I know we walked back to our bed and breakfast, but I can’t exactly say I remember it. At one point during our trip to Ireland, I asked a local about drunk driving laws. He told me Ireland has zero tolerance for driving with any alcohol in the blood at all, and I asked how that was compatible with a nation where drinking was such a common passtime. Simple, he explained: You always drink near home, so you can leave your car and walk.
Gallery: Exploring Cork and Making Bad Choices
It’s been pretty quiet around here, I know. It’s for a good reason–I’ve been pressing my nose firmly to the grindstone trying to finish revising a novel. Having just done that (at least for this draft) I should be back more often. In fact, I spent a few hours tonight updating my Comics Archive page, so you can easily access every single comic I’ve ever uploaded.
The whole site theme is new, you might notice, including a spiffy new portfolio where I can centralize all my creative output: Fiction, comics, essays, and even photography, a hobby I’ve been pursuing more recently.
I’ll be back again soon, but for now feel free to poke around, and let me know if you find anything that isn’t working properly.
(The comic below isn’t new, it’s a personal favorite from 2014.)
I realize now that I never posted about my Yosemite trip. Hopefully late is better than never. This was one of the great experiences of my adult life, one good thing in 2016, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone.
2016 didn’t start out great for me. In early spring, I decided I needed a good hiking vacation to clear my head and recenter. After reviewing several options, I chose Yosemite National Park, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. I booked my flight to Oakland and a rental car, figuring I’d throw my backpack in and drive four hours straight into the mountains.
Of note, you can’t really just up and travel to Yosemite, especially if you want to backpack overnight. The Park Service has instituted a permit requirement that requires advance reservations. This protects the environment, as well as a sense of wilderness in what might otherwise feel like a shopping mall. I first applied to begin at trailheads along Tioga Road, not realizing Tioga Road in late May was still buried in snow and closed. I was lucky, though; there was one spot still left at Happy Isles, the park’s most in-demand trailhead. I plotted a course, a 30-mile circuit that would take me over or past some of the park’s most famous landmarks. I also bought my first bear canister. Continue Reading
In my near-38 years on this Earth, I have never learned to appreciate one of the most popular and commercially successful agricultural products our planet has to offer. Coffee is woven into American social fabric like almost nothing else, to the point where the word is almost synonymous with conversation; and yet for the last decade or so I have begun each morning not with a hot cup of Ethiopian Coffea, but a cold can of Diet Coke. Which, frankly… people look at you funny.
So I have embarked on a quest to learn to love the roasted black bean, though it’s not the first time in my life I’ve made such an attempt. I’ve tried coffee drinks a few times in my life, usually getting them to within a half inch of my face before recoiling. In the early 2010s I went so far as to purchase a bag of blonde roast beans (having heard those were less harsh and more friendly to beginners) and brewed them up in the French press I keep at home for guests. It didn’t go well. This time, I will succeed. Continue Reading