219.May 27

Nottingham, UK

My sister Jill arrived in Nottingham today. I had a busy morning at the University. She arrived at dinner time. I showed her to a B&B down the road. We had a big going away party at the Faldet's with good champagne and good stories. EB gave David Faldet his present, a photo album with memories of Sarum.

That night, Rory (Drew's friend and Lisa's lover) and his band played in our basement to a big crowd. I played warm-up for them. Becca and Ian sang "Julia" by The Levellers with me. Then Jill, Mike, Becca and I went out to the Trip to Jerusalem for a few pints. We came home to a party still raging, now up in our house, invited by Jen. It gave David Faldet a migraine and kept most of us annoyed.


Dublin, Ireland

The flights from Minneapolis to London and a smaller plane to Dublin were exciting. Sam and I felt the strong presence of time and freedom opening up in front of us, but I knew the trip would be long and taxing. Our departure was a bit unreal.

Sam and I had not been spending much time together in preparation, so it seemed a bit of a surprise when he and his parents came to my doorway in St. Louis Park to pick me up. Throwing into the back of their white hatchback what I thought to be a minimal amount of baggage was like uprooting myself from all that I had accepted as my normal duplex life. I had just finished a play called "Grunts' in which my hopes were a bit dashed at the box office.

Freedom came to me as both a blessing and a curse. Of course I was reminded of my last trip to Ireland with its ups and downs. I still have the scar to show off and remind me of all those sheep. Getting back on a bike and defeating the Irish curse would be my goal. I knew I would not be·overloaded by luggage and the limitations of time. I had nearly a month planned.

The best part of the plan was that now I got to share the country with a friend. Sam and I had, since we had been room-mates in college my senior year, grown together and apart many times, but we'd always had the same connections. The major one was good beer. We knew this would be something we could and had always hoped to share there.

I grew to be Sam's friend e-mailing with him from overseas with my ramblings around England and Europe. He was someone with whom sharing first hand this enchanted land would be both comfortable and challenging. Plus we had literature, notably Ulysses, by James Joyce. This journal is as much based upon my experience with Mr. Bloom as it is on my independent views of Ireland. I hadn't finished that novel by the time I arrived (and still have not), however, it was to be a guiding force for both Sam and me through-out Ireland. He even carried the bugger in his bag, starting on page one just the day we started our trip.

I started on page one with the summary of this journal the minute I started my flight home, which comprises most of the linking bits. The rest is from my own daily journals and the post-cards I could track down from willing doaners. I have yet to see any of Sam's detailed journals.

I stayed in London for a week, with stops in Nottingham, Chester, Warrington, and Leicester before writing some of this, so I am quite surprised that the moments seem as clear here as they are in memory. Every moment, every sun-ray from Ireland's summer skies is burned in. Even now, and I'm so happy to say this, I can close my eyes and be there.The train ride did not leave immediately upon her arrival in Dublin. So we went for a bite to eat at a pub. We have to carry our baggage, as the luggage holders were full or broken. Far too computerized for anyone’s good, which is something technology will never improve upon it seems.

We found Croppy Acres free house, and only stopped because the man inside called us in. Friendly we thought. The food they spoke Of in the signed turned out to be meager: a cheese and tomato sandwich toasted. But we need food without more luggage struggling. Then back to Huston station for more cribbage. This was the beginning of Sam’s long winning streak which failed him only twice our entire trip.

A water drought train trip followed, when we were too excited to care much. It helped us remember to always carry the clean stuff in a bottle from then on. We called our friends in Kenmare to arrange our trip (hitchhiking or by whatever means) and found out that our ride was picking us up in 20 minutes, and was named Willy. We played a spirited game of Frisbee in the parking lot between a big hotel and the train station where we only hit a few cars. Then a big Irishmen in a small black car appeared. He was very tough looking with black mustache and dark eyes and was rough spoken and had a very low voice. He turned on the tape player as we drove away, and Irish banjos and balladeers came out with Rebel Irish songs. I sang along when it suited me, as we wound through the Black Valley’s Walls, where they hadn’t electricity until this past decade. Electricity not reaching Ireland sounds ludicrous.

We defied death, and speed, and tire pressure as we careened much faster than any carnival ride. I watched the speedometer pole vault mphs. I held on to the seat in front of me tight with one hand, and the seat behind me with another, but I knew I would die if we went over the edge of the everpresent cliff. Sheep were mostly alive, but a dead one or two blackened the roadway every so often.

Willy passed everyone, and not just passed, but tripled their speed so that there was never anyone before or behind us. They flashed by. But I must admit, this was a whole lot of fun. Best ride and view I’ve ever had. He was very friendly as well, and later on will do us favors I will mention. And we arrived at the Riversdale hotel we were going to stay in with our friends Kathy and Liz.

That night, upon arrival, hugs, some small bits of food and fruit cups from the restaurant that was part of the big yellow hotel, then we left immediately for a pub. First the the Square Pint, for live music, but it was too full to sit in, so over to a table across the street in the Horseshoe. Guinness was inescapable.

(My flight is now noselifting from London and escaping the gravity of earth. NOW. Great takeoff. I’m in the middle section, far from the windows. But I’m along the aisle at least, so I’m not too claustrophobitized. I see the last hedgerows below. That will be a missed thing. I’ve come to feel good about the way this land is shaped and surrounded. The sky, the puffy clouds, the green horizon are a sight. I’m going 320 mph and climbing. What a weird form to be in. FAST. 335 mph now.)

Back, to the city of Kenmare. The pub. Then Cupid’s disco, at the Riversdale Hotel. If we hadn’t been at the disco, we couldn’t have slept, because the music could be heard in their room quite easily. We shared in some of their jokes about Kenmare, the little games that they played. It was a good feeling to become a part of a greater whole.


Decorah, IA

I just got back from my first read-through for Robber Bridegroom. What fun. I always think of you during first reads. I think I might just have some kind of fascination for you, because a read through is just a read through, no matter how exciting it could be in a perfect world. I am at my oldest brother's house tonight, after having spent memorial day weekend here with family. I am excited about being back here this summer, but I don't save much time for myself, I'm always busy playing with kids or brothers. I will sleep very well tonight. I've been going to bed much later after playing video games with them all night. It only happens every other month or so, but we really have fun doing it. That is why we have all purchased top of the line computers. It is kind of silly, ok, quite silly.


I walked to T-bocks for lunch without a book, and was forced to watch the president speaking about the clean-up in the gulf over a pint of pale ale. Rachel had spent much of the day cleaning our house, and it was a double mess, but at least there was hope for the future. She'd finished filling the pool today, and we planned to go in after practice, but it was cool by then, and so we are hopefully going tomorrow night when there is no practice. We worked with Mark and Lindsay on some of the moments that really define who they are in the show. We cleaned the bedroom, and went to bed.


Rocheport, Missouri

We stopped in Hannibal, Missouri on our way back from Rocheport, Missouri this morning. We woke up on the floor of a 1850's one story house with a poem on the floor beside us. Julie, Rachel's aunt, hadn't been able to get to sleep, so she wandered the house since we went to bed at 02:00, and spent some time watching us while I snored (chardonnay) and Rachel slept and gently patted my face to hush me up. We eventually all, except Julie, met up with the rest of the family at Cracker Barrel in Columbia for breakfast and about an hour long photo shoot of the family while the dangerous storm clouds came rushing in. We headed back to Jefferson City to get our things from Lynn's house and say goodbye to Dennis. We were going to get a tour of the state capital, but the weather looked bad. We were going to leave immediately, but the rain started to come down. I took a few hours of a nap in the Africa room, where Lynn has all of her memory items and pictures of her time in Africa as a small child, and then roused Rachel to take to the roads. We had a lovely ride, with no rain, to Hannibal, where we took Mark Twain related pictures and eventually found a small Italian restaurant and pizzaria where we had dinner. Then back in the car with the next stop just south of Iowa City for gas. We drove on to Decorah, where we spent the night after the lengthy travel day.