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Showing posts from March, 2009

2009 USA Tour : March 29th, Sunday Concert in Sauk City WI

Awaking In Smokey Hollow
I awoke early to morning Wisconsin Sun and about 2 to 3 feet of snow around our camper. No photos yet, I thought, but the snow was melting quickly. After a pondering while I was winterly dressed and photo session and campsite exploration began.
Its amazing what’s here. I have never seen such a variety of accommodation in one place. On the upper scale are cottages and apartments then down to log cabins of different sizes and residential mobile homes. Then a novelty collection of rentable yurts and beautiful authentic canvas covered wagons like used by the pioneers but with some additions to make them weathertight and waterproof, along with hitching rope and lifesize lifelike horse statues. The amenities are very imaginative with a novel mobile little theatre, a swimming pool made to look like a lake with a beach, surreal picnic spots, games rooms, function rooms, business centre, and a very well stocked general store.
Unfortunately, so far, wifi seems to be off,…

2009 USA Tour : March 28th, East To Wisconsin

After A Good Rest
No need for early rise and early depart this morning so it was a wonderful relaxing time to recover from the exertions from our Colorado expedition. Ahead today was about 440 mile drive into Wisconsin but with no gig tonight there was no pressure on arrival time. We departed North Sioux City around 11:00 am as the day was quickly turning from bitter cold to a pleasant sunny spring warmth.
Before leaving, a chat with the campground manager revealed that the USA now has a huge mobile workforce who have leased or sold their homes, bought RVs and now travel the country to where work fitting their trade is still current. He said that almost all Nebraska KAO campers were in that category.
On The Road Again
This was such a pleasant calm journey. The Sat-Nav GPS had somehow changed its mind out sending us route 40 east but sent us north east onto a freeway that crossed just north over the border into and along Minnesota. Traffic was very minimal, roads were dry, sky sunny and b…

2009 USA Tour : March 27th, A New Day in Nebraska

The Light At The End Of The Icy Gauntlet
No idea when we fell into slumber but at 5:00 am we were back on the road as there was 650 miles to go to get to South Sioux City for the concert that evening at 7:00 pm. In good conditions this is an 11 hour drive including lunch stop. Will be achieve this today?
Alas, snow had drifted to try and bury the RV. Wheels totally buried and snow climbing the sides to bury us. Switched on, revs up to max, peddle to metal and pray. 
We blasted through our snow wall, rejoined the freeway skating rink and prayed.
About 100 miles later, daylight well and truly abound we spied the first visibility of a road marking followed about 5 miles later with real gripable tarmac and even a bit of sun breaking through the clouds. Another 20 miles later dry roads and not a hint of snow.
Hooray we had arrived in Nebraska …… but Nebraska is notorious for wind so it was like being back on Route 66 again.
And Onto South Sioux City
Another couple of hundred miles on and our tru…

2009 USA Tour : March 26th, Over Desert & Mountains to Denver

Sunrise?

I am kicking off writing this post at sunrise unsure of how the day will flow. Even the sunrise is indicating a confusion with a mix of mist, fog, cloud and break in the sky. Will there be sunrise or a complete fog?

We were to arrive in Denver and perform tonight but so far 4 venues there have invited us then cancelled us and we do have some people there who would love to meet us. I have not checked emails for over 2 days and will not be able to for several hours yet so we wonder if there is a last minute venue?

So the results of this day is much like the nature of the sunrise or no sunrise that is happening here right now. There’s a sprinkle of snow on the desert as we leave.

To Denver

So far, so good and on the main freeway towards Denver, but we took a break for fuel and lunch at a place with WiFi and messages warning us not to arrive in Denver because of the weather. We are 100 miles before Denver, and yes there is now snow falling but s, visibility is ok and I took lovely…

2009 USA Tour : March 25th, Valley Of The Gods & more

Breakfast Surprise
Waking up to a Valley Of The Gods sunrise is a thrill but to continue this with breakfast served by Claire of the b&b here really kick starts the day like no other way. She prepared us wonderful breakfast casseroles, fresh fruit and pomegranate juice.
Into The Valley Of The Gods
There is a 17 mile dirt road that passes close to all of the red statue mountains of the Gods. The sensation here is remarkably spiritual.
Unfortunately, the legends of the place are largely lost, partially because the Navajo only came here about 60 years before white settlers and only picked up a little from the tribes that were here before. From what I could pick out from people I spoke to here the main legend seems to be an expanded one of our local Morrigan legend in Co. Sligo.
A goddess, now name unknown, is said to reside in this valley. When she feels that a warrior has weakened she returns his strength and preserves him in stone. When people of the tribes have problems and conflict th…

2009 USA Tour : March 24th, from 66 to 99

Leaving Route 66
As the song said we headed down to Gallup, New Mexico, during this morning, another 124 miles of desert and some mountains and then a 24 mile turn off to Route 12, the start of the next two days of heaven where I throw in the symbol of 99 as this was the start of a complete polarity of Route 66
Onto The Valley Of The Gods
Route 12 is into Arizona and we had turned from heading west to heading north.
This started with a narrow road journey through the red rocks park, of unusual twisted bright red mountains connected by red lakes.
After about 50 miles we climbed into wooded snow cap mountains and then after another 30 miles into a combination of red dusted and green dusted desert plains as 12 merged into the famous Route 191 that took us into Utah.
In the distance we could see cowboy country, John Ford country, the isolated pinnacles of towering monumental red rocks.
When we turned from 191 into the road that would lead us to the edge of Valley Of The Gods our jaws dropped. W…

2009 USA Tour : March 23rd, Getting Our Kicks On Route 66

Cruising Route 66
Though not planned our entire day today was following the old Route 66, well much of it. We really did get our kicks, continually on the sides of the RV. Though sunny this was an extremely windy day, from Tulsa OK through Amarillo TX and onto Alberquerque NM, about 640 miles A lot of the old Route 66 is still preserved and running next to the replacement freeway, and runs through the small towns while the freeway by-passes them. We sometimes tried out the old road, only to find our sections coming to an abrupt halt, which I assume was due to farmers refusing the restoration of some parts of this popular historic old highway.
Some of the old diners and gas stations have been preserved and re-opened but most are in ruins like ancient monuments. Texas seems to be the most active in preservations and promotions, parts of Albuquerque not bad but not much preservation and promotion in Oklahoma yet.
We stopped awhile in Amarillo for shopping and lunch. Amarillo seems to be a j…

2009 USA Tour : March 22nd, Tulsa OK

Heading for Route 66
Last year Claire and I had followed much of the tail ends of Route 66 from both the LA and Chicago end, without planning, and this year, again without planning, we were about to cover much of the rest of it.
However, we could not resist further indulgence of travelling the winding A to Z roads of rural Missouri with their beautiful forests and small farms on this warm sunny day, before being glued to the hypnotic flow of the freeway out of Missouri and into Oklahoma, now largely built over the old route 66 and bypassing the towns along the way.
Into Tulsa OK
The five hour drive was one of our shortest today enabling us to arrive and book into our RV campsite and pop along to the gig in about 5 hours, I think. Our Sat-Nav GPS was very reliable at getting us to the Mingo camp site and to The Collective, our venue for this evening.  
Mingo RV park was very professional and run by 3 people who seem to constantly argue and disagree in a fun rather than aggressive way, if yo…

2009 USA Tour : March 21st, From Urbana IL to Salem MO

Starting A Cottage, No, RV Industry
CD sales on this tour have been phenomenal. In fact, by now they have just about run out. We did leave some at Robert LA which will be shipped to Sioux City, but this morning it was off to Office Depot in Champaign IL to buy supplies to make more CDs in the RV, quite an interesting experience, but it worked. We are now selling a set of “Bootleg RV Produced” CDs at discount prices.
To Salem, Missouri
First half of this ride was freeway to Saint Louis, myself driving, leaving a cool sunny Urbana but quickly warming as we drove south west. The most exciting and even emotional part was crossing the Mississippi into the east of Saint Louis.
Lunch outside Saint Louis Missouri was at Taco Bell!
Now a lot of folks put down Taco Bell, but I love the food. I had to have at least a Chalupa, a soft pocketless pita that they deep fry or pan fry until crispy then fill with beans, veggies, salsa and sour cream. Claire thoroughly enjoyed their chicken salad.
After lunch …

2009 USA Tour : March 20th, From Equinox in TN to Urbana IL

Early Equinox Nashville Sunrise
I did not work out what time Equinox was in Tennessee but i gather it was early. We awoke to an early but beautiful warm clear sky sunny sunrise. We had to be on the road by 8:00 am to reach Urbana IL by 2:00 pm due to things to do there before the concert.
The journey was pretty and relaxing with the Sat-Nav GPS leading us along expected freeways flowing from the rolling wooded hills of north of Nashville into the rolling field and small landscapes of Indiana, but for some reason, after I handed driving over to Claire it led us onto country roads in Indiana.
Into The Prairies of Amish and Corn Growers
We were attracted by a sign for for Amish Food so we thought we would pop in for late breakfast. It was 10:30 am and breakfast service was over. This was lunch time! Also, we were naively expecting to be greeted with bearded men and ladies in 19th century style work dress outfits and signs saying Ye Biscuits and Ye Sweet Tea etc. Instead we had jolly casual w…

2009 USA Tour : March 19th, from Cherokee to Nashville.

Cherokee
Leaving Maggie Valley early Claire and I skirted the beautiful eastern side of the Smoky Mountains to the fascinating town of Cherokee, populated by the Cherokee Nation and featuring the expected casinos, craft shops and native cuisine. It is all developed very nicely though, and barely an intrusion to the mountains.
We stopped to visit the museum which was a stunning mind opener for us. So many of their stories and traditions are exactly the same as the ones we share with visitors to Ireland. The corn celebrations are so much like our Imbolc, Bealtine, Lunasa and especially Samhain. Their reverence to corn was like ancient Ireland reverence to apples. Their game of stickball is so much like Ireland’s hurling, especially in origins. Overall, the Cherokee museum is a very moving experience.
Of course, within the museum and around the town Cherokee people were also eager to share that they were part Irish and where in Ireland their Irish grandmother or great grandmother came from.

2009 USA Tour : March 18th, Bryson City NC

I’ll have to write this fast as we have to shortly get ready to head over the Smoky Mountains to Nashville
Catch Up Morning
It was lovely to laze the sunny morning away at our campsite in Maggie Valley below the Smokys. I caught up with emails and we cleaned up the RV, and a bunch of grooming and fussing stuff, then it was lunch and off to Bryson City
Bryson City Theatre
It is lovely having the mix of house concerts and theatre on this tour. House concerts are wonderful for the intimacy and exchange plus getting to know some about the area we are in. Theatre concerts give us space to really move around and perhaps provide more performance and even better sound, maybe. Bryson City Theatre was a bit smaller than Saluda so did not need the PA but it was still the result of devoted love and dedication, this time by Rev David Russell.
David also happens to be a wonderful harp maker as well as pastor, more about that later.
After a very warm welcome by David and his wonderful wife Caroline who ha…

2009 USA Tour : March 17th, St. Patrick's Day at Hot Springs NC

Leaving Greenwood Lake
After a couple of days of rain, the blue sky, sun and warmth returned before we left the beautiful Greenwood Lake, South Carolina. After a few leaving photos it was off on a 3 hour drive to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, our home for the next 2 nights while Claire and I perform at Hot Springs and Bryson City in the area.
The drive was pleasant, first through calm and barely populated South Carolina country lanes then onto the freeway that entered and wound around the North Carolina mountains.
Arrival at our camp site in Maggie Valley early was a great relief. This is more of a resort camp site rather than a nature hugging state park site that we have loved so much. However, its not exactly a resort yet as none of the facilities are open. Its quiet here, not many campers, a bubbling creek and a very good online connection. Lots of shady trees too, useful as it has turned sunny and warm now. Easy to dump to sewerage here too.
Into The North Carolina Mountains
T…

2009 USA Tour : March 16th, Saluda Theatre

Lazy Morning
We both awoke late, must be the time zone change and lazed around. The rain continued as it must have done all night. None of the Irish rain for a couple of hours and then go away here. Comfy cozy temperature, though, and there is still a lovely vista over the lake. Wish I had not left my camera in Saluda.
I was going to design some literature for printing in Saluda but internet service is very weak here and essential online work took ages to do. Time to get ready for Saluda came around quickly as we are spending the afternoon setting up the stage with decor, lights and backdrop.
Lunch Then Theatre Work
Lunch
Cindy Willis, our host in Saluda took us to lunch with her former school teacher, Beala, and what an incredible lady she is. It reminded me being in the presence of a woman version of Goodbye Mr Chips. Beala was a well loved school teacher of English who has inspired hundreds of lives and many look back to her as their life guide with joy.
The lunch she prepared for us a…

2009 USA Tour : March 15th, from Alabama to Saluda SC

Descending From The Clouds
It was a bit disappointing waking up on the highest point of Alabama hoping to catch the views but all that greeted us was thick fog and constant rain. I did not know such a combination could exist. As we descended from Cheaha mountain we soon found out that we had spent the night in a cloud.  Once below the cloud the view was magnificent despite being very cloudy. We did buy postcards and fridge magnets to show what the view would have been on a fine day.
Battle Of Atlanta
From near Cheaha into Gerogia and to Atlanta our journey was all freeway, quite relaxing and quite nice rolling hills and mixed vegetation scenery, and then we approached Atlanta.
I had heard Atlanta roads were a nightmare to drive, but I believed as this was Sunday there was nothing to worry about. Wrong!  LA is much easier !!!
Atlanta is full of winding multi lane highways and a dazzle of criss-cross overpasses and underpasses often very badly signed. On top of that our SAT-NAV GPS could not…

2009 USA Tour : March 14th, from Louisiana to Alabama

Life On The Freeway
Yes, another day of USA freeway driving through Louisiana, Mississippi and through Alabama. Scenically, nothing spectacular to look at though its always good to see miles of untouched nature even if it does not form a striking image landscape.
About 330 miles, I think, set off about 9:15 am and arrived in Birmingham AL around 3:00 pm and was cloudy all of the way with some showers falling just before Birmingham.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
First, approaching its fabulous classic design building we knew we were in for a treat. First, we wanted coffee and some late lunch, only to find their coffee house closes at 2:00 pm, very strange timing for a visitor’s centre. Later we found this made sense as were ended up being the only ones exploring what must be at least 50 acres of spectacular themed gardens.
Our time was limited so we only explored 3 of them. The first was an Irish Rose Garden. No roses out, but the garden looked more like Tudor England than Irish, yet very w…

2009 USA Tour : March 13th, New Orleans to house concert in Robert LA

Resting
I was up and alert at 7:30 am, went online to find a ton of things I had to attend to regarding this USA and upcoming tours in Ireland. This took until mid day as the WiFi here in in Bayou Segnette State Park is like old dial up. It was very pleasant in the sun and listening to the many calls and songs of the tropical birds here. Just looked up the forecast and heavy rain is on its way here very soon.
At this point it looks like we will miss our intended lunch and visit to New Orleans as Claire is choosing to sleep more to ensure a better performance tonight. I will shortly explore the local wildlife before we set off for our house concert in Robert LA this evening. It would be good to get there early to set up and tune properly.
I did have a short walk around the local swamps and saw some herons and a kingfisher
To Robert LA
This was quite an adventure and wish I was not driving but took photos of this. First was the extraordinary metal bridge across the Mississippi, a very narro…

2009 USA Tour : March 12th, from Perry Fl to New Orleans

On the road to the coast
At Perry KAO Kampground we awoke to a beautiful warm sunny day and decided not to move until around 2:00 pm. The jolly camp manager extended us from the 11:00 am check out limit without hesitation.
Perry KAO Kampground was quite jolly and quite a busy place. Only 2 sites spare the night we were there. Sites were very close to each other but had easy accessed power, water and sewerage. WiFi was reliable and fast. Staff very helpful and informative and a very useful little shop. It was good this was good as its was the most expensive site on our tour. I believe we got good value in service alone.
When we set off the day was perfect, sunny, 75 F, light breeze and not humid. It did not take long before we were driving in what must be some of the most beautiful landscape in Florida, mainly due to very little development. We were heading along the coastal route to Panama Beach and then Pensacola. The beaches were fascinating with pure white sand and stumps of ancient t…

2009 USA Tour : March 11th, pick up RV and Ormond Beach Concert

Unleashing Writer’s Block
At 3:00 am I found I was wide awake and it was going through my mind that I still had a folk drama script to put together, so it was down to the Ponte Vedra Inn’s business centre to work away on my new “X Marks The Spot” folk drama story. This took until around 7:00 am but was a delightfully creative time with thoughts and ideas flowing. I so look forward to performing and developing this story as we go along this tour.
Collecting the RV 
After just another couple of hour’s sleep Claire reminded me it was time to get on the road so it was over, once more, to the fabulous breakfast at the delightful classical Ponte Vedra Inn restaurant.
By about 10:30 am, we were on the road, a bit later than scheduled, heading from Jacksonville to Kissimee FL, near Disney World, to pick up the RV, a smooth but busy freeway drive of about 3 hours. As we passed the sign for Blue Spring, near Orange City and Deland I yearned to have taken Claire there to see the wintering manatees, …

2009 USA Tour : March 10th, day around Jacksonville Beach

Restoring Breakfast
The word that strikes me this morning is “Pride”, a beautiful quality that is so much part of the psyche of the USA people and it was very much in evidence with the people and presentations we experienced today.
After a stunningly relaxed and comfortable sleep in our gifted beachside apartment, listening to the waves crash as we both entered and raised from our slumbers, it was off to Ponte Vedra Inn for breakfast. 
The Ponte Vedra Inn is a traditional 1922 built resort golf club Inn. Regrettably I thought, why take a camera to breakfast. I wish I had. The building and breakfast room was beautiful, of a world past yet so much in the present and needed now. It was a place of starting the day with peace, calm and complete refreshment.  Much of this wonderful experience was due to the cheerful, helpful, professional service by all of the staff along with snippets of wonderful colourful conversation. Again, their theme and tone was pride in themselves, their work and the…

2009 USA Tour : from Dublin to JAX FL

Dublin depart
A very pleasant start. Taxi cab was early from Claire’s South Dublin home. It was a brisk clear sunny day. Lounge at Dublin airport was quite and pleasant. I do like the idea of USA immigration being cleared in Dublin. It does mean having to be even more earlier but does help to speed things up when arriving in the USA.
Our plane was spanking new, on only its second commercial flight. Named St. Ronan was calming as we live near Cill Ronan mountain, where by legend the Tuatha De Dannan arrived, before it was called Cill Ronan. Harper bard, Turlough O’Carolan is buried below Cill Ronan mountain in the grounds of the ancient Cill Roman Abbey.
There was good leg room from the seats.
Though there was comprehensive in flight entertainment neither of us bothered with that. I had a brandy and ginger and the writing inspiration flowed. All folk drama plans I had are thrown away in preference for the new material I wrote. I hope I can learn it in time. Its a huge folk drama developmen…

Our USA tour Itinerary

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Are we going to be travelling and performing near you?
Here’s where Claire is performing in the USA through March, with some folk drama input from me. Just click the link to get the online brochure for each event.
Mar. 11th :  Ormond Beach, FL
Mar. 13th :  Robert, LA
Mar. 16th :  Saluda, SC

Mar. 17th :  Hot Springs, NC
Mar. 18th :  Bryson City, NC
Mar. 20th :  Urbana, IL
Mar. 22nd : Tulsa, OK
Mar. 26th :  Denver, CO
Mar. 27th :  S. Sioux City, NE
Mar. 29th :  Sauk City, WI 
We will also be at these “halts” if you would like to meet us for a song, story and chat
Birmingham AL     Sat, March 14th 3:00 pm
Nashville TN          Thu, March 19th 7:00 pm
St Louis MO           Sat, March 21st 2:00 pm
Amarillo TX         Mon, March 23rd 3:00 pm
Isleta Lakes NM   Mon, March 23rd 8:00 pm
Lincoln NE             Fri, March 27th 2:00 pm
To meet us at our “halts” above  please contact me

Irish Castle Vacation, April, under $45 a night!

April Ireland Castle Vacation Special
Markree Castle, Co. Sligo, through April only is offering their lowest price ever, under $45 bed and breakfast per person sharing if staying Sunday to Thursday nights, subject to availability.
Markree Castle is not really a castle hotel but an authentic heritage castle that has been adapted to accommodate guests. Don’t expect a Holiday Inn or Marriott style hotel here. Its very casual but really is a castle!
Add to this a menu of tours and activities we can offer you, guide, driver and transport at $70 per person per day, that’s an incredible Ireland Experience vacation we can serve you for just $115 per person per day.
Have a 4 day 3 night Castle Vacation, arrive and depart from Dublin, for only $US 385 per person sharing to include accommodation, guide, driver and transport. Still some Aer Lingus flight seats from USA to Ireland in April still under $US 600 return inc. all charges
Three Castle 5 night 6 days Vacation in April
How about staying in 3 Ir…