Bucket List, Check! Ireland in November of 2014

I am pretty behind on my travel posts, so I think it is high time that I catch up and post my favorite trip from this year – Ireland. Originally, Jason and I weren’t planning on going to Ireland at all this year until I spoke with my friend Megan. Megan was my RA for a year at Anderson, and since she was studying abroad this year in Spain we decided that we should try and meet up at some point. And what better place to meet up! At first I thought it would be way too expensive, but we started working the numbers and found that we could afford it! Jason and I were so excited.

So we landed in Dublin, and to be honest I won’t really spend much time talking about Dublin. It was okay, but that is not where the real magic of Ireland lies. On Thursday and Friday we went to the Guiness factory, Trinity College, and saw some beautiful churches – but none of it was anything to sniff at in comparison to the beauty that waited for us on Saturday. If I ever go back to Ireland, I will spend my time on the other side of the country.

We had decided to rent a car while we were there in order to take a three hour trip from Dublin to the other side of the island. Our first stop was the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are absolutely incredible. They are not the tallest in Ireland, and they are a bit “touristy” but this did not diminish their beauty.

I am grateful that we arrived when we did, because we had about half an hour to skip over the fence and stand on an “illegal” part of the grass before we got kicked out! We had a much better view from there and were able to take some good pictures in that time. Yolo.

You will probably just glance over these photos and think, “Well.. There’s another picture of some cliffs.” BUT seriously… you do not understand how amazing it was to be there. We stayed there for 3 hours. Staring. Taking pictures. Staring more. We were freezing cold, and it rained, and still we stayed there.

Again – please remember that you can view these pictures larger if you click on them.

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Jason taking pictures off the “illegal” portion of the cliffs. We were so tiny…

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The spray from the ocean hung suspended in the air because of the vacuum from the wind created in that corner. We got wet not from the rain, but from droplets of water that literally floated upwards towards us. Sometimes you could see the water droplets dancing in mid air for several seconds before they evaporated or hit the rocks.

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On our flight over, we saw a competition in a magazine to take a picture of yourself reading that magazine on your trip! This is the picture Jason took of me for the competition 🙂

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The sun was so bright and the water was so blue that it was hard to get a good picture of the cliffs without them being entirely black. But you can still see how immense they are and how long they stretch. I did enhance these pictures (of course…) but the water really was this blue.

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See that tiny dot on that last bit of land jutting into the water? That’s a lighthouse. Yeah.

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Watching the rain come in over the cliffs was very interesting. We could see it crossing the water and coming towards us, and we were able to get inside just before it started raining hard.

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And of course, Jason took some of the necessary photos of Megan and I in front of the Cliffs. Gotta have some selfies! Megan took some good ones of Jason and I as well, but I haven’t taken those off Jason’s computer yet. I’ll have to save those for another post 🙂

After leaving the cliffs, we headed towards another area of the coast called the Burren. Burren comes from the Irish word “Boíreann” which means a rocky place. Basically it is this vast stretch of land covered with rocks and not much else. Sound boring? Far from it. We found a great spot to take pictures just as the sun was setting, and again we spent at least an hour to an hour and a half there in awe of the beauty. This is why I love to travel.

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Sunset over the Atlantic ocean on top of some crazy cool rocks… yes please.

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The waves crashes so violently into the rocks making it too dangerous to get close up to the water. We watched someone from another group walk right up to the water and get smashed in the face with a wave. Maybe if it would have been warmer and we had a change of clothes… but it was freezing cold, and windy to boot.

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Every where you looked it was this barren expanse that looked so peaceful and ragged at the same time…

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There was also a herd of cows… They walked around us and kept grazing while we took our pictures. We tried not to make any sudden movements and stayed away from the big guys with horns… There have been several people killed by cows in Ireland when coming upon them with no warning!

Eventually we moved to a second location, but it was just too dark for  me to take any good pictures. I snapped this one with my phone and then all the rest of the pictures I took are too grainy.There were a bunch of sheep at the second location, so that was interesting!

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There are not many places in Europe that I can say I would spend money to go back once we come back to the States, but Ireland is one of them. If we don’t get to go back while we are here I know that I will find myself there again. It is too beautiful to stay away.

Musings on Good and Evil

Adolf Hitler. Ted Bundy. Joseph Stalin.

Mother Theresa. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ghandi.

Can we agree that there is both good and evil in the world?

If we can agree that there is both good and evil in the world, a question comes up. Where does our sense of good and evil come from? Why is that we know with absolute certainty that the Holocaust was wrong, and the actions of Mother Theresa are good?

Some people would say that this sense of right and wrong comes from society – we have laws that tell us not to do certain things, and we grow up being told not to do certain things. Naturally we must conform to those same patterns of thinking. But I don’t think this is the whole story. Can you remember hitting someone as a child or hurting a friend? I can. I remember an instance where I bit my brother when I was younger. I had never been told that biting was wrong, but somehow I knew it was. My brother was in pain, and I felt guilty before I got into trouble and my parents told me it was wrong to bite others.

Some people would say that this sense of right and wrong is just instinct, but I’m not convinced this is right either. If you are walking across a busy street and you hear the sound of honking horn, instinct says that something is wrong and you need to move quickly out of the way. But if you hear that horn and see a child in the way of a car, something else inside of you tells you to fight against your instinct and run towards the danger to save that child.

Whether we realize it or not, we all have this certain something inside of us that communicates a standard – a line drawn in the sand of what is acceptable and what is not. Granted, as we learn more about the world we find out that some things are not as clear as others. Violence is not always wrong – what if someone is attacking your family and you need to defend them?

Even with these “grey areas” as they are often called, there are still many things that we can know for certain and that every society can agree upon:

Murdering innocent people is wrong.

Is this just an opinion? No. An opinion is much simpler. You might have the opinion that ice cream is the best dessert, but you won’t go to jail for eating a pint of rocky road. When has a serial killer ever been set free from jail for having a different opinion on murder? Certainly they can hold that opinion, but they are horribly wrong. No – this is not just an opinion, it is a belief. In the same way, if I believe our sun is freezing cold, or that water is made up of nitrogen and sodium atoms instead of hydrogen and oxygen, I am wrong. No matter how strongly I believe or how much I try to prove my point, I will always be wrong. I am not right simply because I want to be.

There are certain things that are true, and always will be no matter what we believe. For a long time the earth was believed to be flat, but that belief doesn’t make it true.

Perhaps you are confused because I am using the word “beliefs” in places where you feel like I should use the word “facts.” Fair enough. Facts are not exactly the same as beliefs. Facts can be proven with hard evidence. We know that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen because we can now see it under a microscope. We know that the earth is round because we have traveled around it and have seen it from above, among many other things. A fact is not a belief. But, sometimes a belief can be a fact… if it is the right belief.

            A true belief is a fact.

This seems like an ambiguous statement because it is hard to find facts to prove our beliefs. Often times our beliefs are intangible – love, hope, and faith can’t be seen with the naked eye. If I believe in love, how do I know that my belief is true?

Truth exists. No matter how hard you have to search to find it – it is not lost. We can know for certain that some things are true, and others are false. And no matter what you believe – the truth will not change. By its very nature it cannot.

Do you really know that what you believe is the truth?

I challenge you to dig into your beliefs. Yes, those that you have held true since you were a child, and those beliefs that you have just recently started following. Find out the truth. Don’t just search for the answers that line up with what you believe – that’s not looking for truth. Truth is there whether you believe it or not… and it might look a lot different than you think.

Switzerland, Thanksgiving 2014

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about Ireland! I have so many pictures to go through that it is a much more daunting task, so I decided to start with Switzerland first.

Jason and I visited Switzerland this past Thanksgiving with our friends Aura and Michelle, along with Aura’s son Vincent. It was a really laid back trip and we enjoyed just walking around and seeing what we could see.

My favorite part of the trip was a short walk we took in some mountains near Basel. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment.

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First of all, there were llamas. I really wished my friend Lilly Allemond was there because I kept quoting The Emperor’s New Groove and no one thought it was funny! “A Llama??? HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD!”

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Black Llamas, white llamas, brown llamas, every where a llama llama.

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It was really foggy at first, but the higher we climbed the more we could see!

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The fog added to the beauty of the mountains, and I ended up being glad that it was there. It was so mysterious, and it made the weather much more bearable. While we had been wearing coats, gloves, hats, and scarves at the bottom of the mountain by the time we reached the top we were sweating like pigs!

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In this picture you can see the Swiss Alps far away in the distance. Another trip for another day! But it was really neat to get to see them even from so far away.

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Plus, who can deny the beauty of this fellow here?

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As usual, Chloey was more interested in a belly rub than having her portrait taken with the Swiss Alps… Well, here’s her portrait with some Swiss dirt.

We stopped for some really delicious Gluhwein before heading back down the mountain! It was my first experience having Gluhwein and it was very good. Gluhwein, for those of you who don’t know, is hot wine that has a variety of different spices in it. It reminded me of hot apple cider, but was much more hearty.

We were very hungry when we came down the mountain, but we didn’t realize that a lot of restaurants would close early for dinner! Thankfully we found a small coffee shop with a bakery where we were able to get hot drinks and a pastry. Not quite a full lunch, but it was enough to tide us over.

That evening we hit up the Basel Christmas market. It was few too many people to handle with a puppy dog, and poor Chloey got stepped on 😦 We were a little stressed after that, but after a delicious meal of pizza at a local restaurant we were refreshed. I went back to the room that evening with Chloey while Jason went back out on the town to take some more photos. All in all a pleasant short trip to Switzerland!