I've woken up in the middle of the night by two sensations. The pitter-patter sound of rain pelting against the walls of the tent and the fact that my feet are freezing. I reach down to feel them. Not just freezing. But wet!
ARGH! The tent is leaking!
I wake up Neda and we turn on the flashlight hanging overhead to inspect the pool growing inside our home. It's a good thing we normally orient our tent so our heads are slightly on higher ground, otherwise there'd be water everywhere all over the floor!
This is very frustrating to us. It's served us so well for so long. But failing while riding the rainy west coast of Ireland - the timing could not have been any worse! Well, okay, it would have been worse if it had failed in Norway...
From what we can tell, there's water leaking from the seams of both the fly and the inner layer. Nothing we can fix in the middle of the night. I grab a towel and do the sop-inside/wring-outside to get most of the rainwater out, leaving the towel at the foot of our tent and then scooching my entire sleeping bag uphill so I'm pressed up against the head of the tent. It's going to be a long night.
It's still raining when we wake up. The towel is soaked, but my retreat to the front of the tent has kept my feet from soaking up any more liquid. We have to pack the tent up in the rain, which is my least favorite thing to do. Like putting wet socks on and then putting your shoes on over it. Gross.
Riding in the wet again, heading back north along the coast to re-join the main route of the Wild Atlantic Way
During the ride, all that's on my mind is thinking about what are we going to do tonight. If the wet weather continues when we stop, we might have to book an AirBnB. We've had luck finding cheap AirBnBs in the larger cities because of the abundance and the competition, but out in the sticks it's going to be expensive.
Speaking of cities, we pass the outskirts of Galway and then around the coast of Galway Bay. Ed Sheeran takes my mind off the rain:
"She played the fiddle in an Irish band
But she fell in love with an English man
Kissed her on the neck and then I took her by the hand
Said, "baby, I just want to dance"
My pretty little Galway girl"
My pretty little Pula girl, picking up more snacks at the side of the road
While hugging the coastline, we stop at the Murrooghtoohy Discovery Point
This is the site of a karst formation called The Burren
These smooth rocks create a vast field of alien landscape all the way from the road to the lapping waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Thankfully, the rain has stopped so we park the bikes and go exploring the area, clambering over the smooth, pale rocks and the deep cracks in between them.
Other visitors have built little Inukshuks all over, so Neda adds hers to the collection
We have such a fun time walking around this limestone wonderland. We have it all to ourselves...
... until this tour bus came and spewed tourists out into The Burren. They're like insects crawling over food at a picnic. That's our cue to leave.
Just south of the Burren, we spy a castle on the hill. Hey, isn't that another Ed Sheeran song...?
Doonagore Castle is just a tower with walls around it. The tower looks like it's wearing a crown
Just down the street of the castle we find this funky restaurant called The Stonecutter's Kitchen. Since it was lunchtime, we decided to get some Irish food.
Drying our rainsuits in the sun
A hearty Irish stew, chock full of meat and potatoes, is a great remedy to erase the remnants of our cold, wet ride this morning
And then just another couple of kms away are the grand Cliffs of Moher. There are people on the left side of the picture, for scale
Ireland's most visited natural wonder. These cliffs sport a sheer vertical drop of over 700 feet all the way to the waves crashing far, far below on the rocky feet of the wall-face. There are barriers near the visitor centre that prevent people from falling over the cliffs, but if you hike far enough, the barriers just stop existing and all of a sudden there's nothing between you and 700 feet of Wile E. Coyote air. But this is after you pass a huge warning sign stating that Ireland is no longer responsible if you venture too close to the edge and the strong winds of Moher blow you off the edge of the cliff.
Hiking past by the big warning sign to one of the cliff edges
*Everyone* hikes past the sign. It's the whole point of coming here! There I am, in the middle of the picture
Not many people sit or stand right at the edge of the cliffs. They lie down to stop from being blown off the edge
The heights are dizzying. If the winds don't blow you off, vertigo just might!
There have been a few recorded deaths of people who've fallen off the edge...
Bah! I ain't afraid of no 700 foot high cliffs!
Actually I was crapping my pants... This is how I crawled out to the ledge... I also crawled back out the same way! :)
Whenever I'm up so high, my toes start to tingle. And my heart starts pounding big-time!
Well, enough adrenaline rush for the day, we get back on the bikes and start our final push. Our wet tent plays on my mind, but the weather looks dry enough to camp for another night.
Further south, we catch the Killimer Ferry. A 30 minute ferry ride
to bypass the 2 hour ride around the bay between peninsulas
Some sun and fun on the ferry ride!
So I have this problem...
I've been battling zippers my whole life. It's always the first thing that fails on any piece of clothing I have. And motorcycle clothing (and gear) has a lot of zippers!
Neda keeps telling me, "You pull too hard!", "Keep the two sides close together when you zip up and down!", "Zip up, not out!" She's never had a zipper failure. Ever. Anyway, my jacket zipper just failed. I got this one two years ago when we first got to Europe because my other jacket zipper failed. And then now this...
I don't know why everything is falling apart on us now. The tent, my jacket... *sigh*
I need velcro on everything.
We pass by this RV Park in Tralee. As good a place as any to stop for the night. Airing out our wet tent
The RV park is deserted
There's a phone number on the window of the laundry/washroom building, to call someone if we're going to camp. We dialed the number but no answer and no answering machine...
I check the forecast and it calls for rain later on in the middle of night. I stare at our old, leaky tent drying out in the front yard...
So with nobody around, we sneakily set up the tent in the laundry room!
We feel like such criminals... That night I sleep a nervous, shallow sleep, one ear open, listening to see if a security guard is going to drive up, come inside with his flashlight and kick us out (or worse) for trespassing! :(
It's well past midnight when the rain hits the windows of the laundry room. My feet are dry tonight but I don't get much rest...