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Tue Sep 20 2016: The Gap of Dunloe

So the night passed uneventfully - no security guard kicking at our sleeping bags, which are spread out all over the floor of this dusty laundry room. We awoke unmolested in this deserted campsite in a small town tucked away in County Kerry, Ireland. Glancing nervously outside at the sunshine warming up our getaway bikes, we scarf down a lightning-quick breakfast and hastily pack up everything and try to leave the room as we found it. So glad everything (especially my feet) is dry!

Our route today skirts the southern shores of Tralee Bay. The morning air is so cold these days, and we once again insulate ourselves in our rainsuits, even though the clouds have exhausted their seemingly limitless supply of water. Due to all the other surprises we've found at tips of each peninsula, we're off to seek the treasure at the end of this finger of land: the Dingle Peninsula.

About half-way through the Dingle Peninsula, the road deviates from the coast and heads inland. And up...

The Conor Pass goes over the Dingle Mountain Range and at 1500 feet is one of the higest passes in Ireland

The road is so close to the edge of the mountain, you can peer down into lush green fields of the valley below!

Not content to just watch the scenery flash by from our bikes, we dismount at the lookout point at the summit of the pass

Beautiful! This whole landscape was carved by glaciers during the Ice Age.

Closeup of the water in one of the lakes. So still it's indistinguishable from the sky above

At the bottom of Conor Pass, we ride through the town of Dingle, another one of those quaint sea-side villages. This one lies on the southern coast of the peninsula.

Dingle. There's a joke in there somewhere, but I'm not going to make it because it's just too obvious.

As we ride through Dingle I wonder if Neda will stop to look for more berries.

Sorry. I couldn't help myself...

From Dingle, we hug the shoreline of the southern coast. More scenic cliffs greet us along the way

We do a loop around the end of the peninsula, stopping again to admire the scenery off the bikes

And then it's off to explore the next peninsula! Peninsula hopping on the western coast of Ireland. What fun!

Stopping in Killarney to do some laundry

Killarney is the largest city in County Kerry. We've been on the move and camping all over Ireland for over a week now so our Clean-Clothes pannier is looking pretty empty, while the Dirty-Laundry pannier is almost bursting. Whenever our bikes start to mishandle due to the weight imbalance, we know it's time to do the wash.

Yes, yes, I know we slept in a laundry room last night, but we were in stealth mode and didn't want to alert anyone to our presence... Anyway, we pop our soiled skivvies in a coin-op machine and walk around town to find a place to eat while we wait out the spin and dry cycles.

Life on the road.

After Lunch'n Laundry (like Bed'n Breakfast -- hey, we should start an online business: AirLnL), we make the executive decision to stop for the day. There's a long route around this new peninsula, so we're going to leave it for tomorrow. We find a nice campsite just outside of town and set up camp. This time legally!

Also, we're stopping because we're getting so fatigued over shorter and shorter intervals on the road. I think it's time for another couple of days under a roof.

But rest will have to wait. Killarney is located on the east shore of a lake, Lough Leane. The next morning, we begin our tour of the Iveragh Peninsula and ride out to the west side of the lake. We heard that there's an amazing, narrow, twisty road that snakes between two mountains. This is the Gap of Dunloe:

This spot is very popular with tourists. It was so scenic that we had to go back and do it again. The other vehicles, hikers and the "jaunting car" (Irish horse-drawn carriage) were so used to us going back and forth that Neda waved to them as if to say, "Yep, we're back again..." :D

We then rounded the southern shore of the lake back up towards Killarney. This is the viewpoint at Ladies View

Upper Lake, just south of Killarney

We are now on the famous Ring of Kerry, which is a grand loop around the Iveragh Peninsula

Another scenic lookout, you can see the mountains of the next peninsula across the bay

Irish countryside

Rounding the bend on the Ring of Kerry

More impressive views of Atlantic cliffsides from the road

At the end of the Iveragh Peninsula, we detour off the Ring of Kerry. There's another loop of road called Skellig Ring that takes us out to the very edge of the peninsula. There, we stop at the very quaint town of Portmagee to poke around and also grab some lunch.

Although tourist season is winding down on the west coast of Ireland, there's still a lot of people walking around.

We met a nice couple from the US who were also doing some sightseeing. We had a great chat with them
and they took a picture of us and e-mailed it to us the next day. Thanks Martha and Ed! :)

Portmagee in Irish means "The Ferry". From here, you could catch a ferry to Valentia Island

But now there's a bridge between Portmagee and Valentia Island, so the name is kind of outdated

View of the colourful buildings of Portmagee from the bridge

We rode across the bridge to Valentia island, but it wasn't that interesting. Also, the ferry from the east side of Valentia Island back to the Iveragh Peninsula was closed for the season, so we had to double back and take the bridge again. Everything from the cold weather to all the closures tell us that it's getting very late in the season...

Watch dem road apples up ahead, Neda!

It was getting late and we wanted to get to the next peninsula south for the evening. So we headed straight down to our final pass of the day: The Healy Pass on the Beara Peninsula.

This isn't the Healy Pass. We got lost and this backroad took us over a marvelous viewpoint! Still not quite sure where this road was...

Here it is: The Healy Pass

If you like twisty roads, you'll love the Healy Pass. Set high atop the mountains of the Beara Peninsula, the serpentine road winds through the barren landscape. Not a lot of pictures were taken while I was riding here, because I like twisty roads... :)

So does Neda. Damn! You go girl!!! :D

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