Thursday, October 29, 2009

Goals update 12

I know I haven't done one of these in a while, but I wanted to post all of my blogs from my trip together, instead of throwing random stuff in between.

1. Watch all of the movies I own and have never watched. I bought more movies again, oops. However, I'm going to mark this one completed and take it off the list. The only movies I still have to watch are newer ones I've bought, and I said from the beginning I wasn't going to count them. So that's one more completed!

2. Play through some of my video games - 5+ hours a week. I haven't really been timing it, but I think that I've been hitting this every week. Got back into Dissidia after a bit of a break, and also bought Patapon, which is strangely addictive.

3. Travel. Going to Philly again in a few days! Plus I've planned a number of other small weekend trips, though at this point I'm not actually going to make any of them until after the New Year. I'm also taking this goal off the list. I'm fairly certain this goal will reappear yet again next year, but I think for this year I've definitely accomplished what I had set out to do.

4. Write every day. I've still been doing well with this one. And with Nano starting soon, I'll be fine through the month of November, and probably December as well. Nano usually keeps my writing momentum up through New Year's at least.

5. Exercise 5 hours per week. I haven't made a schedule for this yet, but I still did better this month. I'm definitely making a schedule this week though, otherwise between Nano and the holidays I'll probably leave off exercising entirely.

Save money, and learn to manage my money wisely. I feel I have a better grasp on this than I did. I've paid off everything now except for my normal monthly bills. I've also gotten a good jump on Christmas, so I might be able to start putting more money into savings again. If I pull that off I'll be quite impressed with myself, considering I don't usually have any cash to spare at this time of year.

Photography. I've finished my other photography book. I also went out to take more pictures of the fall foliage, and edited more of my Ireland pictures. Still looking to get editing software!

8. Make more time for myself - one hour per day. This is still going well. Throughout November I'd like to make an hour a day outside of writing for Nano, but I'm not sure how that will go. I mean, writing is still making time for myself, but I'd like to try and do things besides work, exercise, and write for the next month!

9. And lastly, Nano. Since it's nearly November this one is being put back on the list. Again, my goal is to participate in Nano again this year, and win for my fourth consecutive year. We'll see how that goes, considering I don't have the faintest idea for a plot yet. I don't even know what genre I feel like writing!

My goal list is getting cut down a good bit, which is awesome. It looks like I may accomplish most if not all of my goals for the year. I have new goals I want to add, but at this point they might as well become next year's so I'll just save them. I'll try and get at least one update in during Nano, if possible.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ireland, day 7 (pictures)

For the last of my Ireland blogs, I'll leave you all with some pictures of my last real day there...

A picture of the coastline at Giant's Causeway:

The edge of the causeway:

Me and Jade at Giant's Causeway:

Giant's Causeway, looking up at the cliffs:

Random view on the way to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge:

View from the bridge:

View from Carrick Island:

Another view from Carrick Island:

Me, on Carrick Island:

Belfast - not sure what this building was:

The closed down Pittsburgh bar :(

The mall in Belfast that we went to:

And that's it - the end of my Ireland blogs. Hope you all enjoyed them! Regular updates will resume soon, and Nano is about to start so I'll probably start those updates as well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ireland, day 7 (Northern Ireland)

And so we come to my last full day in Ireland. After our first night back at Jade's since the beginning of the trip, we made our way back into Northern Ireland. We drove past the Bushmills Distillery on our way to Giant's Causeway.

I'd said from the minute I landed in Ireland that if any one day was going to have good weather I wanted
it to be the day we went to Giant's Causeway, as it was one of the first places I'd ever planned to go and I was really looking forward to it. It actually worked - it was a gorgeous day, all day. Sunny and warm and I don't think it rained even once, unless maybe at one point while we were in the car (all of those rides kind of run together).

We had breakfast in the cafe in the visitor's center and then took a bus down
to the causeway. It was gorgeous, and I got far too close to the edge trying to get the pictures I wanted, but I somehow managed not to get my camera wet. I also put a coin in a crack between two of the rocks - according to superstition it's supposed to bring you good luck. We climbed around the rocks for a while and Jade told me about the legend associated with the Causeway.

After an hour or
so, we went back to the car and went a few miles down the road, to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The bridge wasn't as high or scary as I thought it would be, and the scenery was fantastic. The views looked like something out of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We went across the bridge to Carrick Island. It was tiny but we wandered all around it. I was kind of surprised that they had no fences or anything around the edge of the island. There were a bunch of signs warning that the edge was unstable and there were rocks below, but nothing actually stopping you from going to the very edge.

Once we left the bridge and walked the mile back to the car, we made our way to Belfast.
We didn't do anything in particular while we were there. We'd heard of a Pittsburgh bar there that was dedicated to the Steelers so we were going to get lunch there. We managed to find the place with little difficulty but it was closed down - all boarded up and everything. So disappointing! Instead we went to a mall and had lunch there. I can't remember the name of the restaurant but it was excellent. We wandered around the city for a few hours and shopped, and I bought a lot of souvenirs for family and friends.

We eventually left the city, after a fiasco trying to get out of the parking garage where we left the car. We drove past the Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was built, though I didn't manage to get any pictures of it. We made it back to Jade's fairly early so I was able to get everything packed up for the trip home.

And that's it for the trip really. I got up super early the following morning to pack up the car and get to the airport for my flight home. Jade dropped me off and I got onto my flight with no difficulties. I flew into New York first, and from there to Pittsburgh where my mom was waiting to pick me up. I definitely was not ready to come home, but I enjoyed the time I had there, and it was definitely the trip of a lifetime. Hopefully I get the chance to go back one day!


1. Me at the entrance to Giant's Causeway
2. Giant's Causeway
3. Me crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge the second time (it was slightly windy!)
4. A picture from before we got to the bridge, showing the island.
5. Belfast

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ireland, day 6 (pictures)

Here are some pictures of our adventure around County Donegal.

The "surfing beach" at Bundoran:

Underneath one of the fairy bridges, thought it looked cool:

Me sitting in the wishing chair at Bundoran:

Random picture out the window on the drive between Bundoran and Killybegs - I just thought it looked cool:

View from the road between Killybegs and Slieve League:

After climbing the Slieve League Cliffs - you can see where we parked the car at the left of the picture, at the end of the mainland (yes we were that high up):

Picture of the Slieve League Cliffs:

A view from the top of the cliffs:

Another picture of the cliffs, the boat on the water gives you a vague idea of how big they really are:

The Gweebarra River, found while wandering around on the way to Letterkenny:

View from the Atlantic Coastal Drive in Downings:

Another view from the coastal drive:

And one final view from the coast drive:

I have quite a few more pictures from the drive - there were a lot of spectacular views despite the drive only being about 5 miles long. This will give you a good idea of some of the scenery though!

Only one more day left...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ireland, day 6 (Donegal)

Thursday we packed up the car and left Markree Castle, and spent the entire day wandering around County Donegal. First we went to Bundoran. On the way there, we passed by William Butler Yeats' grave, you could see it as it was right off the road but since it was (once again) pouring down rain we didn't stop there. We got to Bundoran fairly early.

It was a bit chilly and windy, but the rain stopped. I got some pictures on one of the beaches, and then we walked around a path that followed the coastline to the fairy bridges and a wishing chair. I got some pictures of another beach too. I was hoping to get some good shots of the ocean, but for a beach meant for surfing the water was absurdly calm. Jade said she'd never seen it that still.

We left Bundoran
and continued north to the fishing port of Killybegs. We took some coastal roads on the way there, which had some really incredible views. We stopped in town to get directions and then kept going up to the Slieve League Cliffs. They're about three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, and they were absolutely stunning. I took some amazing pictures and they don't even begin to do the place justice. We hiked up the cliffs too - it was tiring but exhilarating, and so worth it!

After we left the cliffs we went back to Killybegs
and I had (proper) fish and chips for the first time. We wandered around the county for a while after that, picking some random roads on the map and heading in the general direction of where we wanted to get to. We went north and then cut through the Derryveagh Mountains over to Letterkenny, and from there up to Downings. There's an Atlantic Coastal Drive that goes all around Downings, and it was fantastic. We did the entire drive - it was only five miles long or so but we stopped at a lot of different points to get pictures of the views.

We stopped
on the beach as well for a little while, and I nearly fell in the ocean a few times while climbing around on the rocks to get more pictures. Thankfully Jade was still up above sitting on a rock, so I think she missed most of my clutz moments there. Then we left Downings to head back towards Letterkenny. We stopped at Doe Castle since it was on our way, and then cut through Northern Ireland to go back to Jade's house for the evening.

Had dinner at Jade's and talked about everything we'd done while we were gone, and that was about it for the day. I was a bit depressed because my trip was really winding down and it was nearly time to go home. At the same time I was really looking forward to the next day, the places we were planning to go were ones that I'd been looking forward to for months.

The last three blogs for Ireland will be coming soon!


1. A picture from the beach in Bundoran
2. Fairy bridge in Bundoran
3. Me at the Slieve League Cliffs - yes that white blob to the right of me is a boat (one of my favorite pictures from the trip)
4. View from the Atlantic Coast Drive in Downings.
5. Doe Castle

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ashford Castle!

As promised, an entry dedicated solely to Ashford Castle. You're welcome, Christian. ^_^

The entrance to the castle:

Close up of the entrance:

The river next to the castle:

Entrance bridge spanning the river:

The castle had its own helicopter landing pad in the yard (and apparently Jade thinks she's a helicopter...):

The front of the castle:

Side view:

Back of the castle, and some of the gardens:

Another view of the back, with more of the gardens and the fountain:

There were two towers next to the garden, so Jade and I each climbed into one:

View behind the castle, from the garden:

Entrance to the carpet garden:

We went through the carpet garden and into this garden - not sure what it was called:

And through that garden led us to the entrance to the walled garden:

Inside the walled garden:

Whew, I think that's it for this entry. I already posted more pictures than I intended. But it was necessary to show the sheer size of the castle and grounds, and believe it or not this doesn't even show all of it.

Will be back with the regular entry for day six soon!