February and its plethora of visitors came to a close with the big visit from DEAR OLD DAD, which I'd been looking forward to despite my doubts that it would actually happen at all, considering his reluctance to fly and tendencies to carry a Rick Steves travel belt (paging Lauren Johnson... paging Lauren Johnson, you have a travel belt compatriot). But miracle of miracles, he did make it across the pond!
Planning for a road trip, we hired a car as soon as he landed, and naturally checked the "full-insurance" option since the left side of the road is a bit dicey. So we're informed that EVERYTHING on the car is insured, and there is basically nothing we could do that wouldn't be covered (including killing a person, which I thought was a bit morbid for the girl to mention), EXCEPT the tires. And not half an hour later, we bounce off a curb on the passenger side and lose a hubcap to the mean streets of the Dublin suburbs. I could not stop laughing about that. We could have done a hit and run and not paid a thing, but the hubcap we lost? Not covered.
So Dale was harshly introduced to the natural wonder of West Belfast as we drove home from Dublin in the rain and dark. I think the graffitti and barbed wire were a shock to the system, but he felt a bit better after meeting the trillion amazing people this city is housing. After a few days of craic with the Belfast crew, we hit the road and thus began EIRE ROAD TRIP 2007.The trip can be boiled down to the following: the two of us tucked into a little Toyota Yaris, tooling down Irish backroads while listening to Gaelic radio and getting into heated discussions concerning Sinn Fein (maybe not the last part so much). We made a full loop, from the Giant's Causeway and north coast to Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford, and back to Dublin. We ate Irish breakfasts and read our books and took pictures of ourselves mocking ancient monuments. Beautiful.
We spent our last day in Dublin and I put him on the airport shuttle at 6 on Saturday morning, which sucked because the huge calendar that said FIVE MONTHS TO GO was overshadowing everything we said. For a lot of people five months isn't really that long, but for my family it's a lifetime. Of course I was really sad to see him go, so to distract myself I decided to maximize the six hours I had left in our posh hotel room. I took a shower and put on the fancy hotel robe (feeling a lot like Bridget Fonda in 'It Could Happen to You,' except, thank God, Nicolas Cage wasn't in my bed when I woke up) and wandered around the room pretending i was really rich and swank.
Then I ordered room service.
If there is anything in the world that is designed purely to make you feel like a million bucks (or euro, as the case may be), it is room service. You pick up the phone, say what you want, and a tuxedoed man brings it to you. Phenomenal. They didn't have breakfast stuff, so I did what any self-respecting health nut who was taught to never skip breakfast would do: i ordered dessert. And I ate apple crumble (or, as said tuxedoed man defined it, "apple crum-BLAY"... seriously, guy? Let's not grasp at glamour straws here) and had the best cup of coffee ever while i watched planes taking off and landing right outside my window.
A few short hours later, I climbed onto a hot, cramped bus that had a slight stench of BO and headed back to Belfast. Dream over. The transition back to reality was tempered slightly by an extensive conversation with a British professor and Romanian doctoral candidate in chemistry, which covered topics varied enough to distract me from impending doom and included killing the bus driver, the new trend of happiness studies, and how to punish violent criminals. The former and the latter were entirely unrelated.
So I had been maintaining a fairly steady pattern of not thinking about home much until Dad informed me that "it's not natural" for people to leave home for so long, thus inflicting a spiral of guilt that has gotten me on track again to thinking about the lovely PNW (kidding, Dad. Kind of.). Despite this fulfillment of the parental duty of guilt, spending time with my Dad for the first time in six months reminded me again that he is absolutely the kindest, most big-hearted man I have ever met. I miss my family, let's be honest!