This remote area with a population of less than 300 is a wonderful valley for hikers.  It is a land of two lakes and ancient monastic ruins.  In 498 a lone monk, Kevin, came to live, looking for peace and solitude, and took up inhabitance in a bronze age tomb.  A hermit for seven years he is said to have befriended the animals and lived a scanty diet.  Probably to his dismay, disciples then began descending upon his quiet life.  By the ninth century this area had grown to be one of the premier monastic communities.  Viking raiders eventually came and sacked the place four times before English forces from Dublin destroyed the place in 1398.

We left the car in the parking lot and meandered around on the southern end of Upper Lake.  The tranquility was refreshing at this early hour.

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We found where Kevin had lived his idyllic life and meandered around the ruins of the monastery.  Then we trudged uphill a bit and then back down by a small waterfall and stream.

After a stop at the tiny nature centre we drove on through beautiful scenery, though a very different rugged from the Wild Atlantic Way.  After we wound our way through areas of trees, yes there are woods in Ireland!, the higher elevations are scrubby with gorse, bracken, heather, rocks, bogs, and lakes carved by glaciers long ago.   The military road took us through Sally Gap, where we spotted a few sheep, and on towards Dublin.

We stayed at a B&B not far from the airport.  Interestingly, it was run by a young man who was professional but a bit rough around the edges.  He was very welcoming with tea and snacks, gave us suggestions for restaurants, and served a large variety of options for breakfast.  The eggs were hardboiled, there were various chilled meats and cheeses, along with cereals and such.

The next morning we returned the car to the airport, which went more quickly than I expected, and took the shuttle back to the airport to begin the long journey home.

The trip went well until we were just a half hour out of San Jose. Bill noticed the flight tracker was not making progress.  Soon the pilot announced that since the Turrialba volcano had decided to spew ash we were being diverted to Managua in Nicaragua!  Delta put up the hundreds of passengers in a Best Western next to the airport.  Thankfully we had AC but the room was basic, the outside air sultry, and with getting to bed late and having to arise early for free breakfast before returning to the airport we didn’t get a lot of sleep.  We didn’t have any spare clothing or toiletries with us so slept naked and took a quick shower in the morning.

We were delayed for a few hours at the airport while Delta was trying to decide what to do.  Should we fly to SJO or wait to see what the volcano and ash were going to do?  They eventually provided sandwiches and drink and handled the situation well.  We were finally allowed to reboard the plane.  Some people had gone to an airport restaurant and hadn’t heard the announcement to get on board.  We were a bit annoyed they weren’t on board with the wisdom of staying within earshot but someone finally found them.  They walked to their seats laughing about it!  It wouldn’t have been too funny if their decision delayed us enough to have to delay departure again!!  Soon we were at SJO, our taxi was waiting for us, and home we went.  An interesting side adventure!

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