Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 48--How Did 59 Become 76?

What a day! In most ways it was a great day. I just don't know how a day that was supposed to be in the neighborhood of 59 miles (really, less, because I didn't stay at the Caravan Park I had planned), instead was 76 miles. I think the blame belongs to the Garmin.

My original plan was to just stay on the Wild Atlantic Coast Route (a driving route) on N59 all the way to Ballina, and then whatever road would take me to Ballyvary (or Bellavary, depending on which sign you go by) and Carrowkeel Caravan Park.

I did that...for awhile. I stopped in the tiny town of Beltra at a shop that looked like it had a bit of everything. Yet another tent pole connection snapped last night (#4), so I needed to get something to fix it. The guy in the shop came up with the idea of a drill bit that would fit inside the pole, and create another connector (good in theory, but I'll get to that later). The gal in the shop, Nessa, asked if I had any "American Quarter Dollars". She was looking specifically for the Washington DC State Quarter (then she'll have them all). I told her I didn't have one with me, but if she would give me her address, I'd send her one. She was overjoyed, and had to come around the counter to give me a hug. Then she gave me a Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate Bar (made in Ireland since 1933). Now I just have to remember to do it when I get home.

As I continued on, I got glimpses of the Atlantic. I stopped at a little wayside with picnic tables for some lunch.
A nice shot of the Atlantic from N59.

When I came into Dromore West, I decided to see if the Garmin would take the secondary road. Of course it did! I'd had a bit of rain, but the sun was out now, so I thought, why not take the road less travelled? At first it seemed like it would not go at all into the Ox Mountains. But then, ever so slowly, I went up into the mountains--well, not really the mountains, more the bog. The climbing was very gentle, and there were piles of peat cut from the bog everywhere. At one point I stopped to take this photo.
Peat tepees!

There were these two sheep with mighty impressive horns next to the peat bog where I had taken the photo above.
It must be hard work for the one on the right to hold his head up!

As I rode along, the scenery became more and more desolate. Strangely, as usual, there was the occasional car. Here's a few photos.
Somebody lived there at one time. Now just the sheep hangout there. You can just see the head of one near the right side of the house. It was funny, as I was taking the photo, all of a sudden his head pops up.
The lonely road.
Lough Easkey
The ever-present sheep.

I had a nice gentle descent that was helped along by a good tailwind. I just had to be mindful of the occasional sheep in the roadway. They're like rabbits, you never know which way they are going to go.

I came to an intersection, and thought I'd better check in with the Garmin to see if I needed to turn. Sure enough, I did. But, the strange thing was, at the beginning, it said 14 miles to Ballina (on this secondary road). I had gone about 10 miles (with no other road options along the way). When I turned it back on, it still said 12 miles to go! What??? 

Nothing to do but continue, so I did. I finally came out to a main road. Garmin said to turn right, but I thought I would put in Ballyvary instead (my ultimate destination). It had me turn left. So, I was cruising along, feeling smart that I'd thought to not go to Ballina. 

After some more sly-dog roads, I came out to N5. I looked at the route, and I looked at the N5 way to Ballyvary. The Garmin said it was still 11 miles to Ballyvary (the Garmin way). I thought, okay, it's going to be about 65 miles total...more than I'd thought, but with the bog route, understandable. I continued following the Garmin Route. Big mistake. I had the Garmin running the whole time (usually, I shut it off if I'm just staying on the same road for a long time, to save the battery). After about 7 or 8 more miles, I checked to see how many miles I had left. The Garmin still said 11 miles! At that point, I had a little meltdown. I realized now I would have more like 72 miles! I was nearly out of water, having not gone by any shops since Beltra. Because the paper map was worthless, I was pretty much at the mercy of the Garmin. I kept going. I saw a guy out working by his house, so I stopped and asked him for some water. His name was Steve, and he invited me to the house to get the water. I also met his wife, Deirdra (that may not be spelled right). They are expecting twin boys in October! They told me to just continue straight until I came to N5, then go left and it would take me to Ballyvary. I turned off the Garmin, and felt much better about knowing which way to go. They had lifted my spirits, and made the rest of the ride (even though it was another 13 miles to the Caravan Park) much better. 

I arrived at 6:40. As for the tent, the drill bit idea didn't really work because, although it was small enough to fit in the pole, because of the shock cord, it wouldn't fit. I had another idea, but that didn't really work either. The whole damn thing is just taped for tonight. Tomorrow I will find a hardware shop in Castlebar, and get the proper fix (although, if you ask me, the proper fix is to just chuck the whole thing into the nearest garbage can, and get a new tent, but that is not really cost effective), preferably some PVC pipe. 

Tomorrow there will be no "Garmin Routing". I'm just going to stick to the main road to Galway...I mean it!

Today's parting shot--this guy was herding these two mama cows and their calves on a bicycle. He said it was the best thing to herd them with! I told him I thought that was the most interesting use of a bike I'd seen so far!

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