The magical journey has started. Somehow getting myself together for the flight was an all night job. Yes, literally. I never went to sleep that night between packing, still completing entries for contests and fellowships and who knows what now. First leg of trip was a four day stay with good friend and my growing collector in New York. It was the perfect space between the rush of preparing (some three months) and leaving for the journey and arriving in Listowel. We had plenty of time to get caught-up, relax and play. I shared Lindsey with her childhood girlfriend and her husband who arrived from England the same day as I did. Lindsey made sure we had a brilliant time, between visiting the local Parrish Museum, Whaling Museum, sailing the Sag Harbor Sound at dusk, and throwing a wonderful gathering bringing together a number of local artists who have participated in the Endangered Exhibit, which she founded. Though invited, this Miami, warm-weather native, passed on swimming in the heated outdoor pool and preparing for the half-marathon she was running with her girlfriend on Saturday (they finished too).
The flight to Shannon Airport left a little after 11pm. I thought for sure I would sleep through it all. Excitement must have been building and my inner radar on. As soon as the sun came up across the horizon I was awakened. As a nature photographer my favorite times are sunset and sunrise. Actually mostly sunset because there's a greater chance I'll be there. Though I've watched the sun rise many times, this one was extra special. I was viewing it from between 30,000 and 40,000 feet above sea level. It started as an ethereal golden-orange-red glow on a black background and gradually kept growing as the sky lightened and the colors melted to a shining white reflecting off the while clouds below. As we approached Ireland the plane dropped below the clouds and the emerald green that everyone talks about was revealed. It was instant love.
However, what was not loving was the bus ride to Listowel. I knew it was two buses with a transfer in Limerick, a two-and-a-half commute. Normally a one-hour stop between buses at the terminal, when I arrived it was the one time of the day when there was a two-hour gap. Once boarded, it was the local all the way to Listowel. Lots of winding roads, many stops and some five plus hours after I landed, I arrived in Listowel. What stuck me immediately was all the helpful people. First at the bus terminal, two ladies insisted that I should wait inside the terminal and not outside. They carried my luggage there...one large piece, a smaller one with extra camera gear, my camera bag and large tote which held my laptop, extra camera, speakers and purse. Also, an older couple kept a look out for me on the bus to be sure that I got off at the correct exit. When Olive wasn't there to pick me up (simply because of the craziness with the bus times), they even called her from their phone. Although, they also share the same last name, though not related, they knew of Olive and her Olive Stack Gallery. Since then just about everywhere I go people know Olive and the gallery and smile as they acknowledge her.
Arriving closer to 5pm than 1 pm, Olive and I spent a relaxing time sipping tea sitting on the living room/kitchen level on the little sofa overlooking the well-loved view from the second floor of what appears to be the second center of town, where Church Street meets William Street. Unfortunately, for my visit, they had just started a major street/water-line renovation. So the street is torn up and the view is not photo-perfect this trip. I was greeted with not one, but two "welcome baskets" with veggies and fruits from Olive's garden. (Can you guess what was for dinner tonight?) We ended the evening at one of Olive's favorite restaurants, Allo's, which just happens to be down the street. Loved everything about it from the old-world décor to the superb and classic dining to the gracious service. There we met friends of Olives, Liz and Jim, who promised to report back about their upcoming week in Iceland.
As I write this day three has ended. Lots of wonderful photographs and stories to share. Promise. Thanks for following. ~Phoenix