Saturday, November 11, 2006

So many stories...

This last course in ecology kept me really busy. Part of the reason I was busy with school was because I made a few too many social engagements! Work hard, play hard! The ecology course was really interesting. I wrote a paper on the ecological aspects of poultry farming. My research examined the benefits of organic farming in Ireland. The European Commission has published a directive that suggests organic farming as a way to preserve the heritage (environment) of Europe. There will likely be a big increase in monetary incentive for farmers who are willing to grow organic. To be honest, I'm still not sure where I stand on the whole matter! Maybe I'm just stubborn.

Three weeks ago, I was on the west coast of Ireland for a three day trip with the mountaineering club. About 50 of us were out there together. Mostly foreign exchange students from all over Europe. There were a fair number of Irish. I was the only person from the USA. I got in one good day of climbing. The crag we were climbing was across the road from a short field of rocky area. At the end of the rocky area was the sea! It was cool to be climbing and hear the waves crashing on the rocks! I went to the Cliffs of Moher while I was there too. Absolutely amazing! There are these enormous cliffs that drop strait into the sea. You can walk dangerously close to the edge if you dare. I stayed a body lengths away...just like I learned as a kid at camp! Thanks to David Fiala at Lutheran Valley Ranch! Although I really enjoyed the climbing, my favorite part of the trip was a caving adventure. Our climbing coach is certified to take groups climbing, caving and kayaking. He's a neat guy. Anyway, he took a bunch of us to Pol na gColm Cave. No laughs about the's correct! This is the cave that Tolkien was in when he was inspired to develop the character, Gullom. The cave was great! It was tall, so I didn't have to crawl through long, small spaces. I got to splash through a muddy river, climb up a water fall and see some of the most beautiful rock structures. Wearing a helmet and a head lamp made me feel like a real explorer!

Last weekend I was in Paris. John McKinnis and I had a whirl-wind tour of the city. My proudest moments where when I actually arrived at my intended destinations via the metro. I still don't speak enough French to be useful, so navigating the metro was a little nerve wracking. The thing about Paris is that nearly everything you'd want to see takes your breath away. That, along with all the walking I did made me so tired. I stayed in a hostel near the Cathedral of Notre Dame. From there, I walked for a good 30-45 minutes to the Eiffel Tower. Being a little cheap and a lot crazy, we took 57 flights of stairs(674 stairs, I think) to the second level and the elevator to the top. The 674 stairs are way worse on the way down! My calves were killing me for days! From the Eiffel Tower, I walked to the Arch de Triumph and then to the Louvre. It was dark by then and the Louvre was closed, so we hiked home. Sunday, I went to mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Words cannot describe the wonder of Notre Dame. It's beyond belief amazing. After church, we hiked all the way back to the Louvre. It's by far the largest, most easy to get lost in museum I've ever been in. I only saw parts of two wings and I was there for several hours. The most important thing was seeing the Mona Lisa. You might tend to think that if you've seen the poster, the painting wouldn't be that magnificent. You're wrong if you think that! The painting practically glows and her smile made me want to smile! That was basically the end of my Paris trip.

I will try to be better about logging my adventures. 'Til then...keep in touch!

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