Friday, November 2, 2012

The Long and Winding Road

There is a famous Irish blessing that says, "May the road rise to meet you." But to really make it a blessing in this country, I think it should say, "May the straight road rise -- free from obstacles -- to meet you and your GPS." There. That's very poetic. Try it out for your next Irish wedding toast.

The truth is that in order to explore the Irish countryside, we spend a lot of time in our rental car. This surprises us in a country that looks so small on the map. Sometimes we are happy about it.

Sometimes, it's just plain tiring.
So thank goodness for Lilyanne, which is what Gigi has named the GPS. Well worth the extra four euro daily rental fee since, most places, we couldn't download a map onto Anthony's iphone if we tried. Lilyanne has her own quirky personality, and one of the things we love as we drive in and out of my friend Brendan's farm, where we're staying for the week, is that Lilyanne never takes us the same way twice. I think we approach the farm from every possible angle, on every tiny rural road. It makes it hard to learn our way around, but it's excellent for feeling like every drive is an adventure.

The only time we get there without Lilyanne's help is on our first approach, when Brendan talks us through it on the cell phone. There is no GPS-able address so thank goodness, at least, that there's even cell reception. He tells us to go around the round about and turn left at the cemetery, then there's a fork in the road and a church involved. And then the landmarks start getting more esoteric. At one point, when he tells me to look for the old abandoned chicken farm, I start laughing so hard I can barely pass the message on to Anthony at the driver's wheel. I'm still wondering: how would I recognize an old abandoned chicken farm? As opposed to any of the many other kinds of farms we pass? I think Brendan gives this city girl too much credit.

Lilyanne works like a charm, until we start venturing out on roads too small to show up on the map. Despite what the photo looks like, I can assure you (and you, Mr. Car Rental Company) that we are not actually off-roading.

About halfway through the trip, Gigi gets hold of Lilyanne and pushes her buttons, both literally and figuratively. Lilyanne stops working suddenly, and Anthony reboots. But it's as if Lilyanne has had a traumatic head injury and, though she comes out of her two week coma recognizably herself, she can't remember any of her high school friends or how to double knot a shoelace. We have a feeling that during the reboot, she reverts to a 15-year old map -- around the same era of the guide book we're using. You know a guide book's old when not just the amount but the kind of currency is inaccurate.

Only once does Anthony forget to drive on the left and, luckily, it is on an empty and tranquil road. Well, tranquil till I scream "Other side!"

Other than Anthony and every other American or continental European coming at you for a head-on collision, the most dangerous thing you will encounter on the Irish roads will be the rocks in the road that lead to flat tyres and... the sheep. They can go in either lane.


And in other roadside wildlife sightings:

If it isn't the sheep, or the deer, it's the tractors. Do they look like they're practically parked? Well, they're moving slower than it even appears. Happily, we're going the opposite direction from the convoy.

The problem with the long and winding road is less that it's long, than that it's winding. Yes, there's a certain deliciously tantalizing mystery about what's around the next bend in the road. Is it a farm? A castle? Gorgeous coastline? Quaint village? Or, unfortunately in our family, will it be a child screaming out from the back seat, "I think I'm going to throw up!"

Irish roads may make us carsick in turns, but we have to give them credit for beauty and truth in advertising.


No comments:

Post a Comment