April 6, 2023

reddish-brown boots, my like-mother, like-daughter moment, & short Irish music video

These are my brand new boots. Coach and
 I posed on the driveway as the uber arrived
 to take us to the airport
These boots are made for walking. Armed with the knowledge that Mini fell in the mud in Ireland, I decided in the 11th hour that I should get some waterproof boots. I ordered a pair of Sorrel boots online. Buyers claimed the boots ran small, so I ordered 3 different sizes in a reddish-brown.

The array of sizes arrived the day before we left. I normally wear at 9, but I opted to keep the 9.5. They were snug but SO comfy. I called Mini and described them as I packed. 


Me:  HEY, WHERE'S MY CONVERTER (or whatever you call the plug thing)? 

She and Ed brought our 2 converters with them.

Convert someone to be more responsible, please. 

Mini:  OH, HMM. I DON'T REMEMBER UNPACKING THAT. *me rifling through my old study abroad backpack that she used for her trip.*



I pointed out that if she'd informed me that it was lost 5 days prior when she came home, I could've ordered another one. Grr. Coach had to stop at Mini's bestie's house on his way home from work the day we were leaving in order to borrow Bestie's converter. At least someone is organized and knew it was right on her desk.


I marched into Curly's room wearing my boots. She told me I looked like a Christmas tree because I had on a green shirt. 



The more I wore them, the more I realized that they are indeed RED. I still loved them:  'they're so ugly- they're cute'. Honestly I felt like I was walking around in house slippers in Ireland. I'd chosen to pack a second pair of Mary Jane sneakers. They'd go with anything, offer good support, didn't require socks, didn't take up much space in my bag, and were already beat up, so I wouldn't be upset if they got muddy /wet. 

*Delilah stopped by the day before I left and I ran through my pile of what I was packing. It's funny how she didn't really advise me, but I made some key decisions while she allowed me to bounce things off of her. Packing became much clearer with a witnss somehow. As I hemmed and hawed about what other shoes I'd bring, I was like OH, I'LL BRING THESE MARY JANE'S. 

Towards the end of the trip, as I started second-guessing myself for packing a back up pair, until an INCIDENT

On Monday, Coach and I drove to Doolin, a very remote, small town on the west coast - not far from the Cliffs of Moher. It's known for traditional Irish music. I booked us in a youth hostel the day before we left Chicago. Last minute, much? When we checked in, Coach looked a little deer in the headlights-ish. It was fine for college kids, but it was a bit stark for adults. 

Rainbow Hostel, Doolin

Me:  We're gonna be in the pub most of the time anyway. It'll be fine. Plus we have our own bathroom.  

*Not sure Coach will ever live down the night in Kilkenny when he requested that he and I go back to the B & B at 7:30 pm. It was NOT our first night, so no excuse. Tank's facial expression screamed:  WHAT NOW? We ended up staying out quite late and it was a great night. 

We stayed at the Doolin pub till the musicians called it quits, in other words:  LATE. You hardly notice you're sleeping in a hostel when you stay out so late. 

Our kids stayed in the same hostel a week prior and they gave it high marks. The music in the pubs was amazing. No surprise, several of the musicians knew Pat and Aunt Leprechaun. That's the way traditional Irish music circles work. 

*Below is a short snippet of the session we watched. The guy in front of me in the Rolling Stones t-shirt is playing the bodhran, Irish drum that Lad plays, but not the best angle to see his instrument.


LET'S HIKE:  The next morning, I voted we hike 5 miles to the Cliffs and then back. We'd stopped to see the Clilffs the evening before when we got into town, since rain was expected the next day. Coach didn't want to hike, but the kids had said it was beautiful and a high point of their trip. He agreed to go part of the way - not the full 5 miles. 

I wore a pair of leggings with my favorite pair of dry fit, outdoorsy pants over them as an added layer, along with several layers of long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts plus my raincoat. I don't believe I owned a raincoat the year I studied in Ireland. Just a winter coat and a windbreaker. Tank marveled at that. Same, Tank. Same. How did I manage? 

As expected, our hike included lots of mud. We were close to the edge of the cliff. The path at times was tough to decipher. Were we walking through a cow pasture or were we still on the trail? We climbed over a barbed wire fence at one point. I threw my raincoat over the barbs so we didn't get stuck. I felt very MacGyver-ish. 

Coach finally called it quits. LET'S GO BACK. I begrudgingly agreed, but first I pointed out that it was a beautiful day, had only sprinkled for a few minutes. I'd removed a few layers, tying them around my waist, because it wasn't crazy cold or windy. LET'S GO. 


Hooray. Yes, I'll take the deal behind door #1. We pressed onward. Really, we probably hiked almost the whole way there and part of me was bummed not to just go the distance, but I was glad he agreed to go further. The views were amazing.

From time to time we'd have to choose our footing carefully. I admit that I wasn't all that committed to choosing my footing carefully. Was it because he wasn't as excited to hike as I was? Was I trying to embrace my hiking decision? Was I overly confident in my red boots? 

There was a good deal of water/mud/puddles in the path and the grassy area next to the path was marshy. We got to an area that was PURE mud. Coach was assessing what to do, and I decided that if I just stepped lightly into the mud, I could make it to the other side and scale a bluff that was grassy and less muddy. 

Well. Life is full of bad ideas and this one ranks monumentally at the top of my list. The mud was less forgiving and more liquified (think chocolate pudding consistency, but in a bottomless pit sort of way) than I realized and the earth soon swallowed me . . .  up to MY MID SHINS on my right leg. I had no choice but to step with my left next to my right in order not to lose my balance/free my right. The earth made a meal of my left foot up to my shin too. 

Hard to imagine - but it was MUCH
worse than this initially.


OK, what dignity? 

Coach later admitted that he experienced a record breaking range of emotions in a 10 second time frame. He was concerned for me, angry that I'd rushed, worried that I was going to be upset or hurt, and also struggling not to explode with laughter. I burst out laughing as soon as I freed myself, and Coach then experienced total relief as he too bust a gut laughing. 

Repurposing the saying
My survival-mode self lowered my body to a sort-of plank-like position to wipe the mud off onto the grass. I then ripped up fistfuls of grass, using them to target other parts of the boots and pants and wipe away the thick mess. Ma Ingalls would've been proud.

Note:  unlike Mini, I did NOT fall. I got sucked in, but didn't fall. 

I was so quick to wipe the mud away that I failed to pause for a photo. I was concerned that the mud would seep over the top of my prized boots, so the first photo we have does NOT do the mud-bath justice. Fortunately, my socks and my leggings beneath my pants remained clean. No mud seepage over the top of my boots. 

I was so grateful that I'd been the one to swim in the mud. Can you imagine if Coach had agreed to hike further against his better judgement only to fall victim to a mud disaster? 


We continued to our pre-agreed turn-around spot. The worst part of my mud-ssue, see what I did there? mud + issue:  mud-ssue. The worst part was when I wiped the mud off my hands on a pile of grass. I caught a bramble in my thumb and my thumb bled. 

When we encountered other hikers, we pointed to my 'example' - really pointing wasn't necessary since I was an EYESORE. The looks I got. When we retraced our steps and arrived at the mud-pool, a young woman from Switzerland was trying to navigate the area. We directed her to back up, scramble up the bluff and proceed with caution. Then I offered to take a photo of her with her phone and the amazing backdrop. She was ever so grateful. She was alone and was only going to have selfies to remember her trip. Selfies are better than mud-encased boots, as far as memories go - but legit full body photos in the beautiful scenery are even better.

The mud he is navigating is NOTHING compared to what engulfed me.

We returned to the hostel, even though we'd checked out and Carmel, the owner, gave me Band-Aids and disinfectant to clean my cut. When we waited for Tank to get out of class later that afternoon, I used paper towels and makeup wipes (good thing I don't wear a lot of makeup and didn't need a ton of those for my face, right?) to clean up the boots. I had to wear the boots home on the flight since I wouldn't have space in my bag. 

Bottom line:  the extra shoes came in handy and the boots cleaned up fine. Guess what? They're now more of a reddish-brown color. Careful what you wish for.  

Stayed in a hostel? Been to the Cliffs?  Been devoured by mud? Do you subscribe to the 'so ugly, it's cute' mindset for something you own? Do you think this is what I get for laughing SO hard at the text from Ed when he sent a photo of Mini falling in the mud on this exact trail? Are you lauging with me? 


Bijoux said...

That was fun to hear the music! Love it. I think your boots are really cute. I love the red (or reddish brown that they are now). No, I’ve never stayed at a hostel. My husband thinks Red Roof Inn is really roughing it, but he’s also never been to a camp. His family didn’t travel growing up. That mud looks bad. Good ideas for clean up. I remember making a real mess out of a hotel bath tub, trying to clean our shoes once.

Nance said...

I'd have loved having red, red boots! That would be the reason I buy them.

Mud, ugh. Hate it. I like a good, long walk, but if there's a lot of mud to trek in, forget it. I'm out.

Please tell me you did something in Ireland that was pleasant and restful.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Your boots are very cute! And glad they survived your tangle with the mud pit.

Colleen said...

What a story! I love reliving these adventures with you. I stayed in many a hostel in Ireland, never had my own bathroom though. The Cliffs are so gorgeous but so dangerous, I can't imagine trying to bring little kids to them. Laughing that you got the color of the boots you wanted in the end :)

Kari said...

Sorel boots are my favorite. I've had a pair for two years and they're fantastic.

I enjoyed the music from the pub. And the thanks. I could feel that cold and mud from here. I'm glad you are safe and sound. 😘

Ernie said...

bijoux - Red Roof Inn IS roughing it. I agree. Ha. I think we were in a better place in the hostel.

The music was really good. We really enjoyed that. It was so funny that the kids were there - in the exact spot, less than two weeks before us.

I do think the boots can be cleaned up a bit better now that I'm home with other cleaning tools. I don't mind that they look a bit more well-loved, broken in, honestly. They're boots, after all.

Ernie said...

Nance - I don't mind the red, really - but I am one to like things to match. Red seems to coordinate with less than let's say brown. I happened to bring a pair of burgundy skinny jeans along and I on the days I wore those jeans I looked a bit like a crayon. Talk about coordinating run amuck.

We DID enjoy much of Ireland. The Irish music - that was pure enjoyment for us. We logged several hours sitting in bars or eating in restaurants (not something we do all that often here) or sitting in a lovely B&B chatting with our hosts while enjoying our breakfasts. The boys slept later than us, so mornings were slow moving and oh how I love a good cup of tea in Ireland (I don't drink it here - or I do in spurts, but only if I can get Irish tea). Even the hike was beautiful and in its own (pre-mud incident) relaxing. We stayed with my bridemaid's parents and spent an afternoon with her (oppposite coasts) and I cherished those visits so much.

Ernie said...

Colleen - I once stayed in a hosel? A B&B in Clifden while studying there. There was a crack in the window so lots of fresh air -and it did nothing but POUR rain and we were near the water and the fresh air acted like a drug. My friend and I slept like 12 hours and then just woke up and went home because it was raining so much.

Glad you are enjoying our Ireland adventure. The cliffs are so beautiful. The night before when we went there was insanely windy and cold. We were freezing. We should've waited to just do them the next day, when we hiked. The weater was better.

I love how hostels make it easy for young people (or in this case OLD people) to travel.

Just when I gotten used to the color of my boots. Ha. I suspect they'll clean up even better now that we are home and I have supplies at my fingertips. But first - I have to finish getting my house in order for Mini and her friend to arrive. Off to change sheets and vacuum the upstairs. Only have 3 tots today, so I'm going to be focused on making the house look like we dont' live here. ;)

Ernie said...

Suzanne - Thanks. I thought maybe they'd hurt my feet at some point - like NEW shoes, but they were perfect.

Ernie said...

Kari - I think I've bought Sorrel boots for the kids before, but this was my first pair. I love them. I was thinking I'd wear them every time it rains here, but then it was warm yesterday and raining and my feet were sweating and I was like - OH, YEAH. MAYBE NOT GONNA WEAR THEM EVERY TIME IT RAINS.

The music was really good. My phone probably didn't do it justice.

Kara said...

I love live music! It looks like you had a wonderful time, mud excluded. My current boots are Keens, and I give them high marks.

It is a touch of karma that the mud got you for laughing at Mimi. But only a touch.

Ally Bean said...

Oh I'm laughing with you. I like the photos and your remark that "Ma Ingalls would've been proud." I think there's no higher praise a person can heap upon themselves than that. I have boots that do nothing to keep me from getting sucked into mud. At least yours are cute.

Nicole said...

Ahhhhh it's like quicksand!
Those boots are super cute, I love a good Sorel. Good job on bringing a backup pair!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I'm going to have Quicksand dreams tonight!
I love your boots even if they are on the red side, but you fixed that, didn't you? The mud SUCKING sounds scary and funny at the same time. I'm with Coach, I'd be worried about you, but I'd also like to laugh!
You are brilliant though, using the grass to clean up as much as you can.

I never, in a million years would have booked a Hostel. You are a brave woman!

I'm so glad you guys had this opportunity to travel here and have so many experiences; especially time with Tank.

I've not been to Ireland, but my Mom did and she (still) has ties to the Cliffs. 😉

Ernie said...

Kara- I am not surprised that you like live music with your many concerts. This was a cool traditional music scene. Not everyone's bag mind you. But I love it.

* my FIL made sure to tell me jow much he hates Irish music. Then I made sure to have a live traditional Irish music band playing during the cocktail hour at our wedding. Some guests were mind blown that Kiz Carrol was playing music for us. When you know, you know. And if you want to be an ads and be totally cantankerous- well then you are stuck with great music as a consequence at you son's wedding.

Hee hee. A touch of karma.

Ernie said...

*LIZ CARROL. NOT KIZ, I'm in my car waiting for AAU game to start. Of course.

Ernie said...

Nicole- It did remind me of the many quicksand scenes in cartoons when I was a kid. That always made me fearful. And look- I survived.

Of course I misspelled Sorel. ;) Such great boots. Wasn't thinking that I can't wear them in the warm months. Had thought I'd pull them out WHENEVER it rained, but not an option on a oops. Still worth it.

Ernie said...

Suz- I'm really glad we got over there. Considering how much I enjoy Ireland, it was long overdo. We enjoyed our Tank time. He seemed to be managing well enough that it wasn't too hard to say good-bye.

There really was nothing to do in my situation but laugh. Well aside from enlisting available grass to do a partial cleaning.

Oh goodness. The post about your mom's connection to Ireland made me tearful. I had no idea. My heart is so happy that she managed to travel there and that the Cliffs made such an impact. The day they laid her to rest was a peaceful one, how lovely and reassuring. Thanks for sharing. RIP, Bev.

Ernie said...

Ally- I like to think of myself as out doorsy, but maybe not 100% of the time. I was in the zone that day. Feeling comfortable- or maybe just thrilled it wasn't raining again. Nothing like good ole Ma Ingalls to influence a moment like this.

I highly recommend these boots . . . they were half price on zapped. I have to remember to return the 2 pairs I didn't need.

Pat Birnie said...

I love your red boots- but red is my fave colour! I laughed at your mid adventures; that is so typically something I’d do but not sure if I would have dragged myself across the grass to clean it off? Brilliant. Happy to hear Tank is doing well. We have stayed in a few hostels because we have done two Camino’s (walked across Spain & Portugal) so sometimes it’s necessary. Some are really nice & unique; an old convent stands out - so beautiful. We often had our own room and being such early birds it felt like our own bathroom as well. It is also a great way to meet young people from all around the world.

Ernie said...

Pat - Red is not my favorite color, but I do like these boots. They had the in all black, but they didn't look as cute. I can imagine you'd meet many interesting folks in hostels. A former convent would make for an interesting hostel.

Beth Cotell said...

The mud at the Cliffs of Moher!!! We didn't fall but we spent a lot of time making sure we weren't being eaten alive by the mud. I pulled up my blog post from that day and I had written that it "was very muddy and my shoes would would never be the same!!" I also remember being shocked that there were these giant cliffs and no ropes or fences - just a few signs warning people not to get close to the edge.

Ernie said...

Beth - The mud was something, but when we were at the Cliffs the day prior, we stayed on the sidewalks, I guess, because we didn't encounter the mud. Oh Nelly, the cold wind though. Awful.

When Coach and I were there when we were dating, we took a photo of him laying on the grass with the Cliffs in the background. I got really low, so it wasn't clear that he wasn't at the edge. It is a hilarious, trick photo.