Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Whisper from the Darkness

Greetings from the Anglesea Road branch of the Dublin City Public Library!  Just taking an afternoon to use the internet at the library while we are waiting out the last domino of the Evil Circle of Bureaucracy (ECOB) to fall.

As a quick update, I'll say that we now have government immigration papers, tax ID numbers-that act as proof of address for- a bank account!  With the bank account, we were able to set up our rent payment, electricity billing, and the home broadband internet services!  We are currently waiting for the installation department at the internet company to set up our setup appointment!

We just found out that I will be able to work here without the severe competitive disadvantage of an expensive work permit.  Sara's hosting agreement allows me to work almost red tape-free, so today I start the search in earnest.

When our home high speed internet service is set up, expect to see the daily blog posts continue with the photos and proofread quality the world has come to expect from this blog.  Look for these exciting post topics when the blog returns-

Water heaters
Small rinse sinks
Plastic bag tax
The damp
Street signs

- And many, many more!  See you all soon!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Entering Radio Silence...

Blog readers, big and small, one and all-

The blog will be going dark for a little while this coming week.  We have officially entered the Evil Circle of Beaurocracy (ECOB) and are currently waiting for some paperwork to process before we can get set up with internet in our new home.  In the meantime, we have no easy (or free!) access to wireless internet near our home.  We will begin working on posts offline in the meantime and may pop online when we are around the wireless hotspots around town to check in, but we cannot guarantee any specific time for this.

Our apologies go out to all the friends and family who are eagerly waiting for news, photos, updates, Skype conversations, etc.  Those will return in a gusher when we have internet set up at home.

Readers will hear a very detailed and bitter bit about the ECOB, but for now, suffice it to say the following:  We have an address, but we can't get proof of address without a letter from Sara's employer, Sara's employer won't write a letter until she has an employee number, she can't get an employee number without a government tax ID number, we can't get a government tax ID number until we have proof of address.  Got all that?  Home internet service, bank accounts, and other services are also waiting for the first domino to fall in that unbreakable chain.  Be patient until we are able to break free.

In the meantime, know that we really do like it here.  Our place is cozy, close to the University, and just down the street from one of Dublin's nicest neighborhood villages.  Thanks to all for your love and support.  Talk to all of you soon!

Our first supper in our new home.  Spaghetti on the plates and Guinness stout in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles glasses
Here's a picture of spaghetti and Guinness.
Cuz...ya know... This is Ireland, and we can't
have a post without a photo...or something.

Friday, July 12, 2013

First Day in Ireland

Hello all!  We made it to the Emerald Isle and, after a whirlwind half-week, are settled in---mostly.

We arrived at the Dublin airport just before 9AM local time.  We slept little on the plane but were filled with eager, emotional, excited, hopeful, desperate, and nervous energy.  We had six large suitcases (some ours, some from Goodwill, one collected from the curb on Mayor's Clean-up Day) and two carry-on bags each.  We got lots of funny looks from everyone we met.  The baggage handlers and check-in desk employees in Des Moines wondered aloud why we had so much, and why we would pay for all the extra baggage fees.  The Dublin airport security and taxi attendants made comments, and our cab driver (when we finally got a van-style cab) gave us a friendly, "Ya sher don' travel light, do ya?"

A large pile of suitcases, backpacks, and bags ready to be loaded into the car going to the airport
All of this came with us after careful packing

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Great Jettison: From Ashes...

Makin' Stuff out of Junk!

This dilapidated piece was a big rotting mess...on purpose.  The crooked boards and window screens (yes, window screens) was my compost box.  Constructed all of materials I found in the house when we moved in, it housed my very special controlled decomposition project.  

Food waste of almost all kinds went into that compost box to be broken down into useful topsoil booster for me.  During nice weather, we threw in fruit and vegetable peels and cores, coffee grounds (with filter!), eggshells, and most other plant-based food materials.  These rotted composted down over the course of months to form a nutrient-rich material perfect for energizing the soil in our garden.

A rickety homemade compost box sits in a gap between a shed and a fence

I quite literally built the compost box back in the corner pictured here.  I never had any intention of taking it away from the house, so it was perfectly understandable that it had to be deconstructed and destroyed at moving time.  

Leaves, food waste, charcoal ashes, and other organic material break down into compost in the home made compost box

Oh, well.  I hope I can restart my trash-to-treasure on the other side of the Atlantic.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Great Jettison: A Man of My Own Heart

I met a really cool guy selling a digital camera.  The photo of the camera is below, but the camera is only a tag on the story of meeting the man who purchased it.

This person was interested in the camera to take some photos and share them with his son.  He came over to take a look, and I came out to the driveway to meet him.  He was riding a personalized (I would say custom, but that would imply that he had it done in a professional auto shop) gas-powered scooter.  The scooter had extra storage racks on both sides of the saddle.  These stored a variety of this man's personal effects.  There was a large basket on the back of the scooter that he used to store cans and bottles.  Apparently this man can keep his gas tank filled all the time only with money from returned cans and bottles found on the road.

Best of all, he showed me a special tool he had made out of a long piece of metal and wire.  This tool, a large hook-shape, allowed him to pick up cans and bottles from the ground without getting off the scooter. Indeed, he boasted that sometimes he doesn't even have to come to a complete stop in order to grab the can and toss it in the rear basket.

This guy had it all figured out.  He collected free money on a much larger scale than I could ever hope to, and used it to keep his fuel-efficient wheels turning.  I don't know if they have returnable cans and bottles in Ireland (I will let you know!) but I'd like to start a system like this someday.

Our old Kodak digital camera on display before being sold on Craigslist

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Real-Time Update- We found a place to live!

Another brief Real-Time Ireland update.  We went apartment hunting all day today and put down a deposit on a great little place near Sara's campus!  We are (mostly) over our jet-lag but our legs are tired from a full day of walking.

Look for longer posts with pictures when we are fully nestled in the warm embrace of our new home.  Boy, do we have some stories already!  Whew!

Road Trip: Barstow to Grand Canyon National Park

Date         Stop   Odometer             Location                                Time        

6/18/20130210193Barstow, CA7:20 AM
6/18/20131210195Rest Stop9:18 AM
6/18/20132210362Rest Stop10:26 AM
6/18/20133210386Kingman, AZ10:53 AM
6/18/20134210599Kaibab Nat'l Forest, 10-X4:30 PM

From Sara's travel journal:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 3:00pm 
Ten X campground, Kaibab National Forest, AZ

We left Barstow nice and early in the morning. We got everything packed back into the car by 7:00am, and we had some of the free breakfast offered by the hotel. We set off for the east on I-40 by 7:30am, with Grand Canyon as the next destination. 

Mists settle into Grand Canyon in the evening at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
I think "grand" might be an understatement

Follow the jump for our Grand Canyon adventure!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Real-Time Update: We made it!!

We made it safely to Dublin and have all 6(!) suitcases of stuff moved into our temporary place of staying.  We are very tired from the flight but are going to try to keep moving today by beginning our official apartment search in earnest.  Look for lots more Real-Time Updates.

Blog programming note-  Our Road Trip posts and the last of the Great Jettison posts will keep going up on the weekdays at midnight when possible.  Do not be alarmed if there are short breaks in content while we make the life transition.

Thanks to everyone back home for your love and support!

Cory and Sara

Road Trip: Out of Yosemite

   Date      Stop    Odometer      Location                                         Date

6/17/20130209837Crane Flat, Yosemite9:56 AM
6/17/20131209990Selma, CA
6/17/20132210193Barstow, CA7:40 PM

The Yosemite Valley is seen from the top of Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park, California
View from Glacier Point
Follow the jump for more Yosemite pictures and a whole lotta desert driving!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Great Jettison: The Chair and (more awesome) the Surface

...Still angry no one took these.  Just look at the set below.  We did sell the desk set and the brown rug in the photo below.  I was hopeful that craigslist could help me sell the rolling chair and floor protector.

The blue computer chair sits on the clear plastic floor cover

It was strange that these didn't sell even at rock-bottom prices on craigslist.  The computer chair was worn but worked well.  The clear plastic surface has some visible cracks, but still accomplished its task.

The plastic floor cover has some cracks as the wheels of the computer chair rest upon it

The chair was purchased at Goodwill when we first got the house.  The plastic rolling surface was found in a dumpster on the college town holiday of End-Of-Lease-Weekend.  We put the rug under the rolling surface to protect the wood floor from the little plastic spikes under the surface.

The computer chair shows some wear on the edges

I was a little stubborn about selling these items.  I denied bringing them to the consignment store, holding on to the hope that they would sell individually.  Just no dice on that.  They sat until the very last minute in the house, and when we were finally forced to bring them in, the store took the chair but not the surface, which we had to smash and break up to fit in a dumpster.

Oh well.  Can't complain about it now, we're outta there!  We'll have to figure out a computer situation over in Ireland now.  It will probably be a second hand couch with a laptop on the lap, but we will keep writing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Road Trip: The Charcoal Chimney

Question:  How does a total tightwad prepare hot food when camping?
Answer:  The charcoal chimney.

Think about it.  Gas stoves have to be purchased (nuh-uh) or borrowed just to have available.  I don't know how much a canister of stove gas costs, but I assume it's more than a couple of dollars.

Gas, however clean burning, efficient, and enviro-friendly, is out.  How about cooking over the campfire?  Isn't that the traditional classic?  Build a big, roaring fire (with about $10 worth of firewood) let it burn down to a nice bed of coals, and cook whatever you'd like.  Most campsites have fire pits with grill grates, after all.  The cost of wood and time makes this a total non-starter.

Enter the charcoal chimney starter.

Water boils in a tea kettle over the charcoal chimney at Florence Keller County Park, California

Seen here in action.  The lower compartment (with the flames) holds balled-up newspaper.  Inside, one makes a small pile of charcoal briquettes on a perforated platform.  The idea of this invention is to get charcoal ready for cooking without lighter fluid.  When used correctly (HA!) one lights the paper, the paper lights the lowest level of coals, the lowest level of coals lights those above, etc.  In about 10 minutes, the whole chimney is full of white coals ready to be dumped out on the grill and is ready to cook.

Follow the jump to read about how I use it to save time and money in getting hot camp food.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Road Trip: First Day at Yosemite

   Date      Stop   Odometer           Location                                   Date

6/16/20130209703Caswell State Park, CA8:18 AM
6/16/20131209711Manteca, CA8:36 AM
6/16/20132209837Crane Flat, Yosemite1:00 PM

From Cory's travel journal (revised)

9:04AM- Driving to Yosemite on HWY 120.  Got up early this morning to shower and make a hot oatmeal breakfast.  Used Sara's new camping mug and the plastic cup from my cooking kit to make coffee.  Showers were nice but I couldn't shave because the mirror was tiny, it was vandalized, and there wasn't any light in the bathroom.  Father's Day today so I hope we get a campsite at Yosemite.

Frog poses in front of the Yosemite National Park, California welcome sign

Follow the jump for the rest of the story.  You want photos?  We got 'em!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Road Trip: Redwoods to (almost) Yosemite

  Date        Stop   Odometer    Location                                         Time

6/15/20130209267Leaving FKCP, CA7:35 AM
6/15/20131209289Klamath River Overlook, CA8:39 AM
6/15/20132209330Trinidad Rest Stop10:00 AM
6/15/20133209431Weaverville12:30 PM
6/15/20134209491Redding, CA2:58 PM
6/15/20135209703Caswell State Park, CA7:30 PM

From Cory's travel journal (revised)

10:00AM- Got up early this morning.  It was misty and chilly but not wet which was nice.  We cooked oatmeal and made coffee with the funnel and loose grounds- it turned out great!  We were on the misty road by 7:30, pretty good time for breaking camp AND having a hot breakfast.

Sara sits at the picnic table planning a route on a road atlas at Florence Keller County Park, California
Sara plots the course

Cory washes a black pot in foil pans on the picnic table at Florence Keller County Park, California
Doing the breakfast dishes in the redwoods

A large banana slug slides on a small branch at Florence Keller County Park, California
One more banana slug at the campsite

Follow the jump for the rest of the post.  More photos!