Ireland

The Kuhls went to Ireland. It was a trip we’ve discussed for years — I had never been — and serendipitously Mrs. Kuhl was engaged to speak at a conference in London. Speech well received, we hopped a Ryanair flight from Gatwick to Dublin.

We spent two days in Dublin — Book of Kells, Guinness Storehouse, many pints of Bulmers — then drove a lonely single-lane road (which isn’t even printed on some maps) over and through the mountains south of the city to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The Glendalough Valley is the site of a monastic settlement founded in the 5th century. The cemetery is still in use.

I love the mohawk of trees edging the hill to the right.

A river runs through the valley, forming two lakes along the way. Visitors can hike the length of the valley to the feeding waterfall tumbling down the rocks. The terrain is almost Pleistocene.

Feral goats haunt the western woods of the valley, descendants of livestock raised by the workmen of a 19th-century lead and zinc mine. My son was sharp enough to spot a herd in the trees, so we crept up the slope to snap some pictures.

We stayed one night at Killiane Castle outside of Wexford. It’s a crumbling 15th-century castle with an attached 17th-century farmhouse. Guests sleep and eat in the farmhouse but you can tour the castle ruins. This is the view from the topmost tower, a precipitous structure without banister or parapet.

You can see cows and hens and there is an apple tree in the garden — all of which contributed to the fantastic breakfast we had. Even packaged produce like juice and ice cream we found in museum cafeterias originated in close proximity to wherever we were. You can’t not be a locavore in Ireland.

We were the only guests at the castle that evening so we had the run of the place. Kathleen Mernagh and her family are incredibly gracious hosts. Highly recommended.

Our boys have grown into terrific travelers, the result of vacations to Disney and countless long weekends away. They’re good-humored and fun, and even when they grow tired or cranky, it’s nothing food or a nap or a small treat can’t fix. We’re crazy about them.

When they’re big, I hope they remember the trips.

Malfunction

The website vanished for about a week there. My host’s tech support says it was hacked, although that makes it sound more intentional than I think it was. My diagnosis is some malware burrowed deep into my WordPress, lying dormant until it was activated by an internal timer. Regardless, support was able to restore the site from back-ups and all software has been scoured and upgraded.

If you missed any of my signings for Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, I’ll be at the Stratford Historical Society in November. I may have a few more appearances before then as well.

Signings July 9 and 10

I’ll be at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT from 1-3pm on Saturday, July 9 to speak and sign copies of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer.

Then at 1pm on Sunday, July 10, I will be at the Fairfield Museum and History Center for another talk and signing. This is part of their “Burning of Fairfield” events this weekend.

Be sure to bring enough rum for yourself and to share with the author — book promotion is thirsty work.

Samuel Smedley Tour 2011

I will be giving presentations and signing copies of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer on the following dates:

Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT – Saturday, July 9, 1-3pm.

Fairfield Museum and History Center, Fairfield, CT – Sunday, July 10, 1pm.

Governor Jonathan Trumbull House and Wadsworth Stable, Lebanon CT – Saturday, July 16, 1pm.

More appearances to come!

Also: if you’re planning to purchase the book on Amazon.com, please do so on Thursday, June 16. The reason I want friends to buy on that date is because (I have been told) having a large number of sales on a specific date does more for the book’s Amazon ranking than if just a few folks order copies every day. If you forget or can’t do it — no worries, just buy it some other time.

And if you have read the book — please write a review on the Amazon page! Tell me what you liked. If you think I made a mistake, let me know. Again, the ranking is determined by activity on the Amazon page, so the more reviews, the better. Thanks!

Upgrade!

If you’ve visited this site over the past few weeks, you may have noticed odd things. Like parts of the sidebar vanishing. Or giant 40-point typeface. Or broken code.

Like a caveman reverse-engineering a spaceship, I’ve been futzing around with the design of the site. I’m very pleased with the result. There are a few minor additions I’ll be making in the near future — including the cover art for Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, which is amazing — but any weirdness you may have experienced (I’m looking at you, Russian spambots!) should be at an end. Well, the technical weirdness anyway.

A huge thank-you goes to Jeremy Tolbert at Clockpunk Studios for the new title banner above. It’s difficult to find recommendations for good designers; whenever I ask my IT friends if they know anyone — naively believing that maybe, you know, the guy or girl in the next cube over does graphic work on the side — I receive such helpful advice as, “Try Craigslist.” Jeremy’s price was right and he worked unbelievably fast (a matter of hours) to deliver the product. He does whole WordPress themes in addition to his graphic design. Please consider him if you need a job done.

With the behind-the-scenes work complete, hopefully I may now devote more time to content. Meantime, give a shout if anything is still acting wonky on your end.

Photos

You know what this blog needs? More photos. Big honking ones.

I solo hiked Hadrian’s Wall in 2001. These are the Peel Crags after I traversed them, then turned around to photograph the route. That’s the wall on top.

Stonehenge, from my first trip to England in January 1991. Megaliths lend themselves to black and white.

Grand Canyon, summer 1992. Somewhere in Bright Angel Canyon. My brother and I hiked to the bottom and camped for a couple of nights. If you ever have the chance, go see the Grand Canyon and the Giza Pyramids for yourself. They are much, much bigger than any photo or movie can render.