:::this is the way the world ends:::

No Line on the Horizon

Looking out to that horizon, today, on the release of a new U2 album, it seems appropriate to write to you all with a serious proposal. Namely, let’s look forward and think about a significant journey to Ireland.

I’m not suggesting this happen next month, maybe not even this year, but if there is interest from even just one of you, I’d like to get a date in mind on the calendar and start saving the money it will take to make this a real journey. You’ve got to dream out loud.

What I am proposing, what I am dreaming, is two weeks in Ireland–mapping out a course from Dublin, most likely, and spending the bulk of the time in the western wilds of the country. It would mean setting up lodging in bed and breakfasts and/or hostels, renting a car and braving the narrow roadways, eating in pubs and the like–doing it as cheaply as we can, but also not sparing out on any experience. I’m open to any road, but imagine spending 2-3 days in Dublin, and spending much of the rest of the time in the west and in Northern Ireland.

Certainly this is an expensive proposal, in terms of cost and time and planning, let alone a significant time away from home and family. It is likely cheaper to go in the off months, November through February, for instance. With that in mind, and looking at my own schedule, perhaps January or February 2010 would be a time to shoot for. I hate the idea of being away from Jen and Beckett for two weeks or so, and obviously this is just the beginning of a possible conversation, but I also hate the idea of time and youth so quickly getting away from us. And they are getting away from us. I know there was once a lot of talk among us, on a broken Kansas hillside, about just this very idea of a journey with whoever of us can make it. I’m not even certain I can make it. But I hope, and I scheme, and I instigate, and so I put it back to each of you to think seriously about this and to see what we can do in service to our friendships and lives.


  1. Shotts

    It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain
    As you start out the climb
    Do you believe me, or are you doubting
    We’re gonna make it all the way to the light
    But I know I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight

  2. J.E.

    This is an excellent idea and I can see it being possible once Liz and I are a two income family again. February would not work for me but I could do early January.

    Thanks for starting the fire.

    Besides the plane ticket what would the cost of this be?

  3. Shotts

    Thanks for the quick and hopeful response, J. E. I know you and Liz are taking on a lot now, and so something like this might seem particularly problematic, though I have every confidence that things will improve. It’s just a matter of when.

    I threw out the November through February idea because I thought lodging and car rental would be cheaper then. But certainly it wouldn’t have to be during that time. I think these off-peak months are the dimmest, rainiest months, so that’s something to consider too, though Jen and I had good luck, all in all, when we went during February. Early January might be a good time for me as well. And anywhere is warmer than Minnesota in early January, so I welcome the thought.

    As for cost, I don’t know, but I would estimate, per person, $1,000 for the roundtrip flight, $200 for car rental and fuel (though this will depend how many of us there would be chipping in), $75-$100 per night for lodging (though again this might depend on how many of us are staying together and what kind of accommodations), and then probably a minimum of $50 a day for food, drink, and sundries. So completely off the top of my head, for two weeks in Ireland, I would estimate around $3,000 per person. And of course, a lot will depend on what is happening with the dollar to euro exchange rate, though I hope that can only improve from where it’s been. But I think $3,000 is a fairly good estimate, and may even be a little bit high, considering the bed and breakfasts include a large, Irish breakfast in the costs, for instance, and which could easily tide you over as two meals.

    There’s no question that $3,000 is a lot of money. If we have three or more of us, it might be less, perhaps even closer to $2,500–not that that’s not a lot of money too. Money–speaking for myself–I don’t have. But if we have will and interest, it means starting to save now, or soon, and making it work. Also, each of you, do you have significant frequent flyer miles or anything that might help defray costs? If we were to go in a down time, like early to mid January, there might be opportunities to cash some of those kinds of things in. I have quite a few Northwest frequent flyer miles, for example, though I don’t know if I have enough or if they could help at all. But something to start researching. Ideally, anyone going would all be on the same flights, but it wouldn’t have to be that way, since we’d all potentially be flying out of different ports anyway.

    Let’s keep the fire lit. What say you?

  4. J.E.

    That figure sounds about right. I totally depends on where we stay and how we get around. Hostels are cheap but I don’t think I could stand to do that anymore. I could barely stand it when I was 20 years old. B&Bs can be quite cheap. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a Lonely Planet guide….

  5. Ned

    My time in Ireland with Sara was one of the best times of my life. So certainly getting back there sounds enticing.

    And while I love dreaming and am not coutning myself out yet, I have to be honest with myself. Finacially, we live pretty close to pay-check-to-paycheck. I’m not sure where the money would come from for even myself. I have trouble saving for El and Claire’s futures’ as it is.

    Beyond that, I can’t really conceive of going on my own and leaving my family behind for two weeks, mostly because I can’t justify it. Sara already has strong feelings about the fact that I go back to NY without her and the kids once a year. I just don’t think going without my family is an option. I have every intention of returning to Ireland some day but I don’t have the money, and when I do return, it will be with my family (and if I am there with some of you all the better).

    Godspeed to any of you that think you can make it. I know Jeff’s been before, but so have I so here are a few suggestions.
    1) We got a terrific B&B guide from the Irish travel board in NY.
    2) Most of our B&Bs were terrific and they ran 20-40 dollars (10-20 pounds at that time).
    3) It would be cheaper to travel the months Jeff suggests, but that is another logisitc that prevents me from going at those times, my schedule.
    4) Northwest probably will get you to London for a transfer to Dublin, but you’ll have to get on Aer Lingus to Dublin, likely, though that might be booked through NW.

    Good Luck! Great idea.

  6. J.E.

    Not to water down our dreams at this early stage but would a week in New York be more doable for the whole group? Shotts I know you go there for work a lot so this may not be a great option for you. January could be not the best time as well.

    The phrase that sticks in my mind is “service to our friendship.”

  7. Shotts

    Thanks, J. E., thanks, Ned, and I spoke with Peters a bit about this last evening: thanks, Petes, nice to talk.

    A few responses from me:

    1. I agree that bed and breakfasts are the way to go. They are much, much nicer than hostels, they provide terrific breakfasts, and there are great ones that Jen and I stayed in during our trip in 2005. At that time, they ran around $100 a night (breakfast included), which isn’t bad, really. I agree with J. E. that we should invest in a more recent travel guide: ours are now likely outdated.

    2. Thanks, Ned, for your suggestions. Since moving to the euro and in general becoming much more prosperous, Ireland has become slightly more expensive from when they were on the pound, particularly in the cities. And Ned seems to concur about the B&Bs. They are part of the experience, to be sure. As for flights, I think there would be a number of options, but after looking at my frequent flyer miles through Northwest, I may actually be able to swing a free or at least significantly cheaper roundtrip flight, so I would lean flying through them. That would likely be either via New York (through partner Delta) or via Amsterdam.

    3. As for timing, I think if we still have early January in mind–something like January 1-15–that would work for those who are operating on an academic calendar. True? J. E., you say that January might not be the best time, either: what would work better? As for me, I teach in the fall 2009, but am not scheduled to teach in the spring semester 2010, so January/February/March might be a good time for me, but could be flexible. It may be more expensive to go May to August, but if that timing is just better for anyone contemplating the journey, I am open to the possibility.

    4. Ned, I appreciate your honesty from the get go. It’s what this proposal requires as a response. There’s no question that this proposal is expensive and involves time away, so I’m not expecting that everyone could go, unfortunately. There’s no question that it will involve some sacrifice. I recognize that it means talking to partners and children, and–to use Ned’s word–justify our absence, the expense, and what it means to leave partners and children behind. Again, I recognize that would mean that not everyone could go. And yet. I feel compelled to see if there are at least two or three of us that could make this journey together. Toby, initial thoughts? Peters, care to weigh in here? Ned, any additional thoughts here–what would make it possible for you to go?–or is the above your way of needing to bow out?

    5. J. E. brings up New York as an alternative. I’m happy to discuss the idea of meeting up in NYC, but I don’t see that as a replacement for the Irish proposal. It looks like I will likely be in NYC sometime in the fall, and I’m happy to give my dates, once I have them (probably in October, possibly November), and if anyone wants to meet up there, then let’s work that out. But really, I don’t want to give up on Ireland or the idea of us, in some configuration, taking this journey.

    6. I’m glad J. E. rekindles the phrase “service to our friendship.” I think this means going all the way, and raising a pint in pubs across the Emerald Isle. I can’t help but watch time get away, and I feel compelled about making some of those imaginings we had come about. Let’s do what we said we would. Frankly, I can’t think of a better thing to show ourselves, our children–that sometimes you have to risk it, do the unexpected thing but the thing you most want to do and with those who bring both traditional and fresh ideas into our lives.

    It’s a challenge. It’s one worth taking. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  8. Shotts

    Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all. Seems like a good reason to tip a glass, but also to check in here. I see there is silence for the last ten days about the idea of an Irish journey. Any additional thoughts, from any of you? I am hoping to hear even one encouraging word of possibility from one of you on this, since for this to work, I think some planning now and as we go needs to start moving forward. I have hope.

    Here’s to your Saint Patrick’s celebrations, whatever they be.

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