Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Connemara's Beautiful and Andrea's Wordy

We hold these truths to be self evident!

I awoke on our last Wednesday very stuffed up and suffering from a sore throat. As we our plans included the 1:00pm ferry to Inishmore, Al set off to do some shopping while I rested a bit longer. It seemed like everything was falling into place... until we met up at the ticket office. They had already cancelled the April-October 1:00pm ferry. Um, last I checked it was still October. Of course, the website is updated now but it wasn't when I checked two weeks before our trip. So now I was sick, tired and not going to the Aran Islands.

Well, at least it was gloriously sunny! That was a welcome change.

Looking back at Salthill on my walk into Galway

I pointed out to Al that we were 0 for 3 for cliffs in Ireland: we opted not to see Slieve League because of the rain, we couldn't see Cliffs of Moher because of the fog, and we didn't make it to the cliff at Dun Angus because of the ferries. Well, there's three very compelling reasons for us to have to go back!

I took the change in plans as an excuse to crawl back into bed for the afternoon. Figures, the sun is out and I'm walking around in a t-shirt... and all I want to do is sleep because I'm sick. I'd feel sorry for myself but then I remember that I was living it up on holidays. I could have been sick at home in Victoria while it rained. Perspective... it's good to have it sometimes.

The boat in the middle is called a hooker. It's also the name of a locally brewed beer.
The joke about 'Galway hookers' will never get old.
Yes, I have the maturity of a 10 year old.

Galway City as seen from the Claddagh.

I felt much better after my nap and when Al returned I agreed to head back into town for dinner and drinks on the condition that we didn't stay out too late. We had a low-key dinner, went to a pub know for its Irish music nights that just wasn't the Reel Inn, before deciding to stop at the Front Door for one more pint before bed. Then we met the world's second greatest bartender, Philip, (Emer is still our #1!) and enjoyed chatting with him so much that we hung around for a second pint. Then we met Mike.

I'm posting this photo of him for a reason. Remember this face, people!

He and his group of friends helped us make targets for Philip's elastics (until the night got too busy and Philip actually had to work)...


...and then his friend's left him with me, Al, and Lindsay (a lovely Yank he and his friends had met earlier in the evening) so he started buying all our drinks... and then a few drinks we didn't actually order.

This was actually my first time ever having a Butterball shot.
Where have these been all my life?

Towards the end of the evening, we had this exact conversation:
ME (pointing at my cell phone): Please tell me that says 12:10AM and I'm just too drunk to see the '1'.
AL: No. That says 2:10AM.
ME: Really? F*ck. A pint for the road?
AL: Sure.

So much for our early night. But you know what? It was worth it for the new friends and the awesome bartender. If you're ever in Galway, go to the Front Door, find Philip the bartender, and ask him for "ah, one, ah, hot chocolate" and then duck. Just trust me on this one.

Needless to say, when you crawl into bed at 3:00AM, 7:30AM comes ridiculously fast! Stupid tour of stupid Connemara at stupid o'clock in the stupid morning! But then you see this and decided that all is right with the world.


We switched tour companies for our second tour which meant we lost on the 2nd tour reduced rate but we also had a tour guide who didn't put the radio on! It was worth the extra money to actually feel like the tour guide was more than just a bus driver, so excuse me while I throw a little love their way. I would definitely recommend them if you're ever in Ireland. (As our guide, Michael D., would say they were a great tour company in and of themselves! Which might not make sense to you, but Al and I are rolling on the floor laughing at our hilarity!)

The day started (of course) with a visit to a friary. Having not seen one in almost three days, Al and I were going through withdrawals.


I actually really liked the Ross Errilly Friary because it was a) free and b) surrounded by sheep and cows (which, sadly, were not free. Best souvenir ever!).

Our next stop was the village of Cong which is best known as being the home of the Cross of Cong the village in The Quiet Man. In fact, if you've seen The Quiet Man then this pub should look very familiar to you. (If you haven't seen The Quiet Man then you should rent it tonight at watch it.)


Cong also gave Al and I a chance to change things up and visit an abbey! Always keeps things interesting when you don't get tied into just one type of religious building! It was also the beginning of the 'Mike face photos' which punctuated the rest of our travel photos.

I don't know which was better: the fact that this made us laugh as hard as it did or
the looks we got from everyone else every time we did it.

I liked the Cong Abbey because it was a) free (hear that, Donegal Castle? Two free ruins in one day. Boo-yah!) and b) it was right across the street from an awesome coffee shop. It was a common look for Al and I: camera in one hand, coffee in the other.


Cong is a very quaint, quiet village and while I'd suggest it as a stop for lunch (or coffee), we had half an hour there and were still back at the bus 10 minutes early. It's not really a place I'd recommend as a destination in and of itself. (Also, many of the stores shut down from November to March when there's no tourists so then I really don't recommend going there.)

Connemara is one of my favourite regions of Ireland (the whole northern part of the west coast is the bee's knees for me. The cat's pajamas. The dog's nuts. Wait, what?). Every time Al and I talked about possible Ireland itineraries, I kept putting "Connemara Day" into them regardless of what Al wanted because I'm a selfish friend I know that a trip to Connemara is always worth it. Even in the rain, Connemara is beautiful. If you go to Ireland and visit Connemara because of my recommendation and this it was a complete waste of your time, I will buy you a pint.*


Plus it's home to the Connemara Pony which sometimes you get to see. Or, if you go with the GTC, you'll get to feed one!

They call him Mr. Pony. Michael D opened the bus doors and whistled as we drove past.
Mr. Pony raced with the bus the length of the field and then patiently waited while we were
dolled out apple slices to feed him.
I LIKE PONIES!!

There's a lot of history in the region, lots of stories to tell about it, but more than anything else, it's just beautiful. It's a 'pictures will never do it justice' kind of place. But let's try anyway, shall we?






For hikers, the region is home to the Twelve Bens** and I've often thought what a wonderful weekend trip it would be to hike a few of them over the two days. Apparently crazy people like to hike all of them in 24 hours. For once, even my crazy thinks that's crazy! How can you enjoy the views if you're just running off to the next one? (Plus, that leaves no time for stopping in at the pubs!)

Like all Connemara tours, we eventually found ourselves at Kylemore Abbey. I'll be honest with you, I've now been to Kylemore Abbey three times. Next time, I'm bringing a book and staying on the bus... well, after I take the required Kylemore Abbey photo, of course.

Most original Kylemore Abbey photo you will ever see! EVER!

The grounds are very nice and if it's your first time visit, you should pay the entrance fee and go check them out (you do not, however, need to pay the fee to get the photo above) but it's not really a location which bears repeat visits (unlike Connemara itself). There's some lovely walks, they've done a great job with restoring the largest walled Victorian garden in Ireland (if you need that many qualifiers, I don't think you should get to brag about it), and... well, that's about it really: walks and garden. Knock yourself out, kids!

Still, we did get to see some lovely assess^.


WAIT! I was talking about these guys:


We stopped in Galway just quick enough to grab a bite to eat and then caught the GTC bus back to Dublin. As sad as I was to not actually get to see Ireland roll past us on our last bus trip, I was thankful to just get the trip over and done with especially now that it's a toll motorway that avoids all towns (as opposed to when I lived in Galway and you still had to drive through Athlone or other larger towns).

Returning to Dublin made it official: our trip was nearing its end.

*Totally serious on this one but you have to live close enough to me that we can go for the pint together and you can tell me exactly why you didn't enjoy Connemara. (I want you to look me in the eye and say "I hated it".)

**Ben (sometimes written Pin or Bin) is the anglicised version of the old Gaelic words for mountain (regional differences means I've found five different spellings of the original word, but beinn or beann seem to be the most common.). Many mountains in Ireland and Scotland contain 'Ben' in the name.

^The two guys in the first photo turned out to be really nice. They were on our tour and after a couple of quips back and forth through out the morning, they approached us at Kylemore and struck up a conversation. Unfortunately for them, Al and I just weren't function at all and I'm sure we came across quite b!tchy as we just wandered away after niceties had been exchanged. It was a moment I wish I could have gone back and redone when I wasn't so, um, under the weather. Our travel plans were the same for the next three days, they were Canadians who knew hockey, and they were hot obviously trying to engage us in perhaps meeting up in Dublin. It's not that I think we all would have become great friends and would totally stay in touch and visit each other, it just would have been nice to have someone to meet up with for lunch on the Saturday for example. I also debated about telling them to check out Croke Park because they were hockey guys and that would have been right up their alley. Instead, out of the three times I thought "mention Croke Park to them", I said nothing twice and then awkwardly mumbled 'see ya around' the last time. It's probably the only part of the trip I honestly really wish I could do over. If anyone reading this recognizes those two assess from the picture, please tell the boys Al and I say 'hi' and they should totally check out Croke Park.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Backtracking Through Ireland

The great thing about travelling with someone is that they take pictures of you so you get to relive all those silly things you did which you wouldn't take pictures of. Before I post the final two Ireland posts, I've decided to backtrack and post a couple of Al's photos that I got from her today.

This is how you do a pub crawl in Dublin:


And that's why I needed a sexy hot coffee the next morning:


See, I told you I made friends with that horse!


This is my 'wind so strong it's going to knock me over' mime dance at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It was closely followed by my 'let's get the hell back to the sheltered bus' mime dance.


If you complain about the lame rip-off that is the Donegal Castle too loudly, they lock you in. Or maybe this was the morning after the night at the pub. I'm not sure. To be honest, the whole two days there are a little hazy.


And thus ends my overly narcissistic blog post (all posts are somewhat narcissistic, it's the nature of the beast, but most posts don't have photos of only me). Until the next time I feel the need to say "look at ME!"

List It Like a Boss!

I'm not feeling very creative with my writing right now so you get a lovely list of things I need to talk about. I make no promise for any sort of coherency in this post. You have been warned.

1. I just realised that I often end things with "you have been warned". Perhaps that should have been the title of my blog.

2. There was supposed to be another Ireland post today but then Al and I finally set a time for swapping photos. There's a certain section of today's post which really needs her photos. Words won't do it justice. Also, hard to believe I only have two more Ireland posts left.

3. Further to #2, I'm looking into the logistics of organizing a trip to Ireland in September 2013. Reasons and details here.

4. Further to #3, if Ciaran McMenamin knows what's good for him, he'll run like hell if he ever sees me coming. I will make him read an entire phone book just to hear his voice.

5. John Scalzi is my excuse for not doing anything last night. On Saturday night, Scalzi live-tweeted The Two Towers and Return of the King. Then, in case you missed it, he blogged his tweets (which you should totally read because he's hilarious and nerdy. Also, check out the Smegol dub-step fish slapping dance in the comments). I decided that I needed to rewatch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So I started that last night. Say good bye to my evenings for the next little while because I'm watching the extended editions.

6. It also means that my friends will have to put up me thinking I'm hysterical for the next few days when really, I'm just really, really nerdy.


7. I have to go get awesome pictures to make the next Ireland post even more awesome so I'm stopping my listing there.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Memory Challenge

Hello, my name is Andrea. I'm an atheist and I love Christmas. I shouldn't love it as much as I do given that it's a religious holiday (or at least, once upon a time it was) but it just makes me so frakkin' happy. I'm one of the biggest Christmas-aholics that I know. Despite this, I have two things that bother me about it:
  1. People who start decorating prior to December 1st
  2. When people are more concerned with gifts than the hanging out with loved ones
In my 31 years of celebrating Christmas, none of my important memories have anything to do with the gifts I received. I'm not going to pull a holier-than-thou-I-don't-need-gifts attitude because who doesn't like free things (assuming free things don't involve follow-up trips to the clinic and a round penicillin)? But at the end of the day, what I love most about Christmas has very little to do with the material aspect of it. So imagine my frustration when I start reading blogs in November which not only discuss Christmas* but also list items they'd their readers might like for Christmas. It made me stabby.**

Instead of travelling to various locations and stabbing people, I set myself a challenge: I will post 25 Christmas memories which will have nothing to do with gifts. You're all smart people, so I'm guessing you've already figured out that this will mean daily posts from the 1st to the 25th. If you're a blogger and what to join in, let me know. I'll gladly link to anyone else who wants to highlight the non-material side of Christmas.

I know that not all my readers are Christmas people but please note that some of the posts will be about alcohol. Surely that's got to count for something, right? And again, atheist writing here so God/Jesus talk will be kept to a minimum... and will usually involved alcohol ;-)

*I'm all for craft blogs talking about Christmas in November because they're giving you ideas which you can use in December. Any other blogs doing it can kiss my mistletoe'd butt.

**This is totally not a Christmas gift suggestion link. Although the shirt is pretty awesome so I wouldn't turn it down if you did get it for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Round the Salthill Prom with a Galway girl

Saying good bye to Donegal was probably the hardest morning of our trip. We ate our breakfast and wrote a bunch of postcards in relative silence. Occasionally, one of us would smile at the other and ask “do you remember last night when...”and we’d lose ourselves in thoughts of Michael wanting to know all the news from Canada, or Frankie singing some republican song, or banjo man being amazing on the banjo (never did learn his name), or Emer giving lip to some surely local who should know better than to piss off the barmaid.

Our decision to mail our postcards from Donegal would later come back to haunt us. Mailed October 10th, received in Canada on November 4th. Al and I decided that the mailman in Donegal was someone we met and he/she kept the cards a little longer to share our stories of the town with the other people we had met. Or An Post rowed the cards across the Atlantic. Either or!

We broke up our day of travel to Galway by stopping for lunch in Sligo. The guide book had talked about Sligo being a vibrant, artsy community so we figured it was good distraction from a four hour bus trip. I don’t know if we just completely missed the ‘small town artisan’ area or if Sligo had really changed that much in the three years since the book was published but neither of us were impressed. Mind, we had also just left our beloved Donegal Town; even winning the jackpot in Vegas would have been *meh* on that day.

We headed to the ruins of the friary because there didn’t seem to be much else to do. It was only €3 and a million times better than the Donegal Castle (I really can not stress enough exactly how unimpressed I was with the castle especially seeing as it was €4) but we were hung over and sad and therefore blasé about the place. With coffee in one hand and camera in the other, we wandered the ruins just taking random pictures without actually looking at what we were looking at.





When going back through my photos and remembering what I had read on the pamphlet, I found the friary a lot more enjoyable than I did on the day. It was picturesque, calm, and we all know that I love ruins. If I’m in the area, I’d stop in again... but only if I wasn’t hung over.

Despite the fact that Sligo Town didn’t really win us over, I do have to give it props for an awesome street name.


After a late arrival into Galway and a bed kerfuffle which left us scrambling for a hotel room at 9:30pm, we awoke the next morning to this:

Somewhere in that picture is Galway.

Boo-urns!

We had booked a tour to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare which would take up most of the day. We got picked up around the corner from our hotel by a young, friendly and chatty driver. He spent the whole ride into Galway (we were staying in Salthill which is across the river) telling stories and giving us tips on what to see and do in Galway. Once we met up with the rest of the tour, he pretty much stopped talking. It wasn’t a bad bus tour—we saw everything they said we’d see (sort of), we arrived and left on time, we did enjoy ourselves—it was just that the guides were the quietest people I’ve ever met in Ireland. I think I did more talking on that trip than they did.

We started the day by driving through the Burren. Having done a tour through it before I know some odd facts about it but poor Al learned only this: there are a lot of limestone rocks and it doesn’t look like anywhere else in Ireland we had been.


It’s hard to believe by looking at the pictures but people actually do farm on the Burren. Some plots were painfully cleared by hand over generations of farming, others are used as grazing land. It’s easy to think ‘why would anyone bother?’ but when the English drove the Irish west, it was farm on this land or starve. Plus the soil is supposedly quite fertile... if you can find any.

There's a hike through this region called The Burren Way.
Looks like 'Ankle Twister Way' would have been a better name...

We left the Burren and headed to Doolin for lunch before we hit up the cliffs. Doolin is a cute little village but it’s also the lunch stop for every single tour to the Cliffs of Moher. For about an hour every day, the population of Doolin quadruples as all the tourists fight for the limited seats in the main pub.

Doolin = more signs than buildings!

We traipsed back onto the bus giddy with anticipation. Anyone who has ever seen photos of Ireland has seen the iconic image of the Cliffs of Moher shooting straight up from the Atlantic. ‘Come to Ireland,’ they beckon. ‘We have cliffs!’ The cliffs have even featured in a few videos such as Westlife’s ‘My Love’. (Judge me all you want, but I like that song.) We eagerly walked towards the cliff edge and took in the glory which is the Cliffs of Moher.


Aren't they just awe-inspiring? To prove I didn't just steal that breath-taking photo from another website, here's me in front of the cliffs.


The fog came in waves and we did manage to see the cliffs... sort of... eventually... a little...

If I tilt my screen away from me, squint my left eye, then realigning the
order of the planets by mass, I can totally see the cliffs in this picture!

What can you do in a situation like this except laugh? We joked that we’d tell people that we went to the Cliffs of Moher and if they took that to mean we actually saw them then that wasn’t our fault. Do you know how many people see the cliffs every year? We’re such hipsters that we went to the cliffs and didn’t even bother seeing them!

Talking Telescope asked me why I wasted €1 on it.
On our way back to Galway we stopped at the Poulnabrone Dolmen which kind of harshed my buzz, man. It’s not that I didn’t want to see it, but the radio was in the middle of broadcasting an interview with Brian O’Driscoll when the guide turned the engine off. (Just think about that for a moment: our guide was saying so little that he actually had the radio on!!) Sorry ancient Celts, but I wanted to know O'Driscoll's feelings on Ireland's loss to Wales (especially seeing as he probably won't be around next RWC) so you were not my favourite people that day!


It’s estimated that the top slab weighs about five tonnes.* FIVE TONNES!! I have no idea how those people managed to lift it but I’m going to take an educated guess and say time-travelling-crane (and operator). I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

And with that, our tour headed back to Galway.

*I read this in a book but am unable to find anything online which backs it up (or contradicts it either...) so it is quite possible that it doesn't weigh that much. Either way, it still weighs a lot!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Saved From the Overload

There was supposed to be two more posts today (told you I was playing catch up!) but thanks to my computer's almost complete refusal to upload videos in a timely manner, you're only getting two updates.

Rejoice, my friends. Rejoice!

I'll bombard you with multi-blogs at another date.

Peat and Rhythm

When Al and I first talked about going to Ireland, high on my list of places I wanted to go was Donegal. I had nostalgic memories of Donegal in the 80’s—huge family gatherings at my aunt’s cottage, games of soccer-tag (also known as ‘quick, make up a game that all ages of our family can play’) on a near deserted beach in the middle of July, scrambling over rock walls as my cousins and I explore the fields around us—and I knew that I wouldn’t find that Donegal again (firstly, good luck getting all my cousins together at the beach) but I was hoping that the landscape was still as breath-taking as I remember.

Well, it was really hard to see the landscape when it rained the entire time we were there. Not just rained... POURED! My poor shoes never did fully dry out and took on such a funky smell that I ended up just binning them and buying a pair of cheap boots. (Thank you Dunnes!)

We arrived at the Diamond* in Donegal Town and I wondered if I had made a huge mistake in dragging Al here. Co. Donegal had been my request after all. Once-a-day bus times meant that we couldn’t go to Bunbeg, the area of my childhood memories, without eating into a lot of our precious travel days, but I was hoping that a day trip to Slieve League and Killybegs would be just as lovely. Donegal Town, however, wasn’t really living up to my hopes.

The Diamond in Donegal Town. Don't be fooled by all those cars, that's the taxi stand.

We arrived at the hostel to find the owner (the lovely Linda from the county Cork) in the middle of starting a peat fire. While Donegal Town still had yet to win me over, the hostel was getting major bonus points!

There's something about a big pile of peat which makes me insanely happy. It reminds me
of visiting my granddad's friend with my dad who lived in a thatched cottage with a peat fire
and he boiled the water for tea in a pot hanging from a swinging arm over the fire.

After we had warmed up and somewhat dried off, Al and I walked back into town for dinner and a drink. We partook in the ‘traditional’ fish and chips from an actual chipper before making our way to the Reel Inn. Rumour had it that there was music every night and the one thing that Al wanted before she left was to hear Irish music in an Irish bar.

Our Saturday night at the pub turned out to be a lot of fun. We arrived well before the music started so we pretty much had the place to ourselves for the first hour. We made small talk with the barmaid (the fabulously sarcastic Emer) and tried to decipher the comments from the drunk regular who I think might have been speaking Irish at one point. The place slowly filled up and by the time the band started, it was standing room only. Still, you can always find room to dance!

We learned later from our new friend, Helly** that Al’s
dance partner was single and owned 80 acres of land!

We left the Reel Inn at 1:30am with the realisation that everyone still in the pub was older than us. That’s right, the 45 – 80 years old age group totally out partied two 30-somethings. Welcome to Ireland!

The next day was still raining. We had hopes of going to Slieve League but everyone we talked to said they were fogged in (later confirmed by other tourists who had gone), so we went with our back up plan of the Donegal Bay Waterbus Tour. The first indication that perhaps this wasn’t the great idea was the booking agent who replied to our request for two tickets with ‘really?’ The next indication was the bus loads of seniors that were being dropped of as we boarded the waterbus. It was a full tour and save for ourselves, a family with three kids under 12 and couple who looked much like Al and I felt (that would be ‘horrified’ for those of you who need an actual word for that moment), everyone was 65+. The minute the bar opened, Al and I hightailed it to the alcohol.

We thought the guide telling jokes which had nothing to do with the tour was bad—we groaned, we rolled our eyes, we giggled at how silly the whole thing was—but when we got to the end of the bay and it was time to turn around, they pulled out a keyboard. Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING is as bad as cheesy songs with synthesised drums. Al and I beat a hasty retreat to the top deck... where the music followed us. It was like some bad horror film. No, don’t go upstairs! He’ll just follow you!

Oh well. At least we got to take pictures in between our bouts of laughter.



The bay is very shallow so at low tide you can walk to most of the islands from the mainland.

And just so you can hear exactly how bad the music was:


video
Um, it won't let me play this video to check it before I post it but
if the colours are as wacked as they are in the draft photo... oops!
On our way back into town we passed the ruins of the friary where the Annals of the Four Masters were written. Having wasted €4 on Donegal Castle earlier that day we decided to check out the free ruins. If you ever find yourself in Donegal Town, skip the Castle and just go check out the friary. I would have rather paid to see the friary (which is now a cemetery so double score for me!).




Being Canadian Thanksgiving that weekend, we decided to get dolled up and go for a nice dinner. It was surprisingly hard to find anything turkey related so had to make due with lamb so perfectly cooked that I touched it with my fork and it fell off the bone. It’s a tough life, I tell ya! After dinner, we headed back to the Reel Inn to see what Sunday night would provide in the way of music. While Saturday night had been fun, it had felt touristy. Sunday night reminded me of my dad’s parties growing up.

The owner (on the accordion) and a few of his friends sat around and played whatever song they felt like. If one of them felt like taking a smoke break or heading to the washroom, the others kept playing. If they weren’t totally sure of the song, they’d fake their way through it. If someone wanted to get up and join them or sing a song, they were welcome to it. It was about as authentic an Irish music night you’re going to get in a pub.

There was supposed to be two videos here but after 37 minutes of waiting for just one to upload (I'm not joking, old computer...) you're just getting a picture instead.

The banjo player was amazing! Even more amazing was the man hiding behind the mic. His name is Frankie and Al and I love him. I found someone else's video on YouTube so you can understand why.

PS. That's the owner on the accordion.

He  had such a lovely singing voice that we loved him in spite of what appeared to be a very gruff demeanor when we first met him. Then he threw a couple of smiles our way when we responded positively to the songs. During a break late in the night, he sat down beside us and we got to chatting. I asked if he knew Sonny's Dream and he admitted that he didn't know the words, but if I wanted to sing it he'd back me up. Small problem: I'd had a bit to drink and couldn't remember the words. He wanted to know if we were going to be around the next night. We weren't but he was willing to bring in the words and sing Sonny's Dream for us if we were. I love this man more than I can express in writing.

We saw none of the things we wanted to see, we spent more time wet than we did dry, and we wasted money on the stupid castle and the waterbus, but Donegal had won its place as our favourite stop. “We could always go back to Donegal” became the mantra of the rest of our trip. When we hit up a music pub in Galway, we looked at each other, agreed it was no Reel Inn and beat a hasty retreat. And any singers we heard? Well, they’re no Frankie!

What I would give for this pub to be my local!
*many northern Irish towns call their town centre or square ‘the Diamond’ but it’s usually a triangle. I get the feeling Irish people probably fail geometry ;)

**I can not, for the life of me, remember his first name but he spelt his last name for me so it kind of stuck. It’s what Al and I referred to him as for the rest of the trip.