lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Old and Jaded at the Aquarium January 19, 2018

You know how when you’re little you think everything is big and bright and shiny, and then you go back as an adult and realize everything is tiny and the paint is chipping?

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When I was little, my great-grandmother lived near Boston. Every once in a blue moon, my mom would take us into Boston to play tourist for the day. My favorite place was the New England Aquarium. I thought it was magical! The cylinder tank in the middle was huge. The penguins were the funniest thing I had ever seen. That aquarium was the height of commercialized zoological conservation.

Then I went back last week, and here’s where my brain starts to hurt. (more…)

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Decorated Detroit December 4, 2017

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 1:30 pm
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In traveling for the Wizard of Oz tour, we get to go to some really great places and some places that…aren’t on the radar for must-visit destinations.

Recently, we visited Detroit. The only things I knew about Detroit were that cars got made there and that the economic slumps hit it very hard. While both those things are true, nobody ever mentioned how awesome Detroit is!

The husband and I wandered out of our hotel, just looking to stretch our legs, and we found a huge amount of outdoor art that led us to a Christmas wonderland!

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They had blow-up igloos with table tennis and hot chocolate, a tent decked out to be a ski lodge, and an ice skating under a giant Christmas tree!

So what did these wise actors do on their precious day off? We went ice skating! (more…)

 

Magical Music September 5, 2017

Filed under: Tales of Travel — meganorussell @ 6:30 pm
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So, after we left the possible serial killer inn keeper with the peacock with the facial tumor, we went into town to listen to the boys play at the pub.

By this point in our great Irish adventure, we had discovered that the directions the locals give, no matter how absurd they may seem, are usually accurate. So when the innkeeper had rattled out that we should park by the first pub of the three in town and just stay there because otherwise there would be nowhere for us to go, we took her seriously.

We had gotten there too early, so there was no music, and I honestly probably would have gone back to the B&B to sleep if I hadn’t been terrified of being chopped into small pieces the moment I closed my eyes. So we sat in the pub and waited for the music.

Finally, four boys who didn’t look old enough to drink by American standards came in and took their seats by the window. They took out their instruments, chatted to each other, checked their phones, got a drink. Finally, the boy sitting at the center just sort of shrugged and they started to play.

And they were all brilliant. They didn’t smile, they didn’t look at the people clustered in to hear them. From the semi-vacant expressions on their faces, they might as well have been in a horribly boring math class. (more…)

 

A Peculiar Protuberance August 31, 2017

Filed under: Tales of Travel — meganorussell @ 1:30 pm
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Back to Ireland.

After I bonded with birds and stumbled upon a tomb, it was time to get ready to board the boat for Inishmore!

I was so thrilled to visit the island. In part because I had seen Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan on Broadway, and we would be going right past that island to get to the island where we were going to be staying.

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the B&B we booked for the night before we got on the boat. It was just a place to sleep. I knew we wouldn’t have time to hang out in our room.

That was…a potentially disastrous, but now humorous decision. (more…)

 

An Isle of Magic July 26, 2017

Filed under: Tales of Travel — meganorussell @ 2:30 pm
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There are some mornings that are just magical.IMG_0945
And this is coming from a very non-morning person.

After our adventure trying to find the address-less hotel, the time came for our brief day in Killarney National Park.

We started with a boat ride to Innisfallen Island.

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We hired a man with a speedboat to ferry us out to this tiny place where the Annals of Innisfallen were written. The island feels like a place that might actually be enchanted. Between the ruins of the abbey and the herd of deer, magic is hidden in every corner of the island. (more…)

 

The Importance of Coordinates July 20, 2017

I spent three summers living in Alaska. I love the quirks of that beautiful place, and you sort of get that feeling that it’s preparing you for other adventures in life. Like how you start to feel super cocky about living in a place where an address is really just whatever mile marker you live closest to, and a prayer that your mail actually gets to you. And then we went to Ireland.

The first two days were fine. We were staying in a city. We’d bought the update so our Garmin worked in Ireland, which sort of felt like cheating, but whatever. But then Killarney happened.

Killarney is amazingly beautiful. We got there before dark and wanted to poke around the outside of the national park to see what sorts of things we wanted to do the next day. We found the park, found a way in, found a ruin.

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It was simply breathtaking.

I had naively been expecting Killarney National Park to be like an American national park—all rough trails and long forgotten woods. But it was more like an estate placed in national trust. Beautiful lawns, ruins, paddle boat rentals, a castle but we’ll get to that later.

We figured out what we wanted to do on our big park day and decided to head back to the hotel. Put the hotel in the Garmin…nothing. (more…)

 

The Ferns of Blarney July 13, 2017

Most of you have probably heard of the Blarney Stone. If you haven’t, here’s the short of it. There’s a stone in Blarney Castle, and if you kiss it, which is way harder than it sounds, btw, you’ll be blessed with the gift of eloquence.

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Naturally, when planning our Ireland expedition, we decided we had to swing by Blarney Castle. Yes, I have heard all the awful stories of locals doing terrible things to the stone at night. But if I’m going to start the zombie apocalypse, I’d just assume get the monster germs that end the world doing something memorable.

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We had planned to be at Blarney Castle for like an hour. Get in, kiss the stone, and leave. Honestly when we saw the price of admission to the castle grounds I rolled my eyes a bit. It was quite a bit of money to kiss a stone. But then they gave us a map of the Blarney Castle Grounds, and it all made sense. (more…)