Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pubs of Ireland

It's the Pub Life...

It's not the beer, but the food and the company
There are many reasons why one would visit the Emerald Isle as described a few times within this blog but one of the most rewarding is get a taste of the pub life.

Is that L in the window?
Before there was Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other forms of social media, people used to rely on face to face communication to get local and even international news. Conversation was a big wonderful deal. Sitting together and discussing the day’s events personally instead of relying on zeros and ones. The distance from face to face started to devolve when Alexander Graham Bell developed an instrument folks could talk with each other over a distance without the benefit of facial expressions – the telephone. It really changed when Mark Zuckerberg invited people to join a network where despite its name, there is no face to face time on Facebook. Now, 140 characters is all you get to speak of love - instead of a lifetime.

But even with all the modern conveniences there still is a bit of magic when talking with someone up close and personal. Not just family members or loved ones but those humans we come across in our travels. Those individuals whom we may only encounter once in a lifetime but that meeting proves to be very rewarding as we learn about each other on a very private or semi-private manner.

As we traveled through Ireland, one of the most enlightening times was when we stopped in the various pubs for a bite to eat and possibly some libation to quench our thirst. This is where social contact was not media and is the utmost in communication. Pubs are where the locals go at all hours to discuss politics, the weather  --though “its gonta rain again doncha know” – was the predominant weather forecast heard daily, business, and any other topic that was not taboo. Then again, the Irish are very vocal and we rarely found any topic that was untouchable – politically correct is not in the Gaelic dictionary – rather refreshing for a couple of American explorers.

No phones out? What gives?
Restaurants, though there are many and very tasty, tended to be not as much a draw for J and L while driving the highways and byways of Ireland. Pubs were where we spent meal times and thoroughly enjoyed the experience while talking to the locals who seemed never to be shy with a couple of strangers.

That's a Pub meal - yummy!
We learned where to visit ruined castles off the beaten track, which museums were 
worthwhile, legends of the wee people, stories of truly ghostly hauntings, which tours were legit, and numerous other bits of advice travelers need to know in a foreign country. Hours were spent while sipping a Guinness listening to local fisherman extolling on the catches of the day, business people discussing the ups and downs of the local economy, and even one late afternoon with a barrister as he laughed and entertained us with stories of the formalities of the Irish court system.

A local told us of this quaint spot to visit
Never once did we encounter, as we have in other countries, a cold shoulder because we were not locals – no, on the contrary it seemed we were hits and the locals wanted to hear tales about the United States, and share their opinions of our politics and political leadership.

This was rather logical since there is a true feeling of kinship between Ireland and the United States where according to the Unites States Census Bureau nearly 40 million Americans claim to be of Irish descent.

The most famous Irish descendant shaking hands with L
Perhaps that is why Ireland does feel like home away from home for so many – J and L included.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Closer to Home - Pauma

Picture postcard? - Nope, our own.

 Many times in our travels we meet people who have interesting hobbies and sometimes J and L’s own hobbies introduce us to interesting people as well. Case in point – with Tombstone Legends, the western theatrical group to which we belong, we met and became friends with David and Pilar. They are a great and lively couple who seem to have way too much to do on a day to day basis but they do it all with smiles and laughter.

One of David’s hobbies, if that’s the right word, is being a member of a local Southern California band by the name of Soul Gravity – singer and bass player while Pilar is one of the Gravity Girls. A nickname gladly owned by the svelte young woman who loves nothing more than to get on the dance floor with the other wives, those other Gravity Girls, and move to the groove created by the very talented band members of this band.
Soul Gravity getting ready to Groove.

 We were invited to Casino Pauma for a concert on a recent Saturday and off we went in the early morning with the idea of taking in the beautiful sights of Pauma Valley, where the casino was located. Rolling hills of green vegetation, thousands of acres of varied citrus, and just plain unspoiled lands were a joy to view as we drove south on Highway 215 and then southeast on Highway 79 just outside of Temecula. 

 Pauma Valley is home to the Luiseno Band of Pauma-Yuima Indian Tribe and the reservation was established in 1893.  Over 6,000 acres in Northern San Diego, eastern Orange, and southern Riverside Counties make up this homeland for a relatively small population compared to the other five Luiseno tribes spread out over mid-Southern California. A rich history and beautiful surroundings makes this area of the Southwest a must visit for any explorer.

Pauma Valley looking northeast
 Sadly, the truth was this was the first time for either J or L to visit this lovely area despite its close proximity to our home, an easy one and a half hour drive south. But at least we made the trip and the experience was well worth it.

One of the pleasures of traveling is the journey as we sat and spoke about what we were viewing, what we expected to see at the next bend in the road, and wondering if we could stay awake until nearly one in the morning which would be the last set for the Soul Gravity Band.

To say the least, this exploring duo were not considered night owls by many who know us. We were determined though and very proud of our efforts later in the night when we were still gyrating on the dance floor at half past midnight. We did not turn into mice and our vehicle did not get a round pumpkin shape.

Soul Gravity in full swing.

Soul Gravity has had name and member changes in the past but with most of the current band members playing together for the past three years, it looks like it’s here to stay. All of the entourage have decades of playing various music as well as instruments and on the night we watched them perform it showed how truly professional this band was.

With an unbelievable repertoire of classic and contemporary rock hits, there was never a moment when the dance floor was without some soul (play on words there) moving to the beat. People swaying, and not from the booze, to the music led to a very enjoyable and sometimes perspiring evening. 

David handled the bass guitar like an expert and with the sounds coming from stage there would be no doubt he was.
Belt it out David - belt it out!

The Gravity Girls, spouses of the band members, were front and center dancing, laughing and just enjoying themselves watching their significant others up on stage entertaining what looked like a sold out show.

Pilar - resting and smiling
 L and J sat, listened, danced, laughed and spoke with the members of the band during intermissions and then too ‘grooved’ on the dance floor. A couple of dances were rather aerobic leaving John wondering if he were having a heart attack or simply out of shape. Laureen handled it with ease and joined the Gravity Girls while I took a breather between songs.

One o’clock struck and the night was done for the more than satisfied guests as we moved from the casino to the parking lots but the band had another hour of breaking down and stowing their mass of musical equipment.

This was the time it was good, real good, to be only a guest and not the ones the guests came to see.