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Adventures in the Motherland(s): Isle of Man, Days 4 & 5

Thursday of our trip, it rained. All. Day. Well, almost all day. It was the sort of rain that was soothing to listen to, and encourages you to sleep in and then take another nap after breakfast because it's steady enough that you know you're not going anywhere but to the couch to read your book. It's usually a bit of a bummer to have a vacation day taken out by rain, but I think we were all ok with the short break. Plus, the "conservatory" of our house (sun room) was a great place to listen to the rain and relax. Also with us was our friend Manannan.

Once the rain finally let up, we decided to take a quick drive to nearby Laxey Beach. It was coooooold, but we were all amused by the perfectly rounded, tumbled rocks, and trying to find the coolest among them to shove into our pockets. I'm fairly certain we all came home with about 5 extra pounds of rocks. For our rock collections. Of course. Actually, we have a terrarium that I can't get anything to grow in, so that's where our rocks now live. 

Ahoy from Laxey beach.

Once Friday came, it was down to business again, since we'd lost a day to rain and still had vacation plans to accomplish. We went to Peel Castle, which was mostly ruins, but really cool to check out. There was an audio tour which I only somewhat paid attention to. It was narrated by what sounded like Sean Connery and had many sound effects of oceans, seagulls, and battle in the background. Here's where I give the excuse that I'm not a good auditory learner, so I spent a lot of time taking pictures. 

Ruins of Peel Castle.

Scott does his best modern day impression of a medieval monk.

Audio guide = one too many electronic items to handle

Unimpressed! Not really.

Mr. Seagull Sentry.

As promised, here's me acting as a solider on the battlement. It was fairly comfy, actually, with nice views. I was using the audio guide as a firearm, naturally. 

File this under things I probably shouldn't post on the internet.

From Peel Castle, we wandered to the House of Manannan. It sounded like it should have been cooler than it was—I think we were all hoping for more insight into Manx fairytales and folklore, but...it was mostly mannequins dressed up to look like they were occupants of various points in Manx history, with audio recordings to back them up. In other words—meh. There was a fake boat control room, and I had to laugh because immediately Scott gravitated toward the one video-game-like exhibit.

Scottie: I'm giving her all she's got, captain! (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

We finally had another really clear weather day on our hands, so we rushed back to Laxey to catch the last train of the day to Snaefel, which is the highest point on the island with amazing views. The electric train cars run several times every day—amazing given the fact that they were built in 1835. And felt every bit that old and rickety.

Lots of hand-painted signs all over the island.

Take the last train to Laxey and I'll meet you at the station.

I read somewhere that the Isle of Man electric trains had a hand in inspiring Thomas the Tank Engine and company. Sadly, Ringo Starr was not our conductor. 

Not bad for being 179 YEARS OLD.

Believe it or not, I was not purposely making this face for the photo. Scott's stepdad, Chuck, was behind me taking a picture that was perilously close to the back of my head, except I wasn't totally sure what he was doing (picking a hornet out of my hair?) I guess it's good to know this is my "What the crap?" face. I can't not laugh at myself. 

As the train started to move up the mountain, the views were incredible. A few times, we had to stop for sheep in the tracks! Move along, little lambie. Scott was not happy about being on this ancient train. In fact, I'm pretty sure he mostly hated the train portion of it. You could see the wordwork of the train frame moving along with the jumps and starts of the train tracks. Apparently, that's all part of the "engineering." 

For riding a train that's nearly 180 years old, we reached the top of Snaefel very quickly. We had about ten minutes to take in the views before the train was heading back down the mountain. 

On top of Snaefel, looking toward England and Scotland. Those crazy people on the right are hang gliders.

I may have mentioned this before, but on clear days (and at night) you can see England, Scotland and Ireland from the Isle of Man, depending on which side you're on (or if you're on Snaefel, you can see it all).

Looking toward Ireland.

The views were amazing and it was cold and crazy windy at the top of the mountain. You could pretty much see the entire island from here. This is probably where I would have put my castle. Who needs easy access to goods from the port? Put me where the views are! Of course, there's no castle here now. Just a cell phone tower and a bar for people who are unnerved by riding the ancient train up the mountain.

Mama Quayle and baby Quayle at home on the Isle of Man.

As evidenced by the twenty gajillion photos in this post, we made up for on the sunny day what we missed out on during the rainy day. Later that night, we went outside to check out the stars. The Isle of Man is supposed to have some really great night sky viewing since it's remote. We ended up laying, literally, in the middle of the road to see the stars (like I said, remote). It took a while for our eyes to adjust, and there were some clouds and light from nearby Ramsey, but we could see a fair bit. The more we stayed out there, the more we saw. Yes, we even saw a shooting star (or meteor, depending on how technical you want to be. Is Neil DeGrasse Tyson reading this? I'd better get it right just in case). 

If you missed part of our vacation recap and want to catch up:

Isle of Man Day 3

Isle of Man Day 2

Isle of Man Day 1

Dublin Day 2

Dublin Day 1

Visual Vocabulary: Bivouac

"Old Chap Bivouacs, Enjoys Immensely"

OK, so I have to admit my illustration for this word didn't strictly stick to the definition. At all. According to some dictionaries, to bivouac specifically means to camp without cover. And in most cases, it is tied specifically to an army that is camping. My old chap here with his oriental rug, newspaper, wingback chair, ottoman, firepit, Hoover AND convenient tarp roofing may be a little more glamping than bivouacking.

Visual Vocabulary: bivouac illustration, Julie Rado Design

But a word as fancy as bivouac seems to require all of the finest comforts in life, wouldn't you agree? And don't ask me why he has a vacuum. It just seemed appropriate. Maybe he has OCD and the only way he can go camping is if his oriental rug stays clean. I bet they vacuum daily in expensive glamping sites. 

Tomorrow I'm going to post about the process I use for visual vocabularies, so check back if you're interested in how I work on these illustrations from start to finish. 

Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here.

Visual Vocabulary: Timorous

Timorous is is a fairly obvious word, even without contextual clues... but still, I couldn't resist using one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies ever (if you have to ask—it's a Muppet Christmas Carol. If you've known me long enough, I'm sure I've quoted it in your presence before.) Also, a mouse grasping a wedge of cheese is obviously a mouse after my own heart.

Visual Vocabulary: timorous illustration, Julie Rado Design

On an only somewhat related note, when my sister and I were kids, we had two pet mice. Don't ask me why our parents ever agreed to allow this; I can only imagine that our constant asking for another pet in addition to Wiggles the rabbit must have worn them down. A big part of the reason that we decided to get mice was that they were priced to sell at only $1.50 each (because they were feeder mice), which was exactly one and a half weeks worth of allowance. One of the mice was named Mousers (memorialized in internet eternity here) which is the point of this long tangent. We did enjoy having the mice, but I'm sure my parents regretted them almost immediately after we brought them home. Among the incidents with the mice, we had the time they escaped and wandered the house pooping on everything and eventually wound up in the washing machine (luckily my mom discovered this before dumping the dirty clothes in); there was the time one of them bit my little brother on Christmas Eve and he and the mouse had to go in to the ER (the mouse went "in case we have to do an autopsy on him to see if he has any diseases like rabies"); and then there was the time when my sister went to check on the mice babies (oh yes, we managed to get a boy and a girl and they hit it off, I guess) and she discovered several headless baby mice and a momma mouse that was fat and sassy and licking her chops. Long story short, I wouldn't recommend mice for pets. They are not timorous creatures, despite their reputation. 

Light the lamp not the rat, light the lamp not the rat!

Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here.