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Weekends: Time to travel...


Patrick Andrews

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The weekends for me are the times I travel. I can do this because I either have the full days off or I work in the mornings and leave around 11 am after finishing my morning assignments. 

On Saturday, August 27th I headed to Dublin after completing the morning assignments. I got on a Dublin Coach bus for the three-hour bus ride north. to meet up with Jon Kiger, who had scored tickets for the Nebraska vs. Northwestern college football game in the Aviva Stadium. The Aviva normally hosts soccer and rugby so this game was quite a departure in field set up, fans attending, and seating layout.  

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The Nebraska vs Northwestern American football game at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The game was an amazing experience since I got to watch live American football in Ireland. The game also stood out due to an operational problem. The cashless payment systems went out throughout the stadium for all of the first half of the game. Instead of closing the concessions, the Aviva gave everyone their food and drinks for free.  The reports of that aspect were widespread and all my Irish friends could say was, “why couldn’t that have happened at a rugby match?!!”

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A technical glitch in the concessions payment system led to "everything free" for the first half of the game. Too bad!

I recently spent another weekend off cycling to the perimeter of County Limerick to Ballyhoura, which has one of the best and longest mountain biking trails in Ireland. I biked with a few of the lads from work since we all had the same day off. 

We went on two trails: the Green/Greenwood Loop and the Brown/Mountrussell Loop. Green/Greenwood (4 miles, 45 mins, moderate rating) is an excellent introduction to mountain biking because of its flat terrain. It does have some trees and sharp turns to practice on before you get to the more complex loops of the other trails. The Brown/Mountrussell Loop (10.5 miles, 2 hours, difficult rating) has more technical features that include biking uphill, steep descents downhill, sharp corners, and a few narrow boardwalks you have to bike across. 

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Paddy, myself, Donnelly, Tom, and Kevin, who set up the whole biking trip.

The trails we rode on are maintained by Coillte, a commercial forestry, renewable energy and land solutions company that is owned by the government of Ireland. Coillte is also Ireland's largest provider of outdoor recreation. When harvesting trees, the company builds trails for bikers and hikers to enjoy the land. Around the tracks, they plant the next rotation of trees. Ballyhoura is one of Coillte’s forestry locations and it was a great place to spend the day away from the course. 

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A map of the trails at Ballyhoura. Below, the next generation of Ireland's timber resource, replanted by Coillte after harvest.

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Watching Northwestern beat Nebraska and going mountain biking with the lads was a memorable experience for me during my weekends. But now it is starting to sink in: I only have two weekends left to enjoy Ireland before I begin my next adventure.

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As always, must include a picture of the 16 green at Adare Manor.

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