Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Upper Lake At Glendalough

While TigerBlog is definitely a beach and ocean guy, the most beautiful body of water he's ever seen in his life is the Upper Lake at Glendalough.

It's about 90 minutes outside of Dublin, and it is everything you might imagine Irish beauty to be.

Even now, eight years and a few days after he was there, TigerBlog can still see it when he closes his eyes. And feel it, hear it and smell it, for that matter.

TigerBlog was in Ireland near the tail end of his trip to Spain and Ireland with the men's lacrosse team in 2008. It was June 11, 2008, to be exact, which makes it eight years and three days.

The trip was split between a seaside resort in Spain and Dublin, the Irish capital. They were vastly different places, of course, but TigerBlog liked both a lot.

There were two lacrosse games in Spain, against the English national team, and then another in Ireland, against the English U-19 team. The two games against the full English team were very competitive, even though Princeton won both; the one against the U-19 team was not close at all.

The game in Ireland was played on a field lined for rugby, not lacrosse, by the way.

So here's what TB remembers about heading from Dublin to Glendalough:

* the day started early, on the tour bus, winding through rush hour traffic in Dublin and then up the side of a mountain. TigerBlog was mega-car sick by the time the bus got to the drop-off point

* the lake was actually a reasonable walk from where the bus parked. It went through the ruins of a seventh-century monastery and then along this long path, where there were about a kajillion little  bugs called "midges," who seem to be the annoying little cousin of the mosquito

* it was really hot, and there was no breeze. In a word? It was miserable

* at one point, TB could start to hear the water and the wind and sensed something was up

Eventually, the group came across a clearing, and it was like walking instantly into a different part of the world. TigerBlog wrote this about it at the time:
The Upper Lake of Glendalough sits in a valley between two mountains, the Lugduff Spink to the south and the Camaderry to the north. The water stretched about a mile into the distance, and the slopes of both mountains were covered in a hundred different shades of green. It was a cloudy morning, and a strong breeze was blowing off the lake. It was a rejuvenating place, as the first glimpse of it washed away all of the fatigue and dizziness.
Aside from that, there is no way to adequately describe the sheer beauty that was in every direction.

That's about the best say he can describe it. The Upper Lake at Glendalough is rejuvenating.

TigerBlog remembers standing on the shoreline, looking out as the strong breeze blew the water over his face. He looked up at the mountains, and they seemed to be right on top of him and off in the distance at the same time.

It was one of those moments in life where you just stop and take in the beauty of it, because you're just awed by it. There's nothing really needed to say.

TigerBlog went four years later - four years ago - to Costa Rica with the men's lacrosse team. As part of that trip, there were stops at two coastal resorts, and the views there were spectacular. So were some of the views in Hawaii, the Caribbean, Florida - even TigerBlog's beloved Jersey Shore.

No place, though, that TB has ever gone to ever had that kind of magical moment to it.

He's looked at the wide-angle picture of the Upper Lake at Glendalough that he took when he was there hundreds of times in the last eight years (and three days). Each time it takes him right back to the overwhelming feeling of the water in his face.

TB has been lucky. Princeton Athletics has taken him all over the country and throughout the world.

He's seen Princeton play games in eight different time zones, including regular-season games in six - the four on the continental U.S., whatever the one in Hawaii is called, and whatever the one in Halifax is called.

He was in Halifax for men's basketball against Ohio University the day after Thanksgiving one year. He was in Hawaii for the Rainbow Classic one year between Christmas and New Year's.

Princeton Athletics is about winning, yes. It's a competitive world, college athletics. If you're not in it to be successful in your results, then you're in the wrong business.

There is more to it than that, though. There's also the experience.

Yes, TigerBlog has had more than the four years that the athletes get to have a great experience, but still, his travels have been because of the travels of coaches and athletes. He'd like to think everyone who was there with him at the Upper Lake that day remembers it like he does.

Most of the places that TB has been to with Princeton were places that he'd never have had a reason to go to otherwise. Most recently, there was Lafayette, La. You know how he feels about that place now. 

He'd like to see other parts of the world that he hasn't yet. Maybe Princeton will take him to some.

Still, he'd also like to go back to the Upper Lake at Glendalough one day. He'd like to stand there on the shore again and experience that all over again.

Rejuvenating. Surrounded by intense natural beauty. There are worse things, right?

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