Friday, June 28, 2013

The End of the Odyssey; From Wales, to Kerry, to Portugal, to Pistol River to Home.

SOOOOOO stoked to have made the front cover of the Summer edition of Outsider Magazine, yewww!!

Sigh. Well there you have it friends. The end is nigh. 52 weeks of having the absolute time of my life!! Taking happiness to a whole new level. Starting in Tenerife- Ireland- Mexico- Peru- Ireland- Morocco- Ireland- Hood River Oregon- Maui- Barbados- Ireland- Cape Town- Ireland- Peru- Maui- Ireland- Wales- Portugal- Pistol River Oregon- HOME!! I don't even know where to start thanking my one in a billion family; my Parents and Lisa and Peter McAnena and of course my phenomenal friend Sam have all made this Odyssey possible. The kindness and experiences I've shared with people this year are unquantifiable. THANK YOU to EVERYONE I laughed with, cried with, partied with and most importantly shared the water with. I am the luckiest person alive to have known this level of happiness, all thanks to the people I have met.
Home time for good at last.
Home Sweet Home..... wet, windy walk on the Prom in Galway :-)

I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty overwhelmed by the realisation that my year-long, world wide adventure has finally come to an end. It's bitter sweet in so many ways. On the flight on the way home from my last AWT event there the guy sat beside me struck up a conversation and opened with the usual plane chat "so what do you do?"........ My mouth opened but I literally could not even begin to articulate the 12 months I have just had nor could I try to summise what it is "I do" exactly. Trust me, for a girl of many, many words and whose motto in life is "don't fear the chat", I was pretty surprised by my inability to explain to a stranger who I am and what I have done this year. Up to this point I've always been able to say, "oh I'm on a gap year from work at home in Ireland and I'm travelling for 12 months around the world"....... keeping it simple and avoiding the Pandora's Box of details.
But now I don't want to summarise my year like that anymore. I've decided to just smile and say,"I've been on an adventure", and leave it at that. There have been so many times recently when I will recap on a single day's experiences and think, holy crap, what I have seen and done and who I've met today would be enough entertainment for anyone for a year....... so in so many ways what I have seen and done and who I've met this year is enough entertainment to last me a lifetime.
And it will be with me for the rest of my life, no matter how long or short that may be. I am, without a doubt, the luckiest person alive and as I've said, the people who have made this year possible, supported me and shared it with me (particularly my family), I have to THANK, from the bottom of my heart. You are all too many to name, but as I've said, to anyone I met this year and shared my experiences with, THANK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!!
Ok, enough words..... here are a few photos from the last few weeks since my last blog in May;

Sooooo firstly I did this backflip off the top of blackrock to help promote the Galway Sea Festival in June which was in the Irish Examiner:
Me doing a backflip off blackrock
Just click on this link below to watch the video:
And then from there my sista from anotha mista Miss AWT Queen Sam Bittner came to visit me in Ireland! Woooohooo! We had such a riot together travelling all around my home and then joining the awesome BWA crew for their events in Wales and Kerry,

Sam and I at my favourite Galway pub, Ti Neachtain's

Sam and I on the ferry to the Aran Islands

 BWA Wales Hawaiian party with Sam And Muzza and I :-)
A MASSIVE thanks to Nigel Treacy and Jordan for putting Sam and I up for the night

Sam and Mr. PWA head bossman (and serious legend) Duncan Coombs

So there was no wind at all in Wales.....Lake Rhosneigr..... so Bittner brought over the ingenious idea of the 'board toss" from the States..... ooooof it got well competitive..... Alfie took the men's and Sam took the ladies'...... biggest Tosser awards!! hehehehehe 

Sam 1st Board Tosser, Katie 2nd Board Tosser, yewwww!!

 Gangnam stylin' in a Hawaii meets Korea meets Wales cultural mash up ;-)

Then to Ireland to the Kerry BWA event.... the crew outside Spillane's
 The Ladie's fleet :-)

And then from no wind in Wales we had fairly marginal sailing conditions in Ireland.... which was really disappointing.... but a huge congrats to Lucy Robson for winning, The EPICNESS that is Justyna Sniady for taking 2nd, my beautiful Hot Sails team mate Debbie Kennedy for taking 3rd.... Heroes!!

An absolute MUST is to check out Alfie's podcast from the event featuring the hilarious Ben Proffitt and Bittner and I doing the first female rigging challenge..... who will win? (me obviously, hahahaha!) Check it out here;

And from there I popped off to Portugal for a few cheeky days of surfing and SUPping... no piccies sadly but had an absolute blast with my sis Lisa and our bestie Marese and all the other legends who we met at our hostel. A super quick note on the hostel actually; IT IS AWESOME!! And I cannot recommend it highly enough if you're looking for a surf camp in portugal... check out their website and book it soon..... best kept secret!

Classic Rent-a-car overloaded with boards photos.... we also squeezed 5 girls in there too... hhehe

And then I ventured off for my last event of the year, coming full circle and ending up where I left off.... at the AWT with my AWT family who I LOVE!!
I got to spend the week with Sam and her mum (Momma Sandy hero!) and all my AWT girlies and amigos. We were based out of The Beachcomber Lodge at Gold Beach Oregon and a HUGE thank you to Ted and Evan and all at the beachcomber for their insane generosity over the week. You guys are the best!
The conditions weren't all time.... in fact they were fairly abysmal which was really disheartening because for the last 4 years the spot has fired. But as usual, Bittner was on hand to provide constant entertainment for all 70 competitors with lots of SUP contests and a few too many games of beer pong..... ;-)

Pistol River Wave Bash 2013

Country themed closing party with the gals

I came 2nd in the SUP surf contest..... narrowly losing out to the now unstoppable force that is Fiona Wylde..... she is fast becoming THE water woman in the states, dominating SUP surf, SUP racing, Wavesailing and Slalom.... all at the tender age of just 16 and all with a beautiful attitude :-)

I also judged for some of the heats..... bribes were naturally welcomed.... ;-)

After a fairly big closing party night I completed my first SUP race..... and I LOVED it! Thanks to Ted who loaned me a 14' Naish board I completed the 16km race in pretty decent time, coming 2nd in the womens and 7th overall..... think I might have found my new sport!

I made it to the women's final but just didn't quite make the podium..... ah well! Congrats to the amazing Ingrid (1st), Fiona (2nd), Miho (3rd)!!

And there ya have it! After a quick stop to see the Californian Red Woods with Russ, Kate, Si, Mike and Sam it was time to head home and start to face the anticlimax of the end of my 12 month-long adventure.....

RedWood Cali cruisin'
I think I'll be reflecting on this one for quite a while to come..... and maybe planning my next cheeky trip!!!
But for now it's time to enjoy my beautiful home, friends and Irish waves.....oh and the small matter of doing a little bit of work I suppose too ;-)