Just a Few Friday Fotos

 
I didn't take very many pictures this week; it's been a week of finally getting off my duff and doing a little bit around the house.

The sunrise as I walked to the park. For some reason, I turned back around and saw this amazing sunrise.
After not working for years, the Sacred Heart Fountain is not only working but a bench was added.
I've done about everything I can to keep the squirrels out of the bird food. This failure occurred after CH brought home some seed with red pepper flakes in them. It doesn't hurt the birds and it's supposed to deter the squirrels. Not this one, apparently.

That's it for this week! Stay cool and stay hydrated!



The Hodgepodge is Heatin' Up

Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1. Something you learned from your father? 
Before my father passed away we had a lot of conversations about different things. I learned a lot about him, things that I had no idea about his life. One of the things he taught me while sitting on his back porch that I carry with me every day is how to identify a cardinal's song. They have different songs, but the one that always makes me smile is when I hear one singing, "Pretty, pretty, pretty". My dad, who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket (for real...no exaggeration!), would do his best to sing like a cardinal. 
2. Do you like onions? Raw or cooked? How about onion rings? What's something you love to eat that calls for onions? 
I'm not a big fan of onion rings but I think onions add a lot of flavor to different dishes. I don't guess "Funyons" count, do they?

3. It's officially summer (in the Northern hemisphere)...your favorite and least favorite things about the season?
Most favorite: being out of school for the summer (no-brainer!)
Least favorite: the heat & humidity

4. When you think about the summers of your childhood what are two or three things that come to mind? 
Walking to and from the local swimming pool and playing outside. We didn't have air conditioning so we played out under the shade trees...a lot. And spent a lot of time at the pool.
5.  A hot mess, the heat of the moment, beat the heat, if you can't stand the heat, catch heat, in a dead heat...choose a 'hot 'phrase and tell us how it applies to your life right now.
This one has me stumped. I guess I'll go with "beat the heat" since I walk at 6:00 a.m. before the heat settles in.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
The past couple of days have actually been pretty nice, in fact, the mornings were cool...I didn't even break a sweat while walking. It's not going to last, though. The upper 90's are forecasted for the rest of the week.

 

Animal Foto Fridays

 
Another Friday already? Time to look back at my phone and see what pictures were taken this past week!

I had to really look to see the duck couple hanging out at the fountain. I've never realized how well they (especially the female) blend into the rocks.
This squirrel was desperately trying to get a snack from the suet. But...look at her tail. I felt sorry for her but didn't want her on the suet. MS said his cat got ahold of a squirrel the other day so it's possible that this was it.
My view as I walked into the park the other morning. The moon was full (or almost) and was peeking between the trees.
This last one isn't a photo but a video. Gurl Dogg trapped a squirrel on the suet in the middle of the yard the other day:






An Enchanting Hodgepodge

 
Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1. Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Elaborate.  
Not only do I wear my heart, but also my thoughts. It gets me in trouble from time to time...I'm definitely the person to play poker against if you want to win!

2. A favorite love song? 
Old-Fashioned Love Song immediately came to mind.
But if I had to pick just one, it would be If by Bread. (My freshman year in high school the marching band played this on the field.)

3. Do you consider yourself a trusting person? Explain. 
Absolutely. I'm too trusting, in fact. I could tell you stories that would make you shake your head and wonder how I'm still here without any scars! 
I've been burned so many times by people I thought were friends or at the very least had my back. After I'm burned I usually put up a wall and don't let that person back in. I may get to a place of being cordial, but that's it; my guard is up after that.

4. June 14th is National New Mexico Day...have you ever been to New Mexico (aka The Land of Enchantment)? Any desire to visit the state? Some of the top-rated tourist attractions there are- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White Sands National Park, The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, Bandelier National Monument, The Georgia O'Keefe Museum, Santa Fe Plaza, and the Petroglyph National Monument. Of the attractions listed which would be tops on your list? 
I've never been but it's on my list. I definitely want to go to Carlsbad and White Sands, but the place on the top of my list is Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe. More specifically, the staircase. The chapel was built without access to the choir loft. The nuns weren't able to find a suitable builder who could come up with a way to access the loft. They said a novena (prayers said 9 days straight) to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the last day of the novena, a man came and built the staircase. He only had simple tools and left without payment or without saying his goodbyes. The stairs spiral 20 feet to the choir loft and appear to not have any support. No nails were used in the construction, only wooden pegs, and glue. The wood is some kind of spruce but is not indigenous to New Mexico. 
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

5. What's something you've found enchanting recently? 
The woodpeckers and hummingbirds. I guess that's a sure sign I'm getting old! There's a red-bellied woodpecker that visits the suet several times each day. 
The hawks in the park also get my ear when I'm walking; especially in the evening. The other day I saw 1 being chased by 2 blue jays. The hawk had something in its claws (I couldn't tell what it was) and the blue jays weren't happy about it.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 
I have 1 more Ireland post and that series will be complete. I'm glad that I have this blog to keep my memories of amazing trips. Even though I don't "rough it" ( and will never!), I do like camping in different places. I think it gives a different perspective on the places we travel to. Instead of spending the night in a hotel and turning on the tv, I like listening to the sounds of where we're camping. Like I said, it gives you a different perspective.

The Best of Our Ireland Adventure

 

For a major re-cap of our Ireland Adventure, here's a list of my "Best of Ireland":

Best Campground

My favorite campground was Hungry Hill on the Beara Peninsula. The owners were so very nice, the showers were great (although it was a tight squeeze for CH), and I just liked the overall feel of the place.

Best Drink

Definitely the Guinness. I tried Murphy's but it didn't hold a candle to the Guinness. CH's would probably be the Bulmers Cider, but I'm more of a beer girl! I had 1 "Jamie with Ginger & Lime" (Jameson, ginger beer, and lime) but couldn't get enough of the Guinness. Especially since I learned my lesson by not trying it until the end of the last trip!

Best Food

This is a tough one because we didn't have a bad meal the whole time we were there. The beef stew at The Castle Inn really stuck out for me, so that's what I'm going with!

Best Irish Coffee

Without a doubt, the best Irish Coffee I had was at MacCarthy's Pub in Castletownbere, County Cork, on the Beara Peninsula. I told Adrienne (the owner) it was the best I've had, and she laughed and said that I probably said that every time I had one. 

Best Scenery

This is another tough one because every time we turned a corner there was something more beautiful than what we had just seen. While Ladies View was gorgeous, I'm going to have to say the scenery at Kilcatherine's Point/Church on the Beara Peninsula. It took my breath away.

Best Ruin

Out of all of the castle/abbey/tower house ruins we saw, I think Tintern Abbey was my favorite. Rock of Cashel is definitely in the running for the best, but there was just something about Tintern Abbey, with the battlemented bridge and church ruin, not to mention the walled gardens, which I'm going to have to go back and see again when it's in full bloom.

Best Surprise

The best thing that we experienced without expecting it was the Irish Red Deer on our walk from Ross Castle back to Killarney. I knew the deer were in the park but had forgotten about them until we saw them.

Best Pub

Oh, gosh, y'all! We went to a lot of pubs while we were there! If I had to pick one that I would definitely go back to, it would be the Moycarn Lodge and Marina. It's not really considered a pub, but it set the beginning of our adventure with new friends, laughter, and (of course) drinks. 

Best Story

The best story from the whole trip is meeting Maeve & James in the Killarney Pub. We walk into this packed pub, ask to sit with a young couple, and end up sitting there for hours talking, drinking, and laughing. The best part is that Maeve is a Special Education Teacher of high school-age students with Autism. I only regret that we didn't swap information so I could ask her more questions!

Best Advice on Where to Eat

This one is a no-brainer! The first piece of advice we received before we touched down on Irish soil was the best: Sullivan's in Oughterard, just west of Galway. Incredible coffee and just as amazing pastries. I would go out of my way to stop there again!

Best "Do-Over"

There are only 2 things that CH & I did that my SIL & I did in 2017. One was taking the ferry over the River Shannon between Galway and Killarney. That was a time-saver. The other thing was my favorite: Finding Husseys Pub in Killarney. In 2017, we found it by accident and had to go in because of the name. This time, CH saw it (again, by accident) and we had to go in. If you find yourself in Killarney, definitely look for it. 

Best Overall

How can I not include the Irish people in this category? Every person we spoke with was incredibly nice. (Well, there was that 1 bus driver in Dublin but I put the blame on myself for that one!) Everyone was so helpful. If we had not spoken with anyone, we wouldn't have seen half of the really cool things we saw. Before we went on our trip, we watched videos and read about what not to do when you're in Ireland. One of the things was not to talk about your heritage. I think I'm a rarity of an American because I have no Irish in me...I'm only German. Almost everyone we spoke with at any length asked us if we had Irish blood. So strike that advice about not talking about your heritage! It struck me how many people had traveled to the USA or to Australia. It was rare to speak with someone who had never been, and almost every person said they had a relative who lived in the US. If for no other reason, go to Ireland for the Irish people. Don't be shy...talk to the people in the pub. One lady at the campground in Killarney told me to stand at the bar in a pub...don't sit down at a table unless you want time to yourself. 

But the absolute best thing we did for the whole trip was hiring the campervan. Having a toilet at our disposal (ha!) was perfect for our needs. Having the freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted couldn't have been more perfect. And, on top of that, it was most certainly a money saver. We couldn't have been more pleased with Bunk Campers. If you're planning a trip to Great Britain or to Ireland and want to go at your own pace, check them out!

Foto Fridays in the Mountains

 
I did a little better with taking pictures this week:

During one of my early morning walks, I came upon the duck couple resting right next to the sidewalk. Gurl Dogg wasn't with me so they allowed me to get this close to them:
I tried not to linger because I didn't want to disturb the female's beauty sleep!

Using shovels as flag poles, Old Glory was being shown at the pavilion in the park where I walk. There are some men who work out a little later than when I walk. I'm not sure if this was placed by them or if it was other guys.

This isn't the clearest picture since there is a screen on my window. I switched to suet feeders hoping it would deter the squirrels. It does to some extent, but they have figured out how to get a little snack between bars. The red-bellied woodpecker is just beautiful. The head is so vibrant, it really gets your attention!

CH wanted to go for a ride in the mountains on Sunday but I was able to hold him off until Monday by telling him it would be less crowded on Monday. We went to my happy place: Cades Cove.

As for it being less crowded, I think it was although we ran into a "bear jam" on Loop Road. Someone saw a bear so of course, people had to stop (and probably get out of their car to get close which is the most stupid thing you can do). We sat for about an hour, which is the longest I think I've ever sat in a bear jam. As we entered Loop Road we saw this guy struttin' his stuff for the ladies:
Because of the bear jam, we ditched the original plan of taking a road that is halfway through Loop Road and took a road that cuts through to the other side. Then we took another cut-through to go to CH's favorite lunch spot. There's a stream so I took advantage of it and did something I haven't done in a long time:
We saw a lot of these little frogs hopping around the stream:
As we were leaving Loop Road we saw people stopped on the side of the road (and out of their car) to get a better look at this:

CH spoke with someone who said that there was a mama bear with her 2 babies in the field. She shooed the babies into the tree and then went after some kids who got too close. The stupidity of some people just makes me shake my head. There are reminders on the road to help them out:
The sad thing is that because of the stupidity of some people when a bear attacks that bear is caught & put down. So, thanks, stupid people. 
Another picture from an early morning walk:
The morning before I saw 5 bunnies in a different part of the park. Two of them were playing around, chasing each other & I got to see one of them actually jump over the other one, then hop over to their mama who was munching on clover nearby. 

That's my week in a nutshell. Morning walks, a drive in the mountains, and watching the birds. Sure signs that I'm getting old!

Bustin' Out All Over Hodgepodge

 
Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1. "A daughter's a daughter all her life, but a son's a son til he takes a wife." What say you? Elaborate.

Not having any DILs, I'm going purely on speculation here. I don't think that's accurate. I think your son is always your son. In fact, I think I saw and talked with my sons more when they had serious girlfriends than I do when they don't. 

2. Something you've seen recently that was 'cuter than a June bug'

My sister who is 18 months older than I sent me a video of her grandson who is just a few months old. She hasn't laid on him yet since he is in Europe, so videos have to do for now! He is just adorable and is very vocal, which is precisely what this Speech-Language Pathologist likes to hear!

3. 'You can't buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that's pretty much the same thing.' Agree or disagree? Last time you had a serving of happiness ice cream?  Dish-cone-milkshake-sundae...which one do you choose? 

Oh, how I love ice cream! When I eat it now, I can't eat a whole bowl and have to tone it down to just 1 scoop. If I didn't have any dietary restrictions, I would go for a big ol' milkshake! There was an ice cream place down the road from where we lived in SC that had the best shakes...the peanut butter & chocolate shakes were amazing!

4. What is one way/area in which you're currently 'swimming against the tide'? 

My motivation to do anything has completely left me this summer. Maybe my body just needs a break from the structure of the school year. I get up in the morning (right as the sun is coming up) and do my 30-minute walks and then go to morning mass, but other than that, I just don't feel like doing anything. 

5. Three things you're looking forward to this summer?

Summer is already here for me. I still hope that CH & I will go camping for a couple of days. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Due to my lack of motivation, I've been binging on shows. I just finished The Last Kingdom. Oh my, that Uhtred is a beautiful man! I really enjoy shows that have historical significance, so I will google the people in the show and the places for information. If you've watched it, you may be interested to know that Beocca is a saint. There is a St. Hild and I thought it was the same Hild portrayed in the show, but Hild was born about 200 years after St. Hild passed away. 



County Wicklow

 

For our last full day with the campervan, I knew where we were headed. I love the movie PS I Love You and knew that parts of it were filmed in the Wicklow Mountains. I also wanted to visit Glendalough, a monastic city that St. Kevin founded in the 6th century. I had heard it was "touristy" so in my mind I was imagining something like Gatlinburg, TN, with a lot of shops and restaurants. Boy, was I wrong!

As we left Newcastle, we saw the Newcastle Church by the side of the road. The first church was built in the 1100s. The current church was built in 1783 so it's just a little bit younger than the USA.
We stopped in Laragh to grab some sandwiches for lunch. While I was in the store, CH talked with a young lady who said she was from Glendalough and gave us advice on free parking. That ended up saving us €15, or so we thought. We ended up paying to go in one of the parking lots so CH could empty our toilet cassette. That's when we were told campervans had to pay that much to go in the lot; we thought it was only €4! Pretty steep jump in price from a car to a campervan! But, the person who told us about the price said that we could spend the night in the lot. We already found a free place so we skipped on staying there. 

Our drive to Glendalough was only about 30 minutes so we had plenty of time. We saw daffodils lined up on the side of the road:
Glendalough was the one place where we encountered tourists. While we were in the monastic city, no less than 3 tour busses came and went. This is exactly why I won't do tours: You get off the bus, walk around, are told what you see, and get right back on the bus. We were able to wander around and take our time. It was such a peaceful place.

Glendalough was founded in the 600s by St. Kevin. The setting is a glacial valley that has 2 lakes (upper and lower). 
We entered at the side of the city and completely missed the gateway. Looking at pictures of it, it looks impressive. I hate that we missed it!
St. Kevin's Cross. It is said that if you can put your arms around it and touch your fingers together, you will receive graces. I couldn't do it; CH could.

View of the Monastic City with the bell tower on the right and St. Kevin's church on the left.
The top of a cross
This grave marker has been worn by weather; you can barely make out the cross
St. Kevin's Church or "Kitchen". It was believed that the tower was a kitchen at one time; however, there is no evidence to support that claim.

A view of the valley from the Monastic City
The Round Tower, or Bell Tower. The opening on the side is the door that the monks reached using a removable ladder. The reason for the high door is not clear.
A closer look at the door. At a little more than 30 meters in height, this round tower is one of the tallest in existence.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral
The Cathedral
The Cathedral
Inside wall of the Cathedral

These 2 gravemarkers fascinated me. The building behind it is St. Kieran's Church with St. Kevin's church (with the tower) behind that.
The Priest's House was probably an oratory or shrine.
We took a very nice stroll down the path to the Upper Lake. The path was very well maintained; it was quite a nice walk!
The path to the Upper Lake: Well shaded and well maintained!
The Upper Lake was absolutely gorgeous!
We opted to walk back to the lower car park using the road. In hindsight, we probably should have taken the other path, but we enjoyed the views just the same.
Classic Irish landscape: Sheep grazing next to a Bell Tower dating back to the 11th Century.

The Irish are very serious about protecting their sheep!
It's believed that the stone crosses were used to guide pilgrims to Glendalough.
Even though Glendalough was a touristy place, we only encountered the bus tours and they didn't get in our way too much! There were a couple of school groups at the Upper Lake Area, but they were busy with what looked like team-building activities so we weren't crowded at all. 

We drove out of Glendalough and into Wicklow Gap to find a place to park for the night. It was early; only around mid-afternoon so I suggested we find someplace and take it easy for the rest of the afternoon. We found a couple of places on the side of the road, but my fear was that someone would drive around a curve in the dark and run right into us. We found a 24-hour car park but before committing to that, we drove down the road just a bit and ended up finding the lake that was used during the fishing scene in PS I Love You.
So I can scratch that one off my list! We didn't find anything better than the car park so we drove back. There is a hill (Turlough Hill, to be exact) behind the parking lot so I took advantage and climbed most of it.
That's the campervan in the picture...I was pretty high up there!
The views were incredible!
I've said this in other posts, but we were there probably 2 weeks early. I definitely want to go back in the summer or early fall to see the heather in bloom. I can't imagine how gorgeous Wicklow Gap is all dressed in purple!
We were treated to a spectacular sunset
When we first got to the parking lot there were some guys taking pictures of a really sleek, pretty car. We talked with them for a bit and found out that they were doing some promo pictures for the Polestar all-electric car. This is one of the pictures that was taken while we were there:
Polestar's Instagram Post
The drivers and the photographer were exceptionally nice. We talked a little about England (they were British) and we mentioned how much we enjoyed British tv shows. Then they were on their way to film the cars in action.

That night ended up being the worst night's sleep I had the whole time I was in Ireland. There was a couple with a van who started out the evening at the top of the parking lot but they moved closer to us at some point. That in itself is no big deal, in fact, it would have made me feel a bit safer knowing there was someone closer to us. I didn't know they moved and it must have woken me up; then I heard voices. That was the only place I didn't feel 100% safe, even though it really was.

The next day was "return the van" day...a sad day indeed. We also had to go to the airport for our COVID test so we didn't really have much time for anything else. As it turned out, we were both pretty wiped out by the time we got to the hotel so we just chilled. We had quite the adventure with quite the stories to tell.
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