A Picturesque Hodgepodge

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

1. It's a big week in the US of A as we celebrate Independence Day. Do you have any special plans? How will you mark the day? BBQ? pool-lake-beach time? fireworks? homemade ice cream? If you're not an American you can tell us what's happening in your corner of the world on Thursday. 

I've got nothing planned at all. When the boys were small, we made sure they got their fireworks somewhere. That kind of fizzled out after we spent the holiday in DC. Once you see fireworks on the National Mall, you're ruined.

2. What's your favorite 'All-American' dessert? 

Ice Cream Sundae.

3. Does that patriotic feeling come easily to you, or are you having to work for it more these days? What's something that makes you proud to be a citizen of your country?  

It used to come really easy, but with everything that's going on, I'm feeling a little hopeless. Traveling the country and seeing how beautiful it is makes me proud to be an American. 

I felt pretty patriotic last year as we left Yellowstone and entered Grand Tetons National Park. I looked up and saw this:

4. Your favorite 'patriotic' movie? Favorite patriotic song? 

Independence Day is the first one that popped into my head. I'm sure I'll be slapping my forehead when I read everyone's answer to this question!  
America the Beautiful gets my eyes watering and my skin tingling. Especially this version (which I've played many times):
Carmen Dragon is the arranger. 1 of my brothers said Carmen is the father of "the Captain" of Captain & Tenille.

5. One simple pleasure on your July 'bucket list'? 

Visiting Holland, Michigan for the day. I know the tulips will be gone, but I've wanted to visit for a long time. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Last year on the 4th, CH & I embarked on what was to be our last adventure. I'm feeling a little melancholy; I really thought we'd have more adventures with Maeve Anne, but what memories CH gave me! I tried to get him to come home after we got to my sister's house in Missouri, but he insisted that we continue. I think he knew that would be our last trip together.
I think we took more selfies and had other people take our pictures on this trip than any other. And I'm so glad we did.
Cody, Wyoming
Devil's Tower, Wyoming
Yellowstone, Wyoming
Little Grand Canyon, Utah
Arches National Park, Utah
Montrose, Colorado
Turquoise Lake, Colorado

2024 Ireland Adventure-Great Southern Tour Part 1

We started the day with a full Irish breakfast, buffet style. Seriously, y'all...if you aren't a breakfast eater, make sure you're one when you're in Ireland! In my previous 2 visits, I didn't try Blood Pudding but after one of my sisters tried it, I decided to try it as well. I really missed out the previous visits by not trying it! It sounds gross, but it's very good. It looks somewhat like a sausage patty, but don't expect it to taste like sausage. The taste is a little hard to describe; just go for it! My breakfasts typically consisted of porridge, fruit, and yogurt. One of my sisters went crazy for the breakfast sausages. If you're going to skip a meal, breakfast is definitely not the one to miss.

We gathered around the Vagabond group in the lobby of the hotel and were very quickly pleasantly surprised when we were told there were only 6 in our group: the 4 of us and 2 ladies who were solo-traveling. One was from Australia and the other lives in North Carolina (but she was born in England). We also had a "bonus" guide: Angela hung out with us since she had never been a guide for this section of Ireland. Denise was our "Vagaguide" and she was just awesome. So, we had an all-women small group, which meant we could ask for potty-breaks at any time. 

Rock of Cashel

Our first stop was the Rock of Cashel. On the way, Denise talked about the history of what we were about to see. This wasn't my first visit here. The last time I didn't know about St. Patrick's Cross. Even though I knew about it this time and actively sought it out, I think it was behind locked doors. Where I think it should have been (the Vicar's Hall) only had 2 rooms open. We did see the replica; however, the site The Standing Stone indicates that the real one is definitely inaccessible.
View of the Rock of Cashel as we approached it.
The group (minus two: one was taking the picture and the other was in the bathroom)
St. Patrick's Cross Replica
Our first sheep sighting
The Rock of Cashel, built as the seat of the kings of Munster, is said to have been visited by St. Patrick when he converted one of the kings. Brian Boru was crowned as High King here. The only remaining Romanesque frescos in Ireland are housed here. We were able to see one of them; however, the others were in a locked part. I was a little disappointed my sisters didn't get to see them. 

Blarney Castle

I said I'd never do it. No way would I ever kiss that nasty stone when I know what teenagers do to it at night. Except when I got up there and realized that it is cleaned after each visitor, I thought, what the heck. I laid on my back, leaned waaaay back and still didn't reach it. So I gave up. I kissed my hand and touched the stone, and that was that. 
Here's a picture from the bottom of the castle that tells you where the stone is:
This is how far up it is
There were a TON of steps to go up, and then down. Blarney Castle is a Tower House that was built between the 15th & 17th centuries. We did the obligatory Blarney Stone and then walked around the gardens. The first point of interest was the Poison Garden.
Even though we were a little early for a lot of the flowers to be in full bloom, the grounds were still very pretty.


Kinsale is a charming fishing town in County Cork. As you walk up the hill, you're treated to very narrow streets and colorful buildings. We didn't have very much time here, just long enough to walk around, find something to eat, and slip into a pub (or 2).
View from the hotel room
One of the streets in Kinsale
The Grey Hound is one of the oldest pubs in Ireland. 1690 is the year of its license with the building being older than that. 
Chris the barman lit a fire to help us take off the chill
We ate dinner at Fishy Fishy. The service was excellent, although the hostess looked down her nose at us when we told her we didn't have a reservation. We didn't have to wait for a table so I'm not sure what the problem was.
Kinsale is definitely someplace I'd like to go back to and explore. There are a couple of forts there that I'd love to visit, as well as a museum and a mead company. 

If I keep going, this post is going to be rather lengthy, so I'll just stop here. Can you believe this was just Day 1? It was a long day with a lot of information and beautiful sights. 

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