Loop Head Peninsula. County Clare

We awoke to yet another beautiful morning and devoured the Irish breakfast served at Sea Crest Farmhouse. With a happy tummy, we started our day and headed south on N67. As we crossed the stone arched bridge into the village of Doonbeg, we decided to stretch our legs and explore the area. A dog and his master out for a morning stroll, the swans swimming in the river… It was quite tranquil.

Loop Head

Loop Head peninsula has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Shannon Estuary on the other, with barely a mile of land saving it from island status. In 2013, Loop Head was named the “Best Place to Holiday in Ireland” by The Irish Times – Wikipedia

Traveling the Loop Head peninsula was breathtaking, and we stopped numerous times to take in the scenery and the fresh Irish air. Walking on the grass in this area was like walking on a cloud; another sign that Ireland is a little slice of heaven.

The geology of this area was impressive. Take notice in the images as to how the layers of land appear almost chaotic and slope in at different angles, sometimes jetting towards the sky.

Over a period of 7.5 million years (318.5 – 311 million years ago) a huge river system carried sand and clay out to sea where it was deposited in a succession of vast sheets to form a large submarine fan delta just off the coast of the continent. Due to pressure and heat caused by subsequent layers of sand and mud, the sediments turned into hard rock which was later pushed up above present-day sea level by many movements of the earth’s plates. For most of the following 300 million years, Ireland was above sea level and subjected to weathering which stripped away a lot of its rock mantle, including most of the coal deposits formed in the Carboniferous period. ~www.loophead.ie 

Bishop’s Island

This unique sea stack was separated from the mainland over the last thousand years. What makes this site unique is that there are the remains of a church, a clochaun (beehive hut) and the ruins of 3-4 other buildings on the piece of land. This monastic settlement is possible connected to St. Senan or his followers who founded a prominent monastery at Scattery on the opposite side of Loop Head in the 6th century. ~wildatlanticway.omeka.net

Kilkee Cliff Walk

Kilkee Cliff Walk is a 2.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Kilkee, County Clare, Ireland that features beautiful wildflowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips.  ~ www.alltrails.com

Bridges of Ross

The Bridges of Ross were a trio of spectacular natural sea arches – at least until two of them fell into the sea. Today, even though only one ‘bridge’ remains, the name persists in the plural. The Bridge of Ross lies on the western side of the natural harbor that is Ross Bay, looking north to the Atlantic Ocean, near the village of Kilbaha. It can’t be seen from the road, but it’s not difficult to find. Head due west (left) from the Bridges of Ross car park and walk for a few hundred meters along the footpath. (Be careful to keep close to the fence, as there have been recent landfalls over the water.) The area is regarded as one of the best sea-watching sites in Europe. In late summer and autumn, it becomes a birder’s paradise as thousands of rare seabirds pass close to shore on their southbound migration – www.loophead.ie

Thanks for joining Dan and I as we traveled this beautiful area of Ireland! I hope this finds you all well; sending peace and love to everyone.

Click HERE to see Dan’s blog post of this area. See you at our next stop.

 

I See Fields of Green

Recognizing that our country is losing its natural landscapes, Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes founded an organization in 1982 to protect and preserve North America’s native plants and natural landscapes.  The organization opened a new facility southwest of Austin TX in 1994, now named Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center after the former First Lady. The wildflower center is devoted to help preserve and restore the beauty of North America.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center-8204

The Center’s many gardens display the native plants of the Central Texas Hill Country, South, and West Texas, while the Plant Conservation Program protects by conserving its rare and endangered flora. One out of every five plant species in the world is threatened by development, invasive species, climate change or other factors. The centers core principles are in set place for plant conservation by developing botanical expertise, partnering with the public and private landowners, educating and training Texas Master Naturalists, Seed collecting and banking, identification and control of invasive plant species, and conservation research on rare and endangered plant species.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center-8084

Not only was this one of my favorite albums to post process, I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at the center as we walked along the paths that highlighted the beauty this land has to offer. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers a little bit of something to everyone.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope”
~Lady Bird Johnson

Southwestern MN

Charles Bennett and Daniel Sweet founded Pipestone, MN in 1876.  By 1890, Pipestone had train service on four different rail lines and had become a travel and business center hub for southwestern Minnesota.  A lot of the buildings within the city are constructed with local Sioux quartzite. The county courthouse, built in 1899, is made from this stone and is considered the most stylized of the quartzite buildings located in the city. It is rectangular in shape with a 110-ft clock tower topped with a dome and a statue of Lady Justice.

Pipestone county courthouseHistoric American Buildings Survey, HABS MINN,59-PISTO,1-E-1

Another building constructed with the Sioux quartzite stone is Moore Block which was built in 1896.  This 25 foot by 85 foot building was built by Leon H. Moore, a local businessman who owned and operated a Sioux quartzite quarry. One of the more distinctive features of this building are the gargoyles that embellish the north and west facades.
Pipestone MN-5931Within the grounds of the Hiawatha Pageant, the”Song of the Hiawatha” was performed for the last time in 2008 due to the lack of volunteers, funding, and attendance. For 60 years, busloads of tourists were brought to this small town in Southwest MN.

Hiawatha Pageant grounds-5737

After exploring Pipestone, we decided to make our way to Blue mounds State Park. It was a gorgeous, although hot day when we decided to venture out on the hiking trails.  Usually, before visiting a park, we do our research and know the terrain so we are prepared for what comes our way.  This day, we were not prepared and unknown to us, we were about to embark on a 13 mile hike.  Not a problem, but when you are not dressed or prepared for the occasion, it can become difficult.  I remember falling many times due to the slippery shoes I had on my feet, at one point in time- right in a small stream.  Saving my camera came first so my body took the brunt of the fall.  I appreciate Dan not laughing at the time as I’m not sure I could have contained my laughter.  We eventually came up to the visitor’s center where I washed up and we both grabbed some water to quench our thirst. I would like to revisit that state park and come prepared.  Blue Mound State Park has a lot to offer such as one of the last remnants of preserved native prairie, the Sioux quartzite cliffs, wildflowers and cactus, Buffalo, and bird watching.

Blue Mound Pano-5997

Traveling in the Southwestern portion of the state gave way to many interesting finds, as our travels always do.  According to Wikipedia, “this region is a transition zone between the prairies and the Great Plains”.  From hiking trails found in Blue Mounds State Park and appreciating the landscape, to exploring southwestern cities such as Luverne, Marshall, and Pipestone to absorb the history and architecture, we stumbled upon many surprises along the way that of course we had to capture.

“Come, follow me” said the goat.

Seeing, to me, is sometimes simply viewing life through my camera’s viewfinder.

If Dan and I have a few hours to spare, we will pack up the car and spend a fun filled day driving the backroads of the beautiful bluff country in Southeastern , MN.  From a run in with an abandoned farmstead, or stumbling upon a collection on an ever spinning reel.  Maybe it is seeing the magic of the sun as the light shines through the branches of the swaying trees in the woods of this area, or a surprise run in with the friendliest goat you have ever seen.  No matter what, we can drive the backroads of Minnesota and Wisconsin daily and always see something new.

Along one of these roads we saw the sun hit a horse’s mane as it was standing in the pasture, so we stopped and got out of the car to photograph the sight.  To our surprise, a goat walked right under the fence and gave us a friendly look as if to whisper “Come follow me”.  He was a character alright and was very interested in what we may of had to offer him.   Yep, this day was another photography outing to go down in the record books.