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.

 

Austin TX

Dan and I traveled to Austin, Texas earlier this year to visit family and see the sites.  I have not been there for years and the beauty of this city has not changed.  The city is located near the Balcones Fault, as a result, much of the eastern portion of the city is flat with soil heavy in clay, whereas the western suburbs consist of rolling hills and is located right on the edge of Texas hill country… Beautiful I tell you!

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Image by Dan Traun

Because the hills are primarily limestone rock with a thin layer of topsoil, parts of the city are frequently subjected to flash floods from runoff caused by thunderstorms. We traveled to the Lone Star State in May which was unfortunately one of the rainiest months on record. Actually, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, 35 trillion Gallons of rain fell on the state in the month of May; enough to cover the whole state up to nearly 8 inches deep.  Whoa!

It was a wet trip, however, that did not stop us from venturing out when we could. Hiking, eating, laughing, and spending time with family; what a grand time and it came with a few firsts… First time consuming brisket cooked to perfection, first time actually liking a good margarita with Sotol (way better tasting than Tequila, in my opinion) and the best margarita mix ever (Jalapeño- lime, produced by Republic Spirit Blends); both of which you cannot find in Minnesota.

The following images were taken on a hike in these rolling Texas hills.

Thank you, Dean, Vickie, Brian, Megan, Adam, and Renae for your wonderful hospitality!

Continuous Creation on the High Falls of Pigeon River

This particular morning Dan and I headed on our way to the very top of Minnesota with plans to stay in Grand Portage for a few days.  We were to hit the last state park on our northerly trip, Grand Portage State Park.  I was certainly excited to see the park as it holds the tallest waterfall in Minnesota (120 foot drop).  One side of the waterfall is located in Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota, the other side is located in Pigeon River Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.  This morning’s mist was heavy which made every color of the landscape pop; a photographers dream.  We arrived at the park mid-morning and made our way down the very easy hiking trail that lead to the High Falls on the Pigeon River.  As we started on our hike, we could hear the low rumble of the water as it passed over the crest of the waterfall and we felt the vibration of the water as it hit the base.  What an incredible feeling!

We took our time this morning stopping to take in every scent, every scene.  Adding to the ambience of this outing, were the lichens that were covering the trees, the animals scurrying around gathering their morning meal, and the mist as it danced through the trees.  As we got closer to the high falls, the sound and vibration increase its’ intensity, which only increased our excitement.   I walked up the few stairs to the first observation deck and my eyes laid upon an amazing sight… It literally took my breath away.  Low and behold, the High Falls of the Pigeon River in all its glory.

To read more about the history and geology of this area, please visit the DNR website for Grand Portage State Park. This is a highly recommended stop if ever along the North Shore of Minnesota!

 

The Area Between a Pine Tree and a Drop of Water

The area between Tettegouche State Park and the city of Grand Marais, MN holds much beauty and power is felt through the water that the rivers bring to deposit into Lake Superior.  This post includes two of my favorite Minnesota State Parks in this area: Temperance River State Park and Cascade River State Park. But first, let us stop in Taconite Harbor:

Taconite Harbor

In 1986, the twenty-one families remaining in the harbor were told they would have to relocate by Erie Mining Company (Now LTV Steel Mining Company). The last family left Taconite Harbor in June of 1988. Shortly after the last family left, the mining company filed for bankruptcy.

As we pulled into the boat launch and bay area of what used to be a flourishing community, all we were greeted with was the large ship dock used to load the ships with the product this area was well known for, Taconite Pellets.

Taconite Pellets: The Taconite rock is mined and the iron within is separated out and formed into pellets that are shipped to steel mills to be made into steel.

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Temperance River State Park

The Temperance River is narrow but flows fast with an abundance of force. One look upon the river will explain how the water has carved its way through rock and to see the numerous potholes created by its force along the banks; truly, a force not to be reckoned with. I can still hear the sounds of the river water as it makes its way into the lake. This river has so much power that there is no bar at its mouth- no build up of sand, rocks, or debris before it spills into the lake. The Park is awe-inspiring, we will make a point to stop at this park every chance we get.

Information below taken from the MN DNR website:

The steep-gradient river has cut through the fractured, ancient lava flows of the river bed. Swirling water carried gravel and rocks which wore away the basalt and created large potholes. Over thousands of years, these potholes were dug deeper and wider, eventually connecting and creating the deep, narrow gorge. Nearby, more potholes were left high and dry as the river found its new, lower channel. Carlton Peak, the high knob in the northeastern part of the park, is made of a hard, massive rock called anorthosite. It consists of several huge blocks of this rock, which were carried up from many miles below the surface by the molten basalt lava.

Cascade River State Park

Cascade: “ A mass of something that that falls or hangs in copious or luxuriant quantities.” The Cascade River does just that; water cascades down a steep rocky slope, falling 900 feet in the last 3 miles of its journey to Lake Superior. This park has well groomed trails that will surprise you with every turn. Views produced here by Mother Nature are breathtaking. It is also said that this park has excellent Cross Country Ski Trails; a reason to return in every Minnesota season! We will make a point to stop at this state park to investigate with every return trip to the MN North Shore.