The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry – Republic of Ireland

I agree with Dan when he said, “The Gap of Dunloe in an absolute jewel of the Emerald Isle”.   The Gap of Dunloe or the Valley of Echoes was formed 25,000 years ago during Ireland’s last ice age as a result of a “glacial breach”. This is where a glacier in the Black Valley which was part of the Templenoe Icecap, estimated to be over 500 metres deep, broke through the Head of the Gap and moved northwards carving out this magical U-shaped valley. The glen is a place of enchantment and full of legend and lore. It was an old tradition to ‘wake the valley’ by blowing a horn. One of the most famous local horn-blowers was Paddy Boyle with his magic bugle. It would have been wonderful to hear that bugle, instead we gave it our best “Woohoo”. There are five lakes within the Gap of Dunloe.  Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough; all connected by the River Loe. Between the first two lakes is an old arch bridge called the Wishing Bridge. Locals claim that wishes made while upon it are destined to come true. The bridge was a beautiful piece of architecture that has probably lasted for hundreds of years.

The abandoned Arbutus Cottages sit at the base of the gap and have been left in ruins. Of course, Dan and I had to stop for pictures. We have learned so many times to stop and capture these sites. Sometimes you can almost hear the stories they have to tell as the wind blows through the open windows. The light that shines through these ruins can definitely add character and atmosphere.

We must have passed through the Gap of Dunloe a handful of times but never during the day from roughly 10am-4pm as it is quite the tourist attraction.  The road is open to the public and locals use it often, but they even try to stay off the road during the busy hours. With our B & B on the other side, we needed to travel the very narrow road and we were never disappointed.  Since the road is very narrow (mostly one lane) and there is high pedestrian and carriage traffic, I would recommend hiking this beautiful area or supporting local business and taking a ride on a horse-drawn trap.

As we made our way back to the B & B, we decided to stop for Dinner at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and walk around the town for a wee bit. During our walk, we were approached by a local who asked if we would like a ride on the horse drawn trap and we accepted. The ride was a wonderful experience, and we feel fortunate that this lovely man had approached us even though most were done for the night. His pony, Lucy, was absolutely stunning and was very well mannered – Thanks Paul and Lucy; you provided a memory that will last a life time!

A popular form of transport for tourists is the horse-drawn trap, a cart where up to four occupants sit facing each other. The traps are guided by men from families that live in and around the Gap. These ponymen use a rotation system called the Turn which determines who takes the next customers. The Turn has been in existence since the 1920s and is passed down in the families to the next generation. – Wikipedia

You can see Dan’s post and images from this area here:

Dan Traun – Gap of Dunloe – Part 1

Dan Traun – Gap of Dunloe – Part 2

I hope you enjoyed this area as much as we did. See you on our next adventure!

The Long Lost Album

Found… The long lost album.  Over a year old, I still remember this album well; coming across this one was a fun find which brought back wonderful memories.  We ran across a few faces, and a couple of properties left behind on this day.  Both of the furry girls pictured are not with us today, but are still missed, and what we think is a 2-story schoolhouse was a chance find. Driving down the country roads in Wisconsin, I happened to spot the bell tower of this magnificent building; we stopped and captured what we could.  Unfortuately, both Dan and I could not find much information on this building, but I know there is history here. Someday, it would be interesting to find out more about this property, but then again, we would have to find it again 🙂

Custer State Park, SD

Since the early 1900’s, Custer State Park is home to an abundance of wildlife and spectacular views.  Spanning 71,000 acres, the park is rich in history and provides its visitors with countless adventures.  Dan and I traveled the road that encompasses Custer State Park many times during our travels; however, my favorite is an 18-mile stretch called “Wildlife Loop Road” which is rich in wildlife such as Big Horn Sheep, Elk, Pronghorn, Prairie Dogs, and much, much, more.

Wildlife Loop

Custer State Park “Wildlife Loop Road” Map

One of the most famous attractions in Custer State Park is the free-roaming Bison herds.  Dan and I were in the right area at the right time and were able to observe a round-up as they were moving a herd from one area of the park to another.  The sight of hundreds of Bison coming at you was exhilarating!  Instantly, we parked the car and opened the sunroof where I could poke my camera outside for the wonderful photo opportunity…  Such amazing creatures.

My favorite part of Custer State Park are the “Begging Burros”.  The Burros roaming the park today are descendants of the pack animals once used to trek visitors to Harney Peak Summit.  Full of character, they gain the attention of the visitors that travel in the park (both inside and outside of cars). The Burros mostly inhabit one area of the park where a herd of about 50 will try to obtain food, sometimes even causing traffic jams as they block the road.  Of course, I would always recommend using caution when encountering the herd, but I am amazed and entertained every time I see them.

Custer State Park-DAN_5863-5863

If ever in South Dakota, make sure Custer State Park is on your list of places to visit!

A Time to Love

After leaving the Badlands, Dan and I (along with Tindra) spent the next few days in and around Custer, SD.  This was Tindra’s last trip with us and we were so grateful that we had this time with her. The magical views of the Black Hills National Forest never do get old.  The Black Hills get their name from the Lakota Sioux, “Paha Sapa”, meaning the hills are black. From a distance, the hills of this area do appear black due to the towering Ponderosa Pine forest; however, up close, these forests are teeming with color.

Needles Highway is another favorite of mine. Completed in 1922, the highway is named after the needle-like granite rock formations that were carved over many years by erosion.  Such beauty is found in this area and surprises are noticed around every turn.

We camped out for the week, but decided to move into a log cabin when a snow storm hit the area leaving 3-4” of the fluffy white stuff.  The snow blanketed the Pines in the Black Hills creating a peacefulness that I will never forget…  A Time to Love.

October Surprise

Watching the leaves float on the wind as they drop one by one to the ground and viewing the beautiful colors that dot the landscape, is just a couple reasons why Autumn is one of my favorite seasons in Minnesota.  It was a beautiful Fall day that pulled us both outside; breathing in the crisp cool air that this season brings is what we both needed. The vibrant colors, the personality of “Mr. Ed”, and the travels to and from Minneapolis was just another day to add in the banks of my mind. Take a journey with us as we show you some highlights of the day.

Everywhere a Moo MooOOOoooo

After spending a day exploring and photographing The House on the Rock, our time off was coming to an end.  We packed up the car and headed on our way back home but of course, we took notice of the surrounding views.  Not only is the landscape beautiful in this area, the counties of Vernon and Monroe Wisconsin, also have some interesting barns, including many round barns. I encourage you to get lost in the countryside no matter where you reside; each state has its own unique features and architecture!

Old MacDonald had a farm, E, I, E, I, Ooooooo

The Horse Knows the Way

The beautiful rolling hills and bluffs that overlook the Wisconsin River Valley are breath-taking.  Dan and I started and ended a weekend photographing Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI and experiencing the artist community in and around Spring Green, WI. This land is part of the Driftless area, which was left untouched by the glaciers of the Ice Age millions of years ago.

Driftless area

Driving the backroads and taking in the country air will forever be a favorite of mine.  With every turn of the road, you may find an old barn, an abandoned farmstead, the Amish towns, interesting livestock, wildlife galore, or River valleys with breath-taking views…  Wonders for a photographer’s eye.

Some of the main attractions of this area today include Taliesin, which after 1937, was the estate of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and House on the Rock.  We did not make it to Taliesin but we did visit House of the Rock.  As a child, I remember walking these halls and seeing the many collections that reside here.  As an adult, I was astonished and amazed that one man had this eccentric vision to create what we see today… The world’s most bizarre and immense collection of stuff.

A Family Affair

This particular day, we were itching to get out of the house and so were the girls. We forget sometimes that the furry little ones go stir crazy in the winter as well when they can’t go outside to chase “Chippy” or “Bun-Bun”. They will often sit on the bed and look out the window searching the woods for four-legged vermin.   As we were packing the car with the camera gear, the girls were bouncing off the walls. Take me, Take me, TAKE ME!

With their cute little faces, they win every time. We decided to travel around close to home and drove into the Hay Creek area; a small town just south of Red Wing on Hwy 58.   A campground, an old western saloon, the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail, Hay Creek Stables, 15 miles of equestrian trails, and a blue ribbon trout stream. The beautiful valley’s that make up the Hay Creek day-use area is beautiful in every season.

After photographing some enthralling horses in the Hay Creek area, we then moved on to Bay City Wisconsin; a small town east of Red Wing on the shores of Lake Pepin. If ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping in for a bite to eat at “The Chef Shack” a delightful restaurant with the best service ever and mouth-watering food! We decided to drive out onto Lake Pepin (that felt weird) to gain a different perspective of the landscape. Maneuvering around the ice heaves and listening to the ice crack was unnerving and we didn’t travel too far onto the frozen lake… Call me chicken 🙂

All in all, the Traun Family enjoyed our time together.  Please enjoy the images from this little, close-to-home adventure.

 

Winter Bliss

With our chilly winters and unreliable weather here in Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI, I still am proud to call this place my home.  I have been known to call my mother as the burning, frigid air passes through my nostrils while I am cleaning off my car after a fresh snow and ask, “Why would you raise a family in this state with this kind of weather?”   Truth be told, I love the four seasons.  I love the angle of the light in Winter, the green tip of the Tulip as at it pushes through the winter residue in Spring, the green, green, greenness of this land in Summer, and the beautiful array of color that Autumn can bring.  All seasons inspire me and continue to keep me here.

Sometimes the cold can force the body indoors and push you towards hibernation, just ask any Grizzly bear in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, Dan and I will still venture out and capture what we see in this amazing state.  Winter can add a spotlight to an item that is otherwise obscured in the thickness of the forest.  Please enjoy the images from this unseasonably warm Winter day as we traveled through rolling hills and farmland into the area of Augusta, WI.

Within the clouds

Fog:

A collection of liquid water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term “fog” is typically distinguished from the more generic term “cloud” in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally.  Fog is distinguished from mist only by its density, as expressed in the resulting decrease in visibility.  Fog reduces visibility to below 1 km (5/8 statue mile), whereas mist reduces visibility to no less than 1 km.

Wikipedia

The sensation that fog or any condensation adds to photography is one of mystery, one of magic.  The eeriness that those little water droplets can add to a scene may bring forth visions of fantasy.  What lies within the clouds?  The way that light intertwines with moisture in the air adds to the atmosphere of the landscape. Not only are you mystified by what lies behind the curtain, the mist can add the feeling of surprise, fear and admiration.

We had a few days when the fog stayed with us until the late afternoon- a rarity in our parts. We were lucky to be out in countryside on these days traveling the back-roads of Southeastern Minnesota lucky that we could share this abnormality together.  Next time the fog rolls into your area, grab your camera, and capture the light that dances gracefully with the water droplets.  Be quick though, the fog can form and then dissipate just as fast.