Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Panther Creek Falls

We've haven't gotten to do much camping or hiking this year. We did get to go on a one-night trip out the Panther Creek Campground. The last time we were there someone told us about Panther Creek Falls. It's up the road a little way from the campground. You really have to know it's there in order to find it. There's a gravel pit/parking area to the right of the road. From there you retrace your steps back down the road a short distance and then you have to look for the spot where the trail leads off from the road. Someone had spray-painted "FALLS," with an arrow, on the road in an attempt to help.

It's really gorgeous!! If you are ever there, be sure to stop. It's just a short walk into the woods and then you get to observation deck that looks down at the falls. 

There are some nice, smaller waterfalls near the big falls, too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dingle (and the end of our trip)

I'm finally at the last post of this long series on our UK and Ireland trip! Dingle was definitely a highlight. It's a peninsula on the southwest side of Ireland. It's a wonderful combination of beautiful scenery, a charming little town and ancient ruins.

Where we stayed: Brownes B&B
Why we wanted to come: It was highly recommended by Rick Steves
Major sights: The town of Dingle, various ancient buildings along the peninsula loop
Great Discovery: Everything! :-)

This was our view as we drove toward the town of Dingle!

We loved our B&B. The hosts were so kind, the room was lovely and the breakfast was delicious!

This was the view from our room.

Most of the pictures I have from Dingle were taken during our drive around the peninsula during our full day there. Our host worked out a route for us and marked all the places we should stop along the way. 

Stopping at the beach (it may have been June, but it was definitely not swimming weather!). 

Our first historical stop was the Beehive Huts. Suffice it to say they are very, very old--and made simply out of stacked stones! There seemed to be more than one theory about who lived in them.

We stopped at several viewpoints and a beach as we headed down the road. It's a rugged, beautiful area.

Steep cliffs and little flowers.

The land to the left, I'm pretty sure, is Clogher Head where we took a short walk.

Christina and Amber enjoyed scrambling around Clogher Head.

Not being content with the view at the top, they kept going to the bottom. :-)

At this point we stopped at a nice little pottery shop and had coffee, hot chocolate and scones. It's funny how you could drive through a very wild-looking landscape, then come around the bend and stop at a very civilized little shop.

Next we looked at the ruins of an ancient monastery. Unfortunately I don't remember the name.

These stones are important artifacts at the monastery with ancient carvings on them.

Continuing with the ancient theme, we then stopped at the Gallarus Oratory, another rather mysterious building, but thought to be an ancient Christian church. I loved seeing remnants of such an early Christian civilization. It was amazing to stand inside the church and think about how people had probably worshiped in it well over a thousand years ago. There is something really remarkable about the sense of continuity over the centuries that it gives to see and touch an old church.

Next we visited another very old church. There were several things about it that reminded us a little of a chapel at the Rock of Cashel. I think we felt rather proud of ourselves for beginning to notice trends in old Irish church architecture. :-)

After finishing our loop around the island, we ended the day by hiking up a hill to the Eask Tower, a local landmark that used to guide ships into Dingle Harbor.

Looking down the hill to Dingle Harbor and the town of Dingle.

The view to the other side of the hill, toward the Atlantic Ocean.

An old World War II look-out post next to Eask Tower.

Eask Tower

Our path to the tower led through sheep pastures. :-)

I didn't take very many pictures of the town of Dingle, but we did enjoy spending time there, eating at some nice little restaurants and doing some shopping. Dingle features a lot of live music at its pubs, so we got to hear some of that both nights we were there.

Sunset by the little marina at Dingle.

Musicians at the Mighty Session pub. The man on the left is playing an Irish bagpipe. You can't see it, but the air-supply is a little bag under his right arm, so it's quite different from the Scottish bagpipes we're used to.

That brings us almost to the end of our trip! On our drive back to Dublin we got to see some gorgeous countryside as we crossed over the Dingle peninsula.

This small waterfall was right next to the road.

This little lake is hidden up above the waterfall.

This is looking out from the little shelf in front of the lake out over the valley. The road over to the right is the one we were using to cross the peninsula.

We drove back to Dublin and spent our last night at a B&B near the airport. We had our last Irish meal at a nearby pub. The next morning we parted ways at the airport as Amber headed back to JFK and Christina and I headed to Boston to make our connection to Portland.

Amber left first, so we watched her plane for a while.

And that, my friends, is the end of our wonderful adventure to the UK and Ireland. Thanks for reading along! I must say that it hasn't satisfied my appetite. I find myself thinking about ways to go back. I feel like I left a little piece of my heart over there and I may always want to go back.

Monday, August 17, 2015

On the Way to Dingle: the Rock of Cashel

I have enough pictures from this little part of our trip that I think I'll just make a separate post about it. As we were driving west across Ireland to get to Dingle, we stopped at the Rock of Cashel. The best way I can think of describing it is as a compound of church buildings. It would have been a good site for a castle, but as I understand it, one clever local lord many hundreds of years ago decided to give it to the Church so that none of his competitors could claim the spot. It then became an important seat of church power.

The buildings are mostly ruins, but they're still beautiful! 

One of the buildings is a huge, ruined cathedral. 

There's also a smaller, older church next to the cathedral. It has a very old fresco, one of few from its era that has survived.

There is a ruined abbey down the hill from the Rock of Cashel. 

Christina takes in the view.

This round tower is one of the oldest parts of the complex. 


Oh, this trip blogging has been a slow business! I still need to share about Ireland. I've found that these blog posts have been a really nice way to collect my thoughts on a huge trip that is now fading into memory.

So, Ireland. We flew Ryan Air from Edinburgh to Dublin, our first stop in Ireland. 

Where we stayed: Botanic View B&B
Why we wanted to come: It's the capital, and it's got all the history that comes with it, so Dublin seemed like a good place for an introduction to Irish culture!
Major sights: Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainham Gaol, Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Glasnevin Cemetery 
Great Discovery: Glasnevin Cemetery Tours are really great! 

For whatever reason, it seemed that our first night in Dublin was a low point in our trip. We found ourselves on a somewhat disappointing trip to downtown to eat at pub that turned out to be out of room, then ended the night with not being able to get onto to the bus, because we didn't have the right change in coins (coins, no cash! remember that if you are ever traveling on Dublin buses). We did eventually get coins, and eventually we found a bus, even though it was Sunday night and the schedule was reduced, and we had to stand out in the cold waiting for it... Anyway, Dublin got a lot better from there! ;-) 

For one thing, we had a good little B&B as our base camp. It wasn't right in the downtown area, but it was fairly close and it worked well for us.

Row-houses on the street where we stayed.

The next day we visited the Guinness Storehouse. It was interesting to see how much money Guinness has put into making it a major tourist attraction.

The 9000-year lease which Arthur Guinness signed for his property.

This is an elaborate display to celebrate one of the major ingredients of beer--water! (No seriously...)

At the very top of the Storehouse is Gravity Bar with 360-degree views of the city and free pints. (None of us three are major fans of beer, but Amber and I worked to together to finish one.)

Looking down at the city.

Our next stop was Kilmainham Gaol. Kilmainham is a really significant site in Irish history and it is now a museum. It was definitely a worth-while place to visit!

Amber follows our tour through the jail.

Graffiti left in the prison by some of its occupants in the days when the Irish were rebelling against the British.

A cross marks one of the execution spots in the courtyard where some of the famous leaders of the 1916 Eater Uprising were killed.

That night we went to a pub near our B&B at the recommendation of our hostess. There was traditional, live music there that night. We definitely felt out of place, as the pub was mostly full of locals who were much older than us, but it was fun to watch a traditional music session.

The next day we went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells, a beautiful, ancient illuminated manuscript of the four gospels. I don't have any pictures of it, because you aren't allowed to take any. However, there is a very impressive library at Trinity College and you take pictures in there. 

It's such a gorgeous room!

Books, books and more books!

Our last major stop in Dublin was Glasnevin Cemetery. I wouldn't normally think to visit a cemetery, but our B&B hostess was so insistent about how good the tours were there that we decided to go. It was really interesting! We had a really good tour guide who did a great job blending the history of Dublin into the stories she told about the cemetery.

This tower stands above the crypt of Daniel O'Connell, a famous Irish leader from the 1800s.

We didn't expect the tour to be as "hands-on" as it was. Not only did they take us inside Daniel O'Connell's crypt, but the tour guide invited us to reach through the holes in the covering over the casket to touch the casket for "good luck." Do they do this in the U.S.? It was interesting.


 Our wonderful guide wrapping up the tour at the grave of another famous Irishman, Michael Collins.

The next day we rented a car and drove across the country to the cute little town of Dingle.