Ireland: Hook Lighthouse and Tintern Abbey

The middle of our Ireland trip landed us near Hook Lighthouse and Tintern Abbey. We stopped in the small cafe by the Lighthouse to seek refuge from the rain and charge our camera batteries.

  

The rain didn’t let up while we were there, so we were only able to get a few photos while shielding our cameras from the rain. My favorite is of two chairs facing the lighthouse with the misty waters behind them.

We drove in the rain to get to Tintern Abbey before they closed. Unfortunately, when we arrived, no one was there so we weren’t able to go inside the building, only walk around the outside.

 

While walking around the outside, we met another traveler hoping to find someone able to let us in. While we didn’t run across anyone to let us in, we did spot some snails on one of the walls and chatted for a bit before heading off to our next stop.

 

Illinois: Birds and Abandoned Places

This interruption in Ireland updates is brought to you by… birds and abandoned places. My first photo outing after my trip to Ireland was to the Emiquon Preserve on the look out for birds and other wildlife. 

They proved to be elusive and these were the only two wildlife, both Great White Egrets, I was able to spot. The area was beautiful, though, and our visit to Dixon Mounds nearby made this preserve an area I will want to visit again. 

On our way to Emiquon, we stumbled across an abandoned school and couldn’t help but to stop and take a look around. Drawn to textures and details, the first thing I noticed was the patterns in the broken glass. I still think the photo on the left looks like a wolf.

    

There were also places where nature had taken over… plants climbing up windows, moss covering the floor.

  

And a look down the hallway seemed foreboding.

 

Ireland: Wexford

When we first arrived in Wexford, we found a beautiful place to hike. First along the beach where I participated in a long standing family tradition…collecting sea shells and rocks. We didn’t know we would end up at the beach, so I used my (and my husband’s) pockets until we were able to recycle a plastic popcorn bag to hold them all.

  

At this same spot, opposite from the beach, we found a hiking trail into the woods. The only other people we saw were a couple picking wild blackberries and another couple walking their dogs.

     

The next day before we left Wexford, we visited the Irish National Heritage Park where we were met by a half-winged statue where someone had placed a flower.

Our guide was phenomenal as we joined a group touring the park, where we saw stone age camp sites, megalithic tombs (on the left below), bronze age stone circles (on the right), a medieval ringfort,  a christian monastery, viking harbor and so much more.

   

There was a surprising amount of moss blanketing many rocks and branches throughout the park. 

Ireland: Inistioge and Woodstock Gardens

On our drive from Kilkenny to Wexford, Ireland, we stopped in a small town, Inistioge, to stretch our legs and get some coffee. The first thing I saw was a wall of boots with plants growing out of them.

The coffeehouse we stopped in had beautiful photographs on the wall of the area and the barista told us how to get to Woodstock Gardens just a short drive away. There weren’t many visitors to the gardens that day, making it feel a bit like we were entering the Secret Garden.

One of the few signs of life was an arboretum in the garden where you could get tea and ginger cookies.

We spent a few hours at the garden though I think I could have easily spent several days. 

Ireland: Kilkenny

After visiting Dublin, our next stop in Ireland was Kilkenny. We started at Kilkenny Castle.

  

The architectural details of the outside were just as impressive on the inside, with ornate carvings and beautiful windows throughout the castle.

   

We also stopped in a local church to light a candle for Tim’s grandfather who had passed away shortly before our trip. 

   

We spent the rest of time in Kilkenny walking around the city. Most of what caught my eye were the beautifully painted doorways and unique door knockers and keyholes.

    

Our last stop before settling in for the night was a trip to Dunmore Cave where we arrived just in time to sneak into the last tour for the evening. So many stairs, and so much green at the entrance of the cave! Apparently it was the site of a viking massacre in 928 AD. We were told a story of the locals coming to the cave to escape the vikings only to have the vikings set fires outside the cave in an attempt to smoke them out. Instead, the vikings essentially stole their supply of oxygen and those seeking refuge inside suffocated. 

    

 

 

Ireland: Dublin

It’s been almost six months since my trip to Ireland; I feel horribly behind in these updates. Is anyone still out there?

By the time we arrived in Dublin, we’d already been in a car, a train, a plane, and a bus. After getting our car rental and learning how to drive in Europe (Just keep Beyoncé’s “to the left, to the left” in your head), our first stop was a place to sit, rest, and drink a hot cup of tea at the Brazen Head.

Once our second wind kicked in, we ventured out into the city. Trinity College Library was one of our first, and favorite stops. With two stories of floor to ceiling books, this library is reminiscent of the library in Beauty and Beast, and is just as impressive. There is no flash photography allowed as the light could degrade the old books.

     

There were many beautiful and colorful architectural details around the city; it was hard to pull myself away and head to our first B&B in Kilkenny.

   

The last night in Ireland was also spent in Dublin, though we arrived so close to dinner there wasn’t much time to further explore the city. On our walk to find dinner, though, we spotted a few unique pieces of street art.

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I’m back!

Sometimes a lot of life fits into a short period of time. This time it’s kept me away almost 8 months. So here’s the short and long of it…

In July, after completing my degree in accounting earlier in the year, I started a new job at a local accounting firm.

In September I went to Ireland, something that has been on my bucket list for a very long time! And it definitely did not disappoint. I will do a series of posts to showcase my trip and show you Ireland’s beautiful countryside and urban details.

In December, we get into darker territory. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had surgery pretty quickly thereafter. I am now short one thyroid gland, but am extremely fortunate to have caught it this early. The risks are very low that it will come back.

In anticipation of some time off work to recover from surgery, my Christmas present to myself was ordering art supplies. The artwork above was actually inspired by the ultrasound of my thyroid, and this was one way for me to work through some of my anger and depression after being diagnosed. My husband fondly calls it “Exploding Skittles” which is an apt title.

I’ve also been experimenting with watercolors, which inspired me to create some bookmarks – small, fun, and easy to try out different techniques!

With my new art projects, I decided now was as good a time as any to begin revamping my website. I am still working on completing everything, so keep an eye out for changes and new galleries!

Horseshoe Lake

The day after my friend and I visited the Crown Valley Tiger Sanctuary, we decided to end my weekend with her at Horseshoe Lake, looking for blue herons and any other wildlife we may run across. I first spotted several turtles sitting on logs in the middle of a pond near the lake.

2016 05 22 0003 Horseshoe Lake

We also spotted several blue herons and great white egrets.

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The most unique and unusual bird we spotted was a juvenile bald eagle. I spotted a large bird across a field and my first thought was “well, that’s a big bird… can’t be an owl, it’s noon, can’t be an eagle…holy crap it’s an eagle”. We trekked a little more than halfway through the field before he took flight to get away from us.

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Crown Valley Tiger Sanctuary

A few weeks ago, a friend took me to the Crown Valley Tiger Sanctuary in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The sanctuary has one lion, Alexis. She looks meaner than she is. I caught her mid-yawn that looks more like mid-growl, but she mostly ignored us and napped during our tour.

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Several of the tigers were also out, though they were sleepy, and too close to the bars to get anything great.

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After the Tiger Sanctuary, we made our way to the Crown Valley Brewery for lunch and a tasty hard cider. The scenery on our way to and from the sanctuary was beautiful.

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We ended up on some never-ending back roads and discovered a few barns along the way as well.

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June Update

Wow, what a busy month May was! I went to the Crown Valley Tiger Sanctuary and did some back road driving with a good friend. Unfortunately, things have been so busy, I haven’t had time to properly edit any of them. Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come!

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Last weekend I participated in a holistic fair where I sold my photos and made bath salts and sugar scrubs – something I discovered I enjoyed doing over the holidays. I won’t lie, I could pretty much bathe in the coffee one.

sugarscrubs

This coming weekend I’m doing a show in Charleston, Illinois. If you’re in the area – come say hello. Otherwise wish me luck and expect some more tiger and barn photos soon!