Clonmacnoise Monastery – County Offaly, Ireland

 

Located near Athlone in County Offaly, Clonmacnoise Monastary sits in a pristine location on the River Shannon.  Founded in 544 it was a center for learning with ties to the Kings of Ireland many of which are said to be buried on site.  The monastery continued to grow over time becoming quite powerful until around the 12th century.  With great power and a strong location came Viking and Norman attacks.

Highlights of the ruins at the monastery are the tower overlooking the Shannon, the Cross of the Scriptures including its magnificent religious detail, the North Cross with its hunting and fertility symbols, King’s Church which sits atop the graves of generations of Irish Kings, the Cathedral and its whispering arch, and the Fairy’s Stone.

The interpretive center is well worth a short visit as it houses the original high crosses and other important information.   It details relics found on site including the magnificent Clonmacnoise Crozier which is on display at the Irish National Museum in Dublin.  The Center even has information on the Papal visit to the ruins in 1979 by Pope John Paul II.

Clonmacnoise is a wonderful stop if you are traveling between Galway and Dublin as it is off the main highway.  It is well worth a visit with its stunning views and superb history.

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My mother wanted to see a high cross in Ireland and boy is this the mother of high crosses.

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Click here to read more of my Irish Shenanigans…

Dealray.com – Will it take off or fizzle out?

Hello budget travelers…

How better to celebrate Black friday than to talk about travel deal websites?  I read recently in an edition of Travel and Leisure of a new “deal” website called Dealray.com.  (I was immediately skeptical.)  Well, I decided to try it out for fun.  The concept is this…You sign up for two months free and pay $9.99 every month thereafter.  For this fee Dealray will send you any domestic or international airline deals its super computer can churn out.  You book directly through the airline not through Dealray.  For any referral you give to someone else you will get two months free.   You can cancel anytime without any questions.

I decided to sign up for one free month to see if any deals came through.  I have already seen deals from SFO to Chicago for $127 round trip and one from LAX to Chicago for $81.  The travel times are limited but for $81 I could make that work.

Check it out if it interests you.  Click on the following link so I can get two additional free months from your referral!  http://dlry.me/60e673c5  (Insert shameless plug here.)

Be sure to let me know what you think and if it worked for you.  I will update this post if I end up booking any flights or have any additional feedback.

Postcards from London(Derry), Northern Ireland

Depending on where you stand in Irish Politics you refer to the city as Londonderry or Derry.  In fact, as one drives towards the city, one will see spray paint riddled signs blocking out the word London to display only Derry.  It seems Londonderry has similar issues as portions of Belfast.  (See my Tour of a Lifetime post about the Belfast Troubles.)  Murals depict the troubles front and center which I found beautiful and unsettling all at the same time.  I can’t help but send light and good thoughts to the beautiful Irish people to find peace in their hearts for future generations.

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Follow my Irish musings by clicking here…

Irish Kitchen Painting Challenge – Which do you prefer?

As has been obvious in my recent blogging I visited Ireland this summer with my parents and brother and his family.  My husband was unable to join us.  He did, however, send me to Ireland with a challenge.  We currently have a simple little painting in our kitchen that depicts a cafe scene somewhere in make-believe Italy.  He asked me to take a photo of a cafe or restaurant or bar in Ireland that could be put on canvas and replace the generic Italy scene we have now.  Tell me your thoughts!?  So far he can’t decide.  I know which one I like but I am looking for outside opinions…which photo would you like to stare at every morning making coffee or every night cooking up a meal?

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Charming bar scene in Kinsale?

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Silly happy little bar in Dublin?

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Brightly colored bar, strangely enough named after my brother, in Adare?

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Bright Guinness mural from Tralee?

For more on my Irish Shenanigans click here…

Powerscourt Gardens – County Wicklow Ireland

If you won the lottery where would you live Jenny?  I would live right here.  Period.  Powerscourt Gardens was thrust upon me 16 years ago whilst taking a sweet little tour called the “Wild Wicklow Tour.”  I was, as they say, gobsmacked.  Primarily the gardens left me speechless.  I love this area of Ireland, Wicklow.  I find it green and lovely and close to Dublin without being IN Dublin.  It has mountains and bogs, and it is near Glendalough and Laragh a few of my favorite little places.

Have I mentioned the gardens?  I am a sucker for a great garden and this one doesn’t disappoint.  In showing my parents Ireland I thought they would really enjoy this place and so I took them there more than willing to visit the place I loved so long ago.

When you walk in to the gardens either turn left or right and spend two or three hours meandering the loop with a smile plastered on your face.  Bring a picnic to drag the smile out a little longer.  I kept thinking it was going to rain on us, not that it would have mattered, but when you are in Wicklow everything turns out roses.

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The iconic view from the pond looking up at the Powerscourt House.

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The noble lion keeping watch over the gardens

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Why doesn’t my garden look like this?

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No large house garden is complete without glorious statues

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For my flower loving friends

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Japanese Gardens in Ireland

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Looking for Rapunzel

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Wondering why this horse isn’t a unicorn in such a lovely place. (Photo courtesy of my Dad!)

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Keeping watch over the pond

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Flower and Bee photo courtesy of my Dad’s awesome photog skills

For more Irish Shenanigans click here…

The Brownshill Dolmen is nearby and should not be missed…

Postcards from Gold Country – Leaf Peeping edition

The husband and I went leaf peeping in search of fall colors.  Our journey took us from Sacramento up highway 50 in to the glorious Lake Tahoe valley.  From there we headed on hwy 89 towards Marklieville for lunch at the Wolf Creek Restaurant and Bar and then up over hwy 4 and Ebbett’s Pass.  This windy and steep road took us to the Arnold area and then in to the Calavaras region know for its famous jumping frogs and Big Trees.  (Reminds me that I need to get to the Jumping Frog Festival one of these years.)  The fall colors were really showing off through Calavaras and the hwy 49 gold country towns.  Arnold, Murphys, Angel’s Camp, Sutter Creek, San Andreas, Volcano, and more are wonderful stops for food, antiques, and a stroll.

Just before dark we stopped in Plymouth for dinner at Taste and then headed home.  This was a long drive taking us through three forests; the El Dorado, Toiyabe, and Stanislaus National Forests.

*Photos were pretty disappointing with the iPhone this time…The photos just don’t do it justice.  Boo.

Hwy 89 just outside of Marklieville

Hwy 4 between Marklieville and Ebbett’s Pass

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Random Piranha on hwy 4 between Ebbett’s Pass and Arnold.

Creek in Marklieville

I hope my Piranha rock qualifies for Cee’s Odd Ball Photo!

Blackhawk Auto Museum

My husband and I have been working opposite shifts now for a while.  So, on the weekends we have been trying to take some day trips to spend good quality time together.  Last weekend we went leaf peeping through the El Dorado, Alpine, and Calavaras National Forests.  (Photos came out lame on the iPhone hence the lack of posting, sorry.)  The weekend before we spent more time in the Quincy area west of the Lake Tahoe region.  This weekend was his turn to pick the location.  So we set off for the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, California in the “East Bay.”

The East Bay holds a special place in my heart because I got my Master’s Degree at quaint Saint Mary’s College in beautiful Moraga, California.  It also just happens to be a spectacularly pretty area of the world especially with the leaves turning.  (For those of you on the east coast our leaves are just now turning.)

I digress on multiple levels.

My husband is an obsessive “car guy.”  Most girls turn up their noses at the thought of going to car museums.  I however, really enjoy them.  My first car as a kid was a 1965 Mustang and my family growing up has owned an embarrassingly large number of old and interesting cars.  (My husband and I bought our current house based on the number of garage spaces…or at least that’s what my husband will tell you.)  This love of cars coupled with the opportunity to snap some photos of something interesting situated in museum lighting always makes me happy.

The Blackhawk had a reasonably small collection many being concept cars or highly unusual.  If you haven’t already noticed I can’t just take a photo of a car.  I have to try and shoot for interesting angles or details.  I hope you enjoy them.

* I have had the pleasure of visiting a few awesome car museums and have taken some pretty interesting photos.  Click here for posts on LeMans in France, Nascar museum in Charlotte, Hot August Nights in Reno, National Auto Museum in Reno, and the LeMay Car Museum in Seattle.

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Pretty round lines on this car

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Car built for royalty or so it would seem

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Futuristic bubble roof anyone?

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Not even sure what is happening with these lines but kudos to the designer to convinced someone to go with it…

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An exercise in aerodynamics

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The batmobile seems somewhat less interesting all of a sudden

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Tell me this car isn’t winking at me? Flirty little thing.

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I am often too lazy to remove my closeup lens so this is what I get…

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For those Americans reading this…that is a DODGE!

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Look at the curves on this beautiful thing

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Love the angles

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Whoever thought it would be a good idea to start making ornate hood ornaments I thank you. I never grow tired of photographing them even though I must have hundreds of them already…

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Woah

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Grillage

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It’s hard to see this paint scheme and not think of Herbie the love big. Blasphemous, I know.

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Ford’s answer to European dominance.

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I often think at night these cars come alive and start talking to each other like they are on the Disney cartoon Cars. Tell me this one doesn’t have a face and personality?

Fall in Sacramento means visiting Apple Hill

Apple Hill is an institution in Northern California.  My relatives are from the area so I went to Apple Hill religiously growing up.  So, as soon as the weather starts to turn, my mind immediately goes to a visit to Apple Hill for Apple Donuts and Apple Cider.

Situated in the Sierra Foothills near Placerville, California Apple Hill started as a place perfectly situated to grow apples.  Well, most apple farms create small bake shops to cater to the people coming up for boxes of apples.  Like most things these days it has now blossomed in to more.  (Wineries, breweries, fishing holes, xmas trees, pumpkin patches, and more.)

While things keep changing one things remains the same.  Folks, may I introduce you to the one the only, Apple Donut.  Enjoy warm fresh out of the oven or cool on your day drive to leaf peep.  Whatever your preference ensure you stop in for a spell.

Is it just me or is this an insane amount of donuts?

Caramel apple anyone?

Pretty aren’t they?


  
  

This cracks me up to think about.  But, I actually have two previous posts about donuts.  Click here to see posts on Voodoo Donut in Portland and Maui Donuts!  I’m going on a diet!

Autumn postcard from Quincy, California

Where’s Quincy?  It is well off the beaten path my friends.  Weekend before last we went for a drive along the Feather River and wound up in Quincy.  It was a lovely drive along a steep river path to a secluded mountain town.  It was here I had the most delightful hot chocolate and biscuit from Carey Candy Co.  I am so enamored by this treat I felt I must share it.

It is raining in Sacramento for the first time in what feels like years so I am feeling like a nice cup of hot chocolate!

Muckross House – Killarney County Kerry, Ireland

Muckross House of Killarney in County Kerry is spectacular.  It is a 19th century Victorian mansion built in the lush green Killarney Park and sits on a glorious mountainside Muckross lake and waterfall.  The house is open for tours and has been lovingly restored.  The tour tells the story of the Herbert family who built and owned the house for many generations.  It focuses quite prominently on renovations and plans made specifically for a visit by Queen Victoria in 1861.  The house was eventually lost to the Herbert family and purchased, quite inexpensively, by the Guinness family who ironically had marital ties to the Herbert family.  Eventually, in the early 20th century the house and grounds became impossible to maintain and was gifted to the state.  It is now a state park boasting, tours, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, watersports, crafts, weavers, pottery, and more.

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Lovely sunken garden

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Rock garden built on a natural limestone outcropping

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Horse drawn carriages can take you to the waterfall however it is only a short walk if you have the time.

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For more on my Irish wanderings click here…