Adare, Tidy Irish Town

Ireland has this great competition called the “Tidy Towns” competition. Visitors know that if a town is listed as a current or past “Tidy Town” winner there is a good possibility that they will enjoy a visit or a pass through that town.  Adare is on Ireland’s list of tidy towns.  I could look up the parameters of making it on this list.  But, I can tell you right now that it is because of historical buildings, lots of flowers, little traffic, and brightly painted exteriors among other things.

This is a little tip when planning your Ireland trip.  Focus on tidy towns to eat in, visit, or stay in.  Click here for a list of the current and past winners. For now enjoy some photos of past Tidy Town winner, Adare in County Limerick.

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Cold Memories of Bryce Canyon

I was thinking recently of our camping trip through Utah and realized I never shared any photos of Bryce Canyon in a proper post.  Bryce was particularly memorable because we camped here in ten degree weather.  Ten degrees! Icicles on the inside of our trailer!  It is this very cold and icy weather, plus erosion, that helps form the interesting geology in the National Park.  The red, orange, and white hoodoo views were spectacular and the hikes warmed us up. There are too many vistas to share so I just picked some of my favorites to show you.

The park skirts along the Colorado Plateau and the Paunsaugunt Plateau.  Bryce is higher in elevation than Zion, @ 8-9000 feet, which makes it cooler.  (Not cool like a 16 year old but cool like a snowman.)  The park is humongous covering 35,835 acres.  There is an 18 mile loop drive that can take you around a good representation of the park providing drivers some spectacular vistas.  But, those who have the time and the legs for it should definitely choose a few of the hikes, short or long, so they can experience the canyon from below.

If you are lucky enough to stay nearby or camp in the park do yourself a favor and be up for sunrise and around for sunset.  The shadows play on the rocks in glorious fashion.

We didn’t have enough time to visit Zion sadly!  Has anyone been there?  Do you have a preference over Bryce?  Or are they both beautiful and you don’t choose one over the other?

To visit other locations in Utah like Arches National Park click here!

Sacramento Train Museum in Old Sacramento – Train Nerds Rejoice

A young friend of mine expressed some interest in learning photography recently.  I was going to take her to my backyard and teach her some basics about her camera.  But, instead, another random opportunity presented itself.  Mike’s Camera Shop in downtown Sacramento hosted a free photography meetup at the Sacramento Train Museum.  I couldn’t think of a less interesting place to take a 12 year old girl so we headed out with promises that it would be a great place to practice her skills.  It turned out we both had a blast taking photos of “creepy manikins”, welds, train wheels, cattle guards, old luggage, and to be honest things I don’t even know the name of.  I considered it a success because my young friend took hundreds of photos and never got tired of looking at the details of cool old trains.  She left boasting terms like depth of field, manual focus, and shutter speed.  A highlight for me was watching her lay on the floor in order to get a cool shot with a “fuzzy background” as she called it.  (Good photographers always get on the ground in my book!)  We rewarded ourselves with an ice cream cone and a walk through Old Sacramento!

Train nerds rejoice.  (You know who you are.)  I took far more photos of train details than I care to admit.  I hope you enjoy!

I consider this to be an “odd” subject to photograph so I am happy to submit the post to Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge!

Maps versus Navigation when traveling

All right.  Be honest?  Do you still have paper maps?  Or do you use a GPS device or navigation on your phone?  No judgement here…

I am a die hard cell phone navigator at home.  But, I adore paper maps when I am traveling.  I find them more reliable and interesting than device navigation.  I can follow along the map as we drive noting everything I am passing along the way.

Numerous times I have used the map to determine where our next unplanned stop with be.  My brothers and husband can attest to my forcing them to stop at every archaeological place of interest in the whole of Ireland “just to see what’s there.”

I brought along what was later coined “the Super Map” to Ireland the first time I went in 1999.  This map has traveled with me every time I have gone there marking every road I have driven or walked on.  It has helped enrich my trips and reference where I have been to and where I have yet to journey.  It is now as much of a souvenir as anything else I brought home with me.

In France I brought another paper map which helped guide us in driving through the entire country.  The map is a little worse for the wear being torn and folded and even used as a napkin from time to time.

How do you get around when traveling locally or internationally?

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Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

The Cliffs of Moher are iconic and wild.  They are windswept and amazing with a sense of fear and magnificence that reminds us that Mother Nature if greater than us.  Ireland and the sea are deeply connected.  Her history with the sea both brings life and so often has taken it away. If you sit quietly, among the crowds here at the Cliffs, you can listen to the ocean tell Ireland’s story. It helps make me understand why the Irish have such a way with words and music.  So many places like this serve as artistic inspiration.D80_9834.jpg

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My nephew really enjoyed running around up and down the stairs while the rest of us caught our breath.  😉

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A view of O’Brien Castle.  The first time I was here it was a gift shop.  Now they make you pay a small amount to walk to the top for a superb view.  I wouldn’t recommend it though because it is hard to see over the large bricks.  Also, my brother and I were able to go out on that platform you can see below in this photo and dangle our feet at one time.  Now a fence prevents you from doing so probably keeping people far safer than when I first visited.

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Puffins roost here but one needs binoculars to see them.

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The amazing new visitor’s center beautifully tucked in to the mountain.  I was relieved to see that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb and is more like a hobbit visitor’s center.

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Has been playing music for visitor’s for some time.

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Impressive wood work worthy of a snap.