A visit to Ireland

A visit to Ireland

Reliving our recent trip to Ireland. So many beautiful areas, prehistoric to present.
More Photos to be added soon
Check out the Irish Flower Garden on August 6 2013

Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú) is a prehistoric monument located in County Meath, on the eastern side of Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built around 3200 BC, during the Neolithic period. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had some form of religious significance because it is aligned with the rising sun, which floods the stone room with light on the winter solstice. We were able to enter the stone room, and the winter solstice was simulated using a flashlight. we were amazed to hear that Newgrange is older than Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Giza. It is in fact just one monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also went into a passage tomb in nearby Knowth.

Mellifont was the first Cistercian abbey built in Ireland in 1142, and once held one hundred monks and three hundred lay brothers. It was the main abbey in Ireland until it was closed in 1539.

By 1170, Mellifont had one hundred monks and three hundred lay brothers. The Abbey became the model for other Cistercian abbeys built in Ireland, with its formal style of architecture imported from the abbeys of the same order in France; it was the main abbey in Ireland until it was closed in 1539, when it became a fortified house.

The historic ruins of Monasterboice (Irish: Mainistir Bhuithe) are of an early Christian settlement in County Louth in Ireland, north of Drogheda. It was founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buithe who died around 521, and was an important centre of religion and learning until the founding of nearby Mellifont Abbey in 1142.  The site houses two churches built in the 14th century or later and an earlier round tower, but it is most famous for its 10th century high crosses.

The round tower is about 35-metres tall, and is in very good condition, although it is not possible to go inside. The passage of time has laid down layers of earth so now the doorway is almost at ground level. The monastery was burned in 1097.

12 Arch Railway Bridge–On 6 September 1886 Ballydehob railway station opened on the narrow gauge. The magnificent 12 arch bridge, which dominates the estuary of Ballydehob, was the major engineering achievement of the line. Mounting losses, coal shortages and the arrival of buses and motor cars eventually brought the closure of the line. The final train ran on 27 January 1947 and the station finally closed altogether on 1 June 1953.

The 5.5-metre Muiredach’s High Cross is regarded as the finest high cross in the whole of Ireland. It is named after an abbot, Muiredach mac Domhnaill, who died in 923 and features biblical carvings of both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The North and West crosses are also fine examples of this kind of structure, but these have suffered much more from the effects of the weather.

Trim Castle, Trim, County Meath, Ireland, on the bank of the Boyne has an area of 30,000 m². It is the remains of Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle. It was built primarily by Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter. The Castle was used as a centre of Norman administration for the Liberty of Meath, one of the new administrative areas of Ireland created by Henry II of England and granted to Hugh de Lacy. de Lacy took possession of it in 1172. De Lacy built a huge ring-work castle defended by a stout double palisade and external ditch on top of the hill. There may also have been further defenses around the cliffs fringing the high ground. Part of a stone footed timber gatehouse lies beneath the present stone gate at the west side of the castle. The ring-work was attacked and burnt by the Irish but De Lacy immediately rebuilt it in 1173. His son Walter continued rebuilding and the castle was completed c 1224.         The Castle is noted for the part it played in the filming of the Mel Gibson directed film Braveheart.

Happy Halloween

What a fun time for kids–Went to two parades today to see cute kids in their costumes. What did you do for your Halloweeen costume when you we were a kid?

The Skellig Islands– a UNESCO Site

On a recent trip to Ireland we spent a very wonderful week exploring the County Cork area.
One day we started out to visit Skellig Michael, arrived at the Visitor Center but the seas were to rough and the boat to the island was not able to make the trip. We did get to view the islands from the shore. Look up the websites listed below to learn about the long history of the island and why Great Skellig was designated a UNESCO Site.

The two Skellig Islands

The Skellig Islands as seen from a beautiful Ireland view point

“The Skellig Islands (Irish: Na Scealaga), once known as the Skellocks, are two small, steep, and rocky islands lying about 13 km west of Bolus Head on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. They are famous for their thriving gannet and puffin populations, and for an early Christian monastery that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Little Skellig

The smaller island is Little Skellig (Sceilig Bheag in Irish). It is closed to the public, and holds Ireland’s largest and the world’s second-largest Northern Gannet colony, with almost 30,000 pairs. It is about 1.5 km east-northeast of Great Skellig.
Great Skellig

Also known as Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichíl in Irish), this is the larger of the two islands, with two peaks rising to over 230 m above sea level. With a sixth-century Christian monastery perched at 160 m above sea level on a ledge close to the top of the lower peak, Great Skellig is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”


The Falkirk Wheel

The next time you visit Scotland take a trip on the Falkirk Wheel, and view Archimedes principle of displacement in action! On our Narrow boat Canal trip we went through the Wheel several times, here are some photos of our experience.

The Millennium Link was an ambitious £84.5m project with the objective of restoring navigability across Scotland on the historic Forth & Clyde and Union Canals, providing a corridor of regenerative activity through central Scotland.
A major challenge faced, was to link the Forth and Clyde Canal, which lay 35m (115ft) below the level of the Union Canal. Historically, the two canals had been joined at Falkirk by a flight of 11 locks that stepped down across a distance of 1.5km, but these were dismantled in 1933, breaking the link.
What was required was a method of connecting these two canals by way of a boat lift. British Waterways (now Scottish Canals) were keen to present a visionary solution taking full advantage of the opportunity to create a truly spectacular and fitting structure that would suitably commemorate the Millennium and act as an iconic symbol for years to come.
The resultant, a perfectly balanced structure that is The Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first and only rotating boat lift – was the eventual outcome of our collaboration with a design team that combined international experience of joint venture contractor Morrison-Bachy-Soletanche with leading specialists from Ove Arup Consultants, Butterley Engineering and Scotland-based RMJM architects.
Completion of The Millennium Link project was officially marked by Her Majesty The Queen on 24 May 2002 at The Falkirk Wheel.
How does it work?
The Falkirk Wheel lies at the end of a reinforced concrete aqueduct that connects, via the Roughcastle tunnel and a double staircase lock, to the Union Canal. Boats entering the Wheel’s upper gondola are lowered, along with the water that they float in, to the basin below. At the same time, an equal weight rises up, lifted in the other gondola.
This works on the Archimedes principle of displacement. That is, the mass of the boat sailing into the gondola will displace an exactly proportional volume of water so that the final combination of ‘boat plus water’ balances the original total mass.
Each gondola runs on small wheels that fit into a single curved rail fixed on the inner edge of the opening on each arm. In theory, this should be sufficient to ensure that they always remain horizontal, but any friction or sudden movement could cause the gondola to stick or tilt. To ensure that this could never happen and that the water and boats always remain perfectly level throughout the whole cycle, a series of linked cogs acts as a back up.
Hidden at each end, behind the arm nearest the aqueduct, are two 8m diameter cogs to which one end of each gondola is attached. A third, exactly equivalent sized cog is in the centre, attached to the main fixed upright. Two smaller cogs are fitted in the spaces between, with each cog having teeth that fit into the adjacent cog and push against each other, turning around the one fixed central one. The two gondolas, being attached to the outer cogs, will therefore turn at precisely the same speed, but in the opposite direction to the Wheel.
Given the precise balancing of the gondolas and this simple but clever system of cogs, a very small amount of energy is actually then required to turn the Wheel. In fact, it is a group of ten hydraulic motors located within the central spine that provide the small amount, just 1.5kw, of electricity to turn it.


Cruising in Greece

Ship docked at Agios Nikolaos (Crete) Greece

There are so many amazing sites to see in Greece, here are a few sites visited on a recent trip.
Sunset at Katakolon, Ancient Olympia, and Ancient Corinth;

Katakolon is a seaside town in western Ilia in the municipality of Pyrgos. The town center is within a gulf overlooking the Ionian Sea. Katakolon is the gateway to Olympia (Greek: Ολυμπία Olympía), a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, the most famous games in history. The Olympic Games were held every four years, dating back to 776 BC. In 394 AD, emperor Theodosius I abolished them as they were then considered reminiscent of paganism. The first Olympic Games were in honor of Zeus. If one visits the large area that was Ancient Olympia, in the Spring, the trees are in bloom, if one visits in the Fall small pink flowers are sprinkled around the grounds.

Corinth, or Korinth (Greek: Κόρινθος, Kórinthos) was a city-state (polis) on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta. Neolithic pottery suggests that the site of Corinth was occupied from at least as early as 6500BC, and continually occupied into the Early Bronze Age, and it has been suggested, the settlement acted as a center of trade. Skip ahead to the Romans in Corinth; Under the Romans, Corinth was rebuilt as a major city in Southern Greece or Achaia. It had a large mixed population of Romans, Greeks, and Jews.
Corinth is mentioned many times in the New Testament, largely in connection with Paul the apostle’s mission there. When the apostle Paul first visited the city (AD 51 or 52), Gallio, the brother of Seneca, was proconsul. Paul resided here for eighteen months

Bees at Hummingbird feeder

THe Hummingbirds can’t get to the feeders because the bees are taking over! Only two pictured here, sometimes they are stacked several bees thick!! I have numerous hummingbird feeders hanging in my backyard, and the bees seem to gather on them at this time of year.

The bees are also on the sunflowers.

Pictures taken with my Nikon 1 V1, never seem to get it to focus on what I want it to!!

End of Historic Round Barn in Doniphan County, Kansas

Round Barn in Kansas

In 1999 James R. Shortridge wrote in his “Round Barns of Kansas” that there were 24 Round Barns in Kansas, presumably there are now only 23.
The CURRENT OWNER is Mark Burke who bought it about 10 years ago from Orlin Strum. There was on article in the local (Atchison, Kansas) paper (http://atchisonglobeonline.com/) about Mark moving hay and equipment that was in the barn.

SITE: NW quarter, Sec. 27, T4S, R19E; three and a half miles south of Denton, then a half mile west on Highway 20.
TYPE AND SIZE: octagonal without silo; 58-foot diameter.
DATES AND STATUS: built about 1914–1915; in good condition in 1999 although the main entry has been enlarged and the interior gutted for hay storage.

Fuhrken built his barn primarily to stable mules. It originally contained five double stalls, a single stall, two
granaries, a harness room, and a full loft. Two large hay doors project through the roof on opposite sides.
The roof is segmented and single-pitched and is supported by interior posts and braces. The walls—vertical
boards with battens—contain many small windows. Two gabled machine-shed additions extend to the northeast and northwest.

[The Fuhrken barn was featured in a 1992 television commercial for Budweiser beer. See Kansas Chief (Troy), September 3, 1992.]

Whether during the heyday of their construction in the 1910s or
now, round barns have always attracted public attention. Editors
and readers of farm magazines once engaged in spirited
debate over the advantages that this new shape might offer for housing
animals and for storing feed and equipment. More recently the appeal has
been based largely on scarcity and aesthetics. Fewer than fourteen hundred
round barns have ever existed in the United States, most of them in
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Kansas is on the fringe of this concentration.
A local survey begun in the 1980s has located forty-one such
barns built over the years for and by Kansas farmers and stockmen. Of
these, a mere twenty-four still remain on the landscape.”

The above information was taken from a publication entitled The Round Barns of Kansas by: James R. Shortridge


James R. Shortridge is a professor of geography at the University of Kansas, where he received his M.A. and
Ph.D. degrees. His recent publications include Peopling the Plains: Who Settled Where in Frontier Kansas (1995) and The Taste of American Place: A Reader on Regional and Ethnic Foods (1998). His active research in material culture led to his interest in and study of Kansas barns.

The Round Barn with a Photoshop “antique” look.
All photos of the barn before destruction taken in a 2011 Photoshoot by Doris Ford.

A Photoshop rendering of the storm that would destroy this Historic Round Barn little more than a year after after the picture was taken.

Interior of the Round Barn

George R. R. Martin– A Song of Ice and Fire– the La Brea Tar Pits and Dire Wolves

I recently visited the LA Brea Tar Pits and saw skeletons and reconstructed models of the Dire Wolf that features so prominently in the series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin. Dire Wolves really did exist!

There are five books in the series so far, and one more to come, buy them or reserve them at your local library! They are best read in order, and are entitled: Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. The new one will be called Wind in Winter.

Here are pictures of the artists conception of that wolf. Since the Dire wolves travel in packs, apparently many would attach the much larger animal that was trapped in the “tar” really Asphaltum as we now know it. La Brea Tar Pits are known for its extensive holdings of carnivorans, of which dire wolves (Canis dirus) are the most common large mammals from Rancho La Brea, with about 4,000 fossils found. Some of the older fossils that have been found include a dire wolf and a saber-toothed cat from Pit 91 each dated at 44,000 years old.
ea"Dire Wolves as painted on a Mural in the Page Museum at the La Brae Tar Pits"

The La Brea Tar Pits (or Rancho La Brea Tar Pits) are a cluster of tar pits around which Hancock Park was formed, in the urban heart of Los Angeles and a very interesting area to visit, be sure to allow time to visit the Page Museum, and review the long history of the area. There are still places in the Park that new tar bubbles up, and sometimes squirrels and birds get caught in the “tar”.

Gas bubble in a Tar Pit

La Brea Tar Pits Page Museum has an entire wall of Dire Wolf skulls on display that have been recovered during excavations of the various pits.

Solar Eclipse

Did you miss viewing the Solar Eclipse?
May 20, 2012 there was a Solar Eclipse that was visible from NM. What an exciting event! The Albuquerque area was rated as one of the best Urban area in which to observe it. I was positioned on a hill in Rio Rancho and had perfect visibility.
Here are samples of that exciting event.

I hope you enjoy my slide show of the pictures that I took of the entire Solar Eclipse of May 20, 2012-

Panama Canal

Our next stop in our trip around South America was through the Panama Canal. One of the Locks is Gatun Locks built in 1915.

Panama Canal Gatun Lock

Frigate birds- Did you know they can stay aloft for more than a week?

Many Buzzards flew around the Locks, mostly black headed.

Bocas del Toro Panama

Click on the picture to see “picture postcards” of the area. Then click each picture to see a few scenes of life on this island.

The next stop on the way to the Panama Canal and the west coast area of South America is Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is situated on Isla Colon, part of the archipelago that dominates Bocas del Toro Province. The province is located in the northwestern region of Panama, with Costa Rica just west of the border. It’s population of 90 thousand is a diverse ethnic mix consisting of descendents of banana and canal workers from Africa, Columbia, the French Antilles and Jamaica. There are also four indigenous Indian tribes along with a growing expat population from North America and Europe. In the 17th Century, Bocas del Toro was frequented by Spanish fleets and French Huguenot settlers. The 19th Century saw the arrival of black slaves and banana workers. Today, Bocas del Toro remains mostly unspoiled with natural beauty amidst a growing tourist economy. Isla Colon had few roads until recently, but now is filled with rustic wooden B and B’s, smaller hotels, waterfront bards and dive shops. Bocas Town is both rustic and quaint and visitors do not need to travel far to find peace ad solitude in at the nearby rainforests and marshlands. Diving, snorkeling, and fishing around Bocas del Toro are some of the finest in Panama.
As one can see from the pictures many buildings are brightly painted, and the sea and boats are all around.

Georgetown Grand Cayman

Georgetown is the capital of Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands, and known for its spectacular diving and snorkeling. The area is also know for exceptional clarity and color of the sea due to the fact that there are no natural rivers or freshwater draining into the ocean around the sea. We made a stop there on the way to the Panama Canal before heading down the West coast of South America. We did two one tank dives, and enjoyed our time in the water. Attached are some photos from under and over the water! Not the best underwater pictures, but perhaps you can get an idea of some of the beautiful fish and coral that takes me underwater every chance I get.
Click on the Welcome photo to see the gallery.

In 2004 over 80% of the buildings were either damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Ivan- the worst to hit the island in 86 years. However, because tourism accounts for the majority of the island’s economy, most business were quick to repair and re-open. Georgetown is home to to the Cayman’s financial industry and the town boasts over 600 banks! Points of interest for visitors include the turtle farm, and Stingray City, but the relaxed atmosphere and beautiful waters give Grand Cayman special allure.

Rain & Snow on Spring Blossoms

April 2 and a snow storm!

I got these pictures with a Nikon1 V1 before the rain turned to snow!

The apricot trees are blooming as well as the Nectarine, Cherries, Plums and some Apple trees. With a snow storm at this late date the blossoms are often frozen, which means another year of no fruit. That is life in the high desert at 7000 ft, in New Mexico! BUT it is a wonderful place to live, and a very popular place to visit as we are only 35 miles from Santa Fe, once voted the most desirable place to visit in the world by Conde Nast. Happy Spring to you, and very soon Happy Easter!

Adobe Lightroom 4

On my travels I am repeatedly asked how I download and organize all my photos. In a word, LIGHTROOM! I use Adobe Lightroom for both organizing and cataloging, as well as any tweaking that a photo might need to look like what I saw when I took the picture. It is a powerful program, and now there is a great update.

Lightroom 4 is out, and the price is only $149!. If you have Lightroom 3 you can upgrade for around $79. I highly recommend this upgrade, as new things were introduced and other areas strengthened. There are free training videos on line, like the one from Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-lightroom.html?PID=3919855). A quote from the Adobe site;

” What is Lightroom?

Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 4 software provides a comprehensive set of digital photography tools, from powerfully simple one-click adjustments to cutting-edge advanced controls. Create images that inspire, inform, and delight.”

For more in-depth training I would highly recommend joining NAPP, (photoshopuser.com) and Kelby Training. Here is an excerpt from the Lightroom 4 Launch video on the NAPP site;

“Your hosts Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski have created 10 very helpful video tutorials on the new beta features that include improved video support, soft proofing, ability to email photos directly, new photobooks (Scott’s favorite), and some great new adjustments for making your photos look their absolute best.”

Google Maps and Lightroom 4

More fun with Google maps showing the sites we visited on a recent trip around South America, including the Antarctic, the Falklands, and a trip up the Amazon. I hope to share this wonderful journey with you on my website with pictures and storys. Our ship was the Princendam of the Holland America Cruise Line.

The new Adobe Lightroom 4 will automatically place all my GPS labeled photos on a map including how many pictures were taken at each Geo-location! Check out the NAPP website, or Adobe to learn about this great update to Lightroom.

This map was made with Lightroom 3 showing additions since the original map I posted on December 3, 2011. I plan to add at least one photo to so you could see what we saw at each pin.

View South America 2012 in a larger map