A Family Vacation/Adventure to Remember ๐Ÿšฃโ€โ™€๏ธ โ›บ๏ธ ๐ŸŒŠ

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I have finally, finally sorted through these pictures from our OARS trip in August๐Ÿ˜ณ!

If you happen to have seen the OARS trip that my hubby and I went on back in July, then you already now what fans we are of this organization.

It has taken me this long for a couple of reasons. 1. I have been fortunate enough to be extra busy this summer. I have been traveling and playing with my kids๐Ÿ˜Šย And, 2. mine was the only camera on this trip, which meant that my other family members would grab my phone and took far more pictures than my capacity to sort through!

I have lots of this:

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And this, to deal with!

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So….You can see part of why this took so long!

This was a true family vacation. My hubby, our two kids, one boyfriend, hubby’s parents and me, set out for Moab, Utah. Our plan was to visit both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, for the first couple days, then meet our OARS guides for a 5 day, 4 night white water adventure.

We flew from Seattle to Salt Lake city and rented two cars to transport the seven of us, and our gear, to Moab (a four hour drive). After stocking up our VRBO and getting a good night sleep, we all piled into one car for the 30 minute ride to Arches. To accomplish this task, two of us had to ride in the back of the van. The smallest ones got that honor!

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Yes, I have a coffee mug with me! This was not the highlight of the day, to be sure ๐Ÿคข. But is was worth it to see this gorgeous park!

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Of course, you can’t take climbers to the rocks and expect them to stay on the ground.

 

We had a blast climbing and scrambling up the formations!

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Even Grandpa could not resist doing some climbing!

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That evening, the kids and I decided to hike to the iconic Delicate Arch, to view it at sunset. My son set a rapid pace, so we got there in plenty of time!

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We hiked back in the dark and got ready for Canyonlands the next day.

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Canyonlands is beautiful, no doubt! But I have to say, for me, Arches was a little better! Of course the kids found plenty to occupy themselves๐Ÿ˜Š

Alex loves to boulder, so she had to work her way over the top of this ledge.

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And Ryan couldn’t pass up this crack climbing opportunity. I am sure that we received some odd looks from the other visitors ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Finally, it was time to meet our guides and start our trip down the Colorado River. Our path would take us through Canyonlands once again, but at the water level. We began with a couple days of motoring down the river. We had a lot of ground to cover before finding the rapids.

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We were treated to amazing views!

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And then the skies opened up and it pouredย โ›ˆย ๐Ÿ’จย ๐ŸŒŠย I am talking biblical proportions here! We all grabbed our rain gear and huddled, under what little cover there was available. But we had to keep motoring down river to make it to our first camp site.

Very wet!

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And, look at the color of the water! It was full of sediment streaming down the red rocks. The guides, who spend every week in this area, said they had never seen the water so red.

 

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Nevertheless, they set up camp and made us dinner๐Ÿ˜Š

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OARS trips are known for their amazing food preparations, even in the middle of nowhere! We had delicious dinners and breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) was perfect, every time๐Ÿ˜‹

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Our first night was wet, but fun!

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The next day was cooler than most, nice if you are in the desert, in August. We did appreciate the cooler temps.

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We did dock along the way and take some time for hiking around. Our guides were very knowledgeable about the local geology and the former indigenous tribes. We saw glyphs and old ruins that were the way of life thousands of years ago.

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The weather dried out and the hot temps returned showing us amazing sunsets and abundant wildlife. I especially loved the bats at twilight.

 

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While the guides made dinner, we would pitch our tents and play games. My son is throwing a horseshoe in the picture below, That is some follow through ๐Ÿ’•

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One night, I was taking some panoramic shots when the kids got involved.

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Each night we were treated to spectacular sunsets and moon risings.

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Our last day was rapids day! Sadly, I was too busy trying to survive to take any pictures of us actually navigating the white water. It took all day, and I swallowed a lot of the Colorado in the process ๐Ÿ˜†. Absolutely the best day of the trip! We did not flip, which is great, but we did go vertical a few times๐ŸŒŠ

All great trips have an ending! We motored to the extraction point.

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And loaded up into two, very small planes!

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Ryan jumped into the copilot’s seat.

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Our final view of Canyonlands came from above, making our trip complete!

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This is the “confluence”, where the Colorado meets the Green River. We were treated to a view that is unique due to that thunderstorm from three days prior! Really amazing๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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If you have hung on this far, then thank you! I do hope I have not driven you crazy with my wacko family adventures! If you get the opportunity to travel with OARS, you will not be disappointed. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•

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Paris! Need I Say More?

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The final stop on our European vacation was Le Havre, in the Normandy region of France. Our ship docked in this port which is situated along an estuary to the river Seine. The Port of Le Havre is a fair distance from a number of beautiful and important places with great historical value. So, once again, choices had to be made as to where we wanted to spend those precious few hours for sightseeing. For me, there was no deliberation, I wanted to spend my time in Paris. Our family had the great fortune to spend a week in France back in 2009. We rented an apartment on the left bank and took our leisurely time exploring the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, L’Arc de Triomphe and Versailles, to name a few. I felt no pressure to revisit any of these amazing sights, instead I could have a leisurely stroll around this amazing city, have lunch and revisit some of our favorite spots from eight years ago. The rest of my family wanted a new experience and chose to visit the Beaches of Normandy, which was another wonderful choice!

So we all got up early and headed out to our respective buses for the 2.5 hour ride to Normandy, or the 3 hour ride to Paris! Along the way our tour guide narrated what we could expect from the 3 1/2 hours that we would have to explore the city on our own. Right away there were many tourist who were unhappy to learn that they could not see even a small fraction of the sights available to them. I guess they really believed that they could go up the Eiffel Tower, tour the Louvre, shop along the Champs d’Elysees, hit Notre Dame, have lunch in a French Bistro and make it back to the coach for the 3 hour ride back to the ship. I felt bad for some of them as this was their first time in Paris, but I am sure they figured it out!

The bus dropped us off near the Boulevard du Paris ย Boulevard du Palaisย near theย ย รŽle de la Citรฉ. Right away, I knew where I was!

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As you can see it was a gorgeous day in Paris! Actually a little too hot, but I stuck to my plan. I would set out on foot and follow the Seine until I reached Notre Dame. This impressive church is free to the public and is as stunning on the outside as it is inside. Which meant that if the line was too long, I would still get to see some amazing sights! As I started walking and I came across the Point Alexander III bridge. This is something to behold!

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My favorite bridge in all of Paris.

As I continued the long walk, there were incredible visions everywhere I looked.

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I spotted the Batobus de Paris several times. This is a great way to take in the sights, particularly on a sunny day like this one. One can hop on or off at various points of interest. Our guide recommended this for our group today as a means of taking a lot of pictures from the outside of the various attractions.

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A gorgeous government building here, that I don’t remember the name!

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After several miles, I saw the cathedral, it was just as grande as I remembered!ย IMG_3312

As I suspected, there was a tremendous line to get in so I toured the surrounding property and gardens.

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By now, I was tired, hungry and my neck hurt from looking up! I knew there was a little bistro nearby that served wonderful crepes. My daughter and I ate there often eight years ago and I wanted to find the same place for lunch.

It took a few trips around the block, but finally I found it!

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They also served the best gelato here, which we had many, many times!

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While I waited for my lunch I had water, which was served in a wine glass of course! So French!

I ordered caramelized apples with vanilla crepes (minus the whipped cream) and a cappuccino. Scrumptious! But a cardboard cut out would taste fabulous along the Seine!

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After feasting, and checking the clock (can’t miss my bus!) I decided to start back toward the Champs d’Elysees. But, when I turned the corner there was no line for entrance to Notre Dame. I had to capitalize on this good fortune and went in.

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There was a service in session so I wanted to be respectful.

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These stone carvings always amaze me-how did they do this so long ago?

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The precision and detail is astounding.

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I am not a religious person but always find it humbling to visit this special, ancient cathedral. And, I can’t help but think of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

Now I really did need to head back to the area near our coach. I took a few more shots along the way.

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Do you recognize this bridge? It’s the famous one for lovers to place padlocks along the railing. Recently, the city asked for this practice to stop due to the sheer weight of the locks on the structure. Doesn’t look like anyone is listening!

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I guess I am a faster walker than I realized because I did have time to head over to the Champs d’Elysees after all. I was not interested in shopping but wanted to look at some bakeries. This is Paris!

I found this really cute bakery/bistro on the corner. There was a monstrous line inside so my shots are taken around the tourists.

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It all looked so tempting, but no, I didn’t get anything from this store. I did find a much less crowded “mini Bistro” that had take away food (as they call it). I bought a toasted Croque Monsieur for the bus ride back to the ship. The french baguette was worth the price alone! Amazing!

It was a very long day (I walked 7+ miles in some high temps) but I was so happy with my time there that it might have been my favorite stop of the whole trip. I rode away knowing that I did not need to return to see all that I missed. Well, except for L’Arc de Triomphe. It was at the other end of the Champs d’Elysees so I only got a glimpse-I will leave you with that.

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If you are interested in the previous ports of call, you can check out what we saw in:

Southampton, England

Cobh, Ireland

Dublin and Belfast, Ireland

Greenock, Invergordon and Queensferry Scotland

Next up: Kauai, Hawaii!

 

 

 

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Whisky VS. Whiskey, How it is done in Scotland!

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I am taking a break from rustling scorpions and tarantulas in our new home in Tucson to continue my travel blogging posts. If you follow my Instagram then you know what I am talking about, and if you don’t then click on over for some really interesting photos!

Our next stop after Belfast were three ports in Scotland. The first stop was Greenock, a place I had never heard of before. But the first oder of business was a quick morning training run. Have to train while on vacation!

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We got back to the ship and cleaned up for the second half of the day.ย There were several options for sightseeing and we finally decided to tour Glengoyne whisky distillery. We boarded our coach that took us about 45 minutes out into the countryside.

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A beautiful church along the way

At first the distillery looked like a cattle barn to me.

 

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Once we got out and started to look around I began to notice the amazing landscape.

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It actually reminded me of the wineries we see back home in Woodinville, Washington. There were flowers all around and birds zipping through the open field.

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Then our guide came out to meet us and that’s when I knew we were someplace else!

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The kilts and the accent that I could barely understand were a definite tip off that we were in Scotland!ย 

To say these guys are passionate about whisky is a gross understatement! One has the impression that whisky is all they live for here. Our guides impressed a few things upon us about the production of true Scotch whisky. For off, Glengoyne is unique in that they are the only distillery to use water from the Highlands and age the whisky in cask barrels in the Low lands. The waterfall in the back of the property is stunning, and my pictures do not do it justice, but I tried to capture the irrigations system as it flows onto the property and is naturally filtered by the rocks and stones before it enters the production facility.

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They next spent an inordinate amount of time talking about how they smoke their barley-all I remember is that they don’t use peat. I am guessing that is important!

We were then treated to some free samples. This was a very popular part of the tour, for everyone except me, not a fan! They passed around the whisky, which always looks like urine to me and tastes like gasoline. Everyone loved it! The tour continued, after a short video on the history of the distillery which has been operating non stop since 1833. Our guide explained that Scotch whisky is the only “true” whisky and the only one allowed to be spelled without the “e”. So if you see “whiskey” it was not produced in Scotland and is therefore, by his definition, inferior! He was quite sure on that point!

We moved onto the storage facility.

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This beautiful display demonstrated how the whisky changes over time in sherry casks. There were several other such displays for aged whisky in other types of wooden casks barrels.ย 

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I loved the colorful barrels in the storage room

The tour ended with a stop in the gift shop (of course, what tour does not stop in the gift shop!) where another sample was distributed to the crowd. I took a pass as the subtle difference between unleaded and diesel are lost on me!

We hopped back on the tour bus and went onto Loch Lomond for a quick stop.

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This is the largest waterway within the British Isles, but we only spent a few minutes here. Just enough time to grab a coffee or ice cream and have a look around.

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On the bus ride back to the ship we saw this little outpost nestled in this island. It had an impressive backstory relating to strategic placement during war time, I just liked the look of it!

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That ended the day in Greenock. We next arrived at Invergordon. Again, I had never heard of this town but it was (sort of ) near Edinburgh, if you don’t mind a long bus ride. There were many sights to see and places to visit, but they were quite a ways off and we did not schedule any excursions. So, my pictures are mainly from the ship and from a run we decided to take through the small town.IMG_3199

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Looking at my run map above it appears I am running on the water. This pier is where that portion of the run took place.

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The town was quaint and quite small. Our 8 mile run pretty much covered the whole area! We should have visited a castle or gone to the Royal tattoo which is a huge festival in August, but we didn’t do our homework and missed out on that.

We set sail for South Queensferry, home of the very impressive Forth Bridge.

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The Forth Bridge was built in 1890 and was the first steel structure built in the world and is still the world’s longest cantilever bridge. It serves as a passenger railway and I was shocked that only 57 men lost their lives during construction. That is low when you consider that 4,000 men were employed and safety concerns were not what they are today. The bridge (and the other two which have been erected since) basically support the growth of the town. It is a quaint, but busy city with shops, tourism and great restaurants.

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A typical European taxi

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I love a country that has its priorities in place!

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This was as close to Nessie as I was going to get this trip!

 

These shops and buildings just screamed Scotland to me!

 

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All of a sudden it began to pour, buckets! We are told that happens in the British Isles, so it was time for lunch! We ducked into the first place we could find.

 

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Just as fast as the rain started, it stopped again and the sun came out! We went over to the The Hawes Inn which was built to house and feed the Forth Bridge workers back in 1850.

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After touring around the Inn it was time to head back to the ship. We took the tender for the short ride and I took a few last shots of the surroundings.

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Two of the tenders from our ship

 

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There is our mobile home!

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This tanker ship was getting fuel nearby

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Our departure from Scotland, next stop for me Paris, France!

Dinning and touring in Dublin and Belfast!

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Our next port of call, after Cobh, was Dublin. I had high expectations, maybe too high. I knew I would have to settle for just a few sights and, of course, it was raining. More like pouring really, so we had a lot of wet, soggy ground to cover in just a few hours!

As we pulled into port it was obvious that the skies were not going to clear anytime soon.

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we could make out the new soccer stadium in the gloom

Our shuttle bus dropped us in the downtown area and we set out on foot for Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university founded in 1592. It is also the home of the Book of Kells. Now, I am not a religious person but this collection was penned in 384 AD, and I am a person who greatly values the written word and was hoping to see this exhibit. So we started off toward the college.

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Sights along the way

Trinity College was beautiful. I tried to get a few shots of the campus as we wandered around in the rain.

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The arrow pointing the way to the line to enter The Book of Kells

Unfortunately, the line was long and the rain was steady so the decision was made to move onto sight number two. The next stop on our walking tour was The Dublin Castle and we pointed ourselves in that direction. Along the way there were some beautiful sights lining the path.

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We ducked into a bakery and I snapped a few shots of the local yummies!

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We saw this building titled: Sick & Indicent Roomkeepers Society. What is this about?? Glad I wasn’t alive in 1790 AD!

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As we rounded the corner we saw The Dublin Castle. It was built in the 13th century on a Viking settlement and used primarily by the British until 1922 when the Irish Government took over. What is really cool is that it is a working building that is used for state functions and houses governmental bodies.

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The inside foyer was studded with sculptures.

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Many politicians have posed in front of this area.

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A portion of the tour included this gorgeous hallway.

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One room off the hallway contained these amazing books which have been painstakingly restored. I may not have made it into the Book of Kells but I was thrilled to see this display.

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Another room off that same hallway was this spectacular red room that routinely holds state functions.

 

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By now we were hungry and a little tired from all this walking around. We went out into the street to search for a pub and dry off a bit from the rain.

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We found The Bankers Lounge, which was adorable. In fact I loved the mural on the wall so much that I used it to log our run on Instagram.

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All four of us had the lamb stew with black bread. It was amazing, and I don’t like lamb! Maybe I just needed an Irishman to prepare it for me!

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This was a great way to wrap up our Dublin experience. We next moved onto Belfast, home of the Titanic museum. Our cruise ship sailed for Northern Ireland while we slept and we woke up to this view!

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We boarded another shuttle bus and were, once again, dropped in the middle of the downtown area. This time, no rain! Once again we set out on foot to find the Titanic Museum. We started down the street and I took a few shots along the way.

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There was a McDonlad’s and a KFC everywhere!

 

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I thought this clock tower was gorgeous!

 

The Titanic Museum was pretty easy to spot! The outside of the this massive building is shaped like the bow of a ship, stunning!

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I was looking back toward our cruise ship which was across the water. It was a little eerie spending the better part of the day studying the demise of the Titanic then heading back to our cruise ship!

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I did not take a lot of photos in the museum as it was dark and a very interactive exhibit. There were holograms, an Imax movie, a 3D experience room that took you on a tour of the ship and even a ride in the building! I really do recommend this museum as it was like no other I have ever been to, it was truly unique! There were a couple images that stood out and I did try to capture some of them.

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This was a poster from that era advertising for the ill fated cruise line.

There were several exhibits illustrating the accommodations for the different classes on board. Below is the third class cabin complete with holograms and a recording playing a hypothetical conversation between these two girls. They spoke of how excited they were to be going to New York.

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This map showed the voyage of the Titanic as it sailed from its construction site in Belfast to Southampton where the passengers embarked, then travelled to Queenstown (now know as Cobh, Ireland) to pick up the last of the passengers, her last port of call before the tragedy. It really struck me, when I viewed this map, how closely my trip was mirroring the Titanic’s itinerary.

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These final images of the museum were the slow sinking of the massive ship as Celine Dion sang her famous ballad from the Titanic movie (you knew that had to be in there somewhere).

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We safely made our way back to our own ship and said good bye to Ireland. There is so much more I would like to see and do here, I will definitely be heading back in the future!

Our next port of call will be Greenock, Scotland and there may be some whisky involved!

Cobh, Ireland

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Our first stop, after Southampton, England and our visit toย Stonehenge, was in the port city of Cobh, Ireland. Cobh is a little town on the south side of Ireland and part of Cork County. It is a quaint, little area with farmlands and homes. It is important to the history of Ireland as it is the biggest harbor for transport of goods and assisted with the mass emigration during the tough times suffered by the Irish. It was also the last port of call for the Titanic, where 123 passengers were picked up for the fatal voyage. It was a beautiful day and we had some pretty views as we approached the port.

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These home almost look like toys, they are so close together on the hillside and so colorful

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Cobh Cathedral was stunning!

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This ivy covered home really stood out on the hillside

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My traveling companions! Hubby and his parents.

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We had a limited amount of time (a common theme for any cruise) so we chose to see the Blarney Castle and Gardens in the town of Cork, which was nearby. Our bus dropped us at the visitor’s center and I was surprised at how large the estate was. We began to walk toward the Castle itself.

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I have no idea why these trees are wrapped like this!

 

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This was our first view of the Castle

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It seems that every monument I saw on this trip had some sort of restoration or repair in progress, of course it was built over 600 years ago!

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Every good Castle needs a moat!

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I love how nature invades these ancient buildings

The Blarney Castle is most famous for its Blarney Stone, which people stand in line to visit. I had no desire to kiss a stone that had seen the lips of thousands of my fellow tourists. ย I had doubts that doing so would give me the “gift of gab”, which I have never coveted anyway, but was sure that I would contract the gift of herpes! What I did not know was that the line to kiss the stone, and to gain entry into the Castle, were one in the same. So, unfortunately I had to settle for the outside of the building.

First stop was the dungeon area and the network of tunnels that were below the castle.

 

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Not much of a view from this cell

I took in as much of the perimeter as I could. Love these old walls!

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There were a number of gardens on the property and one of our favorites was the “Poison Garden”.

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There were some truly nasty plantings in here like: Ricin, Opium, Mandrake, and Wolfsbane. There were also some lesser “poison” items that we know today to be not quite as life threatening, like Cannabis and Rosemary (yes, culinary Rosemary was thought to cause miscarriages in the 1800s!)

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I love the cage concept!

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This was a beautiful garden and located just behind the battlements of the castle. See that stone wall above? We had some excellent views from over that wall across the valley.

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The wall itself was home to many plants.

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The wall led up to a turret of sorts which could have been for storage or for imprisonment.

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It was fairly deep and also well covered with plant life.

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We left the Poison Garden and started down one of the many pathways on the grounds, taking in the beauty as we went.

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This tree was huge, I can’t even guess at its age!

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Then we saw Blarney House-WOW! I regret not going inside this home, I am sure it would have been stunning!

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This was from my Instagram feed

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Got my husband in this shot!

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This garden is smaller but no less impressive

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I would have loved to see the view from this little room

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Some stones found along the path leading to the house.

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The Blarney home was definitely a high light for me. We needed to return to the village to meet our tour bus, and grab a quick Irish coffee, so we ambled down another path to circle back to the start.

And we ran into this….

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We are from the Pacific Northwest where ferns and moss were practically invented! But this was a new fern species for us to be sure! It is tall and the leaves are produced at the top of the stalk.

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I was expecting a dinosaur to come strolling along, they look so prehistoric.

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As the path continued it wound down into a gully where this waterfall showed up out of nowhere.

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Our final sights as we left the grounds were the residents of the manor. Both cattle and sheep were taking in the warm sun and grazing nearby.

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The estate was glorious (and the Irish coffee was pretty great too)! If you go, make sure you have your expectation set. There will be a line, it will take the better part of the day to see it all and yes, it is worth it! I am already plotting my return!

Up next on the travel portion of my blog: Dublin and Belfast

A Ferry Ride, A San Juan Cottage and an Amazing Dinner: Day 2

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If you remember from the first post, we had just finished our wonderful dinner and were feeling pretty groggy the next morning from our food coma, that actually started the night before. We decided to head over to American Camp Beach for an early hike to clear our heads. This park has some rather impressive historical roots dating back to the mid 1800s when the military established its presence during the British/US occupation. Today it is just a pretty place to hike around.

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A group of kayakers are getting their safety lecture before heading out.

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The entire shoreline is covered with fort structures made from the huge supply of driftwood.

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We don’t get huge breakers on the sound, but look at the mountains in the distance!

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We saw several bald eagles and tried to get a closeup of two of them before they pecked our eyes out.

We were feeling considerably more awake as a result of dodging eagles and tourist with paddles, we headed back to the cottage to get ready for a round of golf.

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I promised a tour of the cottage in the first post, so here it is!

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The front, and only door, is on the left and the “kitchen” is to the right. The door has a gorgeous window!

 

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If you turn to the right from the “kitchen” you see the bathroom and bed. Look at that window!

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Then you turn back, and that is pretty much it!

Like I said before, it is small but the architecture allows for a lot of light, and it is really cozy. What is really stunning about the property is the location and views-more on that in a moment. Another bonus is that it is just 1/4 mile from the only golf course on the Island. We had a 1pm tee time.

I did not take a lot of pictures of the course because, well, it ain’t that pretty! I warmed up in the putting and chipping areas.

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It was a good course for me, the beginner, because there were not too many trees, water features or sand traps. But, this was an 18 hole course with some long drives, so I did not play every hole. I did drive the cart and managed to sneak some action shots of my hubby.

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He looks like he is going to crush this ball

It was fun and very hot! We went back to the cottage and I took some photos of the beautiful property.

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I absolutely love these trees. They surround the cottage.

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We are up on a hill overlooking the water.

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This is the view from the deck on one side.

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And the view from the other side.

The woman who owns this property has a second rental right next door and a beautiful garden, I had to take pictures of that as well! All the islands in the San Juans grow lavender. There is so much of it I would say it is the primary crop here. There are lavender baked goods, soap, bath salts….anything you can think of will have been infused with the scent.

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The bees love it so there is plenty of lavender honey for sale!

The owner has many wonderful and unique plantings throughout the garden.

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There was a trellis that caught my eye. As I swung my camera up I spotted one of the largest bee hives I have ever seen.

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I got a little closer

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At this point we believed it was an abandoned hive and I tried to talk my husband into climbing up and using his head for scale. Then we saw this…

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Obviously there were occupants at home and my hubby said it was a “no go” to the climbing up part. We estimate that the hive is just a little smaller than an adult head!

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The rest of the garden was not as scary!

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We ended this day with a light meal and happy hour at a beautiful spot over looking the ferry dock.

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We watched the float planes, which were constantly present, land and take off.

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Sorry about the quality of these photos, the planes were fast, I only had my cell phone and the happy hour drinks were starting to kick in!

The next morning it was time to head back home. We parked our car in the ferry line and set out on foot to find some breakfast. Cafe Demeter is the best bakery on the Island and just a few steps from the ferry dock. We have been here before and the wait in the long line is completely worth it! Highly recommend this one!IMG_2691

After my breakfast pizza, which I ate before I took any pictures, we wandered around town and checked out a few other places that are near the dock.

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This houses many little shops to browse or pick up a last minute souvenir-probably something with lavender!

 

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Also a great place for coffee or breakfast. It is also open for lunch and dinner.

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We have not dinned here but I have heard good reviews.

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Remember the ice cream we had on day 1? This is that shop but if you go remember they only take cash!

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We had lunch at this spot last year, it was ok.

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On the look out for our ferry at this pretty spot

Our ferry arrived right on time

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We said good bye for this year.

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Friday Harbor is just one side of the Island of San Juan. Roche Harbor is on the opposite side of the Island. It is just as pretty but maybe a little more effort to get there. Abbey from abbeyco is a boater who lives here in Seattle and happen to be visiting Roche while we were in Friday Harbor. If you would like to see more about that side of the Island, check out her post. She has great pictures and an adorable little girl too!

So it is good bye for now, until next year…..

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A Ferry Ride, A San Juan Cottage and an Amazing Dinner: Day 1

When people think of the Pacific Northwest they often conjure images of rain, coffee, the Space Needle and salmon flying through the air at Pike Place Market. All thoroughly acceptable iconic images that we deserve here in Seattle. But the true gem of Washington State is our ferry system and the many beautiful islands that we have spread around the Puget Sound. We patiently wait out the constant deluge from the clouds and near constant dark skies from October to May to get to the holy grail of summer. From June to (if we are lucky) the end of September the clouds part, the sun beams down and anyone with a dingy or inflatable tube hits the water. ย We PNWs live for the promise of summer and then we take full advantage of the precious time we have until we all are forced back into Starbucks to wait out the winter.

My hubby and I have our wedding anniversary at the end of July and last year we went to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We had such a great time that we did it again this year, and me with my camera in hand this time. We set out early Sunday morning which was quite foggy as we made our way to Anacortes to catch the ferry.

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This ferry was running on a different route nearby. The camera saw more than my eye did!

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Then the fog started to lift about half way through the hour long boat ride.

As expected there were many boats out on the water despite the early hour and foggy conditions. And the views from the our ferry deck were spectacular.

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He is covering the logo on his jacket but it looks like he is saying the pledge of allegiance with the wrong hand!

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Another ferry docked at nearby Lopez Island

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I have ย no idea why these boats are single file, looks like a parade

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I wold love one of these homes on the beach!

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The fog has cleared and you can see the mountains in the distance

 

We were approaching Friday Harbor on the big Island, San Juan.

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More beautiful homes along the waterfront

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Approaching the Friday Harbor Marina

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The ferry dock is on the left of the marina in this shot

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These homes and condos are to the left of the ferry dock, on the opposite side of the marina

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We have arrived!

We were too early to go to our cottage and check in so we decided to mill around the waterfront for awhile. We began at the small park near the marina.

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I love this tree

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Really love it!

 

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This is the Pacific Northwest after all, we do lots of totem poles here!

We made our way down onto the dock where the boats are tied up for the day and there are a few places to buy snacks.

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All boats are great, but I have a preference for these older wooden sailboats.

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One can not stop at the marina and not look for the harbor seal at the Seafood store. She has been coming to this exact spot for 30 years and recently brought her young pup by for a snack. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the baby this time.

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It really doesn’t get fresher than this! They sell amazing seafood and prepared meals as well

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This guy was staring me down!

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She showed up right on cue!

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Some kids bought her lunch!

By now, we were getting hungry too but dinner was not for awhile yet.

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There are many great places to get ice cream, but this is our favorite one. By the way, you rock climbers will love this shirt!

We wandered around a few more of our favorite stores, I do love this bookstore! And, marveled at the spectacular views until it was time to check in and get ready for our anniversary dinner.

This is the cottage that we have now stayed at twice. It is small, secluded and adorable. The view can’t be beat!

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I spent some time photographing the cottage and surrounding garden but I will save that for the day 2 post, as this one is long already! We got cleaned up and prepared to head to the other side of the island where the Duck Soup Inn is located.

Our dinner last year was delicious and this year did not disappoint! We had high expectations and were so happy we returned this year.

We started off with cocktails, I don’t remember what these are exactly but isn’t memory loss the sign of a good drink!

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We ordered two appetizers, the cured beef carpaccio with arugula pesto, parmesan, charred onion cream, toasted hazelnuts and berry gastrique

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And Wescott Bay smoked and baked oysters. Both were fantastic and I don’t like oysters! These were not raw, which helped me greatly, and were served with fig aioli, bread crumbs and parmesan.ds3

We both had the corn and spot prawn bisque, and loved it!

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My husband went with the Seared Weathervane Scallops-this was good! The shellfish was flavored by braising in pork belly and served with a summer succotash and red bell pepper sauce-yum!

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And I had the Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi-this was better! Really tasty! How can this be bad when it is served with cherry tomatoes, garlic, summer herbs, browned butter and Midnight Moon aged goat cheese?

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We finished off with more cocktails and a chocolate fudge sundae-yes, more ice cream! The dinner was outstanding and just the right amount of food. Their portions were perfect and we cleaned our plates.

It was a wonderful day and even better evening! Day 2 will have more pictures of the town and the property where we stayed! Thanks for reading this far.

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