Winter tour concludes

17 degrees

We loaded up and when The Guru fired up the beastie (complete with a full electrical charge (yay!)), it gave us this temp. Time to head south, we agreed. It even dropped another degree by the time we crossed the Potomac one last time east of Harpers Ferry. The water sparkled in the sun; we were southbound; life is good, we also agreed.

Rural fancy house

The landscape was mostly open and we saw a few “fancy” houses. I tried not to think about the ugly history of slavery in this former(?) tobacco-farming region. (We saw very few (surviving?) tobacco barns, unlike this latitude on our northbound leg.)

Tractor ahead

It was Sunday and perhaps that is partly why this was the only active farm vehicle we saw….

Horse blankets

All the horses I remember seeing on the many mini-farms had lovely jackets. I don’t think they’re anything like the old-fashioned “horse blankets.” I suspect these are high-tech and perhaps even Goretex.

Last rest area

I loved the low sun angle at this, our last rest area of the journey.

Gaffney peach

Proof that home is not far ahead…the Gaffney peach. And attendant power lines….

Such a great trip; such a diversity of experiences! We especially enjoyed last night’s socializing with our friends from Venezuela* (presently in northern Maryland). Still smiling!

* And, yes, the terrible things you have heard about people starving to death, lack/absence of medicines (including for malaria), and brutality by…well, you get the idea of what’s happening in Venezuela…yes, what you’ve heard: true, true, true. Soooo, so sad. We are glad they are safe. For now….

Trio for Sunday

Gravity vines

We went for a wee walk this morning, and I thought maybe I’d capture a vegetation picture for this space…

Fleur pair

…or maybe autumn fleurs.

Barred owl

Then, in the afternoon, the sharp-eyed Guru noticed a big bird swoop into the back yard…and got out the big lens…and gave me this super barred owl shot that I am passing along. Crappy light, yet lovely feather patterns, ¿no?

Busy, big bumbler


I’m thinking this flower/weed is butterweed/cressleaf groundsel, or a closely related species.

We got out for a short loop, the Guru, me, crutches and The Boot. We decided not to push it and so didn’t go terribly far (no record setting today!), and somehow the Fitbit even deigned to give me a massive nine active minutes.

The bonus on our walk was that when I spotted this bumbler s/he was on a lower flower, and then flew up to this cluster, where I could actually reach down to photograph her/him.

And not drop a crutch.

Out, about

Sunday drive

We made a bold decision: to go for a Sunday drive! In the Prius! Since The Event, we have been using the Venerable, with the bench rear seat that allows me to elevate the foot easily. Today, we explored (heh) our options.

Urban turtles

Among our wanders, we had a fun, quick visit with my FIL, then turned downhill and found posing urban turtles!

Summary: a great experience!

UP saga

Drone dock

The sun finally (finally!!) came out about noon, and things began to dry out and seem normal. So normal that The Guru sent the drone up. Look at the Beaut/Beast, the new dock!

CG gang

Later, I was walking toward the beach, and had this great view of the lake…and denizens! Whatta crop of Canadas this year! Reproductive success! Not that the populations are endangered or anything, but call it like it is…. And a few steps later, I thought, uh oh.

Gang tagged dock

Sure enough, the Canada-gang had tagged the New Dock big time. Yipes. Not holding anything back, “one” might say.

If I had more time, I’d work on a monofilament “fence” to protect the dock….

Be happy, I thought about calling this “Fouled by fowl.”

Big n small variants

Big birds

Big birds. A pair of sandhill cranes inspect wavy railroad tracks.

Small bird

Small bird. Pretty sure it’s a spruce grouse. Eat many pine needles. Interesting choice.

GrandMarais back harbor

Here’s the east side of West Bay, which I call Grand Marais Bay in my head. From ground level.

GrandMarais back harbor drone version

Here’s approximately the same direction/angle from Droney. In spite of some serious wind. Tough drone!

Water blooms

On the ground, the water-topping flowers are in full display.

Swan family

And we found a swan family—four cygnets!—browsing.

Loon solo

And a solo loon…posing…or watching us back.


Lupine backlit

We’re getting toward the end of the lupine, with many fully in seed pods. A few are still opening at the tips, however.

New dock

Farm news: ML and DL have installed a new dock! It’s a beaut! Smells like fresh lumber.

Leech prey

I channeled Diana the Huntress (21st century version) and stalked the shallows for the lithe and limber lacustrine annelids, finding eight in about ten minutes and removing them from the breeding pool. And the lake. It may have been the perfect stick I found for catching them and tossing them into the brush that brought me luck. But not them.

The late afternoon became overcast and waves of drippy rain, straight down, so the windows all could remain open.

Observations, localized

Fawn right outside porch

This fawn sighting is from yesterday, overlooked due to poor monitoring by yours truly or it would have appeared (ahem) then. The photo is by the Guru. The fawn was nowhere near this close when I saw (spotted? hahaha) him/her. Kudos to the Guru for this digital capture.

Potentilla blossoms

These potentilla blossoms were not mewling and strolling away (like the Odocoileus virginianus of yesterday), so I managed to capture them in all their glory. What gutsy insect is eating the petals?

Turns out that Potentilla is now Dasiphora…geeze, can’t those taxonomists settle on genus/species???? huh????

Tired of ruins?

Cottage fireplace surround n table

We spent most of the day at a 170-acre living history village-and-rural-area that is paired with an indoor museum of transportation. We began in the rural area. At least a half-dozen stone cottages in different styles and dates offer the opportunity to think about heating/cooking with coal or peat turves and living in close proximity to farm animals. One cottage (no photo) even had a byre at one end and family space at the other—with no wall in between; maybe it was only used seasonally, however.

Spade smiths water powered trip hammer

We enjoyed a long chat with a spade-smith; he makes spades, not shovels (shovels are for loose materials). This is his water-powered trip hammer. 3K pounds of pressure per smack. No water flowing to make it trip today….

Ireland kinograph

And this is a shot from a 1940 news-reel/documentary about spade and shovel making in the town of Monard, County Cork. With water power and coal-fired forges. Laborers worked six days a week. On the seventh they went to church, played gambling games, and played music and danced. Ireland had a great diversity of spade and shovel types. Over a hundred, and then many different sizes of each. Diversity.

Johns angry geese

John tried a bullfighter move with these geese. No horns involved, thankfully, just hissing.

Horse moment

Me, I had a chat with this horse (we think in a field next to the museum property).

Begging burro nose

And we both had a moment with this donkey. One lady looked around for grass-not-nettles and fed her a small handful. Happy day for the donkey.

Cruck truss detail

This wall is cut-away and labeled to highlight the crucks—those curving beams that go up from the ground and support the roof beams. I think folks used ropes to bend trees to make the needed shapes. Crucks were also used in ship-building.

Simple rowhouse fireplace

Here’s the fireplace in one apartment in a row of village/urban row-homes with this small room downstairs, two teensy bedrooms upstairs, and a tiny yard out back with a water closet and coal bin, and a bit more room for washing laundry, etc. I thought this is the kind of place where TB would have spread quickly.

Carpenters shop

Look at the rows of tools etc. in this carpenter’s shop.

Co Donegal railways logo detail

Next we went across the highway to the Transport Museum. Of course, we started with trains. This is the shamrock detail on the County Donegal Railways seal.

Third class carriage

Here’s the third-class area on a train carriage. They had to pass a law in Ireland to make the railways put roofs and sidewalls on third-class spaces. They used to be like riding in a cart—just relatively low side walls, with riders fully exposed to the weather.


Loved this stylized image of Giant’s Causeway and the cliffs that frame it even today. I think I read that this began to be a travelers’ destination in the 1700s. !!


Cars, too! An MGB Roadster, 1975 model.

RR bridge arch shadows drone

Droney made two short runs, and the Guru captured the lovely shadow from this long railroad bridge during the first one.

History unknown

Foggy morn dog patrol

This morning, fog shrouded the horse farm where we stayed last night. Love the dog on patrol.

Peat drainage turves

As we rolled out, we came across another mechanized peat harvest area. I think the depth of the drainage ditch indicates how deep the harvest of peat will extend. Across the road, it looked like at least six feet (vertically) had been removed. Now there’s a national movement to clean up the air by limiting coal and peat burning in residential and noncommercial buildings.

StBs CofI Kildare

We made our first stop at St Brigid’s Cathedral in Kildare. Brigid lived from ~453 to 523. She founded a monastery here in ~480. This building dates to 1223, and has substantial 19th-C reconstruction. There’s an odd rectangular area outlined by a low wall in the churchyard that is called the Fire Temple (rebuilt last in 1988, I read), marking where it’s believed that nuns kept an eternal flame going to honor St Brigid. It’s somewhat like Rome’s Vestal Virgins, no?

History unknown

Loved this sign on a strange nubbin of architecture—Remains of Vault…History Unknown.

StB detail

I could not figure out this grotesque downpipe detail on the church. Aviator goggles? Bull or cow around the neck?

Tesco stay right

Next stop: Tesco for “triangle” sandwiches and snacks. I was astounded that patrons must “stay right” on the travelator. This is a drive-left country…although pedestrians may pass right or left…adding to my confusion.

Brigid statue at well

Just south of Kildare is a pilgrimage destination, St. Brigid’s well. It’s relatively elaborate. We had to wait on a busload of pilgrims (from Texas, from what they said) to walk past our parking space before we could exit along the narrow lane.

Curragh sheep

These sheep are browsing on The Curragh. Curragh means race-course. In ancient times it was a common. Much of the time it was used as sheep pasture, but also as a general rendezvous for mustering military forces. The earliest reference dates to the 10th C, and old documents indicate an óenaig (periodic fairs, wake games) was held here. So, it was a multipurpose space not owned by a particular person. What’s left of The Curragh has a formal racecourse where the Irish national races are held, a military base, and still has grazing sheep. The Luftwaffe bombed it on 2 Jan 1941.

Irish National studs

Part of The Curragh also has stables, etc., of the Irish National Stud, where Thoroughbreds are bred; the facility includes several gardens (why?).

Wicklow gap area

Next, we headed into the Wicklow Mountains! We went through Wicklow gap (near here), 478 meters. This looks very like moorland in Scotland and England.

Glendalough Upper Lake

The east side of the pass descends to Glendalough, or Gleann Dá Loch meaning valley of two lakes. This is the larger, upper lake. I’m facing the main drainage into the lake. Note Mr. Mallard. Mrs. Mallard is busy feeding in the reeds and not showing herself.

Reefert Church Glendalough

There’s a huge monastic complex here, well known and heavily visited—an easy day-trip from Dublin. We saw many school-kids, high-school age, and heard them speaking Irish Gaelic. This was the 11th-C Reefert Church, way off to the west from the core of the monastic complex. I quite enjoyed this ruin as we visited it alone, no hubbub of visitors in this area of old trees and bird-calls.

Oxalis acetosella shamrock

I found many of these wildflowers with trifoliate compound leaves. I know it’s the common wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), but for today it’s the shamrock (generally accepted to be a clover).

SallyGap sheep

We also made a loop up to Sally Gap, the next pass north of Wicklow. We found these half-grown lambs and their momma enjoying the heights and dining on the roadside grass. Most of the “wild” vegetation is gorse and heather, so this is the best grazing. The heights also have many peat-harvest scars.

View east near SallyGap

This is the view back toward Glendalough. We found the haze denser with the elevation and think the late afternoon hour also contributed to it. Stunning.