.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

Dublin, Ireland: Trinity College and its Book of Kells

060 Trinity College 2013 Library Book of Kells

Trinity College gives you a grand entrance to its inner courtyard.  Through a door within a massive larger door, you enter a square and see the college’s bell-tower (Campanile) set in its center, surrounded by an assortment of buildings.  The Campanile is one of the College’s — for that matter Dublin’s — iconic landmarks; built in 1853, it stands 30.5 m (100 ft) tall and is mostly constructed of granite.  You’ll not see students lingering under this tower because of a lasting superstition that if you’re beneath it when the bell tolls, you’ll fail your exams.  But enjoy it’s fine construction then look around a bit.

Beyond the bell-tower, there’s a lot to see at Trinity College.  Situated on the south bank of the

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 12) the Valley of the Boyne

050b Valley of the Boyne Mellifont Abbey

This post concludes tales of my road-trip around the Emerald Isle (though I’ve still got a few things to share about Dublin).  I don’t think this road-trip series could end with a more appropriate destination than the “Cradle of Irish Culture and History”, the valley of the Boyne.

The Boyne River Valley is less than an hour’s drive north of Dublin, close enough to do as a day-trip but a longer visit is most definitely recommended.  A valley of rich pasture and farmland with the Boyne River snaking through counties Meath and Louth on its way to the Irish Sea.  You’ll be tempted to sit on its bank and throw a fishing line in (and might catch a trout or salmon …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Yosemite National Park: Hiking in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

The “Grizzly Giant” in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park

The state of California has some pretty remarkable scenery.  Where else can you find the world’s …

Oldest trees (bristle-cone pines)
Tallest trees (redwoods)
Largest/most massive trees (sequoias)…

…but in California?  I know it’s a rhetorical question, but there’s no area I know of that offers such variety.

As one might imagine, to walk in a grove of giant sequoias is a most memorable experience.  If you’ve never felt small and insignificant in life, you likely will when you stand beside an ancient sequoia tree.   The largest density of sequoia trees is in California’s Sequoia National Park, south of Yosemite, including the tree known as “General Sherman”, the world’s largest living thing.  Yosemite National Park has two groves of giant sequoias, including the …

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

A gallery of gators — Florida’s Everglades National Park

098 Everglades , Alligator

There’s sometime viscerally disconcerting about looking into the eyes of an alligator.  Dark, non-blinking, but clearly focused on you, it sends a shiver up my spine.  Something being tickled in the primitive parts of my brain — prey intuitively recognizing a successful killing and eating machine that has survived for millions of years.  They sure look menacing with those armored bodies, powerful tails and dozens of sharp teeth, like the apex predators they are.

My instincts make me back off and keep a good distance, and that’s good advice for everyone — stay at least 4 m (13 ft) from alligators (and crocodiles) because over a 2 meter distance there’s no faster attack animal on the planet.  You won’t have a …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Banff National Park: Hiking Tunnel Mountain

026 Tunnel Mountain Banff National Park

As summer is upon us, I thought  I’d feature another walk from the Canadian Rockies, this one directly accessible from downtown Banff on a trail that’s been around almost as long as Banff itself has.  The hike is up Tunnel Mountain, a misnamed place in that there is no tunnel and this “mountain” is really just a large hill when compared to the size and grandeur of the other Rocky Mountains peaks around it (it’s the smallest mountain by Banff, but definitely still a memorable peak).  There are wonderful views to be enjoyed from much of the trail, reason enough to make this a worthwhile hike.

The original name given to this peak by the natives was “Sleeping Buffalo Mountain” (because the …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America / Utah

One of the Most Scenic Road Trips in America! The Grand Army of the Republic Highway (Hwy I-70).

024 I-70 roadtrip heading east.  Spotted Wolf Canyon

The United States has some of the planet’s finest scenery and boasts dozens of great drives.  From the California’s Pacific Coast Highway, to Montana’s Going to the Sun Road, to Newfound Gap Road in the Smoky Mountains, there’s scenic drives in almost all parts of the country.  But I think this highway is one of the best.  As it winds through eastern Utah and western Colorado, you see varied scenery including desert with memorable and colorful rock monoliths, the Colorado River, canyons and the lush forested Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The road I’m referring to is the I-70 freeway and particularly the stretch between Salina, Utah to just before Denver, Colorado.  As it is a freeway, the highway is well maintained although …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 11) Newgrange and Knowth

Newgrange 2013-010

The combination of its natural beauty and fascinating archaeological record (chronicling the country’s long history) makes Ireland a compelling place to visit.  There are many fabulous places to see when visiting Ireland, each seeming better than the last one you stopped at.  I think the most fascinating place we visited on the Emerald Isle — surpassing even the fabulous Dingle peninsula – was Brú na Bóinne.  This place is truly unique and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Situated just an hour’s drive north of Dublin, it’s home to the most ancient structures I’ve ever been in and is well worth going out of your way to see.

Specifically I’m talking specifically about visiting Newgrange and Knowth, two sites in a complex of monuments …

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.All Trips / California / Southwestern USA

Crystal Cove State Park, Newport Beach, California

Crystal Cove State Park 3-2014 (7)

        “They call it paradise, I don’t know why.                   
        You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye. ”

                                  The Eagles

There’s a lot of great reasons to visit sunny Southern California.  It has a near perfect Mediterranean climate with months of sunny dry days.  There’s lots of fascinating sights to see, like those centered around the movie industry and the many family theme parks (Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland).  But you’ll certainly not find solitude here and there are very few “wide open spaces” left in the …

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