Friday, May 31, 2019

Scott and England

Last weekend my friend John had to run an errand in Scott, so I was happy to tag along. The flat and swampy lands around Scott and England contain a plethora of neat things to point the camera at, including several old and abandoned churches. This one, south of Scott, was flanked by two overgrown bushes. The front door was guarded by thick clouds of wasps, so I didn’t dare step any closer.

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The church is surrounded by fields, which were being tilled for planting (guess the rainy Spring delayed them getting the fields ready?).

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We drove to the small town of England, which has a population of about 2,800 (people, not mosquitoes). In the center of town was this vacant lot, which still retained a few hints of the building that used to stand here. This stretch of tile remains, sitting in the shade below a faded blue wall.

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We stopped and tried to get a few shots of the England skyline - these huge elevators that tower over a small fishing lake.

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And one last shot – on the way back home we passed by this car that was slowly being consumed by weeds (it was parked on the edge of a salvage yard).

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Ireland - 20 Years Ago

I know this is about to make me sound really old, but it was exactly twenty years ago that I was nearing the end of one of the greatest trips that I've ever been lucky enough to experience. It was a study abroad trip to Ireland, taken while I was just a wee young lad (or really just after finishing my sophomore year of college at the University of the Ozarks). I went through a grand total of forty rolls of film on the trip, all taken with my trusty Pentax ZX-50. Looking back, it's amazing how much photography has changed in the last two decades. I remember buying a bunch of film in bulk before the trip, then worrying if they were all going to be ruined by airport X-rays. When I got home, I went to get the film developed and it cost about $8 per roll, so I ended up spending over $300 before I could even see if any of the pictures turned out.

I've spent the past few weeks going through all my old negatives and scanning them, which is a bit tedious but it's been interesting to look back at some of these old pictures. So here are a few pictures from Ireland in 1999, along with our little bonus excursion to Paris and London (to see more, I did a much more detailed write-up of the trip in 2009 HERE HERE HERE HERE and HERE).

May 21, 1999: On our first full day in Ireland we headed north and visited Newgrange, and then the Hill of Tara. This is a view of sheep grazing at the Hill of Tara, which was the home of the ancient High Kings of Ireland from around the 1st through the 12th centuries (there are also Neolithic passage tombs here that date back to 2500 BC). This was taken while standing on the site of Teach Chormaic (or Cormac's House). Cormac mac Airt was one of the most famous of the High Kings of Ireland, and is credited with building many of the historic sites at the Hill of Tara (and is also possibly a distant relative?).

Hill of Tara

While there we also went by this neat old church, which was built in the 1820's. It's now used as the Hill of Tara's visitor center.

Hill of Tara

May 22, 1999: We did a tour of Dublin, and went by a few landmarks. This is the stately Custom House along the River Liffey. I wish I could have gotten a better view for this, but it was taken from the window of a bus.

Custom House

This granite archway sits at the entrance to St. Stephen's Green. The arch was built in 1907, and through it you can see the busy traffic around Grafton Street.

Fusiliers' Arch

May 23, 1999: Our group did a day trip south to the historic city of Kilkenny, which dates back to the 6th century.

Kilkenny

We walked to St. Canice's Cathedral, which was built in the 13th century. The 100 foot tall Round Tower next to it was actually built sometime in the 9th century (you can usually go to the top but it was closed when we were there).

Kilkenny

May 24, 1999: We again drove south and visited the ruins at Glendalough, which was one of the highlights of the trip. Glendalough contains the ruins of an old monastic settlement that was first established in the 6th century. This is the view looking up at the century-old Round Tower, which is amazingly well preserved. I used up several rolls of film here.

Glendalough

And a small path, cutting through the woods at Glendalough. I've spent the past twenty years trying to imagine just where this path leads (hopefully not just to the maintenance shed or something like that).

Glendalough

May 25, 1999: We headed to Limerick and did a tour of King John's Castle, which was built in the early 13th century. This is the view from beside the castle, as the River Shannon flows by an old bridge and a Gothic church which were both built in the 1830s.

Limerick

May 26, 1999: Our bus somehow navigated the narrow roads around the Dingle Peninsula, which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean in the southwestern corner of Ireland.

Dingle

I love this place. It has been twenty years, but this is still one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I've ever visited.

Dingle Peninsula

Whenever we win the lottery, we're getting a cottage here.

Dingle

May 27, 1999: We spent the morning at Bunratty Castle, which was built in the 1400s. This is the view from one of the castle towers, looking towards the Ralty River.

Bunratty Castle

And then we went and visited the Cliffs of Moher, which were amazing. The cliffs are so massive (about 700 feet high) that you can't even hear the sound of the waves crashing into the rocks below.

Cliffs of Moher

May 28, 1999: Our group next boarded a ferry and headed to Inishmore, which is the largest of the three rocky and windswept Aran Islands. The Aran Islands are known for their isolation and culture, and also because you can still find many people who still speak Gaelic. Our minibus driver who took us around the island taught us some Gaelic, which was mostly curse words (for example, Póg mo thóin means “kiss my arse”). This is the view of the village of Kilronan, the largest settlement on the island.

Inishmore

We went by Dún Aonghasa, which is a prehistoric stone fort that was built sometime in the 2nd century BC. Since I live in a place where the oldest building is from the 1820s, it was amazing to be standing in a place that has been around for that many centuries. The stone fort, which is very well preserved, sits atop these tall bluffs and enjoys a great view of the ocean.

Dún Aonghasa

May 29, 1999: We next headed north, and stopped at the stately Kylemore Abbey. The abbey was built in 1868 and is now used as a school by Benedictine Nuns.

Kylemore Abbey

And a shot of the road, taken while we headed north towards Sligo.

Ireland

May 30, 1999: The next day we drove from Sligo to Dublin (which still amazes me that you can drive across an entire country in just one morning). We toured St. Patrick's Cathedral and then walked along O'Connell Street, passing by the General Post Office. The GPO was built in 1818, and was nearly destroyed in 1916 during the Easter Rising.

GPO

Nearby is the Ha'Penny Bridge, a pedestrian bridge over the River Liffey that was constructed in 1816. This is the view looking east...

Ha'Penny Bridge

And the view looking west...

Ha'Penny Bridge

May 31, 1999: Unfortunately, this is was the end of our time in Ireland. But a few of us managed to tack on a few extra days on our trip and added a side trip to Paris and London. So on this morning we flew from Dublin to London, then took the Chunnel train to Paris. We checked into the hotel, then walked towards the River Seine.

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June 1, 1999: We had lousy luck when we were in Paris. Our visit there was at the same time that half the city was on strike. Most touristy places were closed (like the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe), but one of the few places that was open was the Eiffel Tower, and we managed to get tickets to go up to the top just before sunset.

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June 3, 1999: We had travelled back across the Channel and were back in London. Looking back I wish we were able to see more of London, but we did manage to see Trafalgar Square:

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And Parliament:

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And Westminster Abbey:

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June 4, 1999: And one last shot from the trip, from Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, the Queen did not invite us in for tea, for some reason.

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It's been way too long since I've taken these pictures, which means that it's the perfect time to make a return trip, right? How much are plane tickets to Dublin????

Monday, May 27, 2019

White County Rainbow

On Mother's Day, we drove up to Searcy to visit my In-Laws, and so that Jonah could also spend the day with some of his favorite mothers (besides Caroline, that included his Grandmama and his 92 year-old Great-Grandmother, "Gaga"). As we were heading home, we had to pull the car over since there was a nice rainbow stretching across some storm clouds off in the distance.

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Of course I managed to forget to bring my big camera with me on the trip to Searcy, so I had to rely on the iPhone camera to get these. It did a pretty job at least.

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

West of West Little Rock

We were driving around the western edge of Pulaski County, which once you leave the Little Rock city limits turns into a mixture of woods and huge homes (which were probably built back when no one thought the suburbs would have stretched out so far). There are a few neat little spots out here, including this old covered bridge over a small creek.

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Next we managed to drive by this random little art display, where someone had decorated a line of discarded tree stumps. I'm assuming they were bunnies since Easter was just a few weeks ago?

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I didn't dare get any closer to get better pictures, since a sign on the fence warned me to keep away...

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...Which I wisely heeded since I figured that if I were to trespass the bunnies would defend themselves like this. Better to be on the safe side.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Rock Creek

The vast majority of waterfalls in Arkansas are located in the Ozark, which means that if you want to hike you have to start out with a bit of a drive out of Little Rock. Luckily there are a few hidden waterfalls right here in Central Arkansas, including one on Rock Creek as it flows through the suburbs on the far western edge of the city.

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The falls are on private property (I had permission to take these pics), but you can actually see them from a bridge on Kanis Road).

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Falling Water Creek

I wish I knew who was in charge in giving Falling Water Creek its name, because they did a great job with it. It is a very accurate and apt name - the creek tumbles over several beautiful waterfalls as it makes its way towards its confluence with Richland Creek. One of those waterfalls is Six Finger Falls, which isn't very tall but it stretches wide across the entire width of the creek.

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The crown jewel of the creek is Falling Water Falls, which is a scenic little spot (although one that does seem like it's getting too popular now). I was shocked to drive by and not see a single other person there, which is so rare it's like finding a diamond. So I pulled over and hurried to get a few pictures while I had the place to myself.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Keefe Falls

This has been a really good Spring for waterfalls, with lots of rainy days providing lots of fuel for lots of waterfalls. So a few weeks back I decided to make a quick trip up to the Ozarks to try to see one waterfall, which was completely dry the last time I hiked to it. The falls were Keefe Falls, which sit near Falling Water Creek. Like the name suggests, there are lots of places with falling water along this creek.

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The trail to Keefe Falls is pretty short and is fairly easy. The trail follows and then runs above a small creek, which drops by and frolics past several large boulders.

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There were lots of wildflowers blooming along the trail, including this patch that had a grand view overlooking the creek.

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It was a nice day to be out in the woods, and I was surprised that I didn't see anyone else out along the trail. But the trail does appear to be fairly popular with horseback riders (you have to be careful and watch your step in a few places because the horses have left a few little surprises along the trail for hikers to step around).

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The trail soon reaches Keefe Falls, which is 78 feet tall and sits at the end of a scenic little grotto.

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And one last shot of the lush vegetation surrounding the trail along the way back to the car, which made for a scenic little hike.

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