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A friend of mine reminded me I hadn’t written a blog post in a while. It’s not like I haven’t been anywhere, I have, but they’ve been short trips, nothing exotic. I have seen some neat things though.

It started in August with a trip to NYC to help a friend shop for her gallery in Colorado. Even though we were working we did take a little time off.

I’ve probably walked by this tiny garden on 34th St. a dozen times but never noticed it because it’s behind a nondescript metal gate. You can get a key to enter this and other key gardens for $2!

This is the first time I’ve been in NYC since the Vessel opened near the Highline. NO I did not climb it – you have to get a ticket, I didn’t have the time or the energy but it is neat to see.

Jane’s Carousel was nice to see in person. I’ve never taken the time to go to Brooklyn before. It was fun walking around the waterfront under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Jane’s Carousel
Platter I did for Jane

A few years ago I was hired to do a platter for Jane of her carousel. She is a friend of some New Bern folks. Jane and her husband bought the Carousel at auction when the park it was in in Youngstown, OH closed. It took them 22 years to restore it, with Jane doing much of the work on the animals I was told. It is now in a wonderful building in DUMBO.

This is the 2nd Philadelphia Tobaggon Company Carousel (PTC No. 61) I’ve had a close encounter with.

The other was PTC No. 6 in Colorado and I did a series of 6 drawings of that one.

Brooklyn Bridge
Truman Capote

Lots of writers lived in Brooklyn Heights and we walked by many of their homes. Henry Miller, Arthur Miller, Hart Crane, Truman Capote, Thomas Wolfe, Richard Wright, John Dos Passos, Norman Mailer, Paul Bowles and WH Auden all lived near each other.

This is something I’d never seen before, Brooklyn Cat Cafe. You pay to go in $7 and spend time petting and playing with the cats! You can also adopt them. Their website says that on weekends there is often a line and a 30 minute to an hour wait to get in to play with the cate, so make your reservation ahead.

Thousands watching a free movie in Bryant Park – it was fun!

After NY I went on a whirlwind trip to Greenville, SC, Asheville, and West Jefferson. I was in Greenville briefly once before, this time I was able to walk around the park and waterfall.

Asheville was a blur with just a few stops then off to West Jefferson, hadn’t been there in at least 20 years maybe more. On the way stopped for lunch and a drink at the Little Switzerland Inn. Then continued to West Jefferson. We enjoyed the Ashe County Cheese Shop. You can see cheese made and their shop is great! We ran into friend and artist Mike Rooney who was there teaching a workshop at the Florence Thomas Art School.

I was home from there for a week or so then headed off to Michigan for my 50th class reunion. I hadn’t been to any of them so didn’t know what to expect. As it turned out it was fun. But before I got there I decided to take the scenic route on the way.

I took Hwy 33 in Virginia and ended up in a beautiful little town by the name of Gordonsville. There were some great shops and a beautiful art gallery – The Annie Gould Gallery.

I often go through Winchester, Virginia on my way. It’s the self proclaimed Apple Capitol of the world.

My great, great, great grandfather, Samuel Trowbridge lived near there and is buried in the Little Mountain Cemetery on property he was awarded after serving in the Revolutionary War. The minister at the Little Mountain Methodist Church told me that he was the first white man buried in the cemetery. He and his wife Christiann had a farm on Apple Pie Ridge. His son, my great, great grandfather Joseph Trowbridge went west and ended up in Frankfort, In. His son Aaron Moon was in the Civil war and went to Ohio when it was over. His son Wallace Orth Trowbridge, my grandfather ended up in Michigan.

Since it was before Halloween I saw some neat decorations on my way.

Had to turn around to get a shot of these guys. This wasn’t far from my hometown,
my niece said they get new clothes about every season.
Love this pumpkin made out of a round bale of hay and a stump!

After a few days in Michigan I headed south again. This time all the way to Charleston to my nieces wedding.

That was another short visit. But on the way I drove through Wytheville. I’ve driven by 20+ times on 77 but just never stopped. I was surprised what a nice little town it is, from the highway it just looks like one big truck stop. I am always attracted to advertising art so could not resist a photo of this big pencil at the Wytheville Office Supply.

Home again then back to Michigan for a family reunion. Spent the weekend with my sister and didn’t do much else. The 2nd weekend in December I got a chance to go to Hyde County and see some of the natural world. The tundra swans are there for the winter. I wish I would have gotten a photo of them as they flew overhead.

Thousands of birds, sometimes you can’t even see them but you sure can hear them.
Bear footprint along the path.
Some kind of big cat print.

It was interesting that all along this path near the impoundments just west of Lake Mattamuskeet we saw pile after pile of animal droppings, we assume they were marking their territory.

Then for the last trip of the year I headed out to another wedding in South Bend, Indiana. I flew into Chicago because I hadn’t been there in 25+ years. As a young adult it was just 4 hours away so went often. I spent Friday on a walking tour of public art, it was cold but so much fun! I was going to add Chicago to this post but too much to post about so I’ll post that one in a week or so.

Travels coming up in 2020 – 2 weeks in Key West, a month in Ft. Myers, 2 weeks in Colorado and a 2 week tour of Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Salzburg, and maybe Maine and Nova Scotia this summer, can’t wait!

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Road Trip Long Island and Points North

I know people that go to the same place for vacation over and over, it’s comfortable, you know what you are going to get, you can just sit and rest because there is nothing new to explore. Michael used to say going on vacation with me was like going on a forced march, he would have been happy to go to the same place all the time (mostly the Keys!) but for me – I’m curious to see what is around the bend, how people live differently than I do, what new art is out there I haven’t seen before, what food is different, how people plant their gardens, what lovely architecture there is to see – for me it keeps life interesting.

Life-sized public sculptures by Polish artist Jerzy “Jotka” Kędziora at Old Westbury Gardens

I decided to meet some friends on Long Island for a week, yes I knew the traffic would be bad but it’s the only time to go in my opinion! I started out by visiting The Greenbrier in West Virginia on my way. I was not impressed so don’t need to go back there again, however the little town of Lewisburg was nice.

I was driving my Sprinter and while I’m used to driving through big cities and have driven through NYC in it before I wasn’t really looking forward to driving through Brooklyn so got up at 5 am, there was still a traffic jam although not a long one. Actually I prefer a traffic jam over going 70 mph with thousands of other cars never knowing when someone will slam on their brakes. I made with without incident. My first stop on LI was at Old Westbury Gardens, I had been there once but it had been a long time. The gardens were beautiful and at their peak! The estate is on the National Register and was owned by an heir to the Phipps fortune. The money came from his father being partner in the Carnegie Steel Company.

We stayed at Wildwood State Park which was a beautiful campground and in a great location, where the North and South Forks meet.

Our first day we went to Sagamore Hill where Teddy Roosevelt lived. It is a beautiful home, there is also a nice museum, part of the US National Park System. I think the thing that impressed me the most was that it was fully furnished, with all the knick knacks, books, art, etc, that was there when he lived there. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a historic home that had so much original “stuff”. It was really neat to see it all.

The difference of the North Fork, the South Fork, of LI is always a surprise to me, totally different worlds. On the North Fork – Farm Market after Farm Market, dozens of wineries, cider houses, and wide open fields.

We stopped at Lavender by the Bay, they were doing a bang up business, their gift shop is very well stocked with everything lavender.

Lavender by the Bay
Lavender by the Bay
Couldn’t resist Uncle Sam
Loved the look of the front of this Hotel and the lady with the watering can was a bonus. Could be a painting in my future!

We could see that a lot of shops really struggle out there, their tourist season is so short, the middle of June to Labor day, yet the South Fork seems to thrive.

Can’t pass up something like the Big Duck without stopping. Before the wineries, cider houses, and farm stands, raising ducks on the east end of LI was big business. We are told as you approached River head you could smell them. So the Big Duck pays homage to that period. A duck farmer built it and used it as a shop to sell his eggs and ducks out of. It’s now a gift shop and tourist information center.

The Big Duck in Flanders, NY

And Lighthouses fall under the same category as the big duck. Can’t pass one by without a photo.

In Orient they have replicas of the surrounding lighthouses since most are accessible only by water.


We ate at this restaurant near the cross sound ferry at Orient, which I would not recommend, but my photo of it would make a nice painting!

Sailing to Block Island
Montauk Lighthouse and Museum

Block Island – I have been intrigued with BI for a long time so glad to visit and cross that off my list. We took the ferry out of Montauk, it took a little over an hour to go the 12 miles. I expected cliffs all the way around and was surprised to find one side of the island sandy and the other with high cliffs as I had envisioned. The island is very hilly. There were hundreds of boats in the harbors. We docked in New Town Harbor where most boats are moored (maybe a couple hundred), there isn’t much else in New Harbor so took a taxi to Old Town Harbor. We enjoyed the architecture, and walking around, then took a tour of the island.

Block Island
Rainy day on Block Island

After Block Island I spent a couple days roaming around Shelter Island, East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Watermill and other towns. The Mumford Farm ca. 1680, is a collection of buildings on the main drag entering East Hampton. It belongs to the Historical Society and is on the National Register.

There are a lot of windmills on long island.  The reason there were so many is in most parts of the country the mills were run by water running in a stream but on Long Island there are few streams but there is an abundance of wind. The Eastern end of Long Island has the largest concentration of surviving windmills in the country. There are two right in the village of East Hampton.

Mumford Farm East Hampton
Sag Harbor
Marc Dalessio

On my last visit I had driven through Sag Harbor on my way to the Shelter Island Ferry but did not take time to look around. It’s a cute town, quite down market from East Hampton, but with some nice old homes, shops and galleries. My friend Marc Dalessio had a show at a gallery there. This is how I want to paint in oils! loose and impressionistic. Don’t know if I’ll ever achieve it because of my background of architectural renderings I just can’t get away from my fascination with detail. But we’ll see. I’m working on paintings for a show I will have at Carolina Creations, it will be a combination of watercolors and oils. I’ve done some oil paintings through the years but never had enough time to really feel comfortable with the medium.

Beautiful lunch at The American Hotel – Sag Harbor

I visited the home and artist studio of Jackson Pollock and his artist wife Lee Krasner. It is a beautiful spot.

Jackson Pollocks back yard
When they pulled up linoleum from the floor they found remnants of some of Pollocks most famous paintings.

While in the town of Water Mill I visited a mill run by water that grinds corn into flour, they have a great little museum and had an art show to boot.

Also on the South Fork is the Madoo Conversancy. A beautiful garden owned and developed by artist, writer, and gardener, Robert Dash – only 2 acres – but with a lot packed in, including a studio where they had an exhibit – The Madoo Conservancy is pleased to present Madoo: A History in Photographs, Celebrating 25 Years as a Public Garden—an exhibition of photographs, published book and magazine features, and artwork from the archives of Madoo’s founder Robert Dash, including seven pictures Dash produced directly from his garden. It was well worth the visit.

I took the Port Jefferson ferry to Connecticut and my first stop was at the Pez Visitors Center. I would have never stopped there but my friends were there the week before and just mentioned it in passing. They didn’t tell me how neat it is. I had no clue how many Pez Dispensers have been made through the years. It is an amazing collection.

A quick drive through New Haven followed. New Haven was founded in 1637, and my Trowbridge ancestors arrived there in 1639 from England. Then they moved a little north to help found the settlement of Wallingford. My Mom was a genealogist so I grew up thinking about where we came from. Unfortunately genealogy is one of those things that can take over your life. I already have one of those things so can only work to get her research more organized, not do any of my own.

A day on Nantucket came next. The window boxes were fabulous. I took photos of probably 40 of them, each was a work of art.

Before leaving the Cape I visited Highfield Hall and Gardens to see the stick sculpture by Patrick Dougherty.

Not sure I totally agree with him but like his quote about his work – the line between trash and treasure is thin, and the sculptures, like the sticks they are made from, begin to fade after two years. Often the public imagines that a work of art should be made to last, but I believe that a sculpture, like a good flower bed, has its season. – Patrick Dougherty

I then drove across Massachusetts to Pittsfield to see a show of work by John MacDonald, at the Berkshire Museum.

Then to Williamstown to the Clark – my favorite art museum in the country, to see a show of work by Renior and his contemporaries.

A stop to see my sculptor friend Stephen Fabrico and his gardener wife Sara, then home.

Sculpture by Stephen Fabrico

It was an inspiring trip but I knew my yard was suffering in the 90 degree heat so wanted to get home and take care of it. What’s next? 4 days in NYC, hopefully a cold front will be coming through while I’m there. A couple of things on my list for that trip is to see the progress on the RailYards part of the Highline and a walk around Brooklyn Heights and maybe the Botanical Garden.

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Ireland – Scotland Part 2

I took this trip in October 2018, just shortly after the hurricane. I have been on several trips since but am just now getting around to finishing this post!

We met up with the rest of the group in Dublin then traveled north to the  Giant’s Causeway, a geological area in Northern Ireland. It’s also where a lot of The Game of Thrones was shot. Then we continued along Causeway Coastal Route to catch our ferry to Scotland, and ultimately the Isle of Iona in the Inner Hebrides, a group of islands off the coast of Scotland.


Our bus took us to Oban to catch the ferry Craignure on the Isle of Mull. There are mostly single lane roads on this island, but there were lots of places to pull out to let others pass. We headed to Fionnphort to catch our next ferry. This island is the second largest island in the Hebrides, so the one lane road was a surprise since we had to drive about 35 miles on it. Even though it is a large island the population is only about 3000.

Arriving in Fionnphort we got our first glimpse of Iona. A tiny island just a mile off of the Isle of Mull.

This island has been a place of Christian pilgrimage since the 6th century. It’s described as a “thin place” – there are lots of interesting articles about thin places here is one from The New York Times – and another – and one more. What is a thin place? “It is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin. It’s a place where we can sense the divine more readily.”

Iona was the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. St Columba (grandson of the Irish King Niall) arrived there in 563 AD, built a monastery and converted the pagans to Christianity.

The island is home to the ruins of an ancient nunnery, a medieval abbey, and the burial ground of 48 Scottish kings. It’s a tiny island just 3 miles long and 1 mile wide.  Over the centuries the monks of Iona produced elaborate carvings, manuscripts and Celtic crosses. Probably their most famous work was the Book of Kells, from 800 AD, which we saw at Trinity College in Dublin.


On the hike we crossed the most unusual golf course I’ve ever seen with grazing sheep on it.

We arrived at the beach where St Columba first landed and we picked up green serpantine marble – it is a traditional charm against drowning and the evil-eye. The stone is also called Iona greenstone or St. Columba’s tears. There are lots of different types of rocks on this island – some being the oldest rocks on earth – 3 billion years old. To read more about the geology of the area click here.

There is a rock labyrinth on the beach too.IMG_1574IMG_1557IMG_1555IMG_1541





Our days on Iona were spent going to a worship service at the Abbey at 9 am and 9 pm each day, visiting the craft shops, reading, hiking and thinking about life. It was a relaxing visit.

While on a hike across the island we saw spray shooting up out of a hole in the top of a cave, our guide said that only happens when there are big swells on the ocean indicating a storm in the North Atlantic, and in this case heading toward Iona, more about that later.

For such a tiny island with a population of only 175 there are about 10 shops, mostly craft shops. They get about 130,000 visitors each year which supports the shops and the few hotels on the Island. You’ll find lots of things made from wool, there is a potter or two on the island, weaving, paintings, and jewelry made from local stone.

The Abbey was beautiful, the few streets on the island were picturesque, and the view of the sound was lovely.
We intended to leave on Sunday but Saturday morning we were told if we didn’t want to stay until Thursday we needed to EVACUATE today!! Evacuating two times, just weeks apart was no fun but it did add to the adventure.

Since our tour guide could not get a bus around on such short notice to pick us up we had to take public transportation to get to Glasgow. That was a trip.

We took the ferry across the sound and waited for the public bus to leave. As we drove across the island we saw 11 individual rainbows!

We took that bus to the next ferry, which took us to the train, except they were working on the tracks so we took another bus to meet the train which took us to Glasgow. By arriving there a day early we got a chance to do a little touring there. I loved the architecture in the city, we went to the cathedral then we got to go to the Kelvingrove Museum.

Then back to New Bern to get back to the cleanup after the flood. To read part 1 of this trip click here.

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Road Trip Southern Italy Part 2 Lecce to Ostuni

Lecce is in the heel of Italy’s boot, with olive trees as far as the eye can see. It is called the Florence of the South because of its baroque architecture. As we found in Bari the shops close from 1-3 for siesta! I don’t remember them doing this in other parts of Italy I have visited. And it might just be in the old part of town that this happens.

While the history of Lecce goes way back the period Lecce is most famous for is the 17th century when the Palaces and churches were built in the Baroque style out of soft local limestone. The Basilica di Santa Croce is the focal point of the old city with its amazing facade. But there are many other fabulously decorated churches in this small space.

You can still see ruins of a Roman amphitheatre which is at the dividing line of the old and new city. The amphitheatre is surrounded by buildings put up by Batista – Fascist architecture – which we saw a lot of in Napoli. It is partly buried because other ancient building were built on top of it. In its day it would hold 20,000. It is still used today for concerts and celebrations. Only the lower tier of seats remain. Near the square theatre there is a pre-Roman necropolis where Messapian inscriptions have been found.

There are a lot of beautiful shops with local art. I don’t recall seeing the pumi before. Pumi are decorative elements in a form recalling a bud that is going to bloom. Symbolizing prosperity and fertility, in the folk culture of the Southern Italy they defend from evil. Deeply rooted in the traditional culture of the ‘heel of the boot’, Pumi are very popular in Puglia, decorating magnificent palaces as well as simple balconies. I could do without the fertility but had to have one to take home.

We had a great time shopping in Lecce, both Bobbi and I met artists and purchased there work. We saw a lot of earthenware sculpture with a white glaze – love it.

This region is also famous for its papier mâché.

Scenes from Lecce.

We went to Otranto for a quick visit, and had a wonderful farm to table meal and wine tasting close by.

We left Lecce the next day and drove to Ostuni – the White City on the top of a hill. Ostuni is located in a region that has been inhabited since the stone age. It is believed to have to been founded by the Messapii, destroyed by the armies of Hannibal during the Punic Wars and then re-built by the Greeks – hence the Ostuni name meaning “new town.”

Its whitewashed defensive walls and houses in the old town with many winding streets, steps and beautifully decorated, colorful window frames can make you think you’re somewhere in Greece. Ostuni’s history is shown predominately within it’s architecture; with many buildings still standing dating back as far as 990 AD when the city was sacked by the Normans and added to it’s own county. The majority of buildings date from 1300 to 1463.

Our guides recipe for limoncello
Translation 1 litre grain alcohol 96 proof
8 organic lemons
1 1/2 pounds sugar
1 litre water
Peel the lemons (use none of the white)
soak the peels in the alcohol for 2 weeks in a dry dark place
strain through a fine linen cloth
make a syrup with the sugar and 1 litre water
for Christmas he adds a cinnamon stick and 16 cloves
strains again
and salute!
It must be drunk very cold – put it in the freezer and drink it from there.
Our lunch spot in Ostuni

As I discovered the last time I was in Italy the further south I got the more I liked the food and the fewer people there were – well once you get away from Napoli.

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Road Trip Southern Italy part 1

My trip started by arriving in Naples, one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. Before I left home I saw a couple of videos and heard people talk about Naples, or Napoli as we were instructed to say (because Naples is in Florida) they said it’s chaotic, dirty, and crowded. It’s all of that but I’m glad I got to walk the streets. The architecture, the street food, the graffiti, the people, all were wonderful (well maybe not the graffiti). Driving from the airport to our hotel, just off Toledo, made me glad I was not driving, it reminded me of driving around the Arc De Triomph in Paris, or pretty much anywhere in Mexico City. You just go and hope others will not hit you, no street lights, hardly any lane markings through some of the city. You walk that way as well, we were told, cross at the crosswalk and be assertive, just step out and they will stop.

There are 60 museums in the city, we visited the Muse o Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli which has many artifacts found at Herculaneum and Pompeii. Some of our group went to Herculaneum, I had been to Pompeii on a previous trip so chose to stroll the streets.

We only got to see one of the Subway stations but Line 1 and Line 6 of the Napoli subway system have become an open-air museum with masterpieces between the staircases and docks. The stations are filled with colors, mosaics, installations, sculptures and photographs. Architects were chosen from across the globe to design each of the stations and international and Italian artists to provide the art. It has made a significant impact on the surrounding areas of the stations they say. Read more about it.

Not on WW but had to have a sfogliatella – The sfogliatella Santa Rosa was created in the monastery of Santa Rosa in Conca dei Marini in the province of SalernoItaly, in the 17th century. Pasquale Pintauro, a pastry chef from Naples, acquired the original recipe and began selling the pastries in his shop in 1818. Yum!

We left Napoli and drove to the city of Benevento –A UNESCO World Heritage Site . They know the Romans were here in 298 BC, there is a large Roman theatre here and the Arch of Trajann. The Arch of Trajan is one of the best-preserved Roman structures in the Campania (as this region of Italy is called).
The church we visited was built in 760 – The Church of Santa Sofia, it’s circular of Lombard design. It was severely damaged in an earthquake a while back but has been restored. It’s interesting that in the construction they used artifacts as building materials, some from the Roman times. They also have a lot of artifacts from that period on their grounds. The church has a  cloister from the 12th century. The church interior was once totally frescoed by Byzantine artists: fragments of these paintings, portraying the Histories of Christ, can be still seen in the two side aps.

The Appian Way is one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. And it ran right through this arch.

From Benevento we headed east and stopped at an interesting Castle Castel del Monte  or Castle of the Mountain – built in the 13th-century it sits alone on a hill, no need for a moat because being the highest point in the area you could see the enemy coming, even from the sea. It was built by the Emperor Frederick II, who had inherited the lands from his mother Constance of Sicily. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of 54 in Italy – of the 1092 sites worldwide, Italy has the most of any country.

The Between Benevento and Bari were miles and miles and miles of olive trees and vineyards. Bari is on the Adriatic Sea. Again – reading about Bari on the internet people kind of pan it. But we were entralled. The ancient part of Bari – Bari Vecchia – is a maze of narrow alleys. It is fascinating. The homes are tiny and much of their living is on the street.

St Nicholas is the patron Saint of Bari. They were preparing for the twice yearly celebrated festival when we were there. If you go on a tour in Europe you invariably go to dozens of churches, the Basilica of San Nicola, is a treasure built in 1087 to house the relics of the patron saint of the city. Today it is a popular destination for pilgrims from all over the world, devoted to St. Nicholas, but especially Russian Orthodox citizens, with whom the city of Bari has important relationships. Putin had even visited there recently.

There is a pasta that they make here – the women sit in their doorways and cut and twist the pasta into shapes called orecchiette – little ears.  Click here to see a video of them cutting and twisting the pasta.

From Bari we headed to Monopoli – a town with heavy Greek influences. The Agean sea is less that 70 miles wide at this point with Albania and Greece being the closest countries to the east.

Our last stop of the day was to visit an olive farm – Masseria Brancati – This is the oldest masseria (fortified farmhouse) in the region. They gave us a tour of their ancient underground oil mill used throughout the Middle Ages and up until 1800. We saw olive trees that were 2000 years old. There are some in the region that are 4000 years old. The oldest trees are given a number and are protected – read about the Millenari Di Puglia. We tasted their oil and learned about the different qualities of them. The first press is the extra virgin and has the most antioxidants and is the strongest. Whether extra virgin or virgin has to do with the time the olive is harvested. Here in this region (maybe everywhere I don’t know) they are harvested first in October, then 2nd in November and 3rd in December. The December harvest is the mildest and the one you cook with. The October is the strongest flavor and most healthy. The November oil falls somewhere in-between.

The trunks of these ancient trees are amazing

We had some rain in the area of Italy “that it never rains” but it didn’t dampen our spirits or slow us down.

Next stop Lecce – called the Florence of the South – in Road Trip Southern Italy Part 2

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Ireland – Scotland Part 1

Exhausted from Hurricane Florence I guiltily decided to go on the trip I had signed up for last fall. I’m glad I did. We set off on a two day train trip from Dublin with Railtours Ireland. We traveled south west through the countryside of Co. Kildare.

We visited the Cliffs of Moher, among the highest sea cliffs in Europe. We were there for about an hour and by the time we left the fog had swept in and you couldn’t see any of the cliffs. This part of the country is breathtaking.


We drove along “The Burren“. The word Burren means ‘rocky place’. It looks like a a lunar landscape of limestone. We were told that though it seems like there is no soil it’s noted for its diverse flora and fauna, more diverse than anywhere in Europe. Migrating birds from the North Pole and from theMediterranean and points further south bring the seeds that grow in the crevices in the rocks. This area also has many times more rainfall that Eastern Ireland.


We stopped at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in Co. Clare.   The castle was built in the 15th Century and is furnished with period furniture and artifacts. I found the grounds most interesting – a 19th century Irish village with buildings from around the region.


We eventually arrived in Galway, where we had time to explore on our own. One of the highlights was hearing a group of young Irish musicians performing on the street.


Galway has a lot of young people and lots of tech jobs, It’s history began with a fort built in 1142. Through the Middle Ages it was a thriving port, it was involved in many wars through the ages, the potato famine of the mid 19th century and never regained strong economic growth until the late 20th century.

On day two we went to the Connemara region. When thinking about the area these are the things that come to my mind – few trees – thousands of miles of stone fences – narrow roads – windswept landscapes – mountains – fuschia hedges – sheep – lots of lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

We stopped at the Kylemore Abbey & Walled Victorian Gardens – which was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry, a successful businessman and liberal politician. It changed hands several times and in 1920 it was taken over by Benedictine Nuns whose Abbey in Belgium had been destroyed in World War II. They opened a world renowned boarding school for girls and restored the Abbey and Garden. The Walled Garden covers 6 acres and had fallen into ruin. In 1995 the Nuns began restoring it and it was opened to the public in 2000. The garden had 21 heated glass houses and a work force of 40 gardeners when it was first established and was compared in magnificence to Kew Gardens.

We continued on the Connemara Loop which was hauntingly beautiful.


There are only a few towns in the area and my favorite is Clifden.

We heard that if the sheep are on top of the mountain (in this case cows) the weather is going to be good….

There are a lot of sheep in the area, and they are free range, so you have to be very careful driving on the narrow winding roads because you never know what’s around the corner.

I loved this area – it’s kind of other worldly.

We went back to Galway and caught the train to Dublin.

I realize that I know little about the history of Ireland, as part of my blogging after a trip I go back and research the places I’ve been. It was interesting that  looking around Dublin looks like a pretty new city, I made a stupid comment about maybe because it was bombed during WWII. I was corrected – Ireland was neutral during the war so was never bombed. I wondered what else I didn’t know! So have been reading up on their history.

Here is a great timeline.

My mom was a genealogist and I read in some of her papers that our ancestors came from Ireland way back during the time of tribes and clans around 200 A.D. in present-day Ireland. At that time the area a tribe or clan occupied was called a Lyne or Lynne. When the leader of the clan wanted to gather the people they blew a horn, our clan was near the sea and made use of conch shells for their horns, thus “Conchlynne.”  This tribe – Conchlynne – was located where the city of Belfast now stands. for some reason members of the tribe migrated across to Scotland and then south to Nottinghamshire, England where the name is found in the 1600’s. The name turned into Conklin somewhere along the line in the US. When first coming to the US they were glassmakers.

We aren’t going to make it to Belfast on this trip – that will have to wait until next time.

I wasn’t in love with Dublin but did find a few areas I liked. Here are few photos from around town.

Two things that have made a huge impact on this city – Heineken and the musical group U2.
Signs and decorations on buildings…

Learning about the book of Kells at Trinity College (founded in 1592) was really more interesting than seeing it to me, since you can only see two pages, but the lengths the monks went through to make it were extraordinary.  They made it on the isle of Iona, where we are headed when we meet up with others from New Bern.


The best part about the visit to Trinity College was seeing the long room, the library in the same building (which houses 200,000 of the Universities oldest books). You would recognize it from the Harry Potter movies, They weren’t allowed to use the library in their filming but they based the one they created on it.

Next post….. traveling north to the Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland, and then Scotland. We really didn’t see a lot of either country but what we did see we really like.




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Colorado in August

I returned from Michigan with a few days to spare before going to see my friend Deb in Colorado. We made our base in Breckenridge. I can tell I’m getting old! There is a huge difference in 8000 and 10,500 feet. We lived in Aspen for 6 years at 8000 feet and after a couple days I got used to the altitude. 10,500 feet and 30 years later is an entirely different animal.

I huffed and puffed the entire week that we were in Breckenridge and when we went to Glenwood Springs and Aspen I really noticed the difference, I could breathe.

We arrived in Breckenridge at the end of their International Festival of Arts but were able to take in a few of the events.

Tree-O was pretty neat. We hiked part of the Illinois Creek Trail and found 3 musicians hanging from the trees playing music.

We loved the troll created by Thomas Dambo who is an artist from Copenhagen, Denmark. He made this huge troll out of wood on the spot. Again to see it we had to hike up one of the trails for about a quarter of a mile, it was worth the walk. We climbed over the big pile of stones to get to it, once over the top I slid and sat down. Since I’ve gotten older I haven’t been afraid to ask for help. I stuck my hand out and a young man helped me down the rest of the way.

In the first photo you can get an idea how huge he was! probably 14 or 15 feet tall.



Another musical performance by Chirp! was up yet another trail. I didn’t know we were going to be hiking or I would have brought shoes other than my Birkenstocks. They sang a cappella and one of their songs really spoke to me. Here are part of the lyrics –
you gotta get up – break away – I won’t know peace til I find my place – guess that’s part of  the reason I’m traveling so much this year. Trying to figure out what is normal for me now without Michael and CC.

For two entire days we soaked in hot springs, both in Glenwood Springs.

  • Glenwood Canyon.

First the one Michael and I always used to go to when we lived in Aspen…..
He always used to say, can you image what it would have been like to ride the train from New York in 1888 and get off here to soak? Glenwood Hot Spring the worlds largest hot spring pool.

The second hot springs day was spent at a new one called Iron Mountain Hot Springs,  which is a totally different experience. There is a small pool but there are also a dozen or so hot tubs, each with a different temperature.  It was very nice and was built only about 5 years ago.
iron mountain

Both days were glorious!

Frisco was a real surprise for me, I’ve probably driven by it dozens of times but never stopped, always in a hurry to get home or get to Denver. It’s a beautiful little town just outside of Breckenridge, with some really nice shops.


I’ve always been interested in railroads, especially steam, something about the travel, the lore, the intricacy of the locomotives, the architecture of the depots, so was happy when Deb agreed to drive up Boreas Pass. Michael and I drove all of these old railroad beds we could but never made it up this one.

IMG_0434This one over Boreas Pass was part of the Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad, which was built in 1882. The pass is at 11,481 feet, we made it to the top in a regular car. There were a few scary spots where you were driving on a cliff but all in all it was a pretty easy drive. We were surprised that people were camping along the way, some on a ledge. Usually camping isn’t allowed right along a road.

The nice thing about driving on these old railroad beds is that they are never steep, just a gentle grade. The railroad shut down service over the Pass in 1937 and began taking up the rails.

Another day we drove to Aspen, it continues to be one of my favorite places on earth.

This is the road out of the back of the entrance to Buttermilk Mountain. The house we lived in was on the top of this ridge.


Every day when we lived there we drove pass the road to the Maroon Bells. Not a bad sight!


My old workplace the Aspen Times.

After our week in the mountains we returned to Arvada, make several trips to Boulder then one to Longmont to the Benson Sculpture Park . I’d heard about this park and the sculpture Show held there every year but really had no idea of the extent of their collection. Very impressive!

One of the sculptures is by Susan Pascal Beran – she did the Spider Lily Sculpture that sits in front of the Convention Center in our downtown.
susan pascal
It was a great trip but now looking forward to some time at home……  little did I know Florence was on the horizon.


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Road Trip The Cotswolds part 2 plus the Chelsea Flower Show

Road Trip – The Cotswolds part 2 plus Chelsea Flower Show – click the link to see LOTS more photos. The fabulous trip continued…. we stopped at Bourton-on-the-Water to take a quick stroll through town, then went on to Bibury.


One of Bibury’s main tourist spots and overlooking a water meadow and the river is Arlington Row, a group of ancient cottages with steeply pitched roofs dating back to the 16th century.

Henry Ford thought Arlington Row was an icon of England. On a trip to the Cotswolds he tried to buy the entire row of houses to ship back to Michigan so that he could include them in Greenfield Village.


IMG_8271Rolling Hills of the countryside. Some of the hills are quite steep because of the Cotswolds escarpment, a pie shaped area of limestone from the Jurassic period tipped on its edge. Some of the hills rise 1000.

Throughout the countryside are stone monuments to those who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars. And everywhere are beautiful stone fences, laid up with no mortar.

A comment our guide said I thought was worth repeating. “We owe so much to the US, we could not survive without you, although I’m sure, your country feels it could survive without us.”

The very best garden in my opinion was Highgrove, The home of Prince Charles, and unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos. After hearing a taped presentation by him about the garden and his interest in organic I changed my mind about how I perceive him.

We had champagne High Tea, the gift shop was beautiful, the outdoor part was so well done I could do a dozen paintings just of it. The house was built in the 1790s and when prince Charles purchased it there was just a small kitchen garden. It is stunning and he and his gardeners have made it so it is beautiful in every season.

high tea

Of course I always need to post signs…..



And my two favorites…

Bourton House Gardens followed… an award-winning three acre jewel… winner of the prestigious Historic Houses Association / Christie’s “Garden of the Year” Award. The garden is surrounded by a stately 18th century manor house.

Another stunner followed that one –

Sudeley Castle… has nine individual gardens… all unique and beautiful. Elizabeth, Lady Ashcomb, is the current owner and lives on the estate.

It has played a roll in the history of England for over 1000 years. Can you imagine living in a castle where a queen is buried, you have your very own ruins and a large chapel too?

The castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII. Henry himself, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth I and Richard III have all played a part in Sudeley’s story. King Charles I (1600s) found refuge here during the Civil War, when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at the Castle. Following its ‘slighting’ on Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil War, Sudeley lay neglected and derelict for nearly 200 years.

King George III was amongst those sightseers who came to admire its romantic ruins. Then in 1837 Sudeley was rescued by the wealthy Worcester glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent, who began an ambitious restoration programme which was continued by their nephew, John Coucher Dent, when he inherited the castle in 1855. His wife, Emma Brocklehurst, threw herself enthusiastically into Sudeley’s restoration, at the same time forging strong links with the nearby town of Winchcombe. It is the results of Emma’s dedication that are so evident in the gardens and exhibitions at Sudeley today. If you are interested in more history.


I see a painting here!






And on to the next town!


We spoke to the owner – he said this wisteria is at least 180 years old.

Red chestnut

Loved traveling in a small group, we went on many one track roads that most tours would never have been able to go on.

While in the Cotswolds we stayed at Moreton-in-Marsh a market town granted its market charter in 1227.


Curfew tower.

Our hotel