• Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

    Today we started the day with a stop at the Victoria Falls Craft Market.


    Most of the goods were handcrafted from wood and were very pretty. 

    Afterwards, we visited the Chinotimba Primary School where 1600 students attend grades K -5. Students performed some dances for us, a 5th grader welcomed us, and the assistant principal told us about the school. There are 50 students in each classroom! Also, the assistant principal told us that teachers are paid very little and as an assistant principal he earns $32 a MONTH!

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    Chinotimba Primary School

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    The Vice Principal Victor with a 5th grade student welcoming us to their school.

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    Our next stop was a private home for an authentic Zimbabwean meal. Our meal consisted of caterpillars (a delicacy which I did not try), samples of sautéed kale, sautéed kale with peanut butter, black eyed peas, tiny fish (kapenta), green beans and carrots, and peanuts. We had a polenta, beef and gravy and chicken and gravy as the main meal.


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    The home where we were guests for lunch

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    It is a tradition for the hostess to wash the hands of the guests before they eat.  The meal is typically eaten with our hands (but our hostess did provide silverware for the less adventuresome).

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    This afternoon, we took  a guided walk for 3 miles to the very edge of Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.


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    We ended the evening with a delicious dinner on the lawn by the Zambezi River. At dark we saw two water buffalo walk onto the property.

  • Zambia to Zimbabwe

    We flew from our campsite near Lazyview, South Africa to the country of Zambia. There we went through customs, purchased our $50 visa, and then drove 20 minutes to the country of Zimbabwe. Our luggage and we were loaded on a bus in Zambia where we were driven to the border of Zimbabwe. There we got off that bus, walked through passport control, got back on the bus, stopped again to go through passport control to get into Zimbabwe. We transferred to another bus that brought us to the town of Victoria Falls where we are staying at the The Palm River Hotel.
    We had a leisurely afternoon with appetizers on the hotel’s beautiful grounds along the Zambezi River with a delicious dinner on the porch of the resort.

    We spotted baboons and mongoose running around on the grounds this afternoon and were warned to always keep our doors shut to keep the baboons and monkeys from entering.

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    When we walked out of the building for passport control, we saw this baboon sitting on the lawn.

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    These baboons were walking down the sidewalk as we were driving toward the border.


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    Only one truck at a time is allowed on this bridge and there can be hundreds of trucks lined up to cross.  Sometimes the truck is five miles long.


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    An aerial view of our lodging at Palm River Resort

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    Our room on the third floor (no elevators)

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    We had appetizers of chicken on a stick, mozzarella stuffed meatballs, regular meatballs, homemade potato chips and popcorn.  After we served our plates and were seated at the table, a baboon jumped up and stole a chicken on a stick (and broke a plate while making his getaway)

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    Fact for the day:  a group of mongoose are called a “business of mongoose.”  We saw thirty or so.

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    Not that clear, but I screenshot it from a video.

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    A boat cruising by as we sat and ate our appetizers.

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    Filet, green beans and potatoes for dinner

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    Our mealtime entertainment 

  • Kruger National Park - Day 2

    Our driver took us from our campsite at Lions Rock Rapids Camp to Kruger National Park where we transferred to the safari vehicle for our six hour game drive,  The temperature was much cooler (high 70s )this morning and stayed pleasant (mid 80s) the rest of the day.  We were so fortunate to see so many new animals today that we didn’t see yesterday.



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    African Fish Eagle




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    Painted Dog

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    Baby Elephant

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    Yellow billed Horn Bill

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  • Kruger National Park - Day One

    We left our campsite at 8:00 this morning for a 40 minute drive to Kruger National Park.

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    Here we are with our safari driver Happy (who did an excellent job of finding the animals for us to see).

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    Our tour guide Johanna gave us  a Souther African Animal checklist so we could mark off the animals we saw while on the game drive. We ended up spotting 13 animals and 4 birds, so the day was definitely a success.  It was definitely a hot day, but with the jeep on the move, it really wasn’t too bad.  We were in the park almost six hours before heading back to our camp.

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    The lion eating a water buffalo

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    We were all very hot and tired after returning to the camp.  After taking a short nap, we dipped our feet in the water and enjoyed drinks before dinner.

  • Lions Rock Tent Camp

    After breakfast at the hotel, we were taken to the airport for a 50-minute flight to Kruger Mumalanga Airport, followed by a 1-hour road transfer to our tented safari camp on the banks of the Sabie River. This is our base for exploring Kruger National Park and it’s Big Five animals.

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    Lions Rock Rapids Camp

    We were greeted by a group of high school singers and dancers who entertained us while we enjoyed a late lunch.

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    After lunch we were escorted to our private tent suite that we are staying in for the next three nights.  We have a private porch that overlooks some rapids, an air conditioned room with a private bath.

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    Dinner was served outside by the rapids.

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    Perfect way to end the day!

  • Soweto, South Africa

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    After breakfast at the Houghton Hotel, we boarded our 16 passenger bus for a narrated tour of Soweto, South Africa. This area was originally set aside by the South African white government for residence by Blacks, it adjoins the city of Johannesburg on the southwest; its name is an acronym derived from South-Western Townships. It is the country's largest Black urban complex.

    Soweto grew out of shantytowns and slums that arose with the arrival of Black laborers from rural areas.  These areas today have no running water in the homes or toilets.  There are Porta Potties inside the neighborhoods where ten families use ONE potty.  Trash pickup is supposedly once a week, but the whole area is covered in trash as though there were no pick up at all.  

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    We passed neighborhoods with long buildings called hostels which were built to be used by men only.  There is no privacy in these buildings, no sanitation and no running water.. A person’s personal space and now often a family's space is only limited to the space immediately surrounding a single bed, hence the term “bedhold.”

    Apartment buildings were built in an attempt to deliver decent living conditions, but these particular buildings pictured below have been vacant in the nine years since they were built because they are unaffordable to the people that need them.


    Nelson Mandela’s home

    Nelson Mandela is the former president of South Africa. He was a protester, prisoner, and peacemaker. He was a hero for South African non-whites by getting rid of the apartheid system during which time he was infamously incarcerated at Robben Island Prison (1964–82).

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    Nelson Mandela lived here with his family from 1946 until his arrest in 1962.  

    He became famous in South Africa for his political and anti-apartheid activism during this period. His second wife Winnie Mandela and their children remained here throughout his imprisonment. Winnie was subjected to routine harassment and imprisonment herself during her husband’s incarceration. He only lived there 11 days after he was released from prison in 1990. The house had no electricity.  Cooking was done of the wood stove which was also used to heat the house.  

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    This was the actual bed in which 6’4” Nelson Mandela slept.

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    The umbilical cords of Mandela’s children and grandchildren are buried in the ground at the base of this tree.

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    We were treated to several street dance performances as we walked along the street where Mandela once lived.

    Hector Pieterson Memorial

    Hector Pieterson was one of the youths that died in the protest against having Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in local schools. He was shot and killed by police when he was only 12 years old. The museum is named after him, but commemorates all of those who marched through Soweto and were shot at by police on June 16, 1976. That date has now become Youth Day, a public holiday in South Africa. He was immortalized by this photograph published across the globe by Sam Nzima, photographer at the time for The World newspaper in Johannesburg,  The photograph shows Hector Pieterson being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo after being shot by South African police. His sister, Antoinette Sithole runs beside them.

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    The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum opened in Soweto in 2002, not far from the spot where 12 year-old Hector was shot on the 16 June 1976 during the Soweto uprising that today is a symbol of resistance to the brutality of the apartheid government.

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    Although the museum was very interesting to tour, we arrived during that area of town having no electricity due to load shedding and were not able to watch the news clips on the video displays.

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    We were served lunch in this restaurant which is located in the owner's garage attached to the house located in the neighborhood shown below.

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    Load Shedding

    The South African energy crisis is an ongoing period of widespread national level rolling blackouts as electricity supply falls behind electricity demand, threatening to destabilize the national power grid. It began in the later months of 2007 and continues to the present.  Generally, areas are  scheduled to be without power for two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and two hours in the evening.  These times rotate in different parts of the city.

  • Trip to South Africa

    And we are off on our next adventure!  This time it’s a three week trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana,  We had so many immunizations :  Hepatitis A (two of those), Hepatitis B (two of those), typhoid, Dtap, and malaria pills.  (Plus, we both had the 3rd COVID booster and flu shot)

    We boarded Turkish Airlines flight 34 in Houston at 8:50PM for a 12 hour flight to Istanbul where we had an 8.5 hour layover.  The airport is huge and contains enough shops to be a mall and many food courts as well.  We enjoyed the use of the NAP ZONE to take a nap and charge our electronics before boarding our 1:35AM flight to Johannesburg which took another 9 hour and 45 minutes. 

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    Tom is the one in the yellow shirt closest to the window taking a nap.

    Johannesburg, South Africa

    By the time we went through customs and got our luggage, it was noon on September 30. After a picture by these wooden elephants at the airport, we took the shuttle to our hotel.

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    We are staying at the Houghton Hotel for the first two nights. Luckily, we were able to check in early and so we slept for about three hours before showering and eating dinner.  


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  • Juneau, Alaska

    Today our ship docked in the capital city of Juneau, a city that has no roads leading to the mainland.  The only way in or out is by boat or plane.  When we walked off the ship, it was raining, but we put on our rainwear and walked the city of 30,000.IMG 6897

    Patsy Ann

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    From the sign on the right behind the statue of Patsy Ann.

    Ships arriving in Juneau in the 1930's could count on being met at the dock by a small, white dog named
    Patsy Ann. A local dentist, Dr. E.H. Kaser, brought the English bull terrier as a puppy from Portland, Oregon in
    1929. Although loved and kindly treated by the Kasers and later by The Rev. C.E. (Dean) Rice’s family, Patsy Ann was not cut out to be a homebody. She became a popular dog-about-town making the rounds of shops and offices where she was welcomed and given treats. Steamships of that era did not arrive like clockwork as they do today. Juneau knew a ship was coming when Patsy Ann dropped whatever she was doing and trotted briskly to the waterfront. Although deaf from birth, she somehow sensed when an incoming ship was about a halt-mile away. She also had an uncanny ability to determine the dock where it would moor. On one occasion, a crowd had gathered to meet an arriving ship. Patsy Ann studied the group a long moment. then turned and trotted to another dock. The ship tied up next to Patsy Ann.

    Some said she felt at home there because the longshoremen shared her keen interest in the arrival of the ships. In 1934, when a city ordinance was passed requiring the licensing of all dogs, several people chipped in to buv the first license and a bright red collar for Patsy Ann. She wore them politely for a short time, after which they mysteriously disappeared. From then on, she went about happily unencumbered and the city donated her annual license. She eventually chose to live at the Longshoremen's Hall. Patsy Ann died in the Longshoremen's Hall in 1942. The following day, a small crowd watched as her coffin was lowered into Gatineau Channel near where this sign now stands.


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    This is the state capital building  of Alaska

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    Alaska becomes the 49th State!

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    From the memorial above located by an Orthodox Church in Juneau:

    "In the turbulence of WW2 when Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands, Americans were removed from their homes by the US Government and sent to isolated internment camps in SE Alaska.  Between 1942 and 1945, Aleuts were confined to camps were abysmal conditions and government neglect led to disease and death. Ten percent of the men, women, and children died. As Aleuts prayed for deliverance their homes and churches were looted by “friendly forces” sent to defend the Aleutian Islands."

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    It was definitely a foggy day!

  • Icy Straight Point and Hoonah, Alaska

    The third day on our cruise included a stop in Icy Straight Point.  We were supposed to be stopping in Skagway where we had planned to bicycle down the Klondike Highway,  but a rock slide closed the port to cruise ships. From where our ship docked, we rode a gondola over the forest to get to the Icy Straight Point.  From Icy Straight Point we walked 2.5 miles to the town of Hoonah.  The town has a population of nearly 800, a few restaurants and gift shops.

    The Tlingit settled in the vicinity of Hoonah and Icy Strait Point more than 2,000 years ago when they were forced out of Glacier Bay by rapidly advancing glaciers.

    The Northwest Trading Company built their first store in Hoonah in 1880.  The town was incorporated in 1946.  The town is only 30 miles west of Alaska’s state capital of Juneau.  In 1912 the Hoonah Packing Company built one of the world’s most productive salmon canneries on the outskirts of Hoonah.  It changed hands several times during its existence and closed permanently in 1953.

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    The town of Hoonah commissioned this artist to carve a new totem pole for the town by hand.  He told us no sandpaper or electric tools were going to be used.

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    We took a shuttle back to Icy Straight, rode the gondola once again.  The ship moved while we were on shore and we had to ride a tender to get back on.

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  • Anchorage to Whittier, Alaska

    We boarded the train at the Alaska Train Depot in Anchorage for a 2.5 hour ride to Whittier.  It was a very gloomy day, so we weren’t able to take good pictures of the beautiful scenery in Turnagain Bay because the windows in the train were covered with raindrops.

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    Whittier, Alaska

    Whittier has a population of 115. 90% of Whittier’s population live in a single building that also houses the grocery store, school and medical clinic. Children don’t have to go outside to go to school, an inside tunnel leads them directly to their classroom.

    This eyesore is very visible from the cruise ship and train as everyone enters the town of Whittier.

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     The Buckner Building was destined to become the largest bullding in Alaska. Construction began in 1949 and was ready for occupancy in early 1954. The six story Buckner Building had 223,660 square feet of floor space and was virtually a city under one roof . In addition to providingbarracks for 1,000 offIcers and enlisted personnel, the Buckner had all the amenities
    of home. The facilities within the giant structure included a hospital, 350 seat theater, a four lane bowling alley,
    A bakery, church. barber shop, library, radio and TV Station, rifle range, photo lab, commissary, a huge cafeteria
    and kitchens, and officers and enlisted personnel clubs--all connected by wide stairwells.
    The massive concrete building was built in 7 sections, each separated by 8 inch gaps.This design gave the
    structure the flexibility to ride out earthquakes including the devastating 9.2 Alaskan Earthquake of 1964.

    1950s cost of the completed Buckner Building was $6 million dollars. Built under the direction of the
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The military mothballed the bullding in 1960 when the Whittier Army Port was closed.  Since then it’s been abandoned and condemned.  OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!

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    We walked through the tunnel and up a hill to find a stream where we watched salmon swimming upstream.

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    When we were walking back to board our ship, it was raining pretty hard.  We were soaked by the time we got back on the ship.

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    We are sailing on the Princess Royal for the next week from Whittier, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia.


  • Anchorage


    We left Homer at 6:5AM so we could make it back to Anchorage in time to drop off our luggage at the hotel and return the rental car by noon.  After dropping off the rental car at Avis downtown, we chose to walk to the movie theatre (2.3 miles) to watch Where the Crawfish Sing.  After the movie we walked an additional 2.3 miles to the Alex Motel where we met Dan, Vicki and Britney who were flying in from home to meet us for the cruise

    Friday morning we ate breakfast together at the hotel before walking to the bus stop and catching a ride to downtown.  We started at the Visitor’s Center and then walked across the street to the Federal Building to see the displays and watch the movies about the Goldrush and the 1964 Earthquake.

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    We ate lunch at Humpy’s Grill and then took a deluxe Trolley Tour of Anchorage.

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     On the tour we stopped at the Fish ladder and saw thousands of salmon swimming upstream.  

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    We drove by the Alaska Train Depot and saw the “Moose Gooser” which was used to push Moose off the tracks before they were killed by the train that followed.

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    We stopped at Earthquake Park where 75 homes once stood in Anchorage’s Turnagain Heights neighborhood before the 9.2 magnitude Great Alaskan Earthquake on March 27,1964. The land was dropped as much as 40 feet and slid as far as 2,000 feet away from its original location. The earthquake was the largest in US history and the second largest ever recorded in the world.  

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    58 years later the land were the houses fell is still dropped and wave-like, but now it is covered by birch and spruce trees. These hardy trees are able to thrive above the permafrost. 

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  • Lake Clark National Park - Our #54 National Park

    Lake Clark National Park

    This morning we met our guide at 7:00AM for a six hour guided tour by boat to Lake Clark National Park.  The group included the guy that drove the boat, our guide Trevor, and four other people.  The weather was perfect and the seas were calm for our two hour ride to the park.  This park can only be accessed by float plane or boat. 

    The park was first proclaimed a national monument in 1978, then established as a national park and preserve in 1980 . The park includes many streams and lakes vital to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery, including its namesake Lake Clark. The park protects rainforests along the coastline of Cook Inlet, alpine tundra, glaciers, glacial lakes, major salmon-bearing rivers, and two volcanoes, Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna. Mount Redoubt is active, erupting in 1989 and 2009.

    Once we arrived at the coastline for the park, we spent the entire day walking in the low tide waters.  There we walked over 5 miles in water and muck to view the park and bears.Three times my foot came out of my boot because my boat got stuck in the muck. I fell into the water twice and so did Tom.

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    In the morning each of us climbed the ladder into the boat while the boat was still on land.

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    This big tractor pulled us INTO the water.  That was a first for us!  (When we returned, the tractor was in the water and pulled us back on shore).

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      We briefly stood outside on the boat for this photo opportunity and then moved inside.  It was 49 degrees at this point in the morning.


    Finally, we saw the shoreline!

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    The boat was not able to come near the shoreline because of low tide.  We had to get off and walk in the water to shore.

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    We spent the morning watching the bears dig for clams and eat them.

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    Our photo opportunity with a bear in the background!


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    Here I am getting back on the boat.  After falling in the water TWICE when my boats stuck in the muck, I was soaking wet.  It was a COLD ride back!!

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    This was a much more grueling day than we expected.  We were both very sore and worn out by the time we got back to Homer.  We stayed at the Stay and Play B&B while in Homer.

  • Katmi National Park-our 53rd National Park

    Katmai National Park

    Katmai National Park was our destination for today and it was quite an adventure! It is located in southwest AK and the only way to get there is by boat or float plane, so we booked a guided tour with Emerald Air.

    The park is known for its many brown bears and for the Valley of 10,000 Smokes (named after the 1912 eruption of Novatupta. Following the eruption, thousands of fumeroles vented steam from the ash).

    We were given hip waders to wear because when we landed on the water, we had to walk to shore. Plus, many times during the day we walked across streams. We walked 4 miles while enjoying the beautiful scenery and looking for bears.
    We saw at least 18 bears, but my cellphone didn’t capture how magnificent they were.

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    Here we are at the dock waiting to board our float plane. Please notice the fashionable waders we are wearing.

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    There were ten of us on the plane.  Our pilot does this as a side job.  His real job is with special ops in Panamal.  We were definitely in very capable hands!

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    This sign is a picture from the internet.  Where we landed was so remote there were definitely no signs!

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    We landed in the water and had to walk to shore.  When the first men with our tour got out of the plane, the water was so deep that it when into their waders.  They got back up on the float and paddled the plane a little closer to shore.

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    Notice with Tom’s long legs he’s higher out of the water than the rest of us.

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    Here is a picture of the rest of the group walking to shore.  Three of these were from North Carolina and four were a family from Poland.

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    We’ve sighted some bears!


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    When I saw these streams from the air, I didn’t realize we’d be walking across some of them in search of bears!


    One of the streams we walked acrosss.

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    Tom is literally sitting in a bear’s bed!


    We spent several minutes watching this male bear watch the female and cub on the other side of the water.

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    This bear print was huge!

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    We found this set of teeth from a beaver that one of the bears ate.

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    Our group picture with a glacier in the background.

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    Here’s the plane coming back to get us!

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    Ready to board the plane for our 1.5 hour trip back to Homer.

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    Some beautiful views from the sky!

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    This was definitely a huge bucket list experience.  


  • Kenaii Fjords National Park-our 53rd National Park

    Kenai Fjords National Park

    We started the day by driving from Eagle River (near Anchorage) to the entrance into Kenai Fjords National Park.  

    The park contains the Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States, and is named for the numerous fjords carved by glaciers moving down the mountains from the ice field. The field is the source of at least 38 glaciers, the largest of which is Bear Glacier. The fjords are glacial valleys that have been submerged below sea level by a combination of rising sea levels and land subsidence. 

    After our obligatory photo opportunity at the sign, we drove to the parking lot for Exit Glacier, a popular destination at the end of the park’s only road.The remainder of the park is accessible by boat, airplane, and hiking. IMG 6255

    Here we are at the entrance to the park.  Notice Exit Glacier to the left in the background.

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    The Exit Glacier

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    Kenai Fjords Dinner Cruise

    After the hike we drove into the town of Seward to eat lunch and then boarded a Kenai Fjords Dinner Cruise.  The cruise left at 3:00 and got back at 8:30.  Along the way we saw seals, sea lions, sea otters, two eagles, a black bear, a hump back whale and an orca whale, 

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    The white dotted lines mark our trip.

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    Sea lions playing on the rocks

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    Icebergs floating close to the base of the glacier.

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    We are holding a piece of glacial ice that the guides retrieved from the water

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    On our way to our cabin in the evening we passed this moose and her calf eating some grass in someone’s yard.

  • Matanuska Glacier, Sutton, AK

    Matanuska Glacier

    The Matanuska is a valley glacier located right off the Glenn Highway in Sutton, AK. It is 27 miles deep and about 4 miles wide.

    On the way to Glennallen we ate at the Long Rifle Restaurant and were seated right by the window where we could see the glacier.  We decided to stop and hike on it on the way back.  It’s on private property so there is a charge to walk on it, but that price ($125) includes a guide, a pole and hiking spikes for our shoes.

    During the summer melt up to 172 million gallons of water an HOUR melt and drain into the Matanuska River.

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    Here we are with our hiking poles ready for the adventure

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    The guide explained that a rock shades the ice underneath and a pedestal is formed. The pedestal grows higher and thinner until the ice breaks off and the rock rolls forward.  It’s not unusual for a rock this size (about six feet across) to move 20’ during the melting season.


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    Crevices in the ice like this one can be 100’ deep.

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    It was a perfect day to be hiking on the glacier.  The 3.2 miles were a little harder than walking on dry ground!

  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park-Our #52 National Park

    Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

    Fun facts from the National Park Service:
    1. The lowest elevation found in Wrangell-St. Elias is 0 feet at the Pacific Ocean and the highest is 17,008 feet on Mt St. Elias. Who knew that???
    2. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is by far the largest national park in the United States. At over 13 million acres, it is nearly six times the size of Yellowstone, a huge national park itself.
    3. At 18,008 feet, Mount Saint Elias is the second tallest peak in the United States and Canada, and the highest point in Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
    4. The park is larger than Switzerland !
    5. Grizzly bears in the park can reach 10’ tall here
    6. 9 of the 16 tallest peaks in the US are located here.

    We enjoyed our day in the park, but now we realize we didn’t allow enough time to really see and enjoy its vastness and diversity.  We should have allowed at least three days!!!

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    We flew to Anchorage from Lake Charles and arrived late on Wednesday night.  Thursday morning we rode an Uber downtown to the Avis Rental Car agency to get our rental car. 

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    Our first trip to Anchorage was in 2001 when we cruised here with Princess.  The second trip here was our amazing trip when we drove our motorhome  2018.  I thought I’d include a throwback picture comparison.

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    Diving to Glennallen

    In the afternoon we drove from Anchorage to Glennallen, with a stop in Palmer at the Visitor’s Center .  From there we stopped at the Musk Ox Farm to take a tour. These animals are native to the Arctic and is known for it’s thick coat.  Their quiviut is combed in the spring each year and spun into a very soft (and expensive) yarn.

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    After touring the Musk Ox farm we drove an hour or so before stopping for dinner at the Long Rifle Lodge.  Talk about dinner with a view!  We were able to see the Mananuska Glacier from our table!

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    The glacier is located on private property.  When we were here in in 2018 we paid to walk on it, but nowN         

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    We stayed at the Angler’s Inn in Glennallen.  The B&B had six rooms with a common kitchen and living area.  

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  • Charleston, SC

    Boone Hall Plantation

    Boone Hall is located in Mt. Pleasant, SC, and is one of America’s oldest plantations still in operation. It has continually produced agricultural crops for over 320 years.

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    We entered the plantation by driving along  the Avenue of Oaks.  These trees  were first planted in 1743 and completed by the Horlbeck brothers in 1843.  Since that time, only two oak trees have died—one in Hurricane Hugo and the other by disease. The avenue consists of 88 live oak trees and one magnolia that are evenly spaced.

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    While taking a tour of the plantation, we drove by this field of sunflowers.

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    This home was built in 1936 and is the third home to be built on this location.

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    The most important historic structures on the property are the brick slave cabins located along Slave Street which date between 1790 and 1810. While the Horlbeck brothers have received credit for “building” many houses and public spaces in downtown Charleston using the brick from their plantations, enslaved workers had made the bricks and others accomplished the actual construction under the watch of the Horlbecks and their overseers. The work of talented enslaved people, with self-taught and acquired skills, including carpentry, mathematics, and geometry, were central to the construction and appearance of many Charleston-area structures. By 1850, these laborers produced 4 million bricks, by hand, per year. The fingerprints of these workers are still visible in the bricks of many of these historic sites. (McGill, Joseph (July 26, 2014). “Who Built Charleston | | The Slave Dwelling Project”. )

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    Eye Click Beetle that I spotted on the property

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    Stoneware found under the slave quarters


    Old South Carriage Company

    We took a horse and buggy tour with Old South Carriage Company which was really interesting! The tour covered more than 2.5 miles and 30 blocks in historic Charleston with a very  knowledgeable guide who shared interesting history.

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    Charleston sits on the Woodstock fault line and experienced a major earthquake in 1886.  As a result many of the homes and buildings have earthquake bolts to bring the walls back in proper alignment.(four round bolts pictured below).

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    Rainbow Row is a row of pastel-colored historic homes located on East Bay Street, just along the Battery.These historic homes were first constructed around 1740 and were used by merchants who would run their business on the ground floor and live on the top floor. 

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    Inglis Arch House was constructed in 1778

  • Congaree National Park, our 51st National Park

    Congaree National Park is the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. The park is located 16 miles southeast of the state capital, Columbia. The park preserves the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States.

    When we arrived at Congaree, it was sprinkling, but by the time we approached the boardwalk to start the 2.5 mile walk, it was pouring!

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    Good thing we had umbrellas in the car!

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    Cypress knees were all around!

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    The Congaree River flows through the park.

  • Day 12 Ireland - Wicklow


    We drove from Kilkenny to Wicklow with a stop at Sally Gap because of a recommendation by fellow B&B guests at breakfast .  Sally Gap was merely an intersection in a very hard to get to location.  The roads were very steep and narrow, and if that weren’t enough to contend with, we kept encountering bicyclists! 

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    The ruins of Black Castle stand on a rocky headland looking out across Wicklow and the North Wicklow coast. The castle was built around 1176 following the Norman invasions, 

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    Beautiful rainbow in Wicklow

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    Wicklow lighthouse


    After walking the city in the late afternoon, Tom had fish and chips and I had a pizza for dinner.

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    Glen na Smole B&B

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    We enjoyed sharing the evening in the sitting room with another couple that was also staying here.

  • Dublin, Ireland

    The final stop of our two weeks in Ireland was Dublin.  We used the Big Red Bus to tour the city and then used a combination of the bus and walking to get to the different sites we wanted to see.

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    St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the national cathedral for the Church of Ireland.It is over 800 years old and is the largest cathedral in Ireland.

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    Wellington Monument is 203 ‘ tall and the tallest obelisk in Europe.  (The Washington Monument is 555’ by comparison).  It is also know as the Wellington Testimonial, built to commemorate the victories of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. He is among the commanders who won and ended the Napoleonic Wars when the coalition defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.  He also served twice as the prime minister and the United Kingdom.

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    O'Connell Monument

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    National Wax Museum —notice the superheroes!

    Trinity College

     Trinity College was founded in 1592 and is Ireland’s most prestigious university.  Admission is based exclusively on academic merit. It was established as a protestant university although Catholics were admitted from the beginning.  However, graduates had to take an oath that was objectionable to the Catholic Church.  That requirement was dropped in 1793, but there were other restrictions that did not allow professors, fellows or scholarships be awarded to Catholics.  Although Catholics were not banned from attending the University, the Catholic hierarchy discouraged it.  Women were first admitted in 1904 and now the president of the University is a woman named Linda Doyle.

    A graduate assistant gave us a campus tour which was very interesting.  He told us his graduation ceremony was totally in Latin and when the students are awarded their degrees they are lined up by grade point average.

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    The Library of Trinity College is Ireland’s largest research library and is legally entitled to a copy of every book published in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland.  Consequently the library receives over 100,000 new items every year and now contains over 5 million books. The Book of Kells (believed to have been created in 800AD, is an illustrated manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament and is by far the Library's most famous book and is in the Old Library.IMG 5523

  • Ireland Day 11 - Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny

    We didn’t leave our B&B this morning until 11:30 as we’ve been pushing ourselves pretty hard and just decided to have an easier day.  We drove 63 miles to the Rock of Cashel, but it was raining when we got there so we decided to just take pictures and drive on to Kilkenny.  This is the first rain that we’ve had and it rained pretty hard most of the day.  

    Rock of Cashel

    As we drove into the town of Cashel, the castle loomed high above the city.

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    Since it was such a dreary day, we checked into our B&B at 3:00 in the afternoon.  The owner convinced us to drive into Kilkenny and enjoy the town since it would be our only day here.  With rain pants and jackets we walked the streets of Kilkenny .

    The Grange Manor, Kilkenny

    The bedroom we stayed in was in the back of the house and that part of the house was built in 1595!!!!!  The front part of the house was added in the 1700s.  

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    Can you imagine sleeping in a home that old??  


    Kilkenny is a medieval town in southeast Ireland.. The town has deep religious roots and many well-preserved churches and monasteries.. It's also a crafts hub, with shops along its winding lanes selling pottery, paintings and jewellery. 

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    Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 by Norman occupiers

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    This cat sculpture at the castle was part of Kilkenny Cat Walk

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    St. Mary’s Cathedral -Work began in April 1843 and finished in 1857

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  • Ireland 10-Blarney Castle and Charles Fort near Cork


    The  castle was built in 1446 on this site by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster. The castle is now a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements. At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. Visitors used to be held upside down by the feet over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence, but now there are rails to hold to slide backwards and arch downward.

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    We waited in line over 1 ½ hours and climbed 110 steep, narrow steeps to get to the top of the castle and kiss the Blarney Stone.

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    A photo opportunity while standing in line to get into the castle.

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    Can you imagine having boiling water or tar dumped on you from above as you breech the castle??  Apparently that was a very common mode of castle protection as several of the castles we’ve been to were designed for this.

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    Tom kissing the Blarney Stone

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    Mary kissing the Blarney Stone

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    A different set of 110 steps going back down.


    The fort was built between 1677 and 1682 to a design which included elements of star fortifications, a layout specifically designed to resist attack by cannon. It was built in the Kinsal Harbor and is located at the end of the Summer Cove village.  Only one battle was ever fought her and the troops surrendered peacefully in that battle.  It was used as British Army barracks and training area for over two hundred years until it was relinquished by British forces following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.  The fort fell out of use after being burned by retreating ant-treaty forces during the Irish Civil War in 1922.

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    Driving the narrow roads of Ireland—no shoulders and not quite two lanes wide!

    Maranatha B&B

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    Maranatha Country House, Kilnamucky (outside of Cork)

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    Our beautiful breakfast setting

  • Ireland Day 9 - Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry and Ballyseede Castle

    We started the morning by driving to Killarney National Park where  the beautiful Muckross House is located.  The house was built in  1843 and has sixty-five rooms. Extensive improvements were made in the 1850s in preparation for a visit by Queen Victoria in 1861.  We were told that these improvements for the Queen’s visit contributed to the financial difficulties suffered by the Herberts, the owners, resulted in the sale of the home.  

    In 1899 it was bought by Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun who wanted to preserve the dramatic landscape. He did not live in the house himself, but rented it out to wealthy groups as a hunting lodge.

    In 1911 the home was again sold to William Bowers Bourn, a wealthy Californian mining magnate. He and his wife passed it to their daughter Maud and her husband Arthur Rose Vincent as a wedding present. The couple lived there until Maud's death from pneumonia in 1929.

    In 1932 her parents Mr and Mrs Bourn and their son-in-law Arthur Vincent decided to present Muckross House and its 11,000 acre estate to the Irish nation.It became the first national park in the Republic of Ireland and is now the present day Killarney National Park

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    We took a horse and buggy ride to the TORC waterfall within the park.

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    Ring of Kerry

    We spent the rest of the day driving the Ring of Kerry.  This is one of the “must see” areas of Ireland because of the diverse  beauty of the countryside. "The Ring" is a popular day trip and numerous bus companies offer circuits during the summer months. As the narrow roads make it difficult for tour coaches to pass one another, all tour buses run in an anti-clockwise direction, so we drove in a clockwise direction. We passed at least 25 tour buses on the road and numbers other bus stopped along the way.

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    The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. Its a 111 mile long, circular route takes in rugged mountain and  coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages.

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    Valentia Island and Ferry

    Valentia Island is one of Ireland's most westerly points. It lies off the Iveragh Peninsula in the southwest of County Kerry. It is linked. It is linked to the mainland by the Maurice O'Neill Memorial Bridge at Portmagee.

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    We drove onto Valentia Island, but took the ferry off the other side of the island.

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    Ballyseede Castle

    This was the night I’ve been waiting for since we planned our trip!  We are spending tonight in a castle! The Blennerhassett family had lived on the Ballyseede Castle Estate of 30 acres since 1590. The main castle was built in 1721 and was extended in the later years of the 1700s.The castle remainied within the family ownership up to the death of Hilda Blennerhassett in 1965. The castle has been updated and now includes 45 rooms for guest.  It’s the site for many beautiful weddings and receptions. Both on the grounds and in the main halls inside. In fact, a wedding was going to be held at the castle the day we were leaving.

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    This is the family dog Marley, a Irish wolf hound who is 6 years old..  When we arrived, Marley was sleeping on the top step of the entrance and looked like he wasn’t feeling well.  We weren’t even sure he was alive as he didn’t stir as we passed.  Later, he was out walking around the grounds again.

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    The was our bedroom

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    Reception room

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    Our dinner at the Castle.  Fish & Chips, Tomato and Mozzarella salad, Chicken wings, Power Salad (broccoli, pecans, bacon, avocado, and quinoa ).  Delicious!

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  • Day Bunratty Castle & Adare-Ireland Day 8

    We left our precious Bed & Breakfast in Doolin (Knockaguilla) and drove to the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The castle was built around 1425.  The main block has three floors, each consisting of a single great room, or hall.  The four towers have six stories each. We entered the castle by a drawbridge (along with about 50 elementary age school children).

    Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

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    Stairs, stairs, and more stairs.  Since there are six floors in each tower, we went up and down a lot of stairs.

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    The turtle shells above the fireplace were used for serving food and also for covering the food.

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    This is a typical example of the type of dwelling inhabited by the laborers of the strong farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries. The farmer would let a small piece of ground, about half an acre, to the laborer, who would pay off the rent in labor, about eighty days in the year. For the rest of the time the laborer could work for himself or for wages.


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    This homestead was once the home to the McNamara family and stood where a runway of Shannon Airport now stretches. It was the first building to be re-erected in the Folk Park. A typical small farm of this kind on the banks of the Shannon, would have about twenty acres of good land and another twenty of water meadow, and would supportabout twelve cows, with some dry stock and smaller animals.

    With the kitchen in the middle, a bedroom at each end, extra sleeping accommodation in a loft over the lower roomand another loft over the upper room for storage, this house is typical of the smaller farmhouses of Southeast Clare.In this house, the upper bedroom was converted into a parlour where honored guests were entertained - a 19thcentury imitation of the bigger houses.

    The traditional thatch roof was the glory of the lrish homestead. It was an ideal roofing material, cool in the summerand warm in the winter. Thatching could be rushes, straw or reeds. Walls are lime stone within and without andwhitewashed with a solution of lime and water.

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    The chicken were kept in the main room.

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    This is a replica of a prosperous farmer who would farm about 100 acres.  A farmer who own a farm of this size would keep about20 cows and calves, six or eight pigs, two horses and a donkey, a large fowl yard of hens, ducks, turkeys and many pigeons.They would till ten or twelve acres, with wheat, oats, potatoes, mangles, turnips and sugar beet as well as several acres of meadow for hay. This family would have two or three servant girls and a servant boy and employ two labourers permanently and others in spring and at harvest.

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    This large room in the loft was used by the servant girl while the servant boy slept in the loft over the stable. 

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    How is this for an Irish duck?? I’ve never seen a duck this color before.

    The town of Adare

    With its picture postcard main street of thatched cottages and medieval buildings, Adare village is rich in ancient and archaeological remains with a history dating back to 1200 AD.

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    The Desmond Castle ruins

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    Some of the roads we traveled are quite narrow.  This is not really a two lane road, so when cars need to pass, each pulls over as close to the brush as possible.

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    Dinner was at the Golden Nugget Pub near Fossa, Killarney, Co. Kerry,

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    Our Bed&Breakfast for tonight was Diugkasha House near Killarney. We are on the third story which of course has no elevator .  We finally got smart and moved what we were going to wear and put if in the carryon, so Tom wouldn’t have to lug our big suitcases up all 32 stairs.

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