Dún Dúhathair

Dún Dúchathair

The circular stone inner rings of Dún Dúchathair, the Black Fort, on Inis Mor island in the Aran Islands in County Galway off the west coast of Ireland inspired this post. We explored the cliffs and sterile landscape around this ancient fort of unknown purpose. Experts aren’t sure whether Dún Dúchathair was ceremonial or defensive, but to us it was truly impressive. Backed by sheer cliffs to the North Sea on three sides, and a sharp, rocky approach on the fourth, an enemy would have to be incredibly determined to even attempt a siege of this position.

Most tourists to this rocky island of hardy Irish tend to visit Dún Aonghasa, the more popular (and more advertised) fort ruins on Inis Mor. As I had read ahead of our visit, the reward for the effort of the long, somewhat challenging walk to Dún Dúchathair over rocky terrain and through a landscape veined with more manmade rock pasture walls that we could count, is a decided lack of people exploring the site. This benefit held true, as there were only a handful of people there as we carefully climbed around the sharp and plentiful monotone rock. Sitting by the cliff’s edge and contemplating the fort in a silence that only comes with few people around, surrounded by the soft surf sounds, occassional sea bird call, and the gentle wind made the experience all the better.

Dún Dúchathair

Dún Dúchathair

The location is nothing short of stunning, but a bit daunting whenever we walked near the edge of the precipice surrounding this area. The final panorama picture below can be clicked for a larger version showing the expanse of the fort, taken with my back to the sheer drop to the cold sea below.

fortress

Good Neighbors?

refinery-cem.jpg

What does a town do with two of its “citizens” that nobody really wants next door? Why, you put them together on the outskirts of town. In this small Southeastern Illinois town, that’s exactly what they did with the refinery keeping company with the local cemetery. No doubt the cemetery was first, and just as no doubt, its residents didn’t complain decades ago when the refinery came to town.

ref-cem.jpg

Kentucky Woods

portrait.jpg

Today I visited the Audubon Museum, located in the John James Audubon State Park, in Henderson, Kentucky. I spent and enjoyable, but sweaty, couple of hours there:

“Most of the time I wandered the trails that wind through the 335-acres nature preserve portion of the park. Audubon spent from 1810-1819 living in Henderson (the town that wraps around the park) and roaming the woods in search of birds and other wildlife to sketch and paint. One presumes he walked some of this same area, but there’s nothing in the brochures that offer that fact.”

Sittin’ With Abe

abe-courthouse.jpg

Vandalia, Illinois, doesn’t normally register as a center of historical significance. But, as it turns out, it is a significant place in the career of one Abraham Lincoln. Vandalia is where Honest Abe began his political career in the 1830s, and the rest, as they say, is history. The shot of above is the local “must shoot photo-op” with the old state capital in the background. This bronze statue of Lincoln sitting and reading, dedicated in 2001, is probably the most famous citizen of this once-significant center of political influence.

You can go to sleep now knowing you’ve learned something new about ‘ol Abe. I’ve performed my patriotic bit for the day…

On the Road Again

mooseonroof.jpg

If there’s one thing I’ve learned traveling through the Midwest, it’s that you never know what you’ll see. I’m on the road again, this time on a 12-day jaunt through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Most of my stops are smallish towns, so it’s a good chance to witness the heart of middle America, at least through these states.

moosepeek.jpgToday’s drive took me to Griffith, Indiana, where I found this misplaced moose atop a taxidermy and outdoor furniture store. He was quite authentic looking, so I’m pretty sure he is (was) real. Still, no small feat to get him up on the roof for all the world to see his splendid rack. And like those eerie paintings whose eyes tend to look right at you regardless of where you’re standing in the room, this moose dude seemed to keep an eye on me while taking his picture from the sidewalk below.

Tomorrow I head off across Illinois, my destination just east of St. Louis. I’m hoping that area has recovered their electrical power lost from the recent example of another great Midwest tradition: vigorous summer storms. I’ll be sure to keep the camera ready on the passenger’s seat while I travel down highways braced by fields of tall corn plants. Who knows what I’ll find, but if it’s interesting, I’ll post it here.