Weekly Photo Challenge: Entrance (to an abandoned Irish cottage)

Entrance to an Irish HomesteadIn Ireland, the countryside is littered with abandoned cottages. These buildings once housed entire families for generations but now are crumbling eyesores.

In the boom years, the Irish build new houses on their property and left these to erode with the seasons. Unfortunately, with the decline of each cottage, we lose a bit of history. The family that lived on the land may have moved to better accommodations but the extended family is left without a story.

Imagine – for a moment – that each county – clan – or family worked to restore a cottage or two. Now image working with organizations – bicycle groups, walkers, Study Abroad Students, marathoners, quilters, photographers, book groups, historians (to name a few) who might want to visit the cottages and learn the history of the family, village, community, churches, etc.

Bus tours could roam from county to county to visit the churches and cottages. Gift shops, restaurants, businesses and such could grow again with a focus on Ireland.

I say – Go for it – then send me an invite and I’ll be there!

Therapy in Motion

Often times, for me, a hike is all about movement, therapy and meditation.

My hike last week was to a 11,400 ft. summit of Twin Sisters in Rocky Mountain National Park. There are 54 mountain peaks that are 14,000 feet or more but I took the lazy day hike and only hiked 9+miles. The first 3 miles up was sort of boring. The trail was in the trees with a limited view (of anything)  but at least the trail was cool and shady. Once the sun came out, the hiking got hot and humid and the mosquitoes came out in full force. It was nasty until I realized I had one of those bug repellant wet wipes in my pack. Oh, my, life was good again!

view of longs peak from twin sisters peak

Near the top, above timberline there’s nothing to interrupt the view – it’s all mountains and sky!

Twin Sisters Summit

When the trees disappeared, a boulder field was waiting for me to cross. When a storm is in the area, it’s best to stay far away from the exposed area but this was a perfect hiking day with blue skies and puffy clouds.

On the boulder field, others left stone markers, called cairns to help me stay on the trail.  This small pile of rocks were like beacons and I was able to find my way to the summit easily.
cairn - pile of stones used as a marker on a trailThe summit was rocky and rigid. The others at the top balanced on the rocks as they took pictures, ate lunch, and just relaxed after the long haul up.

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I probably won’t hike that mountain again – the view was limited and there was no water source.  I like when I can see, feel and get energized by flowing water.

So, where shall we go next?

Mesa Verde Awaits You

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park, Colo...
Image via Wikipedia

Another place to visit in Colorado is Mesa Verde National Park. This area was designated a national park in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt as a way to preserve the works of man. The ‘works of man ‘ at this park have been discovered, uncovered and protected since then.

Mesa Verde has cliff dwellings that were once home to over 24 Indian tribes and finally abandoned in the 1200’s. When you walk around this sacred park, it’s easy to conger up how it may have looked so long ago.

The park protects over 4000 archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.  The red cliffs, mesa top pueblos, farming terraces, towers and reservoirs are reminders of a progressive and powerful lifestyle.

You can take tours to see some of the dwellings and hear more about the lives these Native American Indians lived and why they eventually left.

Mesa Verde History

Internet Goodies #18: A fee-free week at U.S. National Parks

April 16 – April 24 is National Parks Week across the United States. This means you can visit a national park, trail, and monument, site and preserve for free!

The opportunity to visit some historical sites and learn more about Colorado is available when you visit Bent’s Old Fort in La Junta or look into the past at Mesa Verde National Park. At the Great Sand Dunes in Mosca, CO you can stand in awe and wonder how the dunes ended up in this part of the world. Be sure to do some sand surfing while you’re there – it’s an experience like no other!

Dinosaur National Monument in Dinosaur Colorado is a ‘must-see’ site for children who are in the dinosaur learning phase of their lives.

Rocky Mountain National Park is always one of my favorites because of the plethora of trails, lakes, views and wide open sky.  If you live in Colorado and want to take advantage of the free entrance fees this week – here’s a list of sites to visit:

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
La Junta, CO
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park

Montrose, CO
Colorado National Monument
Fruita, CO
Curecanti National Recreation Area
Gunnison, CO
Dinosaur National Monument
Vernal, Utah & Dinosaur, Colorado, CO,UT
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Florissant, CO
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Mosca, CO
Mesa Verde National Park
Cortez and Mancos, CO

Old Spanish National Historic Trail

Pony Express National Historic Trail
Various States, CA,CO,KS,MO,NE,NV,UT,WY
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park and Grand Lake, CO

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
Kiowa County, CO
Santa Fe National Historic Trail

Yucca House National Monument
Cortez, CO

–Here is a list of featured events happening across the United States this week:

Park Prescriptions: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

April 21

Join us in celebrating the launch of the Indiana Dunes “Park Prescription” program. Staff from the National Park Service and Porter Health System will introduce the prescription trails and describe the workings of this get healthy program. Health care professionals, patients, and students from the Discovery Charter School will be on hand to demonstrate the value of Healthy Parks Healthy People. The program kicks off at 11 a.m. at the Calumet Dune Trail at the corner of U.S. Highway 12 and Kemil Road in Beverly Shores, Indiana.

John Muir’s birthda: Muir Woods National Monument, California

April 21

Celebrate John Muir’s birthday with a quiet walk through what he called “the best tree-lover’s monument in all the forests of the world.” Phone the Muir Woods Hotline at 415-388-2595 for program information.

Explore, Learn, Protect: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

April 23

Have you ever put your hand into a bear’s footprint? Have you ever been so close to an owl that you could look it in the eye? Have you ever talked to a wildland firefighter? Here’s your chance! Shenandoah National Park has special activities planned for National Junior Ranger Day. For park information call 540-999-3500.

Get more information from National Parks Service

No Admission Fees at 300+ National Parks next week