Went chasing bluebonnets with Cynthia this weekend
There’s a cat that lives in the Mid Main area of Houston and can often be spotted hanging around in the parking lot next to The Houston Continental Club.
The story of this cat is an interesting one.
Many years ago, a local lounge act called The El Orbits played the club every Monday night and during their performance hosted a BINGO game. The prizes were odd, to say the least. Old tacky Astroworld souvenirs and other odds and ends that front man David Beebe might find sifting through rummage sales and thrift stores found while travelling about Texas.
At some point a well meaning fan or friend of the band came to the club on BINGO night with two stray cats he thought might make good BINGO prizes. I guess the real hope was to find homes for the animals any way possible.
When the well meaning friend/fan went to his car to collect the cats and present them to the band they proceeded to leap from the car and scurry off. One of the cats was never seen again, but one of them continued to lurk about the area.
The parking lot attendant befriended the cat and though skittish and somewhat ornery in the beginning, the cat eventually settled down and became more friendly.
Cynthia took a shine to the cat and now buys cans of cat food to send with me when I visit the club. I give the food to the new parking lot guy and he uses it to feed the cat.
Cynthia has also named the cat. She calls him “Brando”
I don’t know if anyone else has adopted the name, but the cat responds when I show up with food and will come to me when I call out his name.
From the looks of things, the cat is not hurting for food. He’s been there for many years and is quite handsome and has become mostly tame.
Brando is NOBODY’S BINGO prize.
The Bishop’s Palace, also known as Gresham’s Castle, an ornate Victorian-style house in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas.
he house was built between 1887 and 1893 by Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton
Reportedly listed by The American Institute of Architects as one of the 100 most significant buildings in the United States, and the Library of Congress has classified it as one of the fourteen most representative Victorian structures in the nation.
One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was experiment with long, daytime exposures using ND filters. These photos of The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland were taken during the day and each exposure is approximately 30 seconds. The NDX 400 filter allows for this without overexposing the shot. The long exposure causes the crashing waves to appear as fog or smoke while the rock formations remain clear and detailed. I would have preferred a more sunny day, but the overcast skies actually aided in the final look and feel of these images.
The Conor Pass is said to be the highest mountain pass in Ireland. The road is quite narrow in places and passing oncoming traffic can be harrowing. I wanted to drive over the pass on the way to Dingle rather than taking the easier route down the main highway from Tralee. Cynthia was nervous, but agreed to cross if the weather was good. As it turned out, the weather was good and so we crossed. It should also be noted that we crossed on Friday the 13th. Cynthia is a little superstitious, so this was significant.
We were fortunate that there was not a lot of traffic on this road on the day we went over.
Here is a video I shot of our crossing using a GoPro Hero 3 Black mounted to the outside of the rental car. You can see the truly narrow point about midway through the video.
This drive offers one of the most dramatic and scenic ways of entering or leaving Dingle.
Today is our last day in Ireland before flying home tomorrow. We’re tired and we’re pretty much out of clean clothes.
The sun was out again today and we enjoyed walking in the good weather.
Trinity College also has one of the Sphere Within Sphere (Sfera con sfera) sculptures like the one we saw at The Vatican Museums when we visited there last year.
From there we walked over to tour the Chester Beatty Library which has an amazing collection of books, documents and other artifacts. No photos in there, but the sun was shining brightly on the Dublin Castle and the view from the Dubh Linn Gardens was quite nice.
This little courtyard contained the Garda Memorial Garden which pays tribute to police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
We’re going to take it easy the rest of the day. Packing and relaxing before our early, early flight tomorrow morning.
This trip has been amazing. Cynthia and I both agree that the rural part was much better than the city parts, though both were great in their own ways.
Today was a good day. The sun was out and we took the opportunity to wander the city in search of things to see. We made our way to the river and then walked over to see the Molly Malone statue. It was good to see, but not so great to photograph as there was a lot of construction going on all around her.
We decided to walk over the the Jameson’s Distillery and take the tour. As it turned out, the distillery is not actively producing whiskey, it’s just a museum now.
We took the tour and at the end the guide informed us that 8 members of the group would be selected for a whiskey taste test that compared Jameson to a scotch and an American bourbon. First he asked for women to volunteer. Only 3 raised their hands. Cynthia, who hates whiskey decided to step up and be the 4th. After the ladies were chosen the guide asked for 4 male volunteers. Of course all of our hands went up. I was chosen as one of the four so Cynthia and I got to both participate.
Cynthia ended up actually enjoying the experience, and learned a bit about whiskey. We both received certificates as souvenirs to take home with us.
After the distillery we walked over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and enjoyed the gardens
From here we caught a cab to the Guinness Storehouse which is also just a museum, but an interesting tour nonetheless. After walking around and learning of the history of Guinness and seeing how it’s made you go up to what is called the Gravity Bar where you get a free Guinness and 360 degree view of the city.
After these tours we were pretty beat and we went back to the hotel. This evening Cynthia took it easy while I met up with a friend to attend the Roger Waters concert at Aviva Stadium.
First full day in Dublin and it has been raining all day. This has dampened our spirits a wee bit. It doesn’t help that we are also getting very tired. The whole trip has been so fantastic, but also very exhausting at times. We busied ourselves visiting the National Museum, the National Library and National Gallery. Admission was free to all of them, so that was a bonus.
I did get some interesting photos inside some of the spaces so I am happy for that. I was particularly mesmerised by the elevator/staircase in the back of the National Gallery
Cynthia enjoyed the reading room in the National Library
Tomorrow’s weather forecast is looking very good with sunshine predicted for the day. That means we get to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, ChristChurch and many other sites in the glorious sun (fingers crossed)
Today we left the charming and wonderful town of Dingle and drive to Dublin for the final part of our trip. Things were going well but the GPS kept wanting to take us down the N7 when the M7 was clearly the better route. Apparently the Garmin from the car rental place had some rather outdated software.
At one point I decided to leave the M7 for the route the GPS was suggesting and that is where things went horribly wrong. While the drive was more scenic, it was not the direct route of the M7 and was going to take much longer. We were probably 50 or so miles from Dublin when we hit a pothole. A few mikes down the road the car indicated we had low pressure in the left front tire.
I pulled over and sure enough, the tire was flat. Fortunately the rental had special tires that let you drive, even when the tire has lost all pressure.
We pulled into a service station and they gave us directions to a tire shop. Sadly, this shop didn’t have the right kind of tire and they directed us to another shop about 15 kilometers away. The directions were complete crap and after stopping at another service station and a car dealership we finally located the Healy’s in Naas, Co. Kildare. This shop had the tire and we were back on our way in about 45 minutes.
We were delayed by several hours, but we had no real plans for this day so we were simply inconvenienced. Lesson learned, though. I will always rent a car with this kind of tire if I plan to drive in remote locations.
For our last day in Dingle we opted to drive around the loop again just to take it all in. The weather in the morning kept us in the B&B, but around noon it started clearing up so we took to the car to have a look around. It was not as beautiful as it was yesterday, but it was still very nice.
We wrapped up the day by going to the O’Sullivan’S Courthouse Pub which is owned by a couple by the name of ommy & Saundra O’Sullivan. Tommy is a singer songwriter from Dingle and his wife Saudra is from Houston. It’s a great pub and the music is very traditional.
Tomorrow we make our way to Dublin.
Today we set off to drive the Dingle Loop around Slea Head. We knew it was going to be a good day when we spotted a double rainbow over the Dingle Whiskey Distillery.
This drive was, hands down, the most beautiful and scenic drive of the entire visit to Ireland. The sun was shining brightly and the skies we blue with few clouds. The sea surrounding the peninsula was sparkling with waves crashing on the rocks. The road was quite narrow most of the drive and became exceedingly so at various points along the way.
We drove for hours and hours, stopping frequently at many scenic overlooks just to take in the view. Cynthia was a little worried about some of the more adventurous photo opportunities I was taking.
Every turn, around every narrow corner brought us to another fantastic site. Fortunately, there were plenty of places to pull over and park so that we could enjoy the view and take some pictures.
We wrapped up around 5:30 back at the B&B and took a short nap before heading out in the evening for some food and to listen to some live music. We ended up having dinner at Murphy’s Pub and got to see a local Irish band called Tintean.
They were quite good. They played many of the songs you would expect, but also several we had never heard before.
Tomorrow looks a bit cloudy and rainy, but we hope to make the best of our last day in Dingle before making the trek back to Dublin
All photos in this post are by Cynthia. She’s getting some great shots this trip so it’s her turn to illustrate the update.
Today we drive from Galway to Dingle Town. 152 miles in total. We departed Galway around 9:00 AM and arrived in Dingle around 5:30 PM. It was a long drive and the weather was very nice. Clouds, but no rain and some great periods of beautiful sunshine.
Along the way we visited Dunguaire Castle before turning west and north to see Murrooghtoohy, the place where The Burren meets the sea.
From there we headed south to the Cliffs of Moher, a must see on any visit to this region of Ireland.
From the cliffs we proceeded down through the town of Lahinch, and on towards Killimer to catch the ferry across the River Shannon over to County Kerry. I hadn’t done any ferry research and didn’t know how often they ran, but as luck would have it we drove up just in time to catch one going across.
We landed in Tarbert and proceed through Listowel and Tralee. This is where we had to decide if we would go the easy route to Dingle, or drive the Conor Pass. Since the sun was shining and the weather was so nice, Cynthia agreed to drive the Conor Pass.
The Conor Pass is a very scenic drive up the side of a mountain. The pass is very narrow in places and the drive can be rather harrowing. We made it to the top without incident. The views from up there were just staggering. Cynthia even found some sheep way up there
The drive down the mountain and into Dingle Town was very easy going, compared to the drive up from the other side.
We located our bed and breakfast, got checked in and then found some food at a local pub.
Tomorrow we are off to explore the peninsula.