Mom Camp Day 14: Nature Day! 

No summer experience would be complete without at least one day dedicated to appreciating the great outdoors!  With Vegas temps as high at 115 degrees getting outside time can be a challenge.  We decided to hop in the car and take our nature loving selves to Mount Charleston. 

The day began with a family hike on the Bristlecone Trial and a picnic. 

Tiny sapling


 We spotted the rare Mount Charleston blue butterfly.   They only live 1 to 2 weeks and there could be as few 100 at a time on the mountain.  So we were pretty lucky to see one. 
     
Next up were a small herd of wild horses that were gathered at the ski lodge.  

  

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Mom Camp Days 12-13: Summer Solstice 

Yeah, yeah I know the summer solstice was almost a month ago.  It’s been a crazy summer and we haven’t had enough time for either Mom Camp or blogging about our Mom Camp.  But, better late than never. 

We made our traditional fairy houses.  Although they were on a smaller scale than years past. Coming home from Ireland with jet lag and only a few days to work, we did our best with the limited time. 

  As you can see, we used silver spray on the grasses field. We also made a pond next to the house and even included a few shells all the way from Ireland.  Cinco used cammo duct tape to create two military post look outs. We also added a rainbow and a ‘Welcome Fairies’ sign.  The fairies brought their traditional gift of sparkle fairy dust and left candy sprinkles in their wake.  They also left a note and gave each child a mood ring! 

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Last Day on the Emerald Isle (MCD 10-11)

It was time to leave Ashford Castle and head off to our next castle– Cabra! On the way we planned to visit a bit of ancient Ireland.   

 We head east back toward Dublin and planned to stop a Loghcrew. It’s sister site to the famous New Grange. Loghcrew’s burrial mounds are coordinated to vernal (spring) equinox. Although much smaller than New Grange, Loghcrew’s is a very intimate site. Small groups of visitors (when I say small our family of four barely fit in the tomb)are able to enter the mound with a small flash light and examiners wall carvings. 


  Then we hit the car and drove to Cabra Castle. It was more of a faux castle than the real thing. It made me feel as if I was in a Scooby Doo cartoon. All kinds of strange pictures lined the walls and it was certainly possible that a pair of creepy eyes were staring out of them at me! Not to meantion several beat-up suits of armor. I thought a ‘ghostly’ villain would pop out of the parlor at any minute.  

The following day it was time to get up and hit the airport for our million hour journey home.  Lots of delays and craziness made the trip take 22 hours door to door.  

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Ashford Castle: MCD 9

This would prove to be an especially exciting day!  We awoke in the castle and headed down to the formal dining room to have our breakfast complete with hot chocolate for the kiddos.  At breakfest we met the boat captain who offers tours of the lake and he talked us into a delighful one hour boat tour.  We had to be back on shore by noon sharp because we had a special appointment at 12:30.

Castle View from the Boat

  The tour lasted an hour and The Princess even got a chance to steer the ship.  Those of you who have watched John Ford and John Wayne’s Quite Man will recognize the name Inisfree! 

The next stop was the school of falconry.

The Captain it would be cool if we scheduled our own falconry lesson for the family. While I personally wouldn’t have chosen this activity, I wasn’t against the idea and booked it.  It turned out to be one of the best experiences of the whole trip.

We worked with Red Tail Hawks, not Falcons.   It seems these hocks do better with people they don’t know because unlike

Just a little something the birds caught

Just a little something the birds caught

Falcons and most other birds of prey the Red Tails hunt in groups.  Another funny thing about this bird, is that it’s from the American Southwest not Ireland. And when we got home to America and we’re visiting the Las Vegas Springs preserve we actually saw a plaque about the Redtailed Hawk!

Our guide was delightful and gave us an almost 90 minute course on the Hawks, other birds, and falconry in general. He was truly passionate about the subject and a delight with which to work.

me and the hawk

Everyone (both Cinco and The Princess) held the hawks and took a turn sending them out to hunt.  I think the kiddos were a little nervous at first, but they never shied away from the birds even one.  The hawks were named after famous Irish writers– Wilde and Stoker.  Our guide told them apart based on the color of their claws (something I never really got the hang of in our 90 minute lesson.)

Post hawking it was time for a walk of the grounds.  IMG_1881  Including a number of hidden gardens.

Next stop was a stroll into town for a little something to eat.  A pretty good day, I’d say

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ASHFORD CASTLE: MCD 8

Leaving Galway we decided to make a stop by Athenry before heading to Ashford Castle.  Like any good Irish family, we are fans of the song Fields of Athenry.  The Captain and The Princess often play the song on the guitar and sing together.  With a little extra time on our hands we decided a trip to Athenry was in order.

Athenry Castle

We toured the castle… Which really wasn’t much compared to other castles in England and Ireland. And we tried to go to the Athenry priory.  But, it was closed.

Then it was on to Cong home of Ashford Castle and the town were some of the John Ford film The Quite Man was filmed.

In Cong there are a number of deep caves and caverns.  We decided on a nature walk before checking in at the castle.  Our first stop was Pigeonhole Cave.

view looking up from the bottom of the cave

We also took the Pigeonhole Cave walking loop–without the actually researching how long the loop was!  It seemed to simply never end.  It was alively walk in the woods along a stream, but the kiddos started to get a bit grousey after the 1st 45 minutes.

One bonus was the path lead us to Cong Abbey. It was located right on the river and the ruins included an old stone fishing house the monks used.

Cong Abbey cloister ruins

When we finally made it back to our car it was time to head out to Ahford Castle!

The castle welcomed us with personalized cookies and tour.  After discovering welcome gifts for the kids (a bear for The Princess and a sword for Cinco), we set work exploring…

   

The Billard Room

  

watching Ben Hur in the movie room

 
After dinner in the Dungeon it was bedtime for all!

 

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The Long Drive: MCD 8

After the day in Dingle, the Captain took us on the long drive.  We we’re trapped in the car for almost 7 hours!!!!  Okay.  It wasn’t all bad.  But we certainly spent more time going the LONG WAY than I would have liked. 

The drive did include a ride on a ferry, which was a new experience for the kids.  

We also hit the famous Cliffs of Moher.  It was probably the most crowded tourist spot we encountered during the whole trip.  


At the end of the longest day we made it to Galway.  We walked the Latin Quarter and had dinner in a nice little pub with live Irish music.  That made The Captain very happy. 

  

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It’s Dingle, Darling: MCD 6 

Mom Camp Day 6

Before leaving Cork, we needed to grab a picnic lunch for our drive to Dingle. We decided to stop by the Cork English Market. The place was fantastic. We only had 45 minutes to stay and I wish we had had longer. It had everything you could want Greek olives, fresh fish, chocolate, fresh produce and of course Irish tea.   The Captain and the kids had a delightful time roaming the stalls.

Then it was off for the drive to Dingle.  But of course along the way I had to insist on a stop on the mom tour of the of the obscure!  Took a quick detour to see where Michael Collins was assassinated–Beal na Blath.  The site has a tasteful memorial cross dedicated to Collins.    

Inch beach was the next stop. We did some amazing shell collecting and stopped for a beachside picnic lunch. 

Before hitting the village of Dingle itself, we stopped by the South Pole Inn.  This little bar was operated by local hero Tom Crean.  For those who don’t know, Crean was 2nd command on the Endurance. 

 

The South Pole Inn


We started hitting the Dingle sites after that.

   

  

  

  

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