Tuesday, May 5, 2020

EXPLORING THE SALT PLAINS OF OKLAHOMA...

COVID -19 has taken it's toll on us and we're itching to get out!  We decided to take advantage of a sunny spring day and go check out the Salt Flats of northern Oklahoma.  It is located about 2 hours north of OKC, but we had never been!  The Hubs loves a nice day in his convertible, so off we went.



We passed several of these fields of yellow flowers and I just had to make a stop for a picture!  


The Great Salt Plains State Park is near Jet, Oklahoma.  We drove around and saw the lake, ate our picnic lunch and then drove through the GSP Wildlife Refuge.  It is relatively small in comparison with the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, but nice.  It is a haven for birds and marsh animals.  There is also a huge spillway by the lake that you can walk along.  


We drove through the small town of Jet and saw a masked man!  About 6 miles west of Jet was the "salt flats" where you can dig for selenite crystals.


We got to the crystal digging spot in the afternoon.  It was warm and breezy.  It looks like a dried up lake, with the salt sitting on top.  


 This area was designated as a digging spot, so there were a lot of people in this area!  We walked out to the very end to have plenty of room and feel uncrowded.


We found crystals immediately.  The selenites are near the surface and are very fragile.  Our challenge was to dig them up carefully so they wouldn't break.  The Hubs wore himself out digging and finding crystals!  We took only the largest ones home with us.


 These crystals with the hourglass of sand in them can only be found here!  Pretty amazing!  This is the perfect day for those with elementary aged kids that enjoy digging.  We actually enjoyed it a lot, ourselves!

On the way home we stopped in Enid, Oklahoma and got hamburgers at a drive thru restaurant.  It was nice just to get away from the house and do something different for a change!  





Monday, April 27, 2020

A DESSERT FROM OUR TRAVELS...

BANOFFEE Pie!  Banoffee = bananas + toffee, and it's so delicious!



I decided I had to learn to make this after having it on two different trips to Ireland.  Thinking it was an Irish thing, I looked it up and guess what?  It's British!  But served in Ireland a lot, I guess!

Here's the recipe I used from the internet, and I will say there's only one kind of complicated step when making this:  getting the sweetened condensed milk in the can to turn to caramel, or toffee, as the Brits say.  I had looked at several recipes to get the condensed milk to turn to caramel.  I first tried the water bath method, then put it in the refrigerator to cool and use the next day.  When I opened the can, it was still yellow, and not tan, like it was supposed to be.  So I followed this recipe and baked it in the oven in a pie dish with a water bath.

After that, you basically assemble this no-cook pie.  Put the caramel into the pie crust, then sliced bananas, then the whipped cream and garnish.  Voila!  A fresh tasting, yummy, messy, wonderful dessert.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

SURREAL...


Well, here we are in the midst of Covid-19.  The. Whole. Country.  For me, reality is just hitting.  My life hasn't changed much and I was (and maybe still am) enjoying the introvert life.  Yes, I'm disappointed we can't meet with our church family.  I hate it that people are sick and dying without a cure.  My niece's wedding is up in the air after all the planning.  My daughter-in-law and niece missing their graduation ceremonies.  And, an Alaskan cruise planned for the end of May is out, after being planned for more than a year.  I feel pretty helpless, but I know prayer is my defense. 

It's surreal.  Never would I have thought in our intelligent, advanced, technical world would we have come to a halt like we have.  It's a lesson in humility.  It's a lesson to learn who's in control of our world.  It's a lesson that drives us to our knees and to trust more in God. New vocabulary and concepts are everyday discussions now:  social distancing, stay safe, mask wearing, work from home.  Whatever the final outcome of all of this, I love it that people are coming together for a common cause.  We've been divided and all with our own special interests for so long.  

I love this sign that I saw on my walk through the neighborhood.  We CAN do hard things!  We are adaptable - a big lesson from the first college class I ever took! I consider what we'll be telling our grandchildren about this time 20, 30, and 40 years from now.  Will we sound like our grandparents talking about Dust Bowl or Depression days?  For myself, I'm divided between the want to do something amazing with this gift of time and just relaxing and enjoying the time of rest.  

How about you?  



Friday, March 27, 2020

WATERFORD AND BRAY, IRELAND...

We had a few days left in our trip so we stopped in Waterford and Bray before heading back to Dublin.  Waterford had a lot of things to see and do related to vikings and Bray is a seaside resort town.
WATERFORD
Viking tower, called Reginald's Tower, dates from the year 900!  This is the view from the Tower Hotel, which we loved!
Waterford crystal is made here - we went on a wonderful factory tour!

One of the few pieces of colored Waterford crystal.

Molds for crystal pieces
Design and cutting area
Viking longboat by Reginald's Tower
They even have a piece of the Twin Towers from NYC as a 9-11 Memorial!  

Strongbow and Aoife statues


In the Viking Triangle, there are several attractions to see, including this carved giant sword.  It is right next to an old church ruin and other attractions.
Strongbow and Aiofe again - outside the Medieval Museum.  We  learned more about the history of Waterford in the museum, but it wasn't our favorite thing there.  Strongbow and Aiofe were from England and Waterford Ireland and their marriage in 1168 solidified the relationship between the two countries.  

There was a bit of sun in the forecast,  so we drove a short way to Anne's Valley.  We walked in Anne's Valley to Dunhill castle ruin.  We had the place to ourselves!


One of my favorite pictures, looking out of the castle!


The morning we left, we stopped by a Friday market in St. Olaf's Hall.  We got some homemade  goodies!

ON THE WAY TO BRAY

We stopped in Enniscorthy for lunch at a charming little cafe called Toffee & Thyme.  Delicious!

I got some "biscuit cake" to go!  It was kind of like vanilla wafers encased in chocolate almond bark.  
It was raining so we didn't stop, but Enniscorthy Castle looks awesome!
Next stop:  Wicklow  This is the castle by the sea and there's not much of it left!  It was windy and rainy but we enjoyed exploring the area for a few minutes and walking down by the little lighthouse.






BRAY
The rocky beach in Bray - so pretty!  Lots of hotels along here that enjoy the views.
Our hotel, which has some beauty and charm to it, although the rooms are 80's style. 
Somebody was a little hangry so we stopped to get  a treat!

There is a walk along the sea (on a good path) to Greystones, or a more difficult path up to the cross.  After the ice cream The Hubs was ready for a challenge and so we took the steep, rocky and muddy (in some places) trail up to the cross.  We got some great views!


We ended our stay in Ireland this time with a wonderful meal at a seaside restaurant with great views, Butler and Barry.  Exploring these little towns in Ireland has been wonderful!  Even if we only have a day or two in these places, it's worth it.  I really love the places in Ireland I've gotten to see and look forward to returning and exploring Northern Ireland!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

LITTLE KNOWN PLACES IN SOUTHERN IRELAND...

Here's a little of Howth and Carlow, Ireland!  We were in Dublin for a night and opted to go to Howth and spend our time, before heading to Carlow the next day for The Hubs work.

HOWTH, IRELAND
Howth Cliff Walk - not too far away from Dublin and a fun thing to do!  Howth is a small resort like town with good seafood and I'm sure it gets busy in the summer!
Howth also has a few ruins to see.  This old church ruin is perched above the Irish Sea!
Dan made a friend on our walk.

We ate an early dinner at The Brazen Head in Dublin, supposedly the oldest pub in Ireland!  This was our 2nd time here and it's nice to go early when it's not so crazy-busy!
POWERSCOURT ESTATE NEAR DUBLIN
We visited Powerscourt Estate, south of Dublin, and though it was too windy to be outside, we enjoyed their cafe.  

Avoca is a famous Irish brand of scarves.  Here is an old Avoca loom in a shop at Powerscourt.

Beautiful Avoca scarves!  Pricey, too.

The highest waterfall in Ireland, at the Powerscourt Estate.

CARLOW, IRELAND

We had the nicest B & B in the middle of Carlow!  It was filed with antiques and books about Ireland. 

Black and white pudding(sausage) with our Irish breakfast.


Carlow Cathedral from inside the Carlow Museum.
More Carlow


VISUAL Art Centre - a performing arts venue and an art gallery -  I went in for the free art galleries!

Lennon Cafe at the Art Centre has some good Banoffee Pie!  This is something I had last summer in Ireland and hope to learn to make myself!

This sculpture, the"Liberty Tree" is right in the middle of Carlow and commemorates the 1798 Rebellion.  If you look closely the trunk is make of skeletons (sculptures).  

Hadn't see any shamrocks in Ireland until this fence!

Government building





I walked about 20 minutes to the Delta Sensory Gardens, which were recommended to me by the Tourist Bureau.  I wasn't sure what I would see in February, but went since I had the time.  It was so neat!  I loved all the different garden layouts, waterfalls, and sculptures.  I'm sure it is awesome in the summer!






After the gardens, I sat in the B & B by a warm fire.  Our host brought me tea and a KitKat!


On our way out of Carlow we stopped at the Brownshill Dolmen.  This is the largest dolmen (ancient tomb?) in Ireland.  They don't know the origin of these (like Stonehenge).  But they're neat to see.  We walked about 10 minutes into a farmers field, on a trail, to see this up close.