Ah, the Emerald Isle of rolling hills, bucolic villages and ancient ruins. Away from the bustle of Dublin City, this is the Ireland most know and dream of visiting.
While visiting Dublin I took a day tour on a bus out to County Wicklow on a beautiful clear-skied sunny day (the only sunny day during my stay in Ireland) – the timing and weather was perfect. Over the years I’ve become a mountains and lakes kind of guy…with upstate New York and western North Carolina being my favorite stateside haunts. Ireland’s County Wicklow is like some fever-dream version of those verdant visions…the shapes more dramatic, the sheep fluffier, the lakes darker, the tall tales spun there taller, the ghosts older…full of something more ancient and fecund…and land so inspiring I couldn’t help but be touched as a wicked little short story (perhaps even a novella?) was born in my mind as I strolled the trails of Glendalough (which ooze a peacefulness coupled with that eerie sense of “other” hidden in the woods and the hills) and heard a stray sheep bleating unseen lost in some bush. The monastic ruins in Glendalough (dating back over a thousand years) were like nothing I’ve ever seen in person and spoke of a thousand ghosts and stories. It’s not surprising that County Wicklow has become a popular filming location with TV shows like BBC’s classic Ballykissangel and The History Channel’s The Vikings and films like The Quiet Man, Ryan’s Daughter, Saving Private Ryan, Michael Collins, Excalibur, Braveheart, and P.S. I Love You (whether actually taking place in Ireland or not) having made appropriate use of the photogenic environs. Marvel at the mountains and lakes, the turf cutting through peat bogs and the trickling source of the River Liffey, and dream of all the stories told and untold that haunt the space. Continue reading →
There’s really no better way to spend a day off from work midweek than taking a long drive. It’s especially nice on a beautiful pre-Fall day, and if it’s the first day your car has been out of the shop after an overnight stay for repairs, it’s even better. I’ve long extolled the wonders of Bucks County, Pennsylvania with all of its wineries and covered bridges, but the towns running parallel to Bucks along the Delaware River on the New Jersey side offer their own rustic charms and often get overlooked. Quaint historic towns running along the Delaware Raritan Canal in Hunterdon County and stretching across gorgeous wooded back roads into Mercer County (home of Princeton University) are more an extension of the small-town meets gentrified rural setting of Bucks County than they are a connecting strip to the New York-influenced North Jersey and Philly-influenced South Jersey megalopilises.
Last week I ventured up that way, stopping off at Washington’s Crossing State Park on the Jersey side before spending a few hours strolling through Lambertville. Continue reading →
With fall winding down, this past Sunday was potentially the last nice day to do a day-trip of this nature. The plan was to tour the Covered Bridges of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Below are some of the photos I captured. Why so few pictures of the actual bridges, you ask? Well…we go lost thanks to lousy directions, Bucks County’s willfully eccentric and confusing system of back-roads through the hills and countryside and non-GPS friendly points of interest. The roads frequently change names, and some stop dead only to appear miles down another road and running perpendicular to their original selves. Genius! If anyone can tell me how to get to Cafferty Road from Dark Hollow Road, a small reward might be paid. If you do this tour and absolutely must see every covered bridge, my only suggestion is to kidnap an actual native of Bucks County to be your guide. Continue reading →