Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, powerful images from 79 AD

On August 24, 79 A.D., the Roman city of Pompeii was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and stayed buried for more than 1600 years. The eruption spewed searing hot ash upon the city, preserving its people and treasures in a volcanic time capsule. Artifacts include beautiful frescos, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, body armor, plumbing fixtures, furniture, ancient Roman coins, and full body casts of the volcano’s victims shown in eerie detail. In 2012, Nikki and I went to see the exhibit while showing in Denver.

Mount Vesuvius in the back ground with the streets of Pompeii in the foreground.
Large frescos were found and saved as excavation unveiled these amazing works of art.
Metal side table with exquisite detail. This society wasn’t poor. They had very nice things and a shocking display of modern luxury items.
Dionysus (Bacchus) – Greek God of Wine and Grape Harvest.
This Greek God has the love of all the people.
A Bacchus wine fountain. I need one of these!
Battle helmet.
Gladiator Shin Guards.
I was amazed by the sophisticated plumbing that was shown. This was 79 AD, 2000 years ago!
Another view of plumbing fixtures. This blows my mind.
And the jewelry! I would wear any of these pieces.
Amazing!
Another wall fresco.
” Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid, or wet lime plaster.  Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall.” (Wikipedia)
These body casts of Pompeian residents show their last moments as the volcano buried the city.
150 bodies were found in a warehouse on the beach in Herculaneum, a nearby city to Pompeii. Both cities were buried by Vesuvius, but fewer bodies were found in Herculaneum. It seems these people were trying to find a safe place to go.
More body casts found in the buried city.
Speculation is that this dog was tied up and climbing to stay on top of the ash as it piled up around him. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about this exhibit, but it shows the reality of life and tragic death in the city of Pompeii.

2018 NYC… How To Make Being A Tourist Look Easy

Heading toward the East Coast for a couple days before our visit to Ireland.
We stayed at the tip of Manhattan this time, in the financial district. Where the Green dot is.

On the way to Ireland, we stayed in NYC for 2 nights to take in some of the sights. The map shows where our hotel was, at the tip of Manhattan. In the 2 days we were there, we walked around and were able to see a lot of Battery Park, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, ground zero at World Trade Center and found some fun places to stop for lunch, dinner and cool refreshments.

We stayed at The Doubletree Hilton at the Financial District on Stone Street. This is the view from our room. The room was clean, with nice linens, but SUPER small. I guess that’s how it works in NYC. We loved the location and were able to walk around easily from the room. Starbucks was half a block away, gratefully! We had a partial view of Ellis Island, on the left side of the pic, across the harbor. Battery Park is on this side of the harbor, below.
NYC, Financial District. New York does a good job of creating parks in the middle of the city.
The bull on Wall Street is bigger than it looks!
Defiant girl, in training!
We walked down the embankment to The World Trade Center grounds. This place is such an emotional space. Years later, people from all over the world are here trying to understand how something like this could happen and pray for peace in our world.
I can’t explain how it feels to be in this place. Somber, heavy and reflective.
The Twin Tower foot prints, now eternity pools, are so vast. This pic shows how small the people across the pool are.
The survivor tree at Ground Zero was saved after severe damage and has been a beacon of hope for so many after 9/11.
1 World Trade Center.
American Merchant Marines Memorial on the harbor.
North Cove and Manhattan Sailing School on this gorgeous day! These yachts are over 150′ long. This marina sits along the harbor and has great restaurants, shops and walking paths with people enjoying the beautiful sunny day in August.
North Cove is on the Hudson, 3 blocks from The World Trade Center Museum. We discovered a great deli and enjoyed our sandwiches on a bench watching crew members work on these amazing yachts.
The Staten Island Ferry is free and takes people across the harbor to New Jersey on a regular schedule. We decided to take a spin across and back toward the end of our first day.
The ferry’s are actually pretty cool. It’s a main form of transportation across the Hudson. Here are local commuters on the ferry.
After walking around all day, I was looking for a good place to sit and sip. “How about this place?” I’m pointing out the Dubliner to Sean, who is desperately looking for a Guiness.

This cute little alley was blocked off to traffic and set up for people to hang out in between a bunch of little neighborhood restaurants. We loved finding it only a block from our hotel.

Awww! I look happy to be off my feet and scoping the NY scene.
The 2nd day, we decided to try out luck at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tours. I’m not big on huge lines of people, but I had to suck it up and stand in line with the rest of them to see the sights!
Looking back at Manhattan across the harbor.
The Coast Guard is always on alert. The gunner is standing on the bow, strapped into a harness with his hand on the machine gun! Adventurous job!
The path walking around Lady Liberty on Liberty Island.
This shot, from Liberty Island shows Manhattan and 1 World Trade Center in the background, Ellis Island on the left of the background and all the tourists walking around Liberty Island.
Liberty Island is worth standing in line and navigating through hundreds of people. The statue from France represents Liberty Enlightening the World. Such a positive image from our history.
1 World Trade Center with sailboats in the harbor.
Ellis Island from the ferry.
Ellis Island Hall, where thousands of immigrants landed, looking for a better life.
Irish immigrant family in a pic at Ellis Island. A hard life makes it understandable to want to immigrate.
“Goodbye, I’ll see you later!”
The long story of Immigration can not be accurately demonstrated in these few pics. However, when visiting Ellis Island, it’s heartbreaking and inspiring to read about all the people who have found their way to the US, using whatever means they had, to try for a better life.
Ellis Island.
On the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island.
I do love to visit New York. I’ve now been a couple times and look forward to a return visit. It’s a great way to break up a trip to Europe and now, we’re off to Ireland.

This is what happens when we go to see the Queen and her kingdom!

Leaving Knock Ireland, heading toward Luton Airport near London.
We stayed at The Hilton Doubletree at the Docklands on Columbia Wharf in London. This building is an old mill and offers awesome views of The Thames from our room.
View from our room at night! The ferry on the right side of the pic travels back and forth all day from Canary Wharf to Columbia Wharf on the other side of the Thames where we caught the water ferry down the river and into the city.
Our room was basically a flat. Lots of space and a small balcony overlooking the river.
We slept with the door open all night so we could feel the breeze from the river and hear the tide coming and going. Loved it!
I loved the rustic feel of the old building! Sean is counting his pounds.
Our room is the top balcony. Below is an outdoor space with tables overlooking the river.
Parliment and Big Ben were under renovation while we were there.
It really IS Big!
I had to pay attention when crossing streets, as the traffic was coming from the opposite direction than I’m used to!
We rode the ferry to the Westminster stop and walked down St. James park to Buckingham Palace. It was lovely!
Buckingham palace is very grand, very busy and very impressive. It’s crazy to actually be in a spot I’ve seen in so many pictures. And no, we didn’t see any royals while we were there!
You can see the fountain driveway at the front of Buckingham Palace.
Guilded gates are everywhere. This place is huge. It’s quite a walk from point A to Point B.
Were practiving our “Royals” pose! Do we look royal?
The queen leaves Buckingham Palace and goes to Balmoral Scotland during the summer. While she’s away, tours of the palace allow viewing and walking through 19 state rooms! Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside. But I will say that the decadence and grandeur is so breathtaking. It’s amazing to me that these rooms have been lived in and used since the 1700’s. This pic is taken outside the back of the palace where the queen holds Garden parties.
This is 10 Downing St., through the gates. Home of Prime Minister Teresa May, at least for now. See the armed guards at the gate?
This is just on the other side of the fence from Teresa May’s house.
Standing on the London Bridge with a good view of the London Eye!
They still have these phone booths everywhere!
View from the ferry as we’re leaving London Bridge headed back toward our hotel.
This sign is funny to me! Not just the part of not being a nuisance, but that they’ll report you to your church. Now that’s a deterrent!
This old inn, circa 1520. We walked by it on our way to the Tower of London!
I imagine midieval people walking around in the cobblestone street with a mug in hand, looking for a place to lay their head for the night.
We took an obligatory break at Starbucks before going into the Tower. Fun to watch people from all over the world walk around these tourist attractions.
We’re heading toward the entrance of the Tower of London. I’m walking by what was once a moat surrounding the Tower.
The outside of the Tower. Entrance on the right.
This is inside the Tower grounds, the London Bridge behind us. You can see the moat behind us between the stone wall and the sidewalk below.
This is where the Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters live, inside the Tower grounds.
There’s one getting into the back seat of his car.
This whole fortress dates back over a 1000 years to 1070 AD. It’s been damaged, rebuilt and updated many times since then by a variety of Kings and Queens.
The slits in the stone wall are actually windows. See the gargoyles looking down at us?
Panoramic view. The Building straight ahead is the White Tower, or the Tower of London.
Again, no photos inside, but The Crown Jewels are pretty spectacular and heavily guarded!
Henry VIII’s armour. Hmmm.
Living in a castle seems romantic, but this would not be so cozy. Now I imagine walking through these hallways with a candle in hand.
Cold and dark, but the stone work is not only cool to see, it’s also super durable to have lasted this many centuries.
This is looking out a window. They are so small to protect the habitants from a seige. I think I’d feel claustrophobic living here.
This is a toilet. Basically a wooden box with a hole in it. I don’t know what’s below the box.
The king’s room. A bed, fireplace, a table, a throne and a chapel.
I guess this is where he makes plans for invasions.
It seems simple, but considering the stone rooms that are everywhere else, it IS more cozy.
The Kings throne.
Huge fireplaces are in the rooms to heat the cold space.
The White Tower. This is the tower that held the troops, weapons, armour, horses and of course, a chapel.
The chapel in The White tower.
The likeness of Queen Elizabeth I.
The walls are several feet deep to protect the people from attack.
This is amazing to me!
Torture tools. It’s eerie in this room, knowing how many people were held, tortured and died here.
A great view of London Bridge, standing next to the White tower.
We walked over London Bridge to see what was on the far embankment.
The London Bridge is a destination by itself. It’s a feat of engineering.
Looking back at the Tower over the Thames.
The Belfast warship is now a museum. It sits across the Thames from the Tower. We thought about taking a tour, but decided to find a cafe and have a glass of wine instead.
This walkway takes you from the cafe to the Belfast.
The little cafe overlooks the Thames and embankment.
The embankment runs along the river for miles. Tons of restaurants, parks and pedestrians. The architecture in London is remarkable. Very modern mixed with very old buildings.
Tired and feeling goofy after our stay in London, now we’re heading back to Colorado.
London to Denver is a long flight. I’m grateful to have seen parts of London and look forward to a return trip at some point!

If your lucky enough to visit Ireland, locals know how to make you feel charmed!

Arriving at Shannon Airport, Ireland. Aug 27, 2018.
Westport, standing on a bridge overlooking the Mall river.
O’Hehirs Cafe on the Octogon. One of my favorite cafes in Westport overlooks The Octogon, a historic landmark in town. I could spend hours here, drinking tea
and watching people walk by .
Kylemore Abbey, Ireland
A short walk away is the Chapel at Kylemore Abbey. So gothic and ornate!
Many of the manor’s and castles have chapels on the property. Entering the chapel at Kylemore Abbey.
Inside the chapel at Kylemore Abbey, beautiful paned glass windows.
Tea at the Cafe at Kylemore Abbey. When in Ireland, drink tea!
You’d never know what bliss lies behind this wall…
The walled victorian garden at Kylemore abbey.
Looking back toward the entry gate on the top left. This place is so gorgeous and has been recently restored after many years of neglect.
Turf is a natural resource that the Irish burn for heat. It’s layers of mulch and organic material that has been sitting on the ground for millions of years and become very dense. Driving around Ireland you can see fields of turf where people have dug up small sections, let sit to dry and then sell as fuel. It’s a resource that people now understand needs to be protected. You can smell turf being burned as you drive around. It’s very strong smelling, kinda like tobacco.
We saw many rich and decadent houses, but this house inspired me because it is the head gardeners house at the garden at Kylemore Abbey. Very simple and overlooking the whole walled garden. And they were buring turf for heat inside.
It was a super soggy day. However, if your strategy is to wait until is clears up, you’ll be spending your time inside! The trick is to dress appropriately and go for it!
Keel Beach on Achill Island. One of my favorite places in Ireland, so far!
Old Head Beach, Westport Ireland. I never get tired of being by the ocean.
This trip we stayed closer to town. This is the house we rented. Walking distance from downtown Westport.
This special lady is Sean’s mother, Winnie. She is wonderfully positive kind, loving and enjoys a good laugh, or craic, as the Irish would say! She turned 86 this year and we went back to help her celebrate.
Some of Sean’s family came for tea at our rental house after Winnie’s birthday lunch. Everyone in town loves Winnie. She has lived her entire life in Westport and knows everyone she sees. I’m grateful to know her!

Fun in the sun and more beautiful Shenanigans

Saint George, Utah for Dad’s 75th birthday.
Mom arriving from Idaho at DIA.
Michael and Dad in Moab, Utah for Michael’s 50th birthday.
The Thompson girls on the way to lunch and shopping in Littleton!
Mom, relaxing on the back patio while helping out with my new project.
Selfie on Cumberland Pass, the Continental Divide.
Family dinner at PF Changs in Lone Tree, CO.
Main Street, Gunnison.
Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Hanging with my nephew, Preston and my dog, Rocco.
Silly Girl, in disguise.  Guess who?
Mom enjoying a cup of tea in the carriage house with Rocco.
Picking up Mom from DIA.
Posing with Lisa Bachicha and Susie in Gunnison.

First blissful European trip will make you worry…

Going through customs in Shannon Ireland. It’s all a bit scary, but also exciting! We left NYC at 10:30 PM and arrived in Ireland at 5:30 AM. I didn’t sleep on the flight, instead watched the flight monitor while tightly gripping my arm rest, the whole way.
It’s best not to think about being over the Atlantic Ocean for 5 hours during the flight. Movies help!
There’s no doubt when you finally descend close enough to see the ground that your in Ireland. Look how Green and lush it it! Beautiful!
When we landed, we were greeted with a traditional Irish breakfast. Holy smokes! I had coffee instead.
We rented a house on Clew Bay and watched the tides come and go for 2 weeks.
This is the house we stayed in for 2 weeks.
We looked across the inlet at a small farm with sheep (of course) cows and horses. And they had a friendly dog who came to say hi when we checked it.
We took walks from the house when the tide went down. Exploring small farms and inlets.
And picked wild Blackberries that grew everywhere.
Westport House is an old English Manor on an estate which is now open to the public as a museum. I’m curious about the history of Ireland/Europe and learning more each day.
While we were there, the Harvest Country Music Festival, Miranda Lambert
headlining at the Westport House estate.
We also drove to Dublin for a Gaelic Football game at Croke Park, the largest arena in Ireland. Co Mayo was competing in the finals. Unfortunately, they didn’t win.
Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland.
I have to be honest, the hardest part for me was adjusting to driving on the left side of the road. I didn’t drive during our visit, but had a hard time relaxing while driving for the first week. And you can see how narrow the roads are. The shoulder is at most, 10 inches wide and rock walls line most of the roads. So as a passenger, you see the grass and rock walls coming at you on the left. It takes getting used to!
Besides driving on the left side of the road, the road signs are all in Gaelic and English.
We took a day trip to Connamara and Killary Harbour. So Green and beautiful!
Keel Beach on Achill Island.
The Wild Atlantic Drive follows the coast on the West side of Ireland. Because Ireland is an island, the coast is rocky and dramatic in many places.
The town of Westport is charming and historic.  You see it shown in many tourism ad’s for Ireland. Irish natives like visiting Westport for “holiday” 
I prefer wine, but had to sip a pint at a local pub to get the full experience.
Bertra Strand, with Crogh Patrick (holy mountain) in the distance.
A bunch of rocks on the beach. I think it’s beautiful!
We walked out on to Bertra Strand and enjoyed the grassy peninsula with rocky borders. It was windy, but comfortable enough to spend a couple hours out there.
We visited several abbey’s. Stone is used abundantly, as Ireland is basically a rock island and it’s the easiest material to get. This is in the town of Cong, where The Quiet Man with John Wayne was filmed.
Stone ruins are everywhere. At first, I was taking pics of all the stone buildings, but eventually realized that stone is as common as sagebrush in my hometown. However, I still think its beautiful, historic and certainly durable! These walls and buildings are over a Thousand years old!
An old Abbey and graveyard. See the grave headstones flat on the ground?
These buildings are so amazing and spectacular.
An old Monk’s fishing house on the river near Cong.
Ashford Castle is a world destination and has a long and rich history. Being American I think 200 years is old, but in Ireland, the history goes back thousands of years.
A local favorite is a “99”. Ice cream cone with a flake of chocolate stuck in it! Yum!
More stonework in Westport.
A hike at Old Head Beach on the cliffs.
Kylemore Abbey. We got there too late to go in, but will try again next time!
You still see thatched roofs on some buildings. It’s an old art of tying reeds tightly together to form a roof. This one is on the Wild Atlantic Drive near Achill Island.

NYC will make you feel more attractive than ever!

We stayed on Central Park and were ecstatic with our view. I’m taking care of business back at home while enjoying the view.
The only full day we were in the city, we walked around and see what we could find on foot. I drew in the route we took.

We logged about 6 miles, from my own calculations. Starting at our hotel on the park, we walked to the Hudson River, down the river walk to the Intrepid museum. We wandered around Hell’s Kitchen area, found a place for lunch. Saw a New York fender bender happen in front of us. (No, the driver’s didn’t jump out and start screaming at each other, as expected) Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, and ended up back in Central Park!

This ship is HUGE!  I’m standing on the river walk to take this pic.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral is beautiful and ornate. 
Jesus and Mary Mother Statue inside the cathedral.
Mother Teresa statue inside the cathedral.

I expected New York to be dirty and crowded and noisy and crazy. And while some of that turned out to be true, I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly people were. No one was rude or short with us, at all!

Time’s Square- crazy with people and events.
This souvenir shop had a whole shelf just for “The Donald”
Ok, I couldn’t help it. But just look at my face.
Grand Central Station, iconic and busy. I didn’t get any pics of it, but the Market at Grand Central Station was very cool! It’s straight ahead on the bottom Right, under the arch.
People are everywhere in NYC.  And the station is a hub in the city.
Constellations on the ceiling of Grand Central Station.
This is the ladies bathroom at Saks Fifth Avenue. Vintage decor.
The ladies bathroom at Saks Fifth Avenue. Not sure what I expected, but it seems to be the original bathroom.
Central Park. 

Being from Colorado, I understand New Yorker’s appreciating a place of nature and peace, living in such a hectic environment.   We saw a small part of the park, but it’s actually 2.5 miles long by 1/2 mile wide and features the New York Zoo, Metropolitan Art Museum, amphitheaters, lake and ponds and  other fun attractions.   A historic and nice break from crazy!

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.
Bethesda Fountain Plaza in Central Park.
Every evening, our hotel offered a complimentary happy hour, which we took full advantage of.

The hotel we stayed in was only a block from Trump Tower and was housing Secret Service Agents who were there to protect the President. They stayed in the same hotel as we did, due to the high price of staying at Trump Tower. We saw them in the lobby and elevators during our stay and they were friendly and respectful. They dressed in Black combat uniforms with “Secret Service” stenciled on the front and back and carried machine guns. Geez!