Bald Eagle Nest

Painful Memories

Our Shuttle Landing Facility side trip brought us twice by one of the five Bald Eagle nests around Kennedy Space Center. The entire Center land is part of the National Wildlife Refuge of Merrit Island. Rockets and wildlife coexist very well, in fact the Shuttle Landing Facility is also known as the Gator Tanning Facility. The reptiles crawl up from the canals surrounding the landing strip on all four sides to bask on the smooth concrete.

First Turn

The nest tree is on the median of a divided highway. Driving into the Landing Facility the nest tree was to the east, brightly lit by the morning sun.

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Second Turn

On the return trip the nest was backlit. Look closely: the head of an eaglet (?) is just visible above the nest rim.

The parent eagle is silhouetted in the tree branches.

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words “STS-107.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

A Visit to Proleek Dolmen

Romance of Stones

I have an update to my post “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of the boyhood home of my grandfather, Peter McCardle, on great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm. April 2018 an email arrived from the brother of the owner of the house across the road.  He recognized the property from the blog photography and reached out to introduce himself and share information. His own genealogical research suggested we shared a great aunt.  We now work together to define this connection.

Our tour of Ireland was bookended by a visit to the farm site and, located little more than a kilometer away, a 5,000+ year old portal tomb, the last site Pam and I visited. We parked at the hotel / golf course built around the monuments.  There is no fee to visit the site, number 476 on the list of Republic of Ireland National Monuments (Irish: Séadchomhartha Náisiúnta), protected at the level of guardianship by the National Monuments Act of 1930.  The townland is named after the dolmen.  The anglicized “Proleek” is derived from the Irish for “bruising rock”, as in a millstone. The grave is attributed in folklore to the resting place of the Scotch Giant, Para Buidhe More Mahac Seoidin, who came to challenge Fin Mac Coole.  

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Ballymascanlon House Hotel is on the R173, on the left heading from the M1 towards Jenkinstown.  Path to the monument is marked here and there and requires attention.  It helps to understand the general location of the monument on the property.  The parking lot and hotel are on the southern end, the monument is on the north end.

The path leads through the hotel grounds….

….and golf course…

…and you first encounter the megalithic Gallery Grave of a type named “wedge shaped.”

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The 22 foot long tomb gallery supported stories of a giant burial. Pam poses for a sense of scale.

These are the only ancient monuments in Ireland were a stray golf ball may be encountered.

A short way ahead is the dolmen, or portal tomb. The informational placard is in English and Gaelic.  There is an illustration of the stones covered with earth with a stone façade.

Some describe the formation as a giant mushroom with warts. The posting feature image is of the same aspect as the next photograph, with me for scale.

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We are surrounded on three sides by the golf course.  The “entrance” to the tomb, through the two upright portal stones, faces northwest toward Slieve Gullion, a mountain with its own Neolithic burial site next to a lake on the summit.  The mountain and the flat land, such as Proleek township, feature in the story of how the Irish hero Cú Chulainn came by his name.  To learn more, click this link for “On the Tain Way” the first of my posting that includes some stories of the hero.

The fifth hole.

We had a beautiful day, so I took time to capture all aspects.  The hedge is the northern property border.

The “warts” are stones. There is a local saying that success in placing three stones on top will give a wish or lead to marriage within the year.

Click for more Ireland stories.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Columbia STS-107

Painful Memories

We left our Cocoa Beach hotel in the pre-dawn hours of February 6, 2018 with our tickets in hand for the first launch of Space X’s “Falcon Heavy, our reward for arriving early was a spot on the third bus to the Apollo-Saturn V center. At 4 miles from Launch Complex 39a this is the prime location for “VIP” viewing.

The Columbia Disaster

We were privileged to visit the Shuttle Landing Facility on the way, this hangar on the SLF access road was pointed out by the guide. Here was where the remains of Space Shuttle Columbia were collected after the disaster.

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STS-107 was the 113th flight of the Space Shuttle program, and the 28th and final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 16, 2003 and during its 15 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds in orbit conducted a multitude of international scientific experiments. It was also the 88th post-Challenger disaster mission. An in-flight break up during reentry into the atmosphere on February 1 killed all seven crew members and disintegrated Columbia. — wikipedia

Immediately after the disaster, NASA convened the Columbia accident Investigation Board to determine the cause of the disintegration. The source of the failure was determined to have been caused by a piece of foam that broke off during launch and damaged the thermal protection system (reinforced carbon-carbon panels and thermal protection tiles) on the leading edge of the orbiter’s left wing. During re-entry the damaged wing slowly overheated and came apart, eventually leading to loss of control and disintegration of the vehicle. The cockpit window frame is now exhibited in a memorial inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis Pavilion at the Kennedy Space Center. — wikipedia

The damage to the thermal protection system on the wing was similar to that Atlantis had sustained in 1988 during STS-27, the second mission after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. However, the damage on STS-27 occurred at a spot that had more robust metal (a thin steel plate near the landing gear), and that mission survived the re-entry. — wikipedia

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words “STS-107.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Island Shrine

part of the Irish landscape

A roadside shrine on Cottage Road, Inishmore. The faith brought by the saints has deep roots here.

A large crucifix set with wet stone walls with cut flowers. The walls are the native limestone.

It is a spring (early June) afternoon and there are fern and wildflowers. The white flowers are Greater Burnet saxifrage (Scientific Name: Pimpinella major).

Click Me for Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

The existing dry stone wall was interrupted by the shrine. In the distance are dry stone walls around fields, a stone shed, feeding horses and the sea, being Galway Bay, storm clouds with distant rain.

Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

References: search google “Wet Stone”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

“Los Mariachis” and two metal owls

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

My final Seward Johnson sculpture posting opens with a piece of uncertain authorship, I just know it was not installed for our second 2020 visit just before COVID-19 hit.

Here we have a dynamic group, I can almost hear the music.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Amargasaurus, a “small” sauropod.,

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

“Nice to See You”, “Stormy Weather” and “Cat Nap”

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

This set starts off with a nice guy at work. He was positioned on the large cafe windows. We met the grandchildren around lunch time, so we caught up around the food.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, “Herrerosaurus, one of the first

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Group Participation

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

The visual narrative and accessibility draw the viewer in…..the exhibit included prop to be used for posing with the art work.

Request to readers: how will you participate? Include responses in the comments. Thank You

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, “Neovenator, teeth like steak knives

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

“A Memorable Date” and “Coming Home”

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

Snooty art critics look down their noses at Johnson’s work, calling it “kitsch,” sentimental and not worthy of display in art museums. It say, “this will be cherished when you are dust.”

A tug at the heart strings.

It’s all in the details.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, “Mimi, only one found.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

“Holding Out,” “A Day Off” and “Nice to See You”

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

These three are story telling at it best a la Norman Rockwell.

Request to readers: make up your own stories and post as comments.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, “Baellynasaura, Big Eyes (?)”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

“Inner World, Outer World” and “Wine, Food and Thou”

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

Life scale Seward Johnson sculpture invites viewers to step into the moment.

Here, sunlight through trees adds to the effect.

The effect here is to grab the other side of the picnic basket…..

….as Taj did here.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, “Oviraptor, an egg protector.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved