As we drove back to our B&B from Kylemore Abbey, we found ourselves on a minor highway in remote Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. Highway R344, to be exact. And the scenery was lovely. We pulled over to take it in.
It’s a wobbly, undulating bridge of rope and wire binding planks of Douglas fir, 100 feet in the air, connecting the Northern Ireland mainland to the island of Carrick-a-Rede. Similar bridges have crossed this span for more than three centuries.
Margaret and I found the bridge to be sturdy and its swaying to be gentle. We had no troubles crossing it. Yet every year several people are spooked enough by it that they can’t cross back over and must be removed from the island by boat.
The bridge and island haven’t always been a tourist attraction. Rather, fishermen originally set salmon nets off the island and used earlier iterations of the rope bridge to reach their catch. The current bridge dates to 2008. Salmon stopped swimming through here a long time ago, and so the National Trust took over the site and made it a tourist attraction. We were glad they did: the views are stunning!
This was the first place we visited on our trip. Little did we know it would set a precedent: we would see lots of cliffs and ocean as we followed the Irish coast in the coming days.
Our day began with typical early-September Irish weather: overcast and spitting rain. But shortly the clouds parted.
It’s a maxim of photography that changing light changes the subject. But we were consistently startled by how much of an effect the changing light had in Ireland over anywhere in Indiana, where we’re from.
Just check out these two photographs, made maybe 15 minutes apart, of the same subject before and after the clouds parted.
The sunshine made colors pop everywhere we turned.
We stayed on the island longer than we intended simply because we wanted to re-photograph in the light everything we had just photographed under dense clouds.
Carrick-a-Rede is considered one of the best places in Ireland for stargazing, so it’s too bad we couldn’t come back and experience that kind of light.
But onward we went from here, to Giant’s Causeway, to see more cliffs and more ocean. We never tired of either.
US 50 winds gently through Martin County, Indiana, exiting the Hoosier National Forest and Martin State Forest just before it reaches the little town of Shoals, on the east fork of the White River. This is hilly country, unglaciated, unlike most of flatland Indiana to the north.
A little pulloff west of Shoals reveals this scene, forest surrounding the river, which doubles back here around farmland in the river bottom.
View from US 50 in Martin County, Indiana • Canon PowerShot S80 • August, 2010
I never expected to find that this old alignment of US 36 was a dirt road. But I go to find the unexpected.
Current US 36 lay 500 feet away, but here it was middle-of-nowhere quiet. I felt not just secluded, but exposed. I wondered how friendly the landowner was. I thought it might be entirely too easy to make a trespasser disappear.
But I lingered anyway, enjoying the tension. I took my time framing this photograph, which I’ve always loved. A copy hangs framed on the wall of my home office.
Old US 36 • Kodak EasyShare Z730 • May, 2007