Ice has begun to clear from the Mississippi River, and like clock-work, our puddle ducks, diving ducks, White Pelicans, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Tundra Swans have begun the great move northward. About the 5th of March, we were already hearing the Cranes and the Tunda Swans. This week, the great white Trumpeter Swans have begun passing our porch windows into the small ponds and creek of the valley. For the past four days, large pods of White Pelicans are clustering all along the river from Stoddard to Goose Island. Sandhill Cranes are now establishing their territories and making a rukus!
Except for a sloppy snow day today, river birding has been great. As the weather clears up visit the many roadside rest areas along Highway 35 in Wisconsin. Bald Eagles are abundant–a couple dozen at a sweep of the eye, clustered along the floating ice sheets and beside the big black nests. Happy Spring!!
Rich and I have an eye for PASSION. Perhaps the French proprietor who is passionate about country meats and cheeses. Perhaps our Guide who is passionate about sharing his paths in the foothills of the Pyrenees with the traveler. Or the plumber who is passionate about bathtubs and faucets!!! All of these make great stories for travelers and we are grateful for every individual we meet who rises to this passion threshhold.
Pat and Ann Halpin are hoteliers. The Aberdeen Lodge provided us a “soft landing”, a “home away from home” in Dublin. Among the cliffs of Kilkee, the Halpin Townhouse Hotel provided the familiar hospitality of complimentary coffee and cookies, PLUS we clearly heard the ocean through the open window of our oceanview room at Kilkee. Here we overlooked the Atlantic just above the mouth of the Shannon River. Pat Halpin works hard to provide notably attentive and hospitable staff, and exceptional amenities for the traveler.
Ruairi Gibbons was a passionate sailor long before he became became Captain of theShannon Princess.“Offering a hotel cruise on the Shannon River seemed to be my best bet for spending the rest of my life on water!”
Beautiful art prints of Historic Travel Maps, Hand Painted by Map Artist, Lisa Middleton can be viewed in detail by clicking on the map image!
Ruairi has now owned and operated Ireland’s premier overnight hotel barge for some 17 years. Seven years ago, he completely redesigned and appointed a two hundred passenger barge into the 10 passenger hotel barge which today is the only one operating on Ireland’s longest river.
Ruairi’s wife, Olivia Power, joined the team eleven years ago when Rauri advertised for a trained Chef to serve on the Shannon Princess. Olivia was the only applicant. Now nationally recognized, she turned out to be his greatest asset, and yes, his greatest passion!
A fun side-note is that Olivia’s first assignment was in a lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin! She prepared a lot of Walleye, she recalls, and to this day she orders a supply of wild rice from Wisconsin every year! We’ve just posted our experience of cruising with Ruairi and Olivia on the SHANNON RIVER.
Finally there is Tom Crean, an “unsung Irish hero” from the days of Scott, Amundsen, and Shackleton. We found his story at the South Pole Inn, in Anascaul, on the Dingle Penninsula.
You will find each of their stories this October in our WATERWAY CRUISE REPORTS and you will find them all in IRELAND.
We’ve had suggestions for TWO reminiscent books this week that we thought would interest our readers.
OL’ MAN RIVER by Capt. William D. Bowell, founder of Padleford Packet Boat Company, in MPLS/St. PAUL covers much of an adventurous and accomplished life. Capt. Bowell is the founder of the Passenger Vessel Association, and the winner of the National Rivers Hall of Fame Achievement Award. His Captain William Bowell River Library opened in 2004 at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa.
My husband has enjoyed reading about the Captain’s early days when he parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. “This man is a genuine hero,” he told me. OL’ MAN RIVER is available from Afton Press website at www.aftonpress.com.
Kay and her husband raised two babies in remote Alaskan bush locations… first on the Aleutian Islands and then in an Eskimo village on Barter Island. The book is filled with stories and pictures of family life in one of the most remote places in the world.
Sheila wrote today wondering if there was a good part of the blog for asking QUESTIONS about traveling the Great River Road. By all means, ask away. I won’t know everything of course, but what I don’t know I’ll try to find out. So check out the category QUESTIONS QUESTIONS