Monday, September 17, 2018
This is what started it all, my reason for coming to Ireland. Every summer we have a new crew of young Irish counselors who come to work with us at The Painted Turtle camp. They’re so fresh, and fun. The kids absolutely love them, and so do I! And it’s given me a big group of friends here in Ireland.
I’ve done so many great things in my three weeks here, but my first priority was to be a volunteer ‘cara’ (friend) for a family weekend at Barretstown, knowing I’d have the chance to re-connect with a number of friends. The Barretstown camp, located outside of Dublin, is a sister facility in the Serious Fun Network founded by the actor Paul Newman. There were eleven of we ‘turtle friends’ at camp for the weekend; I was only one here on a temporary basis. And I made so many new Irish friends, too. I now feel like I have two camp ‘families’.
Things are different here, but so much the same. A 12th Century Anglo Norman castle is part of the camp! They have great facilities, and 500 acres of land, with sheep and horses grazing in surrounding pastures. But the spirit is nearly identical to that in California. We dressed in costumes, and wore face paint, and danced at mealtime. We laughed and played and had so much ‘craic’ (great fun!). And we saw pure joy on the faces of children living with serious illness, and their moms, dads and siblings, too. Just like at home, I leave camp feeling better about the whole world, and this time knowing that the magic we create there is universal.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Upwards from 700 feet tall, and five miles long, a guidebook calls the Cliffs of Moher ‘perhaps the most impressive sight in Ireland’. I’ll say!
As you might imagine, it’s selfie madness there. But that’s not my thing.
Just before you get to the cliffs, you pass through the oceanfront town of Lahinch, known for its surfing and its golf. The rustic golf course looks very challenging, as does the surfing. I chatted with a number of those braving the cold waters . They all knew of Newport Beach, California, and one even responded with ‘The Wedge!’ . . .
Monday, September 10, 2018
The pastures, forests and hillsides are green, green, green, And the sheep are pink? Then blue comes in at the coastline. The towns of Macroom and Dingle and others along the way are painted in bright, bold, hues, as are boats in Dingle harbor that look like they belong in a bathtub. There’s just so much colour here (had to use the local spelling)!
And now I’ve moved on to a Castle. The name is Dromoland (www.dromoland.ie) Far from dark and drafty, it’s a luxury 5-star hotel today, and It was built in 1543. I’m here for a one-night stay. I haven’t seen him, but the estate is still the home of a Baron.
This driving on the wrong side has gotten so much easier since the last time I did it. As with the bike, it’s all about GPS. I’m actually using Waze here, the same app I use at home. And it leads you to the correct turn in every roundabout. So on I go. Next stop (and I turn in the car), Galway.
Saturday, September 8, 2018
I love the Irish use of the word ‘blarney’, in place of ‘bullsh*t’. Turns out that Queen Elizabeth I ‘coined’ it after meeting the Lord of Blarney Castle, who was a teller of tales.
I was told I could skip Blarney Castle, because I already have ‘the gift of gab’. But I decided to go anyway. The castle, built in 1446, really was impressive. And yes, I did kiss the stone. What a fun crowd. I think everyone knew that what we were waiting an hour in line to do was ridiculous!
Friday, September 7, 2018
We’ve come to the end of our riding tour, and what vivid memories I have from the road!
The GPS units helped us cycle in our ‘own space', and not in a pack. Now and then a brightly-colored pub or home would just pop out all of the constant green. The center of the roadways seemed striped in green, with moss and grass growing right up the middle. Just when I was admiring a sheep-dotted pasture in the distance, a lone stray would appear on the road right in front of me. The cows and sheep (donkeys, too), were so funny. Some seemed oblivious to our passing. And others were clearly curious, or would dare me to a staring contest.
And this ‘crew’ has been so inclusive and compatible, both staff and guests. When does everyone ever agree on everything in this world! You never know about group dynamics, but I only wish I more time with this fun, caring, positive-thinking, inclusive group of people.
I logged 164 miles on the bike in five days, an average of 33 miles a day. Yes, I’ve done a couple of Ultra runs before, but I’ve never sustained daily physical/cardio activity for this long a span. Less than a month now from a big-ish birthday, I feel great. And also very, very fortunate!