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Surprise in Lake Havasu
By Carol LeBeau
10/2/2011 3:25:48 PM


You know what’s great about retirement? You finally have time. Time to sleep. Time to read. Time for friends. And my very favorite – time to do something new and different. In fact, since leaving my day-to-day duties as a news anchor and reporter at San Diego’s 10 News, life has gone from being tightly scheduled to wildly unpredictable!

Since my “new” job with Palomar Health allows for a little more flexibility, I’m slowly learning the art of spontaneity. So, a few months ago, when a wonderful woman named Carlene called and invited me to be a guest speaker for her women’s group in Lake Havasu City, I said “sure, why not?” Then I looked at a map.

Located in the high desert of Mohave County, Lake Havasu City is a six-hour drive from San Diego through a rather bleak and desolate corner of Arizona. Road trips of any distance typically include Tom. There’s nothing my husband loves more than “road behind him!” But Tom had work commitments, so I was on my own for this trip.

The first three hours were familiar. I’ve often driven over the local mountains through Imperial County into Arizona. But this time, I took a hard left at Yuma and headed north on US 95. For the next two hours, I saw nothing but a border checkpoint and one bleak-looking mini-mart.

There was virtually no traffic as I crossed Interstate 10 and continued my climb into the high desert. The view was nothing short of breath taking. The early evening sun created a magnificent display as it bounced off the walls of multi-colored rock formations.

The sun was just settling behind the lake as the city slowly came into view. The popular resort community of 52 thousand was winding down for the night … gearing up for another day of beach-going, boating, fishing, off-roading, golf and hiking. I spent a peaceful night at Carlene’s.

I knew Shugrue’s restaurant was the site of the “Women’s Connection” event at which I was to speak. I had no idea getting there would require driving across the London Bridge! I’m sure the food at Shurgrue’s was fine, but all I can remember is the view from the banquet room window of the historic landmark.

I’d all but forgotten the story that made news more than 40 years ago. The bridge was bought in 1968 for $2.5 million dollars from the City of London. The entire span was completely disassembled, and the marked stones were then shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled for another $7 million. The London Bridge then opened in 1971 and is now the second most visited tourist attraction in Arizona – second only to the Grand Canyon.

What a treat – a pleasant and beautiful road trip topped off by a close encounter with a piece of British history! Who knew Carlene’s invitation would lead to such a wonderfully, random adventure for this old, retired gal?

I can’t wait for the phone to ring. I wonder where I’m going next?!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Newport Beach
By Carol LeBeau
8/12/2011 4:32:23 PM


If you love the beach, but have already explored all that San Diego’s local coastline has to offer, there’s a lot more to see just up the road!

As a Master’s rough water swimmer, I’ve had the joy of competing off Coronado and Oceanside, Catalina and Alcatraz, Oahu and Maui. But I think my very favorite ocean swim is in the waters off Orange County.

Don’t get me wrong. My beach allegiance is strong. There is simply no beach more beautiful this side of eternity than Coronado. And the sights and sounds (waves crashing against the cliffs and barking sea lions!) that accompany a swim from La Jolla Cove to the Shores never cease to delight this open ocean aficionado.

But there’s something about the annual “Newport Pier 2 Pier Swim” that keeps a bunch of us veteran (I did not say old!) Master’s ocean swimmers coming back year after year. For one thing, the start time of 10 a.m. is very civilized. Organized entirely by the Newport Beach lifeguards, it’s also a relaxed, perfectly run event. We gather at Lifeguard Tower M, just north of the Balboa Pier, to register, check out the water temperature and chat about whether the current is pulling north or south.

But it’s also the challenge. Newport Beach is known for its gnarly surf. But conditions great for surfing can seem death-defying for us lowly swimmers. Over the years, I’ve prayed my way through seven-foot crashing walls of water just to get to the turn buoy. Add the chilly overcast and late-morning wind-chop and you can find yourself in a scene reminiscent of “Victory at Sea!” And, when the temp drops below 60, the “Big Chill” doesn’t begin to describe what happens to your body. When the conditions are tough, it’s a two-mile, wild ride!

But this year? THIS year, the combination of clear, sunny skies, zero surf and perfect water temp (a balmy 70 degrees) made the two-mile trek from pier to pier, well, a day at the beach! One by one, members of the San Diego Master’s contingent ran up the beach to the finish – all smiles!

After a casual awards ceremony at Lifeguard Headquarters, it was time for our post-swim award to ourselves – lunch at The Crab Cooker. Known for its delicious one-plate specials, the iconic Newport Beach eatery makes our trip to the OC complete.

Pleasantly chaotic with friendly service, The Crab Cooker is one of the best family seafood restaurants around. I recommend the grilled halibut plate with rice and slaw, but you’ll also want to try the clam chowder. It’s amazing.

Just a block or so from the beach, board shorts and sandy flip-flops are welcome and they’ll mail out as many of their signature postcards as you can address … free of charge! A couple of pieces of salt-water taffy (free!) for the road, and we’re headed home to San Diego … another vacation “day” just off the beaten path.

With or without the swim competition, why not consider a day trip to the beach – Newport Beach. It’s an easy trip. There’s so much to see and do. But be sure to pack your swimsuit. I can assure you … the water’s fine!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Royal Slumber Party
By Carol LeBeau
5/6/2011 3:56:00 PM


Did you know I was invited to the royal wedding? It’s true. The official-looking invite arrived in a timely fashion, about a month prior to the much-anticipated nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton. But alas, I was not being summoned to Westminster Abbey. (The local postmark should have been my first clue!) It was not a royal wedding to which I was invited. It was a royal “slumber party… in Alpine!

While I may not have been in the company of Elton John and the Queen Mum as Kate and William took their vows, my dear friend Maggie – lover of all things royal – threw a wedding viewing party and sleepover at her home fit for a queen!

The bedtime bash commenced at 10 p.m. Thursday… the six of us already bleary-eyed (For us 50-somethings, it was already past out bedtime!). Each woman was issued her very own plastic tiara and sparkly scepter… perfect accessories to complement our cozy robes and pj’s. Snacks included chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (in honor of William and Kate’s wedding cake) and a little “bubbly” with which to toast the happy couple.

The wall-to-wall network coverage was about to begin when Maggie cheerfully announced, “It’s time for a game!” Oh no! As she handed out pens and paper, I realized, with horror, we were about to take a 15-question royal wedding trivia quiz. I should have paid closer attention to the massive media coverage in recent weeks!

By the time I got to question #5, (What are Kate’s parents’ names?) I hadn’t filled in a single answer. I decided to go with “Mom and Dad.” (Carole and Michael would have been correct!) Who knew Kate’s hometown was Buckleberry and her dad was in the party supply business? A lot of people, apparently… including my pajama-clad pals. Carol M. was the runaway game winner. I came in a strong last place, but still took home a royal parting gift… a coffee mug festooned with Kate and Wills’ mugs.

Determined to learn all I could, I did my best to focus on the non-stop TV coverage leading up to the 3 a.m. wedding. (Did I mention I don’t do all-nighters? Even as a kid, I actually slept at sleepovers!) At 1:45 a.m., I knew I was in trouble. So fatigued, I could no longer distinguish between ABC’s Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer. I threw in the towel and headed to the guest room for a catnap.

An hour later, I joined my fellow wedding-watchers in front of the TV. Eyes wide, we watched with delight as 60 cameras installed in the Abbey, captured both the magnificence and intimacy of the ceremony. No TV commentary required. William delightfully debonair, his bride elegantly radiant, the ceremony was perfect down to the last detail. And six forever “girlfriends” shared an experience we will never forget.

Following a breakfast of tea and scones, we went our separate ways. Sleep-deprived and sugar-buzzed from too many cupcakes, the post-wedding hangover lingered throughout the day. But it was worth it. Say what you may about the monarchy, when the Windsors plan a party, it’s worth staying up for!

Maggie, thanks for the best wedding bash outside London. It was a royal treat! And to my fellow wedding partiers – Liz, Carol, Christine and Teresa – let’s make sure we mark our calendars for the next wedding at Westminster. I hear there’s already buzz about Harry and Pippa?!

God save the Queen!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

By Carol LeBeau
4/26/2011 4:53:59 PM


In March of 1981, I was 26 years old and had never traveled outside the Midwest. That was about to change. I’d just accepted a job offer at Channel 10 News in San Diego. Excited about the career move, I was also scared to death about making the move all alone. Fortunately, my best friend, Julie, offered to help drive me AND my stuff halfway across the country. We packed up my Oldsmobile Omega in Peoria, Illinois and headed west. It was a fabulous trip that cemented our friendship for a lifetime.

Through marriage, children, careers and crisis, Julie has always been there… just not geographically. We’ve had plenty of “visits” over the years, but hadn’t hit the road together for nearly three decades. We decided it was finally time for a girl-friend getaway… our 30-year anniversary “road trip!”

Julie’s plane arrived at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field from Denver right on time. After stopping for bottled water, peanut M&M’s and Red Vines (basic road trip rations!) we left San Diego in the rear view mirror, heading north and west toward the California mountain community of Idyllwild.

Unlike the power-trip we took together in the 80’s… the goal this time was a power-“visit” and a little R&R in the mountains. With perfect traveling weather, light traffic and Elton John’s Greatest Hits providing the musical backdrop, we wound our way up the steep grade to Idyllwild.

As we made the turn into the quaint village, we knew we’d picked the perfect place for our get-away. Peaceful and yes, “idyllic,” Idyllwild is nestled in the San Jacinto mountains (about 2 hours 15 minutes from San Diego.) Set among tall pines, sweet-smelling cedars and legendary rocks, it’s like taking a step back in time. We could literally feel our blood pressure dropping. The tiny town has completely maintained its “small town” atmosphere over the years. No Vons. No Starbucks. No kidding! We found only locally owned shops and restaurants.

No Holiday Inn, either. But we’d reserved a small cabin through Jim at the “Quiet Creek Inn” weeks earlier. Jim got us squared away with good directions and great suggestions. We followed his advice and stopped at the Mountain Harvest Market for groceries. The prepared food selections were so fresh and yummy, we decided to eat “in” that night. (I recommend their homemade soups. But the chicken salad is amazing, too!)

Our cabin was comfortably furnished and stocked with everything we needed… including a new TV and cozy throws. From a veritable library of movie favorites, Julie chose a Jane Austen “chick flick” while I made a pot of tea. We talked till we dropped, then slept till mid-morning.

We found the best local French roast at “Higher Grounds” Coffee Shop in the village. After shopping the local boutiques and galleries, we enjoyed a delicious (homemade!) lunch at the “Idyllwild Café,” took an easy hike and made dinner reservations at “Gastrognome,” a favorite local eatery known for it’s seafood, steak and pleasant patio seating. We both agreed it’s a great place to “people watch!”

The next day… de-stressed and talked out we left our mountain retreat and followed the signs back to San Diego. My friend boarded a plane home and “Julie and Carol’s anniversary road trip” officially came to an end. But there was no sadness, because while we may not know when and where just yet, these two old friends made a promise not to wait 30 more years to hit the road again.

**If you’d like to know more about “getting away” to Idyllwild, visit to www.idyllwild.com

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Naval Aviation
By Carol LeBeau
3/3/2011 3:28:23 PM


Saturday, February 12 was one of those “Chamber of Commerce” Days in San Diego.  The sun shone brightly across crystal blue skies… not a cloud in sight.  Perfect conditions for the air show to end all air shows in the “birthplace of Naval aviation!”

Tens of thousands of us converged on San Diego Bay and Coronado for the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) to honor the pilots and air personnel from the last 100 years from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Tom and I were among the throngs who caused the population of Coronado to nearly triple for several hours that day.  And that didn’t include the mass of humanity on board the USS Midway… the wall of people lined along both sides of San Diego Bay, and those spectators forced to watch from their cars, stuck in a massive traffic jam on the Coronado Bay Bridge.

My heart swelled with pride as each aircraft in the 189-plane flyover roared overhead.  We viewed the awesome air display from NAS North Island… where Tom was stationed for much of his Navy career.  Tom is a retired Naval aviator.  He was a carrier landing instructor and flew the S-3 Viking throughout his 20-years of service to our country.  (You bet I’m proud!)

From our vantage point near the back gate of North Island, visibility was unlimited as the Blue Angels kicked off the show, shrieking across the sky in breathtakingly perfect formation.  As the show continued, we were dazzled by a continuous flyover of military aircraft history… culminating in a grand finale fly-by from the air wing assigned to the USS Stennis.  We held our breaths as a stunning display of 35 planes, including F-A 18 Hornets, E2C Hawkeyes, EA-6B Prowlers and the c-2 Greyhound.    As the formation began to break up, it was hard to see through the tears.

As the day wound down, thousands of us lingered to view the static displays of historic aircraft, many specially painted for the occasion.  We also reflected on the amazing bravery of those aviation pioneers, especially those who saw action in aerial combat.

A beautiful day, and a beautiful way to honor our true, American heroes.

If you missed the flyover, don’t worry!  It’s not too late to celebrate San Diego’s aviation “birthday!”  The party continues, thanks to the USS Midway Museum.  For 100 days, you can celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Naval aviation by buying discounted tickets to the museum.  The offer is for “locals” only… so take advantage of this opportunity to get “up close and personal” with some amazing military aviation history.

And while I’m at it…a big “thanks and God bless you” to all those who have served our country, protecting and preserving our precious freedoms!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Lowry Theater
By Carol LeBeau
1/15/2011 4:35:25 PM


My husband, Tom and I recently celebrated 26 years of wedded bliss. There’s no doubt I got the better end of the deal. Tom’s put up with a lot. As the wife of a long-time TV newscaster, Tom simply got used to being called “Mr. LeBeau.” (That’s my maiden name, by the way!) He knows who he is and that’s enough.

I suppose it has something to do with his military training. After 20 years as a Navy pilot, Tom (Thomas Dunlap Hamilton) retired as a Commander some years ago. He’s had two careers since, but I must say I’m awfully proud of his service to our country as an S-3 pilot and flight instructor. To this day, Tom will tell you there are three things worth fighting for. Family. God. Country.

You see what I mean about the “better end of the deal?” And to make the deal even “sweeter,” as Tom’s wife and military dependant, I have privileges on the local bases. I can shop at the commissary, work out at the gym and take in a movie at the most wonderful old theater in the United States

I recently took my nephews for their first visit to the fabulous Lowry Theater on NAS North Island (Naval Base Coronado.) While the theater may not be a household name most locals are familiar with the base situated at the north end of the Coronado peninsula on San Diego Bay. It’s homeport to several US Navy aircraft carriers.

It’s an enormous facility… host to 23 aviation squadrons and 80 additional tenant commands. NAS North Island is rich in aviation history, including the first parachute jump in the San Diego area, the first seaplane flight in 1911 and the famous flight of Charles A. Lindbergh from New York to Paris in 1927. That flight originated at North Island’s Rockwell Field.

During World War II, North Island was the major continental U.S. base supporting operating forces in the Pacific. Today, the base resembles a small city, providing service men, women and their families everything from restaurants and a golf course to churches and the historic Lowry Theater.

My nephews stood awestruck as we entered the cavernous auditorium that seats 2,100. And then we stood proudly as the American flag waved on screen and together hundreds of us sang our National Anthem.

The Lowry Theater is the former home of major USO shows and bond drives, but because of the continuing commitment of the Navy’s department of Morale, Welfare and Recreation to meet the needs of today’s servicemen and women… that day we enjoyed a matinee performance of “Megamind” on the big screen… a brilliantly animated message about good vs. evil.

What a treat to watch such a critical life lesson surrounded by men and women who would die to protect my freedom.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Hawaii...The Big Island
By Carol LeBeau
12/9/2010 4:02:28 PM


Hawaii… The Big Island

When I signed up for the San Diego Master’s swim program more than 25 years ago, I had no idea just what an adventure I was in for.

I am NOT a risk-taker by nature, but when a group of gals invited me to join their relay team for a race around Coronado I had to give it a try. I got my first open water “rush” stroking alongside the mammoth supports underneath the Coronado Bay Bridge. From that moment, I was hooked!

Over the years, my swim pals and I have competed in rough water races from Coronado and La Jolla to Oceanside, Newport, Lake Tahoe and Alcatraz. We’ve even braved the wind chop and chilly temps in the Catalina, English and Maui channels. (OK. The water off Maui is warm. But the swells were seven to ten feet!)

I love to open-water swim. And the Master’s program (a polite way of saying ‘old people’ swimming!) is the way to go. I’ve made lifelong friends who share my passion for the open water.

Our most recent adventure, however, didn’t involve a race or major channel crossing. This trip took us to the island of Hawaii. And THIS trip was just for fun! The “Big Island” may be best known for its lava rock landscape and active Kilauea Volcano. But this magical place is also home to some of the most spectacular swim spots in the world.

Lucky for us, our friend, Janet knows the island inside and out. She planned five fun-filled days that began at sunrise with coffee on the lanai, and ended with a glass of Merlot and sunset on the lanai. In between we hit the major swimming hot spots along the Kona Coast.

One of the highlights of the trip was also one of my “bucket list” goals. Day one. With Jo and Rene I realized one of my dreams. Together we swam the 2.4-mile Ironman Triathlon swim course in Kailua bay! We cheered at the turnaround buoy. And when the wind picked up on the return trip, we got to experience at least part of the challenge of the grueling event usually reserved for elite athletes.

The second day? Honaunau and a beautiful bay known by the locals as “2-Step.” Yes, there are actually two “steps” made of volcanic rock that allow swimmers and snorkelers to safely slip into the bay. Fabulous snorkeling.

Keala Kekua Bay was my favorite swim stop. Day three was an amazing two-mile swim to the Cook Monument… named for the English Captain who discovered the Hawaiian Islands. The water was so calm and clear that morning, it was like swimming in a giant aquarium.

The next morning we got an early start and drove to Kona Coast State Park… home of a lovely stretch of beach called Kekaha. The gentle surf and water, a breathtaking shade of aquamarine made for a delightful day of easy swimming and serious snorkeling!

Before our flight the last day we took an early dip into the still waters at Kahaluu beach Park for our last glimpse of the brilliant parrot and butterfly fish that never cease to amaze me.

There are countless reasons to visit the “Big Island” of Hawaii… the erupting Kilauea volcano, historic downtown Hilo, Manua Kea – the world tallest mountain and drop-dead gorgeous flowers and plants everywhere.

But for you swimmers and snorkelers out there? The “Big Island” of Hawaii’s spectacular Kona Coast is a must-see! Make plans now! I look forward to seeing your photos.


PS: After your morning adventures, enjoy a great meal at the best and most-fun lunch spots we found. I recommend “Quinn’s,” “The Coffee Shack,” Drysdale’s,” and the “Kona Inn.”

Carol LeBeau | Health Journal | 09 December 2010

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Lamb's Players
By Carol LeBeau
11/8/2010 4:00:51 PM


After 34 years working the night shift as a TV news anchor and reporter it’s wonderful being home in the evenings with Tom. You can find us most nights, TV trays on our laps, watching the news, followed by the “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” (Mr. and Mrs. Excitement!)

But to celebrate our wedding anniversary recently, I wanted to do something special. Tom agreed. Warmed-up meatloaf with Alex Trebek is no way to mark 26 years of marital bliss.

We agreed on dinner and the theater. We’d heard rave reviews about the new Lamb’s Players production called “mixTape… A Musical Journey Through the 80’s.” It sounded fun. “mixTape is playing at the downtown Horton Grand Theater at 4th and Island. (www.lambsplayers.org). My plan was to get reservations at a restaurant nearby.

As it turns out, one of downtown San Diego’s most popular dining spots sits directly across the street from the Horton Grand. Bice Ristorante is Italian fine dining at it’s best. It’s slightly high-end, but in honor of more than a quarter-century together, we decided to splurge.

What a treat! Our time in Bice’s lovely dining room was like a 90-minute trip to Northern Italy. We dined on melt-in-your-mouth pan-seared salmon in a delightful champagne sauce and lightly dressed Capellini alla Cacciatora. Divine! But our dinner salads were the real hit. You must try the Tuscan fava bean salad with pecorino, pear and fennel in a lemon dressing. So creative! So delicious!

Bice’s extensive wine list and elaborate cheese bar are popular with conventioneers and the downtown after-work business crowd. The atmosphere is lively, the service spectacular. For a couple of locals who usually eat-in or grab a bite at LaSalsa we recommend this “special-occasion” dining experience.

But the real fun got underway across the street! Lucky for us… Lamb’s Players has extended its run of “mixTape.” If you came of age during the 80’s or just love the music, this delightful musical revue is a “must-see.”

“mixTape” takes you on a wild, musical ride featuring every 80’s music sensation from Genesis, Madonna and Sting to Depeche Mode, The B-52’s and Oingo Boingo! Reagan was in the White House. Lycra and legwarmers were the accessories of the day. (There’s a hilarious segment on the 80’s workout gear!) It’s a time when a “mixtape” of favorite tunes was the ultimate in self-expression!

For us…”mixTape” was the ultimate in fun. No deep, hidden meanings. No troubling themes. Just fun! It’s an intimate theater, but you won’t believe what a great band and creative choreography can do to make this musical truly bigger than life!

Time for a “date night” with someone you love? Take a trip to downtown San Diego. We went on a Wednesday. No crowds! There’s reasonably-priced underground parking at 4th and Island. Grab a plate of tortellini and a glass of Pino Grigio at Bice… then sing and laugh out-loud on your musical trip through the 80’s at the Horton Grand. “mixTape” runs through the end of November.

I’m going again!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
By Carol LeBeau
10/25/2010 4:56:24 PM


I think it was on the 4th day of our trip to Israel it hit me. We were on a peaceful boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. The jet lag was finally gone and I found myself overwhelmed by emotion. I really was in the Holy Land.

We’d arrive in Tel Aviv three days earlier. Since then, we’d visited Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. There we saw the church of the Annunciation, where it’s believed the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. We continued to Mt. Carmel. That’s where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal.

The next day, we traveled to Capernaum… the town used as a base by Jesus during his ministry… then to the ancient city of Jericho and the mountain on which Jesus was tempted. We even made a stop in Caesarea Philippi where Peter’s faith was challenged by Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?”

The following day… staring out at the Sea of Galilee, the Bible came alive! The people and places I’d read about since childhood Sunday school were real! I could almost see Jesus walking across the gentle waves. Christians like me believe the Sea of Galilee was host to many of Jesus’ miracles and teachings.

But the Holy Land isn’t just “holy” to Christians. In our stunning tour of Jerusalem, we visited Islam’s third holiest site, the Dome of the Rock. We entered the Old City and strolled the Jewish Quarter, then humbly submitted our prayers at the Western “Wailing” Wall.

It was a-once-in-a-lifetime adventure made even more special because Tom and I got to share the experience with our couple’s Bible study group. I’ll never forget the scene as we all donned white robes, stepped into the Jordan River one at a time and renewed our baptismal vows.

Our couple’s group has been meeting for more than 18 years. Together we’ve shared our joys and sorrows… lessons from the Bible, and lots of great food!

That “togetherness” continued in Israel as we shared communion at the Garden Tomb… enjoyed a swim (it’s actually more of a “float!”) in the Dead Sea and bargained for olive wood and jewelry in the bazaars of the Old City.

We dined on phenomenal food and laughed till we cried. (especially when Max ordered a ham and cheese omelet in the kosher King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Our server took it in stride. “I could do that sir,” he said, “but I’d have to close down the hotel!”)

An amazing journey that took us through centuries of history… the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the remains of Solomon’s glorious temple and the wilderness where David hid from Saul. All “real” places forever etched in our minds.

But this region of the world also has a history of sadness and pain… violence and death. As the fighting continued along the West Bank, together we prayed that God would finally bring peace to a place, and to a people who have endured so much. May it be so.


Carol and husband, Tom, on the Sea of Galilee

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

By Carol LeBeau
9/6/2010 3:56:39 PM


Just months before her death in 1980, my mother was able to live out her lifelong dream of traveling to Ireland. I still have the photo of Mom’s joy-filled face as she kissed the Blarney Stone. While touring Ireland recently, I too performed the ancient Irish ritual. As I bent over backward to “properly” kiss the famous stone, a wave of emotion overtook me. After more than 30 years, I was able to share a special moment with my Mom.

Born and baptized Dorothy Marie Gallagher, Mom made sure my (French Canadian!) dad, my sister, brother and I appreciated her Irish heritage. From Irish Beleek china in the living room curio cabinet to our annual St. Patrick’s Day party at “O’LeBeau’s” in Davenport, Iowa... my family was “goin’ green” long before it was fashionable!

I’ve just spent 10 days celebrating my (half) Irish heritage touring the Emerald Isle. From Dublin to Galway, from the Cliffs of Moher to Kilkenny Castle… Ireland is truly the “land of enchantment.”

Tom and I joined 20 other San Diegans on a delightful tour designed by Holiday Vacations www.holidayvacations.net. We started with a quick tour of Dublin and stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. From there we traveled the scenic countryside with stops at the Celtic Crystal Factory and Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. We dined as medieval lords and ladies at Bunratty Castle… took a lively horse-drawn jaunting cart ride in Kilarney and drove the entire, breathtaking Ring of Kerry.

My fondest memories? Rich, strong coffee with breakfast every morning… the lovely lilt of an Irish accent, brightly-colored storefronts, chilly wind gusts, my first Guinness, gardens and baskets bursting with color, hearty Monk’s bread with butter, friendly people everywhere, the rich political and religious history, castles, cathedrals and links golf courses (OK, that’s Tom’s favorite memory!).

Whew! The experience of a lifetime in a country that has endured so much pain, but has never lost its faith. A must see…

“May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you’re dead!”

…Irish proverb

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.