10 Questions About…

Fair Hills Waterslide by Ann Treacy
August 19, 2009, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Detroit Lakes

A golf course, a sheet of plastic, a ton of water. That’s all I’m going to say…

Butterfly Migration by Ann Treacy
August 19, 2009, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Detroit Lakes

So apparently Detroit Lakes is on butterfly migration path to Mexico! And they all stop at Fair Hills. The place isn’t exactly inundated but it’s fun to see the monarchs and as you can see we saw at least one good branch-load of butterflies is a fir tree, which kind of surprised me. I thought they’d like a softer looking tree.


Fair Hills – woo hoo! by Ann Treacy
August 19, 2009, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Detroit Lakes

We’re in Fair Hills Resort this week. It’s up in Detroit Lakes. It’s like a Minnesota-flavored Dirty Dancing resort. There are loads of kids’ activities – and some adult stuff too. There’s a talent show and a show (Hootenanny) that features staff talent. There are 3 meals a day. The chef can make pancakes in any shape!

These were our activities from the first full day:

  • 7 am – I walk with Barb, who leads about 20 people on a 1 hour walk around Big Pelican Lake. A boat picks us up in time for breakfast. Lily joined me. We saw an eagle
  • 8:00 – breakfast
  • Morning: It rained so the best activity was swimming. All of us swam for about 90 minutes in the pool and hot tub. It rained steadily the whole time – but it really was perfect for swimming!
  • 11:00: Zumba – a new aerobics-dance exercise class, which the big girls and I loved!
  • Noon – lunch
  • 1:00: golf lesson for me, Kate & Lily
  • 2:30: Aine got to ride a horse and play on the playground with other 4-8 year olds. Lily and Kate went for the water games – and they both jumped off the high dock-thing. Kate did not love it. I watched her on the high dock thinking about jumping – other kids trying to convince her, her thinking, getting close to the edge and backing off, but eventually she jumped
  • 6:00: dinner
  • 7:30: Ice cream social and volleyball game
  • 10:00 everyone is asleep!

So that’s kind of a typical day. Rather than catalog every day like that I thought I’d just post highlight posts for the rest of the week – short but sweet. Maybe with some videos.

music & movie in the park by Ann Treacy
August 16, 2009, 3:16 am
Filed under: St Paul

We’ve been easing back into life in St Paul. The girls have been seeing friends. I’ve been meeting with clients. Patrick is still writing.

We’ve been trying to keep an eye on what’s happening in our own home ground. Tuesday night we took a drive down to Stillwater – about 45 minutes away from St Paul on the St Croix River right across from Wisconsin.

Stillwater is a great town at nearly anytime – but Tuesday was special since they had a band playing, movie in the park planned and a farmers’ market happening. We didn’t stay long enough for the movie – but we enjoyed the music, food and walk along the river.

On Wednesday they had music and movie in the park at Groveland – our local park. So we could walk down. Enjoy hotdogs for dinner. The girls gulped down tons of free root beer. There were different carnival games and Kate took advantage of the free massages – several times.

Kate and Lily each had a friend over. We all stayed to see Madagascar in the park. It was a fun night!

Irish Fair 2009 by Ann Treacy
August 16, 2009, 3:15 am
Filed under: St Paul

So we came home just in time for the Irish Fair – on purpose. Patrick’s on the board of the Irish Fair and didn’t want to miss it.

Friday night we went to see the Dropkick Murphy’s. They were fun. They played more traditional songs than I had hoped – but that made sense given the crowd. I made it up to the front/side of the stage for a few songs.

I was very impressed with the security and the crowd surfers. The surfers were all eventually dumped on the “other side” of the security fence – but really not very close to the stage. The security folks just herded them away from the stage and back out to the crowd. It was a good way to handle it. The dancers didn’t mind, it wasn’t much hassle for security and kept everyone having a good time.

During the Fair we had the great fortune of entertaining Ruan O’Donnell (no relation) from University of Limmerick. Ruan gave two talks: one of Robert Emmet, Irish Patriot and one on the IRA from 1948-1968. Ruan was very interesting. He had talked to a whole host of people for his research and it was fun to hear the stories. With any luck we’ll see Ruan again in Ireland – or maybe he’ll come to visit us again in Minnesota.

The weather at the Fair was touch and go. The ground was like a bog – and regular readers will know that we know what a bog is like! Saturday night they had to close early for a tornado warning. Sunday the weather was beautiful.

We saw a cute play for kids, we played games, we watched bands and singers, we walked along the Mississippi, we saw lots of Irish dancers, we had a great time.

A weekend full of festival was a great way to break back into Minnesota.

Final Days & the Horse Show by Ann Treacy
August 15, 2009, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Our final days in Dublin were kind of a blur. The girls and I moved from Monkstown to Irish Grandma’s on Tuesday. Partially we moved because Kate had woken up with hives 2 days in a row and I thought the cats might be the culprits. Partially we moved because I wanted a full day to clean the sheets and make the beds before we left the house to the owners.

There were several nice things about moving back to Cabinteely – including the fact that Lily was able to invite her friends to meet her at the local park, which is a really great park. So one the of the last nights we played in the park and I got to talk to the moms.

The next day we moved into a hotel by the airport. Our flight was early and Cabinteely is really the other side of Dublin so since we were already packed up it was just easier to stay there.

It was a day where we could have used a car. The girls and I went to Monkstown to pick up Patrick and the luggage. Patrick realized he forgot out Minnesota keys in Minnesota. So we took all of our luggage to the airport hotel. Then he went back to Cabinteely to get the keys then we met him in town. That round around took 5 hours.

So while Patrick ran around – the girls and I went to the Horse Show. The Horse Show is kind of a big deal. It’ was fun – it’s like a mini-State Fair. We got to see horse jumping contests, a Punch & Judy puppet show (great for Aine, stinks for me) crafts, horse products, and food.

Then we went into town for our last day. We had a drink (hot chocolate/diet coke) at Bewley’s. We waited, waited for Patrick. But when we met him we took the girls to our favorite French restaurant. They all tried snails, terrine, pate and each liked at least one.

We took a bus to the airport hotel. Saw a big fire – finally got to sleep and left the next day.

Glasnevin Botanic Garden & Cemetery by Ann Treacy
August 15, 2009, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Our last Sunday in Dublin we wanted to do something different so we headed to North Dublin – to the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. First – they’re huge. It’s amazing to me that you find these great gems in the heart of Dublin – but you do.

First we had a nice lunch at a restaurant (the Washerwoman) in a building from the 1700’s. Clearly the host a lot of family events – but they had room for us (a sign of the economic times) and we had a nice lunch.

We were able to walk from there to the Gardens. So we were cheerfully walking, looking around. There was a derelict house on the road, boarded and broken windows. Otherwise the neighborhood seemed nice. So the girls and I were looking at it and we all spied an old woman looking out at us. Picture the old woman/witch who gave the apple to Snow White – that is exactly what this woman looked like. Super creepy – made even creepier by the fact that we were all busted looking at her!

Anyways, we had visited Belfast Botanic Gardens a few days before – but Dublin Garden could eat Belfast for lunch! There are some greenhouses – and we’ll be re-visiting them in the winter. Nothing better than a hot humid conservatory in January!

Oh quick fancy us story – the conservatory at the house where we stayed was built by the same person who designed the conservatory at Glasnevin.

We saw a huge heron in a tree. That was fun. The rose garden was beautiful. The girls got to run around, climb trees and take pictures.

So after our pleasant day Patrick had to creep it up with a visit to the Glasnevin Cemetery. Glasnevin is best known as the burial place of Daniel O’Connell – the Liberator, responsible for Catholic emancipation in 1829, which gave Catholics the right to vote, join the professions and own property. (Description as dictated by Patrick.)

His tomb is *huge*. You can see the big round tower in the picture. I wish I could have captured the whole picture better. The tomb consists of a big tomb topped off with the round tower and a moat-like walkway that leads to 42 crypts. You can walk down into the moat-type area to see into O’Connell’s tomb and the crypts. In fact one of the crypt doors was open. And we saw the same old lady looking out! Not really – but the crypt was open and we saw coffins. Cool but creepy.

Another fancy us story – the house where we stayed is owned by a decedent of Daniel O’Connell.

Urban Circus by Ann Treacy
August 9, 2009, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Dublin

On our last Saturday in Dublin we went into town. We met Irish Grandma and did some shopping. She helped Patrick pick out a really nice jacket. I bought a ton of boots.

Then Irish Grandma went home and we went to see the Urban Circus. It was fun. There were several street performers, a nice crowd, and some treats. The weather was pretty good. Mt favorite act was the trapeze artists who performed together on one trapeze sort of thing. I was especially impressed with how well the show went in the wind.

Saturday night we had a nice bbq at Tony Roche’s house. Tony is Patrick’s advisor at school and he has been tremendously supportive of Patrick. They have 2 boys about the same age as Kate and Lily. The girls were happy to enjoy the boys, the kid family atmosphere and the brand new puppy. We stayed way to late – but had a fun night.

Science Gallery Sneaky Peek by Ann Treacy
August 9, 2009, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Not to be braggy but we got super special member-only tickets into the sneak preview of the latest exhibit at the Science Gallery: Bubble, Don’t Burst It.

So we headed into town in the afternoon. I had heard about some cool sand sculptures at the Dublin Castle so we started here. And they were cool. What I find amazing is how well they seemed to weather the weather.

Then we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant. I actually thought it was Chinese and I had heard that it was a good place for kids. Luckily our kids are pretty adventurous and everyone enjoyed it.

Finally it was time for the bubble show, which was great. Talking with one of the organizers, she said that this is the first time that they have really focused on an exhibit for kids. I didn’t have the heart o say that we always bring the kids – but once in I could see what she meant. The staff (who are students from Trinity) seemed pretty prepared for kid questions and kid activities.

We learned that you can predict when a bubble is going to burst by noticing when it starts to lose its color near the top. We learned that a laser can’t go through a bubble. (I don’t really remember that but Lily says it’s true.) The kids made some bubble art. They were incased in bubbles.

We enjoyed it so much we brought Ailbhe and Cait back the next day. Well we liked it so much and it was raining too hard to go swimming at Sea Point.

Beautiful Belfast by Ann Treacy
August 8, 2009, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Belfast

We have always enjoyed Belfast. Last time we were here in the dead of winter and saw a lot of the political side of Belfast. We toured the murals and politically charged neighborhoods. This time around we didn’t do any of that. What’s funny is that if this were our first visit to Belfast the girls would not know that such a side existed. It was strange to see how easily that could happen – strange in a good way I suppose. The short of it is we saw a very different city this time around.

Patrick did not spend the day with us. He rushed off to do research. In fact he left in a big scurry claiming that he couldn’t waste any time, leaving me to worry about checking out, bags, not having money and getting plans for the day. Turns out though he did have time for the 40 minute walk to the library. Humpf. We’re calling him Mr Importantpants after that.

So the rest of us started out our day with the Titanic Boat Tour. We took an actual boat tour of Lagan River, which runs through Belfast. We saw where the Titanic was built and learned all about it. The last thing we did in St Paul before they left was visit the Titanic exhibit at the Minnesota Science Museum. I thought we’d probably make it to Belfast and everything would click more if we did both in the summer. I was amazed at how much Lily soaked up from the tour.

We learned that there were 3 boats related to the Titanic. The Olympia sailed before Titanic. It got a lot more press. So much so that often after the Titanic sank they often took pictures of the Olympia and just photo-shopped in the Titanic name. Some of the bad calls on the part of the Titanic: they iniitally had enough left boats for everyone but the owner thought that they obscured the view for the first class passengers and had half removed. They also saved money by not getting the lookout people binoculars. The Titanic actually was weeks behind schedule and should have sailed much earlier in the year when the ice would not have been so far south. We also learned that air-conditioning was invested in Belfast – along with a whole lot of other things.

After the boat we had a quick lunch. I had potato skins – which I have to say is an unusual choice for me – but it was clearly God speaking to me. It was chips of potato peels topped with bacon and melted cheese. Health on a plate. Mmmm.

We serendipitously ended up walking through the shopping district. I was really impressed with the pedestrian area in Belfast. First, it’s huge. Second, they have really nice shops. I didn’t get a very good picture but the Victoria Square Shopping Center is very cool with its glass domed ceiling/roof.

Then we headed to Belfast Castle, which was a little further out than I thought. (Correction it cost more than I planned to get there by taxi. Money wasn’t as much an issue as currency but if you don’t have the readies, that kind of distinction is academic.) There was an “adventure playground” that the girls told me was very OK. The gardens around the Castle were beautiful. And it is an amazing view of Belfast.

Our plan had been to take a taxi back to the city – but one never passed so we took a bus in from Belfast Castle. It’s always fun to get a glimpse of a city that way. The homes near the castle were beautiful. I’ll just say that the homes became more lived in the closer we got to town.

Eventually we got back, we got dinner and we got on a bus back to Dublin. (In fact I’m typing this up as we ride.)

We’ll get home just in time for my midnight conference call. The time difference doesn’t work so much against me – but I’ll be talking to new blogger so that’s always fun.

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