Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sacramento makes top 25 list -- for worst allergies

According to a recent article in the Sacramento Business Journal:

Sacramento has been ranked the nation's 22nd worst city for allergies.
Ratings of the 25 sneeziest cities were put out by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, trying to promote its Flonase Nasal Spray. Data came from allergy reports to health agencies.
People in unranked San Francisco, Modesto, Lake Tahoe and Redding can wipe those smirks off their faces. Pollen in the ranked cities can spread and affect allergy sufferers up to 400 miles away, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
The 25 worst metro areas, with their allergy specialties and percentage of population affected, are:
1. Charleston, S.C.; with oak, cedar, birch and grasses; 21.8 percent affected. 2. Houston; oak, ash, hickory, pecan, grasses; 26.9 percent.
3. Chicago; ash, oak, mulberry; 20.6 percent.
4. Fargo, N.D.; birch, oak, willow, ash; 23.3 percent.
5. Billings, Mont.; ash, cedar, poplar, cottonwood; 28.2 percent.
6. Tampa, Fla.; oak, pellitory weed, hickory, pecan; 21.8 percent.

Could this be why I am on three different types of asthma medications and cannot breathe out of my nose for the first several hours of each day?? I think so!! I have been on Advair (a preventative), Albuterol and my Nebulizer. . . all of which has been keeping me alive, but definitely not comfortable. I also looked up the allergy forcast which reported that pollen is now falling most heavily from Juniper, Oak and Sycamore trees. also has avaiable a handy little calendar from which you can "Plan your life with the Monthly Allergies Planner." Why wants to plan their life by a monthly allergies planner?? Not I. I think the best solution is to move to some far off land surrounded by water and plenty of fresh air. A place where I barely had to take asthma spray the whole time I was there! But I am open to suggestions . . . . one article I read said that I should move to San Diego to escape my allergy problems. Humm. . . maybe I should look for the top 25 list for the least allergies!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Something to Ponder. . . .

"We squander health in search of wealth; we toil, we sweat, we save; then squander wealth in search of health, and learn too late that health is wealth."
~Hans Seyle, 1960

Friday, April 18, 2008

there are NO rules in ireland!

I was told that it was a nice view "just beyond the sign" . . . .

hummm. . . is it worth it?
residents?? i COULD be a resident. . .

i laugh in the face of danger! ha-ha-ha!!

yes, we went in. . .

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Driving in IRL!!

ok. . . it's not the best representation of the actual driving that we did because it wasn't really "downtown" and it was also a main highway. . . most of the time the streets were much more narrow and filled with pot holes. I forgot to take footage during the week so this footage was taken on the last day and not in the best spot.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ireland Day 7 ~

Day 7~

We are heading back to Dublin today to stay the night in Dublin and fly home tomorrow. On the way back to Dublin, we had several stops planned. The drive itself straight to Dublin would have taken at least 4 hours, but we also stopped at 3 castles on the way. The first was in the town of Adare. Adare is famous for the thatched cottages. Through town we stopped and took some photos of these cottages. They were adorable. None of the stores were open yet so we made our way down to the castle ruins. A “no entry” sign greeted us. We went in :-) We began to snap some photos before a group of workers came out of a shed and we were forced to explain ourselves. We asked if we could take a few more pictures and they let us. I think the main guy in charge fancied my mom . . . he kept talking to us and followed us back to the car. He told us that he was heading down to the Abbey shortly if we wanted to go see that as well. He also told us that the castle ruins were not open until May, they were doing some preservation work, and if the Big Wigs were not making a visit there today he would have shown us around! LOL. He then told us of a real castle being built in France at the present time, just south of Paris. He was going there as well. . . I think he was sort of inviting us! ( what is up with these European men?? They LOVE us Americans . . . every time I have been overseas we always get hit on several times!! I guess our homegrown boys don’t know what they have, eh?)

Anyway, we left Adare and headed toward the Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the kings and St. Patrick’s rock, is located at Cashel, County Tipperary. The Rock originally served as the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster (southern part of Ireland) for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. Cashel is said to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century A.D. The buildings that are currently present date from around the 12th and 13th centuries. The rock and its edifices were presented to the Christian church as a gift . . . but I don’t recall at what time period. I think, don’t quote me, around the same time as the buildings (12th or 13 century). This structure/rock can be seen before ever entering into Cashel. My breath was taken away as I began to drive towards the town and rock. The structures were MASSIVE and beautiful. When on top of the rock, one can see for miles and miles on every side. Beautiful rolling hills of the countryside, quaint town of Cashel, a friary made for the friars at the base of the rock, etc. The scenery was some of the best that we have seen! THIS was my Ireland!! We saw a very educational film on the history of the rock and church. Afterward, we walked down to a little restaurant called Grandma’s kitchen were we enjoyed a nice heater and sheppard’s pie. Yumm!! The place was a bright pink building with yellow windows and the inside was almost as bright as the outside. The Rock of Cashel and it’s surrounding beauties were supposed to be our main stop and attraction for the day . . . little did we know what adventures lay ahead.

The inside of the chapel at the Rock of Cashel. . . . just to show the enormity of the structure!

Granny's Kitchen. . . where we enjoyed our meat pies

We decided to drive through Kilkenny on our way to Dublin because it wasn’t too far off the most direct path and I had heard that there was a lovely castle to behold. Kilkenny was a much larger town than we expected, but it had the same small, colorful European buildings and narrow streets that we had become accustomed too. It didn’t take us too long to find the Kilkenny castle, which was an extraordinary monument. We had to park several blocks away. We were able to get into the last tour of the day and the interior of the castle was just as beautiful as the exterior. All of the furniture and paintings were original from several different centuries. . most dating to the 15th century. The castle was also completely restored to how it would have been in Victorian days. This castle housed the Butler family for hundreds of years with the last Butlers residing there in the early 1900’s. The castle was sold in the 1950’s to the Irish government and restoration crew for a meager sum of 50 pounds. Can you believe that!!!!! I want to buy a castle for 50 pounds!! Sheesh. At the end of the tour we attempted to buy post cards of the inside of the castle (they wouldn’t let us take photos) at the bookstore. The bookstore, however, was closed. . . . bummer!!! After walking the grounds, my mother attempted one last time to bribe some workers to buy us some postcards from the closed bookstore if at all possible. I stayed on the outside of the castle, convinced that her attempt was in vain. Nevertheless . . . she succeeded!! And she didn’t even have to pay! LOL! She explained to the nice lady at the desk that we were in Ireland for holidays and that this was my graduation present for graduating from nursing school. The lady was so impressed that she produced several postcards and a pamphlet of the castle (all which cost euros) and gave them to my mom for free! She also told her to congratulate me and wish me well. Hehe. Luck o’the Irish!

Finally on our way to Dublin, we passed a sign about 45 minutes away from KilKenny announcing Kilkea Castle on a turnoff. I made a split second decision and we found ourselves on a country road on our way to Kilkea Castle. This castle happened to be a hotel and we once again asked about accommodations and were told to have a look around the castle. The castle was restored, but looked much more authentic and felt more like an original castle then did Dromoland. It was not as fancy, but was more unique. Parts of the stone walls were still showing through most of the rooms and the drawing room had an original fireplace with coal burning rather than electric. Kilkea Castle was built in 1180 and is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Ireland.
I finally found him!!! My knight in. . . (rusted armor??)

We finally ended up at Lucan Lodge around 7:30, checked in and then strolled down to Courtney’s in Lucan for a wonderful meal of ham and cheese stuffed chicken . . . called Chicken applewood. The finals for some soccer game were playing and as a result the atmosphere was festive. The bar/restaurant was packed with people watching the game on several different screens. We found our way to a quite corner of the restaurant and enjoyed our last evening in Ireland. I was sad, and happy. Sad that I had to leave – yet happy that I was able to have this experience.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ireland Day 6 ~

Day 6 ~

Today we went down and enjoyed an Irish breakfast as usual (an egg, some bacon that looks more like slabs of ham, sausage, tomato, mushroom, cereal). . . but something unexpected occurred! There seemed to be two different types of sausage on our plates! The link sausage and some type of sausage patty. The only thing was, one of them looked to be burnt to a crisp while the other looked normal. HUMMMMM. . . . mine was the same way as my moms. After some pondering, I figured out that it must be white and black pudding, an Irish specialty. I came to Ireland telling my mother “whatever you do, don’t eat the black pudding” but now I had a strange desire to taste it for myself! And I did!! Ha! (Black pudding is made out of some interesting ingredients. . . . something having to do with the life’s source. You may want to look it up)

Our drive for the day consisted of going north to the Cliffs of Moher and driving back down through Ennis, Limerick, and a few other small cities before coming back to Glin. The quickest and easiest way to get to the Cliffs of Moher from Glin was to take a car ferry across and complete the drive on the other side of the bay. That was fun!! I just drove my car right onto the ferry!

There was a beach along the way near the town of Spanish Point. We decided to stop and enjoy the view, air and sand. It was very beautiful and almost felt like we were in a completely different country than we had been in the previous day.

The Cliffs of Moher were fantastic!! They were sheer cliffs that rose to a height of 700 feet tall! Absolutely amazing! They reminded me of the “cliffs of Insanity” LOL!!

We stopped by Quinn Abbey and took some pictures, but because we were running short on time and it kind of looked like every other abbey (that is HORRIBLE to say!!) we decided to bypass the inside of the abbey and get down the road to Knappogue Castle.

Knappogue Castle was built in 1467 by Sean MacNamara. The castle has since been returned to its original glory due to the extensive restoration done by Mark Edwin Andrews of Houston Texas. This castle was beautiful (from the outside at least). It is supposed to be open as a hotel, but when we arrived . . . the castle was completely closed down! There was nobody there at all! Sooo. . . we took our liberty and posed for several pictures. The grounds were beautiful and all around the Castle were rolling Irish hills. It was very serene and peaceful!

We stopped at Craggaunowen Project, a castle and whole town system set up for modern viewing of a medieval lifestyle, and were about to purchase tickets to see the whole display when the lady at the counter mentioned that Bunratty Castle (our next stop) closed in 30 minutes and we would not be able to make it in time. I wanted to see Bunratty Castle!! We jumped in the car and got there as quick as possible (going the wrong way a couple of times) and were still able to purchase tickets and get about a half hour in the castle. Bunratty was also set up as a whole village with the castle being somewhat restored to how it would have looked in its medieval time period. The castle was built in 1270 by Robert De Muscegros. The castle has quite an extensive history of being taken over by many chieftains of clans as well as the forces of Confederate Ireland. The castle was completely furnished with original furniture dating back as far as the 13th century. We found out that the reason Bunratty closes at 4 o’clock everyday is that there is a medieval banquet every night where guests can enjoy a meal and entertainment in various rooms of the castle. If we would have known this earlier we might have tried to fit it in the schedule. It looked as if it would be very memorable. After touring the castle (it haled quite a bit while we were in there) we visited the grounds where there was an extensive folk park featuring reconstructions of historical cottages and buildings, recreating the general feel of the 19th century with a period style village main street. There were old tools, furniture and artifacts on display with the village kept alive by some inhabited shops and peat fires in the cottages. In the town was the Dr.’s house and office. I thought it might be cool to get a photo inside the procedure room with some of the tools since the barrier keeping people out was pushed off a little to one side. “Mom. . get a shot of this!!” I said. (she had no idea what was in my head). I then attempted to go around the barrier and pick up a tool to make a face and have my picture taken. *weewooo wee-owww wee-ooow* went the alarm! That was the fastest I have moved in quite a while. I was out of that room in a few seconds fast. After I was out of imminent danger, and there were no guards coming to arrest me, we had ourselves quite a laugh! Sometimes I don’t know about myself!

One of the bed chambers

I forgot what this room was called. . . . but it was beautiful!

This was the dinning hall getting ready for the night's banquet

The Great hall. . .

Beautiful stained glass windows. . .

One of the thatched cottages. . .

Inside of the cottage. . .

Blacksmiths shop. . .

The "Dr.'s house" . . . . :-)

We then made our way over to Dromoland Castle, now a luxury hotel with a golf course. The original building construction dates back to the 15th or 16th centuries, however the present building was completed in 1835. It was a very beautiful castle and, by asking about accommodations, we were able to walk through many of the rooms and view the inside as well as the outside of this majestic building.

Driving back to Glin, we stopped at Askeaton Castle. This castle was in the middle of the town of Askeaton and we were unable to get close to view the castle as it was currently being restored/preserved. We were able to snap a few pictures from the closest we could get. It was located right next to, if not on, a river running through the town and was quite lovely.

Once again, we were on the road back to our B&B, bed, and a warm meal when I spotted something along the coastline! It was a building so captivating that I had to find out what it was! There were no little brown signs to guide the way, which we had been accustomed to looking for, so we backtracked and started driving down random roads. We finally asked a local who was taking out his trash and he replied “oh yeah, that’s a castle. It’s not a medieval one though! It was built in the 1800’s for the Lord of Limerick.” He then gave us directions on how to see it and we made our way back down a deserted and “private – no trespassing” road. The castle was run down with no security guarding it. I just had to have a look inside! It was beautiful! Run down, yet beautiful! I decided that I NEED this castle. I would have liked to check it out in more detail but it was getting dark and I had a very nervous mother wanting to get out of there before someone caught us or before some straggler attacked us! Hahaha!! Oh well. . . I guess I will have all the time in the world once it is in my possession.

Dinner at a quick little restaurant on the way home and we were in bed sleeping soundly.