WHO: Kathy McIntyre, 61, of Needham; Chris Ward, 61, of Mattapoisett; Janet Lurie, 61, of Vancouver, Wash., and her sister, Linda Hayes, 59, of Coronado, Calif.
WHEN: One week in August.
WHY: The trip was a reunion and 60th birthday celebation for McIntyre, Ward, and Lurie, who together attended St. Mary's in Lawrence (now Notre Dame High School) and Emmanuel College in Boston. Hayes hosted the trio.
WESTWARD, NO? : It was McIntyre's idea to meet in California. "My husband and I lived there in 1978 and I absolutely love the West Coast." While McIntyre had visited her friends consistently, Ward and Lurie hadn't seen each other for 30 years. "Janet was jumping up and down on the sidewalk when she saw us."
LOCAL HIGHLIGHTS: In the San Diego area, where Hayes lives, the women took in several sights, including downtown and Balboa Park, as well as Cabrillo National Monument. "It's out on Point Loma on the tip of the peninsula and faces San Diego Bay. You have a view [of] downtown and the Coronado Bridge."
MASTERFUL TIMING: McIntyre timed the trip to coincide with the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, where actors replace characters in enactments of classic pieces of art, and which had been on her wish list for decades. Shows often sell out far in advance. "Chris and I took a membership in the Festival of Arts, the sponsor, so we could get tickets early," she said. "We got seats in the 12th row of the center orchestra."
NUNS ARE FUN: They stayed at By the Sea Inn in Laguna Beach for two nights. "We stayed in one room and had lots of laughs talking about the nuns at St. Mary's. Laguna Beach is lovely, and the beaches are pristine."
REJUVENATION EFFECT: The pageant, held in July and August at the 2,600-seat Irvine Bowl, had its 75th year last summer. "They have two casts that alternate every other week," McIntyre said. "Most of it is run by volunteers, about 600 people. . . . This year's theme was 'Young at Heart,' which was most fitting for us."
HOW ART WORKS: Music and narration accompany the 35 pieces of "artwork," McIntyre said. "Each piece is lit on the stage for a minute and a half, but it seems longer." Re-created pieces included covers from The Saturday Evening Post, Sir George Frampton's bronze Peter Pan statue at Kensington Gardens in London ("You can't believe it's a person"), and "Apple Gathering," an 1856 painting by Jerome B. Thompson ("nine people in an orchard setting"). A highlight for McIntyre was "The Giant" by N.C. Wyeth. "I work at the Needham library. Wyeth grew up in Needham, and we have 10 of his original paintings in the library, but not that one." Halfway through the program, "they show you how they do everything. It's fascinating."
HEARTFELT ART: The friends spent the rest of their time in Laguna popping into shops and cafes and attending the Sawdust Art Festival, connected to the pageant. "It's an amazing place, with 200 artists and bands," said McIntyre, who treated herself to silver earrings. She also gave her friends necklaces of red sea glass bearing the Chinese symbol of long life.
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