It’s not WHAT you know

It’s been a fun week. In fact, today being Wednesday (for me, at least), it marks the end of our first full week in the USA, and a rich and full week it has been, too. In one week we’ve stayed in three different houses in three different locations, all wildly different, all of which with something unique to offer. I posted a lot of San Francisco pics last time, here are a couple of the places we visited afterwards:IMG_6309

Yes, those are real, wild DEER grazing on someone's front lawn

Yes, those are real, wild DEER grazing on someone’s front lawn

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Black Butte, Northern California

Black Butte, Northern California

 

Our hotel had a swimming pool!

Our hotel had a swimming pool!

We drove six hour’s north to visit Katy and George for the weekend. We picked up a rental car in downtown San Francisco – had to upgrade to an 8-seater just to fit all our luggage in – and then Tony had to do a super-quick crash-course on a) how to drive a car that looks totally different inside to any we’ve driven before, b) how to drive on the right, and c) how to drive in San Francisco. At the car rental office one of the staff told me that her mother is Indian, and she’ll drive anywhere in urban India, even with it’s crazy road rules (or lack thereof), but even she is scared to drive in San Francisco.

We did it though. Hats off to Tony, who drove well, and who took us North for one of the most beautiful sightseeing tours I’ve ever been on. We loved our time there. Katy and George live in a tiny historic gold-rush town. They fed us, and took us to Oregon to see the most beautiful little art galleries, and we oohed and aahed at the scenery again. We laughed and ate and dreamed and talked and came away feeling full and loved and happy.

And drove ANOTHER five hour down to Sacramento.

The cool thing? It’s so worth it.

We planted ourselves in Sacramento because I wanted to visit people. We figured we’d find something else to do to fill in all the extra time. We didn’t expect that it’d be filled in the way it was though.IMG_5709

We went to visit a little after-school program run by Debbie, who I’d met last year. Debbie had set up a pen-pal system between her after-school kids and my daughter’s class back home, and the two groups have been corresponding throughout the year. We weren’t sure what to expect, but they made us feel quite at home, and sat us down in a row and the kids took turns to ask questions about Tasmania, about their school, about the wildlife and the food, about what we thought of America. They showered us with gifts, and we chatted for a good hour or so while our kids made themselves at home with theirs.

Afterwards, the bit we didn’t expect and could never predict, the mother of the girl my daughter had been writing to asked whether we’d like to come back and see her daughter’s horse. She bought us all pizza for dinner, and drove us to a ranch about ten minutes out of town, where the kids climbed trees, patted miniature horses, rode a full-size one, played soccer, ate fresh figs and cooled off under the sprinklers.

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IMG_6528It’s getting late and I’m hungry and I have other things to do, and even if I had the time I don’t think I could fully express the joy of this last week, or my gratitude to the people I’ve met and the places they’ve taken us. It’s been wonderful. Truly wonderful.

I still can’t say I’ve done a lot of tourist things, and even at the end of the trip there’ll be a lot of big exciting tourist things we won’t have seen, the time we’ve had with our precious friends is priceless, and the experiences they’ve provided for us are worth more to us than any tourism brochure can offer. It just goes to show really, it’s not what you know, it’s who…

 

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