(Our greeting at Liz & Ian's in Salt Lake City)
They call it "Southern Hospitality," but as a self-declared expert on the U-S-A after my road trip, I am here to declare that hospitality exists ALL over this great country! :)
Along our travels, Jeff & I saw such beautiful examples of people opening their homes to care for us, that I simply couldn't resist sharing some of them with you all. It's nice to know that even in our facebook-obsessed/ don't-leave-your-doors-unlocked/ trust-no-one society, old fashioned hospitality still exists!
Here's some proof:
On the very first night of our trip, my Aunt Mary Kay and Uncle John hosted us in Chicago. They gathered the whole family for a big dinner, then showed us to our room with chocolates and an anniversary card on the pillows.
Sarah and Andrew, in Seattle, have only been married three months. For the last two weeks, Sarah's mom has been staying in the guest room to be close by for the birth of their newest niece. SHE moved out for two nights so that'd we'd have a place to stay... Then, Sarah & Andrew made us feel right at home with a guided tour of their city, a spot to do laundry, fresh coffee and "to-go" cups, and a home-cooked meal. :) We left on Thursday morning, and Sarah's mom (this time, with her dad too) would be returning that evening for the long weekend. Whew.
In Portland, Laura simply turned over the keys to her INCREDIBLE downtown apartment. Since it had only one bedroom, she found a sitter for her new puppy and spent the night herself a friend's down the street so that we would be totally comfortable. We made ourselves at home and fell asleep with the entire city skyline just outside our window. An awesome way to experience Portland!
Upon our late arrival in Salt Lake City on Friday, Liz & Ian had waited up for us (despite being the tired parents on an 18 month old) and had a home-cooked meal waiting. In the morning, they cleared the way for us to do LOADS of laundry and cleared their whole schedule to hang out with us! Ian even shared his Father's Day gift of gummy bears - a personal fave of mine!
Lea and Jon, in Littleton, also had dinner waiting when we arrived. Lea even learned how to use the grill just for us! They made us feel right at home and - I have to confess - Jon entertained Jeff with board games so that Lea and I could have our much coveted "girl time." The truly incredible thing about them was that in addition to having a friend LIVE in their guest room all summer, they are also alternating weeks of having a family of SIX stay in their three bedroom house. We came on one of their rare "off-nights," and Lea and Jon didn't even flinch!
Finally, in Kansas City, Judy and Tom welcomed us into their home with warm hugs and a HUGE dinner. We had never even met before --- they are the parents of a good friend of ours at home -- but, wow! There is something about parents that just knows how to love young people! After our bellies were perfectly stuffed, Tom prayed for our safe travels in the morning and Judy stayed up late making pasta-salad, chicken salad, and muffins to pack an ENTIRE COOLER for our preceding 18 hour day. Then, at 5:30AM, as we headed out the door, they met us with hot coffee and an overflow of food --- we literally could have eaten the entire trip home and STILL not finished it all. :)
And, after all this, all I had to thank them with was this measley jar of Apple Butter - a little taste of Roanoke! Haha!