Sunday, 25 June 2017

American hospitality. An art.

Of course, the hospitality at my lovely Sissy's house is a given, it's lovely to be at home with someone that was raised the same way...there are echoes, see; the arrangement of crockery in cupboards, stuff in bathrooms and such. When I'm looking for something domestic, I don't really have to think twice, it'll be where it was when we all lived under our parents' roof. 

Breakfast on the road....this one at Denny's....included the 'pudding'!

The hospitality we have experienced when at large here is just incredible. The warmth and interest is genuine, from state to state. Whether we're fumbling around at a gas station, trying to work out how to get the nozzle to actually deliver the fuel at a pre-pay pump (put the nozzle in the car tank thingy and then lift the entire nozzle cradle up), or whether we're the odd couple that want to sit in a hot cocktail lounge and sip iced water whilst watching Jeopardy, we have been helped , indulged even, with warmth and a smile. Maybe sometimes the smile is because they think it's hilarious, but it doesn't matter. It is hilarious, and a mutual laugh is the best introduction, don't you think! 

Part of Lake Powell, from that balcony.

One young woman at Lake Powell visitor centre asked me to stop saying thank you so often because she was sick of hearing herself say 'you're welcome'! I get it, but when someone is prepared to jog across a huuuuge balcony without much shade just to check that your iced water is alright for you, you have to say thank you, huh. I know that a good tip is a great motivation, I'm not so naive to think that in some cases, it's just about the job. And let's take a minute here to say, hey...America, pay your waiting staff a living wage. I don't mind tipping at all, but I can't stand the thought of all these guys and gals being dependant on the likes of me to make a crappy minimum wage. Mr Dunnit points out that lots of the people we have met want to share their British heritage, with pride. It seems much more important to an American than it does to us Brits. This morning, at the Cactus Rose Bed and Breakfast in Page AZ, for example, our host, told us that his Dad was born in Germany and emigrated to Illinois in 1889. I could reach out and touch America's past, just over my coffee. Fascinating. Equally fascinating that we had to laugh off enquiries about our ancestry with talk of English peasants and serfdom. It may be a longer line in historical terms, but we aren't familiar with it all.

This is Chase's house. Cute.

For the road trip part of our holiday, we used AirBnB, one night in each place except two in Flagstaff, our nearest to the Grand Canyon stop. Each has been a completely different experience. In lovely Salt Lake we stayed with Chase in his elderly town house. Squeaky floorboards and split levels, perfectly clean, a new bed that was comfortable. Chase is a young man with a job and a life...he gave us a key, a few pointers and left us to it. In Kanab, south UT, we stayed with Oscar and Pam. Their house is overlooked by a massive mesa rock and they live downstairs. Their guests have the run of upstairs which included a kitchen, patio, lounge. Perfect for self catering types and Kanab was a lovely taste of a small town, I must say. It was Oscar who suggested we might like to make a pit stop at the Cameron Trading Post, about half way to the Flagstaff from him.  He said it was fuel, food and the biggest collection of turquoise jewellery for sale that he had ever seen in his life. Would have been rude not then, huh. He was right, too. In Flagstaff we stayed with Dan and Patti, a couple with an empty nest who still have so much to give that they fill their lovely home with people from afar and near.  All of these homes have hotel facilities in common, really, but the thing that make each stay so remarkable was the warmth and genuine interest in our comfort and enjoyment of their great country. And believe me, 'ask a local' found us some amazing tips, sights, shortcuts. Sharing. A big part of American hospitality.

All in all, I think it makes you feel like a celebrity! The accent has been questioned (are you Canadian?), admired (I say 'thanks, it's one of my skills') and once, just once, recognised and pitied. We had stopped in a Post Office and I asked for stamps for postcards to the UK. Whilst serving me, the cashier expressed his alarm and sorrow for how bad things are for us in the UK. We think it was the latest terror attack and possibly the news of a hung parliament. Who knows. I didn't directly ask, I told him that day to day life was just fine and thank you for your concern. Mr Dunnit was rather pleased by my considered and grown up reaction; I think he thought I was going to make a short speech about our worries over the people's choice for US President. But even then, there was warmth in his rather strange reaction to our accents, it's been incredibly heartwarming. Incredibly. 

11 comments:

Helen said...

sounds like such an exciting trip and I am glad you are having such a good time. It sounds like you have been very lucky in the places you've stayed. Is Mr D still doing all the driving?
I do hope we are going to see some of the photos of the Grand Canyon. I really really want to visit!

Chrissie said...

Great post Julia, sounds great fun! I hope you continue to enjoy!

Lindart said...

I'm glad that you are enjoying your Americana trip! My daughter took a similar route as you a few years ago, and brought me a mug from the Cameron Trading Post! Our last name is Cameron, so it was quite fun! Thanks for sharing, safe traveling! Lindart

donna garner said...

Wow - that breakfast would feed us for a whole day ( kinda the point I suppose), We are very used to good service here in France ( where a daily fair wage is paid and tips are not given) I got really really Fed Up when over with Liz in the UK - most of our chatting time was spent waiting at a counter for a poor young thing paid a pittance to work out the barista machine, half an hour later we might actually be sitting down for a chat. Now I accept the french will never race to a table to serve you, but they will make sure your glass is never empty, your conversation never interrupted, and accept responsibility for safely collecting the payment left on top of the ( always accurate) bill on your little table bowl - usually after you have wandered away sated ( and if you forget to pay they are so polite in pointing out your act of thievery) ...Things are quiet and polite. This last time I am afraid I found the UK rude and loud...I'm sad really - I keep trying to find things I love when I have a time over in blighty, but to be honest I look forward to coming Home more and more each time...and it's touching to be pitied eh? We just hope we get the chance to be a citizen of one place ( France) or another (UK), rather than without any rights of either... all in all - we don't choose where to be born, or the family we are born into, but the rest of what we do with our life involves far more choices, if we are wise we choose to make a home with a special someone.....wherever that may be ....I hope in the future the whole world as one becomes more equitable and ever more polite. Sorry and I thank you... Dxxxxx

505whimsygirl said...

Hi Julia,

So glad your journey here has been one full of happiness. You've seen a part of my country that I haven't, yet. Hopefully I'll see more real soon!!

Hugs,
Kay

Princess Judy Palmer said...

So nice to hear about your trip to 'Murica. I want to know where all these kind American souls are that you are meeting?! I'm surrounded by grumpy guts here but mayhaps we're only rude to each other and nice to strangers. We just burned our Denny's down the other night so boo hoo to that. They definitely know comfort food. Continue enjoying yourselves, you and Mr. D.

Lynn Holland said...

How nice that people expressed concern for dear old Blighty. You surely are getting around and seeing and experiencing a lot.
Fantastic, just arrived what's needed. Plus it's like blumming winter again here
Lynn x

April Story said...

Glad you enjoyed your time in the US. :-). Ya'll comeback now, ya hear. ;-)
April

misteejay said...

Wonderful photos Julia and it sounds like you are having the most amazing time.
Toni xx

Bubbles said...

Turquoise jewellery?!? I'd come home a pauper after buying up everything I could afford lol.
Sounds like you're having the most amazing time - and the photographs are beautiful... the scenery is breathtaking - it must be awesome IRL.

Create With Joy said...

That is so cool! Love how you connected!