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.