• Trip to the United States July/August 2011

  • 1 July.  To San Francisco

    We flew from Wellington to San Francisco overnight on a jumbo jet (and didn’t get much sleep!).  We were met by Vijay Gupta and taken to his home near SFO airport.  It was good to catch up with Vijay and Tripta and to meet their son Arun, and his wife Julie and baby Karina. 

     

  • 2 July.  To New York

    After a good night’s sleep we headed for New York. The flight took 5 hours. It was interesting to see the different terrains as we went over the Rockies, the sparsely populated west, the mid-west with its uniformly laid out farms, the Missouri River, the Great Lakes and the much more densely populated east. On arrival in New York we took a taxi to our hotel in Queens.  The Country Inn and Suites is very nice and conveniently located just one subway stop from Manhattan.  In the evening we walked down to the river to orientate ourselves.

    3 July. New York

    We didn’t have a good night’s sleep (influenced by a rogue mosquito) and then it rained all day!  Still, we got to see a fair bit of New York. We took the subway into Times Square and went to Times Square Church, a very large, multi-cultural church established by David Wilkerson (of ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ fame). It was an excellent service with wonderful singing, all set in one of the beautifully decorated Broadway theatres. We then got on the CitySights hop-on hop-off bus for their ‘downtown’ city tour.  We were given yellow plastic ponchos to protect us from the rain and everyone looked like bananas!

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                              Ground Zero                                                            Times Square

  • We saw many of the well known sights including Times Square, Broadway, The Empire State building, the United Nations, and Ground Zero, where they are re-building the World Trade Center. When finished, this will include a memorial to those who died in the terrorist attacks of 10 years ago.  We stopped at the Rockefeller Center and went up to the ‘top of the rock’ to see the panoramic city sights.  Great even in the rain. 

        

    4 July. New York

    Today was Independence Day when the America celebrates its independence and freedom. It was a public holiday so there were big crowds enjoying the summer sunshine.  We started by taking a cruise to see the Statue of Liberty. (Very appropriate for July the 4th). The ‘lady’ was given to America by France 125 years ago, and stands tall in New York Harbor. Next our cruise took us to Ellis Island. This was the main gateway for processing immigrants coming to America from all around the world.  12 million people were processed here, (which helps explains why America is such a multi-cultural nation).    

     

    Next we took an open top bus tour to Brooklyn, the biggest borough in New York, situated across the East River. We went over the Manhattan Bridge next to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Brooklyn is quite prosperous and seems to have a nice community feel about it.  It doesn’t have high rise buildings so is quite different to Manhattan.  It was hot on the bus and we got pretty tired and a little sunburnt.  To have a rest we took the free ferry to Staten Island and return.  Back in the city we visited Federal Hall, Wall Street, a street market, Pier 17 and Macy’s department store.  We were too tired to watch the big July 4th fireworks but caught a glimpse of them from our hotel.  This was the second time we have been in America for July 4th. Americans certainly know how to celebrate their past.

     

  • 5 July. New York

    Today we explored up-town New York.  Starting from Times Square we visited famous suburbs like Midtown, West Side, Harlem, and East Side, with stops at General Ulysses Grant’s tomb, and the wonderful Central Park. Particularly interesting was a stop at the Museum of New York where we saw a presentation of the history of the city. It was interesting to note how it has changed and is now safer, more multi-cultural and more accepting of all peoples. It was a work day so there were big crowds in the city and on the subway. There were also lots of families enjoying Central Park during the school holidays.   

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    The CitySights tour we used to explore New York was exceptional value. We had four different bus tours, a visit to the top of the Rockefeller Center, a visit to the Museum and our wonderful boat ride to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. All this touristing for $90 each!  The only disappointment was when we walked to the Pier to have a harbour cruise only to find that the boat was full and they wouldn’t put another one on.

    Special highlights of our time in New York were:

    • Excellent and convenient accommodation at the Country Inn and Suites in Queens
    • Getting around easily using the subway
    • Seeing so many familiar sights and landmarks
    • Feeling safe and comfortable in the fast-paced city environment (but it was pretty hot after the rain on the first day went away)
    • Visiting the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn, the Theatre District, Central Park, Wall Street, ……..   
    • Being in America on July 4th.
    • Getting lots of stamps in our National Parks Passport.
    • Getting a feel for this amazing city.

    Start spreading the news…..  The Callaghan’s came to New York, and really enjoyed it!

  • 6 July.  To New Haven, Connecticut.    

    We took the Amtrak train from Penn Station to New Haven.  The trip took 1.5 hours and was most efficient and comfortable. 

    We then walked to our hotel, the La Quinta.  The hotel provided a free shuttle to take us downtown and pick us up afterwards.  We visited the New Haven Library and then the museum trying to find information about Beri Williams, Kathy’s great, great-grandfather who lived in nearby Prospect.  We found a little information about his brother, which was encouraging.                                                                             

                       

    7 July.  New Haven.

    We had organized to be driven to Bethany and Prospect to see where Beri Williams lived, but unfortunately the person who said they would take us didn’t show up. The hotel provided a shuttle so we went to Walmart instead, then had a swim in the pool. It was disappointing not to get to Prospect but we hope to get there from Hartford, the day after tomorrow.           

     

    8 July.  Hartford.

    It took 1.25 hours on the Amtrak train to go from New Haven to Hartford.  After settling in at our hotel, the Hilton, we went to the Connecticut State Library to do some more genealogical research.    We found a few things about the family and will continue the search when we visit Prospect and Bethany tomorrow.

                                                                                                            

    Late in the afternoon we met up with Sharon Squigley and Beth Welch, who we met on our tour to Scandinavia last year.  We enjoyed dinner with them and catching up.   

     

    9 July.  To Kansas City.

    After breakfast at Friendlies, Sharon and Beth took us to Prospect and Bethany and we really enjoyed exploring the area where the Williams family lived in the 1800s. We didn’t find any new information but it was great to see the quaint New England towns and lovely countryside. The Historical Society was closed  and we couldn’t find anyone to open it up so we went and visited a local genealogist, Joan, who helped in the search.
                            

    As a result of our  family research we found that Beri William’s father, Elijah John Williams, had been married to Thirza, then divorced, married Anna Matthews, had Beri, John Elijah and a daughter, and then had  been jailed for fornication.  He gradually lost ownership of his small farm and died a pauper at age 80. Beri departed for Australia in 1853 (perhaps leaving because his family situation was not pleasant). His brother, John Elijah served in the Civil War.

    We now have a much better idea of the area in which Beri Williams grew up before leaving for Australia in 1852.

    Sharon and Beth then took us to the airport and we flew to Detroit and then on to Kansas City where we were met by Fred and Betty Smead and taken to their lovely home. It was great to catch up again with old friends.

    Click here to watch the video we made as we explored family history in Connecticut.

    10 July. Kansas City.
    In the morning we went to United Methodist Church of the Resurrection with Fred and Betty.  This church has 18,000 members and has an enormous auditorium, fantastic music and lots of wonderful programs.  The sermon was an analysis of the Disney film 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'. It was a very powerful and insightful message about caring for the underdog.

    In the afternoon we had a potluck so we could catch up with many of our friends from the Kansas City chorus. This was especially lovely when the quartet Four’s Company sang for us.

     

     

    11 July. Independence.
    Betty took us to Independence, Missouri.  There we visited the home of Harry S Truman, the 33rd President of the United States and the Truman Library and Museum.  They gave us an excellent insight to Truman, the President at the end of WW2. 

                 

      

    We also visited The Temple of the Community of Christ, a variety of Mormonism.

                               

    In the evening Kathy went to a rehearsal for the Kansas City Chorus and Ross and Fred went to explore an electronics shop.

     

     

     

    12 July.  Fort Scott.
    Suzie Pruente took us south to Fort Scott.  This was an important fort on the ‘western frontier’ as settlers headed to the west.  Soldiers in the fort initially protected the settlers from the Indians whose land they were usurping.  Later as the Civil War developed Fort Scott became a Union fort (with soldiers supporting freedom from slavery).  It was never actually attacked by the Confederates (with soldiers who wanted to retain slavery).  Kansas later voted to be a free state and Missouri a slave state.  Fort Scott was surrounded by a delightful town and we enjoyed a walk down the main street. 

               

    Back in Kansas City we had dinner at a BBQ restaurant with Dave, Suzie’s brother, and then went and visited with her mother.  The weather has been incredibly hot in Kansas (over 100F) and in the evening there was a spectacular thunderstorm. (just like the last time we were here!). 

     

    13 July.  Kansas.
    We had an amazing day in Kansas! (state, not city).  It started when Dave, Suzie’s brother, flew us to Topeka in his 6 seater plane for breakfast. We then had a look around an excellent museum for the Kansas Armed Forces, taken around by a General! 

               

    We then flew down to Strong City with Ross as pilot for part of the trip! We were met by Ralph, Suzie’s husband  and Mary Ann, Suzie’s sister, who has a cattle ranch there. Mary Ann took us to see the Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve, and we were able to see how a typical farm operated on the prairie in the 1800s. After lunch we visited an artificial insemination factory where they ‘milk’ prize bulls, an old staging post hotel, a children’s camp, and Kansas State University.  We also had a look around Mary Ann’s ranch, and saw her cattle and evidences of past times when the early settlers were passing through this area.

                 

    About 40 years Suzie, Dave and Mary Ann’s family was on a re-enactment of the Santa Fe trail using covered wagons so it was interesting to learn more about this. Life on the prairie (and life on a ranch today) was much more harsh than we are used to (especially as it is very hot).

     
    14 July. To McPherson.
    We were picked up by Tony Cheatham and taken to McPherson where we met with La Donna, a great friend of Kathy’s from times when they were both in the Kansas City Chorus. La Donna now directs a small chorus so Kathy was able to go to their rehearsal.

     

    15 July.  Abilene.

    Tony and La Donna took us to the historic township of Abilene to see the childhood home, museum, library and tomb of Dwight D Eisenhower.  Ike was the leading American General in the war and succeeded Truman as President.  It was interesting to learn of his special achievements, especially in dealing with the cold war, setting up NASA, establishing the interstate highway system, dealing with the rise of communism, and admitting of Alaska and Hawaii, the 49th and 50th states.

     

    16 July. Yoder.
    Tony, La Donna and Dava took us to the quaint Amish village of Yoder. There we went to the famous ‘Carriage Crossing Restaurant’ and had Amish food: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, beans and corn, followed by fruit pie. The food was delicious and the quantities enormous. 

     
    Next we went to the nearby Kansas Underground Salt Museum. This is a working salt mine and we went down a 650 foot long shaft in a cage to view the mine. The excavation of salt is very extensive with tunnels in all directions under the town. We went on a train ride through some of these tunnels and also on a ‘dark tour’. None of us had experienced anything like this before so it was very interesting. 
     
           
                                            
    On the way back home we stopped for the Saturday night service at a café church. This was very informal in style and relevant for young people. Quite different from the other church services we have been to on this trip!

    17 July. McPherson.
    In the morning Dava gave Kathy and La Donna a pedicure and foot massage, then we had a family BBQ. It was great to meet Jeremy and Tim and their families. A special  feature was the grandchildren learning to do the Maori stick game.
     
                
                                         
     
    18 July  To Kansas City.
    LaDonna took us to Sue Pearson's amazing old home in Eudora, where we met Sue, her husband, Monte, and Richard and Eileen Huyck.  Sue's house is 125 years old and is designated a heritage home.
              
                
     
    After a light lunch we visited the historic site for 'Brown vs Board of Education' that was central in desegregating schools in America, as part of the Civil Rights Movement. The result of this case was that "the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place and that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal".  As a result black and white children could attend the same school and have equal educational opportunities.
      
       
    Richard and Eileen then took us to see the Capitol building (Topeka is the capital of Kansas) and then to the Wamego Chorus rehearsal that Eileen is part of.  There Kathy met up with some old friends who had been part of the Kansas City Chorus.  LaDonna then returned home and we went to Richard and Eileen's lovely home in Kansaas City.

     

    19 July. Kansas City.

    In the morning we went shopping.  The shops here are enormous!

    In the afternoon our friend Jo Kraut visited, together with Josh and Kristin, and their baby daughter Jackie. Later on we enjoyed one of Eileen's famous dinners: terayaki salmon! 

     

     

     

    20th July.  St Josephs.

    Richard and Eileen took us to the historic town of St Josephs.  This was the starting point for the Pony Express that took mail west over the California Trail to San Francisco. We visited the Pony Express museum and the Patee House hotel museum where the Pony Express had its headquarters.  We learnt how the early settlers left from here for the west taking the Santa Fe, California or Oregon Trails and the kind of conditions they had to endure on 4-6 months on the route.  We were surprised to find that the Pony Express riders could deliver the mail in less than 10 days, but that the service was only provided for 18 months, because a new telegraph service was introduced making the mail service unnecessary.

              

    The history of how "the west was won" is fascinating and the Americans have preserved this history really well!     

    In the evening went to Jo Kraut's for dinner and mettv all of the family, including Jo's daughters Kim and Karla, plus Josh, Kristin and Jackie. There was lots of laughing about our kiwi accent!      

             

    21 July.  Kansas City.

    In the morning we went to Sams, and enormous member-only shop, and in the afternoon Eileen and Jo took us to visit Ursula who also sang with the Kansas City Chorus when Kathy was here last time.  Ursula has a bad back so it was lovely to give her a little joy in her pain.  Ursula's husband John is building a big model train layout.

    After this we spent the evening with Ralph and Suzie Pruente who have become special friends.

           

    Kathy with Eileen, Ursula and Jo                                          Ralph and Suzie Pruente

    22 July.  Kansas City.

    We had a quiet day in preparation for a party where many friends from the Kansas City Chorus came over to Eileen and Richard's place to meet us. 

     

    23 July.  To Portland, Oregon.

    We flew from Kansas City to Dallas-Fort Worth (an enormous airport).  We had to wait a while for our onward flight so took the SkyTrain right around the airport. We then flew on to Portland, Oregon and were met by our friend Carol Barton. Once again it was good to catch up with a good friend.

     

    24 July  Portland.

    In the morning we went to church with Carol. Crossroads Community Church is another very large church and we enjoyed the service as we have in all of the churches we have been to on this trip - even though they have all been completely different in style.  In the afternoon we went for a walk in the countryside and could see Mounts Hood, Rainier, and St Helens. It was lovely in the summer sunshine.  Portland is quite a lot cooler than Kansas and we were interested to note that today was the coldest day in New Zealand for 16 years with snow in Wellington!

    Later we had a wonderful smoked salmon BBQ with Carol and met her 'family' from next door. 

     

    25 July To Bend

    We were picked up by another friend, George Reay and taken to his home in Lake Oswego where we met his wife Sandy. After lunch we all went 3 hours south east to the lovely city of Bend.  The route followed a beautiful river and some magnificent forest, although there were evidences of a massive forest fire.  

    In Bend we stayed at Sarah and Rich Kaufman's lovely home, set on a golf course looking towards Mount Bachelor.

    We first met Sandy, George, Sarah and Rich in Wanganui, about 7 years ago, and we caught up with them again when we were in Oregon 4 years ago.  It was great to catch up on old times and renew old friendships. 

     

    Sarah and Rich Kaufman, and Sandy and George Reay

    26 July.  Bend. 

    In the morning we went for a long walk alongside the beautiful Deschuttes River in Bend. Bend is a resort city with a beautiful climate and lovely setting. 

           

    Then in the afternoon the girls went shopping and the guys went out to Brasada Ranch, where Rich and Sarah have a lot, and are considering building a new home. This is an amazing new development, again set around a golf course and overlooking the mountains.  You can certainly see why Bend is considered one of the most desirable places in America to live.

     

     

     

    27 July.  Bend.

    In the morning we visited the High Desert Museum with George, Sandy and Sarah. Bend is east of the Cascade Mountain range in what is known as the High Desert.  Air traveling over the Cascades loses its moisture causing a very dry climate to the east.  The desert is pretty much pine trees and dry scrub.  The museum showed the animals that live there and how the pioneers and Indians were able to live in the harsh environment.

    Rich joined us for a lovely picnic then we went to the top of Lava Butte, which erupted 6000 years ago leaving extensive lava flows. The views over the snow capped mountains in the Cascades were tremendous.

    We then went for a drink at the Sunriver resort; another high-end resort built around four golf courses.

     

     

    In the evening we had dinner in a local restaurant and then got an ice cream and walked around Mirror Pond for an evening stroll.

    28 July.  To Portland.

    We farewelled Rich and Sarah and returned to George and Sandy’s home in Lake Oswego, Portland.  The route between Bend and Portland is very scenic with many lovely mountains, lakes and rivers. We especially enjoyed stopping in the picturesque town of Sisters and exploring their quilting shops.

       

    In the afternoon we met up with Ashby for coffee. Ashby had been part of the amazing story of Prue’s Pin, in which a Sweet Adeline pin had been repeatedly passed between Kathy and Carol Barton.  See Prue’s pin.

    We certainly packed a lot into our short time in Oregon.  This is a beautiful part of America and we really enjoyed catching up again with Carol, Ashby, Rich, Sarah, George and Sandy.  The weather was warm and sunny without the excessive heat and humidity we experienced in Kansas.  Oregon is a great place to visit.

    29 July.  To Seattle.

    We farewelled George and Sandy and flew from Portland to Seattle.  There we caught a shuttle and boarded our cruise ship: Holland America’s MV Amsterdam.  This is a “Gaither Gospel Cruise” featuring the music of Bill and Gloria Gaither and their Homecoming friends (whose music we love). After lunch we settled into our spacious cabin and explored the ship.  There are 2 concerts most days, plus mountains of lovely food and lots of activities. In the evening we had a lovely dinner and our first gospel concert.  All of the artists performed and gave a wonderful foretaste of what is ahead (although it was a bit loud).

            


    30 July.  At sea.

    We headed north for Alaska and were at sea all day. We enjoyed two Gaither concerts (outstanding!) and met most of the artists, including Bill and Gloria Gaither. They are all very friendly and approachable.  We also explored some of the activities available on board: the pool, shopping, the Gaither bookstore, various classes, exercises, (three and half times around the boat equals 1 mile) and booked our shore excursions. Ross even went to a computer class! In the evening we had our first formal dinner, with everyone dressed up to the nines. The meals on board are amazing: everything imaginable for breakfast, a great buffet for lunch and fine dining for dinner.

     

     Bill and Gloria Gaither                                                  Gaither Homecoming Friends

    31 July. Glacier Bay, Alaska.

    We have now got used to life on the ship: fantastic food, exercising by walking around the deck five times (3 km), two amazing Gospel music concerts, a computer class, meeting new people…. And today, Alaska.

    We sailed into Glacier Bay, and had an excellent introduction to the area by a Tliingit (native Alaskan), and a Park ranger (Glacier Bay is a US National Park). As expected the scenery in Glacier Bay is spectacular with glaciers, towering hills, water falls, misty clouds and a blue-coloured sea. We parked beside an enormous glacier and watched it calving to produce icebergs that float off down the fjord.  The glacier was 2km wide, 25 stories high and has 2 meters a day falling off its face.  There were great cracks like gunfire as the pressures in the glacier were released and sections moved or fell off.  Awe-inspiring!  

    1 August.  Juneau.

    We travelled overnight to Juneau, Alaska’s capital. The city has only 33,000 people but has nearly 1 million visitors each year from cruise ships. (There were 5 in port while we were there).  Juneau has no roads connecting it to anywhere so everything has to be shipped or flown in.  We took a bus tour that started by taking us to the Mendenhall Glacier, just out of town. What a magnificent sight!  The glacier is enormous and has lots of icebergs that have fallen into the lake at its base. We also saw a bear, and evidence of its catching of salmon from the river.

        

    We then visited a salmon hatchery and saw thousands of salmon that had just returned from four years at sea and were trying to get back up the river they were born in. They had to go up a ‘ladder’ that took them 30 hours to climb and then found themselves in the hatchery where they were sorted, separated into males and females, stunned and then milked of their sperm and eggs. After fertilization the baby salmon are released and swim off out to sea.  

       

    After a brief ‘city tour’ we went up the Skyway to the top of Mt Roberts.  Unfortunately it was raining and cloud cover was low so we couldn’t see much of Juneau below.  Instead we watched a concert and then went down to do some shopping. The shops were full of tourists and there were a few bargains for Alaska clothes.  The cloud cover lifted so we were able to go back up Mt Roberts and see the magnificent vista of the city of Juneau.

         

         

     

    2 August.  Sitka.

    Today we visited Sitka, the first capital of Alaska. We travelled from our ship by a tender into the town centre and wandered around checking out the various historical sites. Sitka was first inhabited by the Tlingit about 10,000 years ago. In the 1700s they were taken over by Russians and used to gather furs, more or less as slaves. In 1802 the Tlingits stormed the Russian fort and re-took the town, but two years later the Russian Governor Baranov led an attack which resulted in the Tlingits disappearing into the surrounding forest. Later they were allowed to live in the area. Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867 for $7.2million and this was called Seward’s folly as most people didn’t believe it was worth that much (equal to 2 cents per acre).  They changed their minds when gold, minerals and oil was discovered!  We saw St Michael’s Cathedral, the Russian cemetery, Castle Hill, and Totem Park, the site of the Russian Fort.   

              


    We also visited the Alaska Raptor Center where they rehabilitate raptors (birds of prey), especially bald eagles.

      

    Dinner with friends Tom and Angela, and Greg and Pamela was special due to a special desert served in a procession by all of the kitchen staff. In the evening we had more of the wonderful Gaither gospel music, and an extra ‘big band’ concert with Reggie and Ladye-Love Smith.

         

         Greg, Pamela, Angela and Tom                                         Reggie and Ladye Love

    3 August.  Ketchikan.  

    We awoke to find ourselves in Ketchikan, the salmon capital of the world. Ketchikan means ‘the thundering wings of the eagle’ and is a town of about 8000 people. Like the other places we have visited in Alaska it is surrounded by the Tongass National Park and is not connected by road to anywhere else. We took a city tour to see an extensive totem park, and Creek Street, where the houses are built on stilts over a creek. The creek is filled with salmon returning to spawn.  We were lucky not to come in a few weeks time because after spawning the salmon complete their life cycle and die, and there is a big smell for a while.

        

       

     

    We made a few purchases from local stores using discount vouchers then departed at lunchtime for Vancouver Island. In the afternoon we watched a movie and then in the evening had a formal dinner and another Gaither concert.

    On our trip we saw a variety of interesting animals: a bear, eagles, whales, dolphins and lots of salmon.  Some pretty interesting wildlife!      

    4 August.  Victoria.

    After breakfast we had our final Gaither gospel concert. Once again the music was just fantastic.  We feel privileged to have been able to experience such wonderful, heartfelt singing, backed up by outstanding musicianship, testimonies and humour.  Also, it was great to meet many of the artists and chat with some of them in more depth.  Everyone is interested in New Zealand.

     

         

    Later we were farewelled by the crew and after dinner berthed in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. We walked into the city and saw the Empress Hotel, the busy harbour and waterfront and the Legislative buildings.  The waterfront was buzzing with lots of people and many acts and artists showing off their wares.  We visited Victoria some years ago and it was nice to return to a familiar city.  

        

       

    Friday 5th and Saturday 6th August.  To Auckland.

    We disembarked from the Amsterdam and were picked up by Katie Rust and her three children Kay, Noah and Marae. (Debbie stayed with Katie’s family when she was in Idaho in 1996). We visited for a while at their home and then Katie took us to the airport. We flew to San Francisco and checked in then were then picked up by Bridget Byrne.  It was nice to spend a couple of hours with her in a lovely restaurant before checking in for our long overnight flight to Auckland. We even slept on the plane, perhaps because we were pretty tired, and perhaps because we didn't eat the late night airline meal.

       

    Sunday 6th August. Home. 

    We arrived in Auckland early and caught a flight to Wellington where we were picked up by Sarah. We then went back to their place and saw Blake and Michael before heading for home in our own car.   

    What a wonderful time we had in America.  Special highlights were:

    • Being able to explore New York so efficiently
    • Finding a little of Kathy’s family history in Connecticut and seeing where her great great grandfather came from.
    • Catching up with so many old friends in Kansas, Missouri and Oregon.
    • Seeing Alaska for the first time.
    • Cruising on the ‘Amsterdam’
    • The wonderful Gaither gospel music on our cruise.
    • Having all arrangements work out smoothly so we could have a wonderful holiday; see so many wonderful sights, and meet so many wonderful people. 

    Our visit to the United States in 2011 was just fabulous!

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