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bump in the road

So what you really want to do right before you pack up all of your belongings and leave the country for two years is get into a car accident, right?

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high hopes

Now that we’ve finally caught up on our summer travels, it’s almost time for the next adventure. D finishes training next week, and we’ll only have a handful of days afterwards to pack up and make final arrangements before departing for Eastern Europe.

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last gulp of freedom

Despite the inauspicious beginning to our trip, we greatly enjoyed our brief visit to France.

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winning the French lottery

As if our peregrinations around the United States were not enough, we tacked on a trip to France to the end of our home leave.

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whirlwind

Unlike many of our Foreign Service colleagues, we did not take any of our annual leave in the United States. While some friends returned home for holidays or spent time in DC for mid-tour training, we stayed abroad for the entirety of our two-year assignment. Coming back stateside for home leave, we tried to balance our wanderlust with a desire to catch up with friends and spend some time with our families.

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the end of the road

Like all good things, our trip too came to an end. After a full day in Big Sur and Monterey we arrived in Santa Cruz just as the sun set.

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a splash of color

The valleys and mountain slopes of the Sierra Nevada are famed for their springtime wildflowers. In planning our trip, D found several hiking sites dedicated to wildflower exploration, which were filled with enthusiastic descriptions of dozens of wildflower species and gorgeous photos of lush meadows that carpeted the highlands in rainbow splotches of color.

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American safari

After spending two years in Africa and going on countless safaris, it was virtually impossible not to keep an eye out for animals while we traveled around the California wilderness.

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under the sea

Our last bit of sightseeing in California was a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was listed as a top-ten highlight for the state in our Lonely Planet. The guidebook suggested spending at least half a day there — perhaps to justify the price of admission — but after arriving in Monterey late in the afternoon we only had an hour and a half to walk around and explore the various marine exhibits.

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Big Sur

Even on limited sleep, Big Sur proved to be too beautiful not to explore fully. In fact, it’s probably a good thing that we got up with the sun. We needed the early start to fit everything we wanted to see into just one day.

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