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?
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.
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.
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.