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an all-American fourth

This year was the first that we have celebrated July 4th together in the United States. The last two years, of course, not only were we abroad, but we were also working the Fourth of July events hosted by the Embassy. The year before that we were apart because S spent the summer doing research in Rwanda. And the summer before that, we just realized, was before we had started dating.

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no vacancy

It was early evening by the time we left Hearst Castle. We stopped a few miles north of San Simeon to check out the elephant seals that reliably make their home on one small, rocky section of California’s shoreline, and then headed further north towards Big Sur.

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the enchanted hill

Before entering Big Sur, the final destination on our California road trip, we made a stop in San Simeon. This tiny hamlet would not even be on the map today if it wasn’t for William Randolph Hearst, the real life Citizen Kane, who built his Xanadu at San Simeon, on land that once formed part of his father’s cattle ranch.

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California’s Galapagos

Before leaving southern California we took a day trip out to the Channel Islands. Called “California’s Galapagos” by some, the eight islands that comprise this archipelago are home to various endemic species — birds, plants, and even mammals that are found nowhere else in the world.

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