The Kindness of Strangers


The America you miss is still there… if you look for it.

One of the best things about traveling is the great people we meet and the conversations we get into with them. At the end of a long day of driving, we eased our rig curbside in front of a beautifully landscaped cottage-style home on a quiet, tree-shaded street in Sultan, Washington. We were looking for a place to spend the night, and to our delight, the town was having a street fair complete with food booths, amusement rides, an auto show and live music. The challenge was finding a place to park our 50 foot combination of camper and C-Dory where we wouldn’t be in anyone’s way.

The owner of the house we were in front of was outside working in her garden. Jack and I understand that people can be irritated or suspicious to find a camper parked in front of their place. Whenever possible, we like to talk to homeowners so that they know our intent is to park overnight and not to move in. As is often the case, this homeowner, Toni, was happy to have us as temporary neighbors. After talking with her for a while and getting some tips on cool things to do in Sultan, we left her with a jar of our cloudberry jam. Then we got cleaned up and walked downtown to the fair which was reminiscent of the Autumn Leaf Festivals back in Jack’s hometown of Clarion, Pennsylvania and of thousands of similar fairs all across North America.

The next morning as we were preparing to depart Sultan, Toni presented us with a small cupful of deliciousness – beautifully ripe wild strawberries harvested from her garden. Time and again, these small, meaningful encounters with people add flavor and warmth to our travel. Whether it’s great service from a boatyard, restaurant or hardware store, conversations with business owners and chefs, or joys of the day and travel tips shared with the people we happen to have as temporary neighbors in a campground or at a local eatery, we continue to consistently discover that by turning off the endless cycle of negativity on news programs and going out and talking with people, the America we remember is still out there, waiting to be discovered.


Summer street fair & auto show, Sultan, Washington, 2014.