Sharing Americana with Aussies

Published 8:23 pm Monday, June 30, 2014

On Monday evening, I was to collect two visiting relatives from my native Australia at the Amtrak station in Norfolk.

After catching the train down from New York, my father’s first cousin on his father’s side, and her husband, arrived in Hampton Roads for a brief visit.

They’ve landed here via Japan, Canada and then some other parts of the U.S., including Alaska, where Peter and Yvonne mentioned in an email they’d visited the “spectacular” Hubbard Glacier.

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On Thursday, they catch the Amtrak back to New York, so they won’t be here for Independence Day. Nevertheless, I’m glad they will get to see Hampton Roads — a very patriotic region, with its military connections and colonial history — gearing up for the holiday.

On Tuesday evening, Peter and Yvonne will join my wife and me and the in-laws for a cookout at our house. Though with one Australian it’s slightly diluted, we’re looking forward to showing them how Fourth of July will be celebrated by millions of American families.

It’s nice to know that during the few weeks they’re in the U.S., hotel rooms, restaurants and tourist attractions won’t be the only aspects of America they’ll experience.

Though Americans from far and wide visit their country’s birthplace, one doesn’t often run into overseas tourists in Hampton Roads. If their cousins (my daughter and I) didn’t live here, what are the chances Peter and Yvonne would ever have visited?

I’m no statistician, so I’ll leave it at pretty remote.

Driving to work on a bright and sunny Monday morning, I gazed out at the red, white and blue bunting decorating homes, the miniature flags stuck in garden beds in front of churches, even an odd bag of charcoal leaning against a wall, and felt that my Aussie relatives were arriving at a good time.

I’d like to have been able to take them to Eclipse for the Fourth of July parade and raft race on Chuckatuck Creek, but they’ll still get a nice cultural experience.

I’m sure they’ll be planning to watch the fireworks back in New York, but hailing from a small community themselves, I’m sure they would have better appreciated something a little more down-home.