Santa Rosa, CA

Heading towards Santa Rosa we could not contain our excitement to see one of our loveliest and most dearest of friends – Cassandra Rose. We were fortunate to visit with her on our last adventure and that is where we fell in love with Northern California. When we left there in December we told her we’d see her again in the near future… and here we were. It felt good to be back here again. We explored a bit of the town until Cass returned home from work. For the past year she has been working for Americorps where she is a literacy tutor and mentor for underprivileged children at a school close by to her house. She got promoted and will be returning in August to carry on in this selfless and inspiring journey.

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We headed to her place and exchanged hugs and smiles as if time barely escaped us in the 6 months we had last seen each other. Cass and I have always gotten along really well. She was in fact the first person I met and connected with at Framingham State. It was awesome. She truly gave me something to look forward to when we met at orientation. I was excited to have found such a friend that I instantly connected with but it was even better that she was such an admiring and lovely soul. It seems like forever ago but it’s awesome that when we get together it is the same as always… I admire and love that girl. So, needless to say it was really awesome to be in her presence.

Cass and her roommate Emily took us to the farmer’s market down town where we browsed the many goods – clothing, jewelry and the best of course – fresh produce. Cassi was a vision in the late afternoon sun holding her bouquet of beautiful lavender, fresh bread and a juicy flat of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. We caught up over some Indian food and headed back to their place for the night. We exchanged music and she even serenaded us with a few tunes on the guitar. It was simply nice. She invited us to come hang out with her kids at their summer program the next day. Of course we were honored and thrilled to meet them – after all we already knew so much about them because of the way her eyes lit up when she should talk about them.

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The next afternoon we cruised down to the school on our bikes and met up with Cassi and her roommate Anne. The kids were just out on the playground for some free time when we arrived. Immediately they were warm and receptive to us being there. They wanted to know where we were from and who we were. They listened. Instantly we were connected. I watched her interact with the kids. She has changed and grown so much in this last year. I remember saying goodbye to her at her going away party last summer… and here she was leading and inspiring all the children around her. By trusting herself and coming to a new place she has not only given herself an amazing growing experience but she has impacted the lives of countless children just by being there. I was so happy for her. I felt so fortunate to have been able to share this experience with her – to see her interact with these children and be free. I couldn’t imagine her anywhere else but right here.

We ended our visit with a mexican fiesta and birthday soiree. I was feeling strange about being so far away from home on my birthday but it felt really good to have familiar faces around me as I blew out my candles. I still had a few days to go until I actually turned 25 but I couldn’t resist the beautiful carrot cake that Rory had whipped together for me. I felt really strong leaving Cassi’s the next day – anticipating the trip further north as we made our way to the Redwood Forest…

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