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Every once in a while on a trip like this you get to sit back and do nothing for a day. You stop traveling, you stop lugging your backpack around, you stop hopping from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, and you actually relax. In a small town just a few hours out of DC, we had three weeks of just that.

We were given the opportunity to housesit for a few weeks, which translates to being given free accommodation on an otherwise credit card melting holiday, so we jumped at the chance. The only catch —besides being entrusted not to burn the house down, which is kind of a difficult promise to make— was looking after their adorable labradoodle, Jake. I still think the deal weighed heavily in our favor, but just don’t tell that to Dick and Darcy.

All of a sudden we had cable, and DSL, and more than one computer between us. We had beds in separate rooms, a clean and well–stocked kitchen, a fridge that we didn’t need to share with sixty other backpackers, and our very own jacuzzi! We finally had a washer and dryer that didn’t need coins to operate; all the comforts of home… ten thousand miles from it. The only comfort we didn’t have was transport. No car in a city devoid of a metro system means we would’ve been limited to our neighborhood and the nearby supermarket if it weren’t for the kindness of relative strangers. And strangers are suckers for nice Aussie boys like us.

Our first local gal, Allison, daughter of our beneficent homeowners and paralegal secretary, was one such sucker stranger (Hi Al, thanks for reading). She lives in DC, but being in Hagerstown to ensure we got the grand tour of the house, she took us out to a bar in the next town over for proper acquainting. Drinks were had, more strangers introduced, pool was played, and fast friends made. Allison became our weekend gal pal, visiting from DC to take us places (like MCCXXIII), and giggling… a lot. Not really sure whether it’s the accent or our incredulousness at some of the more bizarre strains of the American experience, but you people find us unusually amusing. Allison just happens to be one of those outliers who finds us super–amusing. Our other friendly taxi, Chad, is actually an old friend of Dave’s… so he made a lot of time for us and asked nothing in return. Watching DVDs, going to basketball games, visiting America’s largest WalMart… very cool guy. Though since he and his fiance will be honeymooning in Australia a couple of years from now, they’re probably just making hay while the sun shines. Quid pro quo. Kidding.

As strange as it sounds, Hagerstown would have to be one of the highlights of the trip for me. Not just because the local Krumpe’s Donuts makes the finest donuts on the face of the earth, bar none, but because we got to relax and have fun. New friends. Good times. And a king sized bed in my room. What a town.