When Keith and Marilyn Tolson decided to visit America for the first time, their friends in Australia were jealous that they were coming to Thomson. The Tolsons, who are Australian residents, planned a vacation in the United States that is a dream to most Americans - Las Vegas, Hollywood, Disneyland, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty and Graceland Mansion.
Keith and Marilyn Tolson (from right) from Australia pose with their McDuffie County friends, Kitty and Allen Hawkins.
Photo by Staff
Yet the highlight of their vacation was their stop in Thomson to visit their friends, Allen and Kitty Hawkins. Mrs. Hawkins said Mrs. Tolson told her that her friends in Australia who have come to the States, have not been able to actually stay in a home with Americans, so they were jealous.
"Kitty and Allen could not have done more for us, they made us feel so welcome. Georgia is just so pretty," Mrs. Tolson said. "Meeting Kitty's family has been a highlight as well, to meet her Mom and her children. It's been wonderful. We will come back."
While here, the Hawkins took the Tolsons to Myrtle Beach, S.C. to the Alabama Theater and to the beach.
"It was quite an American show, which was lovely and wonderful. Everything was just fantastic," Mrs. Tolson said.
Mr. Tolson toured the Hawkins' Logging operation in Warrenton.
They also stayed at the Hawkins' house at Clarks Hill Lake, where Mr. Tolson enjoyed fishing and four-wheeling. In Australia, Mr. Tolson said he goes four-wheeling in a four-wheel drive truck, not on a four-wheeler.
"We don't have a lot of lakes in Australia. Staying at the lake house and getting around in the golf buggy and Keith caught a fish, he enjoyed that because he likes the bush in Australia," Mrs. Tolson said.
The Hawkins also introduced their friends to southern cuisine at the Blue Willow Inn. Mrs. Tolson said they tried everything, including fried green tomatoes. She said the food was all "different, but the same" as what they normally eat in Australia. She enjoyed the "gentleman at the door at the Blue Willow, with his top hat and gloves."
"We're so impressed with how beautiful the people are, they make us feel so welcome, so friendly. And the countryside is absolutely gorgeous," Mrs. Tolson said.
Mrs. Hawkins said she and her husband met the Tolsons in Hawaii three years ago, and they've been friends ever since then. They have stayed in touch through telephone and e-mail. She is honored by their visit here.
"They have been to Violet Valley, Indonesia, and to Asia where the Tsunami hit. They have traveled a lot," Mrs. Hawkins said. "It just made us feel good for them to appreciate our state. They could not say enough about Georgia. They just loved the countryside, the homes, and the people."