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Maine Family Wraps Up California Christmas Tree Lot Experience

Couple from Maine and their two children ran the Christmas tree lot at Shadelands Museum in Walnut Creek as part of their 18-month cross country journey.

A family from Maine hadn't really expected to spend the holidays in Walnut Creek.

Turns out, there was a job offer here they just couldn't pass up.

On Monday, Tanya and Brian Dunn finished up their 5-week assignment overseeing the Christmas tree lot at the Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum on Ygnacio Valley Road.

The stint is part of an 18-month journey the couple and their two children -- River, 15, and Mercy, 11 -- are making across the vast expanse of the United States in their large recreational vehicle.

The family left their hometown in Maine 13 months ago. They'll return to their native state in April.

"We just wanted to experience the country with our kids," said Tanya Dunn.

Brian Dunn has been working part-time online as a graphic designer during the trip. However, this fall the couple was looking for ways to supplement their income.

They saw an online ad from Kevin Cuny, an Alamo resident who needed someone to manage one of the five Christmas tree lots he leases in the East Bay every winter.

The job was perfect for the Dunns.

Since Nov. 16, they have worked from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, selling hundreds of trees, all of them trucked down weekly from Oregon.

"It's been crazy. Sales were very good," said Tanya Dunn.

On Monday, a work crew was bundling up the last two dozen trees while raking the grounds clean. The trees that didn't sell by Christmas Eve afternoon would be donated to an environmental service.

Tanya and Brian Dunn sat in the booth, watching the cleanup and reflecting on their trip. So far, they have visited more than 30 states. Their favorite at the moment has been Oregon.

The family has written a blog about their adventure at rain4river.com.

Their daughter has written poems about some of the states. She's also put together videos of every national and state park they've visited that classrooms back in her hometown have been viewing.

"We've got to see how beautiful this country is," said Tanya Dunn.

"We've learned that people want a sense of security, that everybody wants the same thing," added Brian Dunn.

The family is now headed to Sacramento for Christmas Day. From there, they will eventually wind their way back to their home in Maine.

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