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Ceres visits Ceres
The Gijsels-Braem family of the Netherlands crammed in all the key tourist spots on their five-week visit to the western United States. There was the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Disneyland, Hearst Castle, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, Sea World, Columbia State Historic Park and Ceres.


Yeah, Ceres.

The couple wouldn't miss bringing their nine-year-old daughter, Ceres, to see the California city that shared her name.

Willem and Natasja Gijsels-Braem and their three young daughters climbed out of their white rental van into a furnace blast of heat Thursday.

Weeks ago I received a heads-up email saying they would be coming. The couple wanted to visit the Courier office and say hi. I warned them that we had nothing but desks and computers to show as the printing is contracted out to another newspaper another county away. Willem also wanted to meet me for we had exchanged emails back in 2003 to arrange for us to publish a photo of Ceres, the girl, celebrating her fourth birthday. Let's face it, you don't run into a lot of children in the world with the name of Ceres.

Willem named his daughter Ceres, remembering a 1984 trip he made with his parents to Greece when he was young. He liked the name of Ceres, a Greek goddess of agriculture.

"We didn't want a very common name," he explained.

The couple has been researching the various uses of the name Ceres. Natasha noted that a South African fruit drink is named Ceres. Willem also noted that a statue of Ceres sits atop a stock exchange building in Chicago. It was set there in 1930.

I suggested that the couple get a photo of Ceres standing with the painted Ceres water tower in the background. As the photo op went on in the vacant lot across from Alfonso's, I pointed out Ceres' first house less than a block to the north. It was blazing hot so we moved to the shade of a tree to talk a bit further before they pushed on.

We talked about our respective home towns and the places they had seen on the way. The cheeks of Ceres' sisters - Rieneke and Nele - were growing pink in the heat. Willem said ice cream would be a remedy for cooling down. When I suggested they visit McDonald's for cones, one of the girls' faces lit up as she recognized that name.

As we stood there I realized that there was not a lot that Ceres - more specifically downtown Ceres - could offer the likes of international sight-seers. That may change if downtown Ceres is developed into a destination location with neat shops and yes, even ice cream parlors, and other attractions. Those are the dreams of the 20-year downtown plan being crafted by the city.

Maybe if Ceres ever gets a chance to come back to Ceres, there will be lots more to see. Who knows? Maybe a place to get an ice cream on a very hot Valley summer day in 2028.