G’day mates:

I’ve lost track of whether it’s morning noon or night. It all started with an outbound flight that had to be refitted since the aircraft had no headlights. Considering it was the Captain’s first flight into Oakland he needed more than a mag-lite to point the way, so much for a five AM body clock arrival. Now that I am heading home, I wanted to write my post on the homeward flight from California but ran into one huge problem—Blue Latitudes. But, more about that later. So hello from the Crown Room at Hartsfield airport where I am sipping some horribly weak coffee while waiting for my connecting flight, and a late arrival. I say late since my last leg is coming in late with a “no crew” status from Newark where it originated. Thanks again Delta.

Some of you might be aware that the four brothers got together this weekend to help Pieter celebrate his birthday with a planned weekend of camping in the mountains around Lake Tahoe. When the four of us get together the word “celebration” really should translate to “pandemonium”. An even wonderful time such as this can have reality intrude in ways that cannot be predicted as George got word of the passing of his father-in-law. Parked at the edge of a dusty field of sunflowers in 105 degree heat we organized his return home. What I forgot to tell is that it only takes three brothers to create a “celebration”, or if you insist, “pandemonium”.

Just imagine three single grey-beards and one very gaudily painted rental RV in a campground. Maybe it was just my imagination that mothers were hustling their little ones very near to their camps. People were in awe seeing us magically prepare an extravagant dinner of Coleman stove-top baked chicken complete with canola oil, cocktail herring with peppercorns, wine, glazed spicy party mix, cheese, corn-on-the-cob, and gorp. Some meals are too good to be true.

Cameras at the ready and with about a dozen bottles of water we set off and hiked several miles of the Pacific Crest Trail which runs from Mexico to Canada. Two young lads were stunned to cross our path. They had been traveling a month and a half along the trail, wiry and packed with gear they had learned to live off the land as they traversed our nation. The sight of three wizened old guys carrying a few bottles of water and looking like we just finished a business-lunch like steak complete with a glass of Bordeaux that had just settled in had to be a bit unnerving to them. A good thing we weren’t wearing suits, they would have given up their trek at that instant!

But it was the evening time that was best. Gathering around the campfire we discovered the joys of drinking wine and Jonge Jenever at a time when all personal hygiene had flown out the window, but a time when talk and togetherness were at it’s best.

We had a marvelous time.

Now, what happened on the flight home with this something called “Blue Latitudes”? It was some talk about Adrianne and her adventure in Tonga that had Jeanne ask me if I had read a book with the title “Blue Latitudes” detailing the adventures and discoveries of Captain James Cook. His discoveries included the Kingdom of Tonga. Their copy of the book was placed under my arm on the way out and has barely been put down since.

Thanks for organizing a fantastic weekend Pieter, and thanks for putting up with me Jeanne.

Make it a great week, and experience the joy of family
Cheers,
Dirk

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