Her husband, Dave, started laying plans many months in advance. Every year before Jan's birthday he calls me a month or two ahead of time and asks if I can come for a visit on Jan's birthday. I made it one year, about six or seven years ago. Because her birthday falls in August, it has proved impossible to attend in the last several years because of my job. He almost fell off his char this time when I said yes, I'll be there.
August is not only a busy month for us at the marina, but in the past few years, they have been moving the start date for the local school system up earlier each year. I lose my high school summer staff now around August 10th and my college staffers leave around August 5th.
This year, though, was special. Not only was it Jan's Sixtieth, but she and Dave have just moved back in from having to completely rebuild their home after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina three years ago. That's not all, though.
Jan has just retired from the Army Reserves as a full colonel, after four years of active duty. I hadn't seen Jan in over Seven years, so I talked to my boss and we found a way for me to attend. I'm sure glad I did.
I arrived on a Thursday morning and Jan picked me up at the airport. It was a pretty laid back day. The big party wasn't until Saturday night, but guests would be arriving from out of town over the next couple of days.
Dave was at the marina checking on their vessel, "Winter Solstice." It's a Carver Motor Yacht and a key piece of the puzzle for their retirement years. This boat was found in a very obscure parking lot after Katrina by Dave's son. The entire family had been searching New Orleans for a couple of weeks following the storm before its location and fate were discovered. The boat has been refitted and is just now being put back into service. Dave arrived back at the house as Jan took off for the airport again to pick up her son, Evan.
I hadn't seen Evan in over a decade and was pleased to find he had matured into a pleasant and thoughtful young man. Evan and I stayed up late that first night catching up with each other and doing some male bonding.
The next day, Jan and Dave's friends Bob and Mary arrived. They are a delightful couple and also Army Alumni with Jan and Dave. Bob worked with Dave in a training division and a few years later, Jan worked with Bob's wife Mary in a medical outfit. Later in the day, the seven of us took off in the "Winter Solstice" for an afternoon of cruising across Lake Pontchartrain. Here's Bob and Mary sitting with Jan on the aft deck of "Winter Solstice."
I had any doubts put to bed early by Dave's competence at the helm. It was fun joining Dave at the steering station. Yep. Two guys just out for a good time!
Here's a shot of Phil having way too much fun! Lake Pontchartrain is one big lake and you can't see the other side when you leave port. Our destination was all the way across the lake to Madisonville where we would be treated to a great meal at a local seafood restaurant. The distance involved gave us a lot of time to enjoy cruising on the boat.
Yep! That's me with Jan, the Birthday Girl.
Every one eventually made it up to the steering station.