Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jan’s Birthday Celebration

My sister Jan celebrated her 60th birthday this past August.
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.

With Dave was Phil, a friend of his from his Army days. Phil works for FEMA and had some very interesting experiences to share with us over the next couple of days. Phil and I lounged around the pool for the rest of the afternoon, and were joined later by my nephew Evan. You can just make out Phil at the far end of the pool deep in relaxation, LOL.

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 must admit that the theme from Gilligan's Island ran through my head as we set off for the horizon that day.

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.

Well, with one exception. Mary didn't make it up there, so we all went down to the aft deck to see her and Jan, too.

Of course, I was in charge of seeing to the needs of the captain, so I was in constant motion; at least

when my drink started to get low, anyways, LOL. As we reached the other side of the lake, we started seeing some very typical examples of just how beautiful Southern Louisiana really is.

I really loved the beauty and serenity of the lake over by

Madisonville! We were able to tie up at a dock along a sea wall almost directly in front of the restaurant.

A short walk across the street brought us to Morton's Sea Food Restaurant.

Here, we enjoyed a casual dining atmosphere and some great Sea Food.

Here's a shot of Jan and I after we finished our meal and before we boarded "Winter Solstice" for a very peaceful and pleasant voyage home. I was going to include more about the weekend, but I've put so many pictures in this entry that it is getting quite long. I'll do another, shorter, entry later to finish out my visit and her party.


Lainey Laine said...

Awwwww brilliant Sam and I love the pictures!! I would love a boat like that - so glad that you could make it and join in the fun!

Laine xx

Hollie said...

Sounds like you all had a wonderful time together!

Joyce said...

Glad you got to go. Sounded like sooo much fun. I love boating and haven't been able to for a while. My brother lives in Melbourn FL and has a nice boat. I plan to go next year, Lord willing.
Hugs, Joyce

michele said...

hi sam, glad you got to go to your sisters birthday sounds like you had a wonderful time.
take care
mrs t xx

Beth said...

That sounds like such a great time. We've done a couple of swamp tours in Lousiana, and it's a beautiful place.


Lynne said...

Hi Sam! Enjoyed the entry and glad you made the time to visit with your sister. It looks like everyone had a great time! Including the youngsters, LOL.

The lake did look beautiful. Look forward to hearing more about your trip!

coloneljan said...

We had such an awesome time!!! It was special because Sam was able to be there, but we missed Paulette a lot.

D said...

beautiful! Sam it looks like fun was had by all. Happy Birthday Jan I am glad you were surrounded by such beauty and friends

barb said...

great pictures, sam. i enjoyed your trip almost as much as you!!barb

Coy said...

Hi Sam ... glad you here.
*** Coy ***

Linda :) said...

So glad you were able to go and what a great time you had!!
Congratulations to the birthday girl!!!

Robin said...

What a wonderful birthday gift you gave to your sister! Happy belated birthday Jan! Love the pics Sam.

Sharon said...

That looked like such a fun and relaxing time. Glad all had loads of fun...beautiful people and beautiful scenery!!

Jeannette said...

I'm so glad you came over to Blogger Sam. I arrived yesterday with my new journal after getting back from Madagascar. I can see that Jan had a very happy birthday and you all enjoyed yourselves. Lake Pontrachain is massive isn't it? I've been over it a few times by bus. There's a lot of beauty in the southern staes, I'm glad you were able to enjoy it. Jeannette xx

Ally Lifewithally said...

Sam it sounds like you had a great time celebrating Jan's Birthday and the pictures were lovely and gave a great feeling of being there with you all ~ bet Jan was glad you were there to celebrate her 60th (Happy Birthday Jan) ~ Ally x

Monica said...

Sounds like everyone had a great time! I've only ben on a yacht like that once and it was to photograph a birthday party/family reunion as we cruised the San Juan Islands. I remember thinking, I could have one of these and just live on it. :-) Then I remembered I'd actually have to keep ALL my stuff on the boat, naw it wouldn't work. And I certainly can't afford one for the fun of it.

Anyway, I'm rambling, I'm glad you enjoyed the day, it looked like a lot of fun.


Bethe said...

Looks like you had an incredible time! The photo's are terrific-Thank you. hugsss...

Lori said...

What a great photo show with commentary. I felt like I was there! I know it meant so much to your sister for you to be there, and I'm so glad you were able to work it out. Looking forward to hearing more about your visit.

Sandisan said...

Sam how wonderful that you could spend time like this with your family. The day on the boat and all seems perfect, happy pictures. I know how hard it is to be away from close family it hurts, yet the joy you feel when you are together makes up for a lot of it..be well, Sandi

Kathy said...

Oh, I think you must have had a most wonderful adventure! I'm so glad you were able to go and not only celebrate Jan's birthday but really catch up with each other.

Jeannette said...

Nice to catch up with you again here at Blogger. Have added myself as a follower.

Anne said...

I'm so glad you had a good time and posted these pictures. Much love, Anne

Donna said...

Wow, what fun! It's great you were able to go.

Barb said...

Awesome! The pictures tell it all. SO happy you had such a great time. I lost track of you, Sam, but somehow came across your journal so here I am again. I've not been able to work on the story journal yet (too much going one), but it will get finished. Please come visit my journal

Celeste said...

I am glad that you made it there! Welcome to Blogger!

Christy said...

I'm late, but here I am Sam! It's good to catch up with you! Sounds and looks like you had a great time in La.

God Bless

natalie said...

dear Sam, hugs!
Please tell Jan Happy Birthday belatedly from me!
No I do not have a Bible blog!
They have me at:http://Lurkynat.blogspot.com.
Some of the guys are there.
Please come by and All of the Best to you and your family!
It looks like you had agreat get together!

natalie said...

Big Congratulations to Jan!
You must be so proud of her! I am so glad that they rebuilt Sam!

Ally Lifewithally said...

Sam sounds like you had a great time at your Sister Jan's Birthday ~ I love the pictures they alone tell the story of the good time you were all having together ~ and glad you were able to get to celebrate this very special Birthday with her ~ Ally x

Justplainbill said...

Sam, nice that you were able to get to Jan's birthday. It was a special one. Do you think the drinking might have had an effect on you with your missing eart beats? No way, it never bothers me and I think it help me keep on going. Bill