Thursday, February 27, 2014

One Goodbye Brings Another Hello

Bye, bye Mimi and Boppa!

Leaving our daughter and her family in Hong Kong is always one of the most difficult things we do in our itinerant lifestyle. Seeing Quinn and Conner waving goodbye always brings tears to my eyes, as I know it will be another six months before we see them again. In this case we were flying back to Seattle to see our son Brad’s family, so at least one goodbye brings another hello.

We took a cab out to Lantau Island to standby for our flight to San Francisco. One thing I love about airports isthe opportunity to talk with people you’d normally never get to meet. While we were waiting to see if we’d be called for the flight, I struck up a conversation with an older Chinese - American gentleman. One thing lead to another and I learned he worked as a high-level consultant for the US Government and US businesses in developing relations with China during the 1970s. It turns out he was President Nixon’s point man to open up China to US trade (hard to remember back to when China was a closed country). I was absolutely fascinated by the conversation (and hoping they would delay the flight so I could talk with him longer).  The obvious question to ask:  “Did you work with John Ehrlichman (from Seattle) and Robert Haldeman at the White House? He lowered his head and looked to the right, then looked to the left, and then whispered into my ear:  “Yes . . . and I knew they were both crooks!  Unfortunately we got called for the flight, as I would have liked to have talked with him for hours.  We were very fortunate to get two side-by-side seats in First Class. I managed to get caught up with 5 or 6 movies and TV shows I’d missed over the years.

We had a short layover in San Francisco before we lucked out again and caught the next flight to Seattle. The two-hour flight seemed short after our 12-hour flight from Hong Kong and soon we were gliding over the calm waters of Puget Sound where we learned to sail during our college years.

There is nothing better in life than long term friends, and these guys are the best.
In just a short while we were knocking on the door of our friends, Paul and Irene Ballew, with whom we’d be staying for the next week. There are not two people on earth with whom you’d rather stay with than the Ballews. They welcomed us with open arms and a stiff drink. We must have sat and talked for hours before Irene served one of her spectacularly great meals. What a fun time.

Had a hard time explaining where Mimi and Boppa live on their boat.
Brody working on a project at school.
The next several days were spent visiting with our son Bradley and his family. Got to go to our grandson Brody’s Montessori school (the same school his mom went to) and see all the cool projects he’s working on. We tried to show him a world map to see where our boat was, but I don’t think concept of distance really sunk in. Had a wonderful dinner with our hard working son, who as a salesman at a software company just closed out a great month and was higher than a kite. He seems to have some of his dad’s competitiveness in him.

Look, a gnome!
The gnomes also have little forest friends.
Why does this remind me of Expedia?
The Family Conner:  Brad, Brody, Bennett, and Ashley.
We also had a fun time exploring Evans Creek Preserve, which Brad helped develop when he was a Park Commissioner and volunteer on the trail crew. One of the very fun things Brad has promoted at various parks is “gnome hunts.” He’s been very active at hiding gnomes in ingenious spots along the trails, to be found with screams of delight by the local kids. Once you find a gnome, it’s your job to hide him again a little further down the trail.  Meryl started the the tradition of gnome hunts (except we didn’t have any gnomes back then) in the woods by our house when our kids were growing up.

Back at “Chez Ballew” we were treated to a wonderful Academy Awards dinner party, luxuriating on their huge cushy brown coach in front of their equally large high-def TV.  For someone living in the square footage of a closet for the last two years, just having the room to spread out was a luxury to us.

The rest of the week was followed with medical appointments, hair cuts, and Walter getting sick and spending two days in bed.  Life is just catching up with him.

After the requisite visits to Fisheries Supply, Trader Joe’s, Costco, etc. we had the unenviable job of packing up three large cardboard boxes with food, provisions, and sailboat parts for the journey back to Antigua.

Important world cruising provisions:  Wheat Thins.
We have to give a very, very special shout-out to Paul and Irene for rolling out the red carpet for our week-long visit. Most people don’t get to stay at their friends’ houses very often, and for us it’s like summer camp with long talks around the campfire and great camaraderie.  Paul and Irene, you’re the best.

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