When we were children and asked for something special we were often told by our parents
“Whenever the ship with money comes in.” Of course it was even ridiculous to think that a ship loaded with money would steam into town, but strange things do happen sometimes.
”Well, at the end of WWII the German SS robbed the bank of the Netherlands in Utrecht and loaded the hoard in a large ship that under cover of darkness sailed from place to place until it reached the harbor of the Lemmer in Fryslân, were some workers robbed the Germans for a change and gave hands full of coins away. I came in possession of a few unstamped coins, which shows that that things we hold for impossible do happen. Sometimes.
The last time we camped together with George and is wife at Lake Cahuilla he had taken a kite along.
“I ever flew this damn thing before, but between the two of us I think we can manage to get it in the air, especially with a flying Dutch man like you as co-pilot,” he grinned. The kite had belonged to his son and he remembered the great times they had 'when Greg was only yea-high.'
George had either forgotten Anne's annoyance with his coarse vocabulary, or was it was the memory of his dead son that made him use even more profanities than he normally mixed in with his stories.
Because I didn't want any unnecessary hassle with Anne I carefully reminded him of Anne's dislike, but when he started calling me then my good friend, on a tone I did not recognize I knew I had stirred into something I'd better had left alone, but was surprised that he had really considered Anne's annoyance.
“I have consulted Google about the manner, my good friend” he baritoned, “and found more swear words in your damn language than in mine. With your permission, attend your lovely wife to the fact that half of the dutch cities have a damn as an appendage and there isn't nearly a dutch ocean liner without a damn dam attached to it's name.”
He went on for a while and I hoped with all my heart that I was not going to loose a friend over this thing and my futile rebuttal that the dutch dam has an entire different meaning than his damn, he challenged me to show him the difference by uttering both damn words and pointing out the difference to him if I was able to.
“Alright, you damn dutchy, let's hear your dam first,” he said. He was dead serious, I saw.
“Dam,” I said, “but I...” “Sssst, my dear misguided friend, now say my damn.” “Damn” “Now say the two dams one after the other, in whatever order you choose, and then tell me which one your Anne objects to, and which one is a so-called well mannered, civilized Dutch word.”
On our first galleon hunt George showed me a dark horizontal line at several places about a dozen to twenty feet high on the mountains around our campground which we assumed was the waterline of the ocean some hundreds of years ago. It had to be, how else had the Spanish galleon we were hunting ever getting to this place right in the middle of the desert. That line was the main ground for our galleon theory.
After we had left for beautiful BC the year before our last holiday in lake Cahuilla, our vacated camping spot had been taken by a motor-home with New York license plates, George told me, which was not unusual but what was unique, the couple owning the rig were both archaeology professors specializing in Native antiquity, who had come all that way to study ancient Indian fish traps that were supposed to be located in the Cahuilla area.
When George shared with them our Spanish galleon hunt they had some startling news for him.
The news he received from the professors ('and by the way Lex you would have approved of the cute she-professor') destroyed our fun of galleon hunting in one broad sweep as they told him that the black line on the mountain was what once had been a waterline alright but was from about 10,000 years ago, when Spain did not yet exist. That sure took the steam out of our engine.
“We might as well do something else,” said George, and when I didn't come up with a sensational idea, he did. “You know what? We are going to fly the kite.” I didn't think it was such a fantastic idea but what else were we going to do. I had a feeling that something else was going to spoil our fun, and it was, when it was my turn to hold the kite line I, by accident made the kite sway from side to side and when I sharply pulled the line trying to control it, it made a sickening arch toward mother earth and crashed onto the top of a tree, slackening the line.
George took over from me yanking the line but did not better my efforts, our source of entertainment ended before it began. We were both too heavy and weak to climb the tree, so instead of dreaming about treasure ships we started figuring about ways to get the stuck kite down out of the tree. We came up with several ideas, the closest doable being a long stick to lift the kite free from the tree and then pull it down.
Our problem was to find a stick long enough to reach the top of the tree. We scrounged the entire campground for a it and came up with one eight-foot 1x3 and a three foot sable-like palm branch, were we needed at least four to splice them together, or even more.
Gloomy we sat together on a pick-nick table bemoaning our bad luck and to top it of I felt bad for George loosing the kite that reminded him of his dead son. Through my fault no less, it made me feel very awkward. but help sometimes comes from strange places. One of the neighbors came with a partway solution.
“If I park my pick-up under the tree we com at least a few feet closer” he said, “and if I stood on top of the cab we are closer yet.
The friendly camper standing on the cab of his truck, armed with an improvised spear of the eight-foot 1x3 and a five foot long Salton cedar branch that someone had broken off a tree, spliced together with the saber like palm-branch, yelled
“I'm still five feet short,” but then who stepped daintily to the fore out of the best home a married couple can have, a two-person pup tent, but my wife Anne with two brooms tied tightly together forming the missing part of the combo spear, and the friendly camper after attaching Anne's gift of two brooms to the rest had no trouble lifting the kite free from the tree and safely to the ground.
That was the end of our kite flying as well and it was also the end of our camping in the pup tent because Anne could not get up anymore. We still went camping for one year in a van and after that lost track of George and Carole, two very enjoyable friends.
O, in what manner did we hunt for the Spanish galleon? Uniquely, in George's way, who told me once “You know how most adventurers find their pot with gold? By not looking for it. That's the damned truth, some are searching their whole xxx life looking, climbing and digging – finding not a xxx thing. And then one day when they are not looking for it, and when they're old like us – there they stumble on the xxx!!! pot of gold. So my theory is – take the shortcut – just don't look for it and then one day... one day...”
Years later I found, (when I wasn't looking for it) by way of Google that a Spanish galleon was thought to be buried in the middle of the Salton sea less than a mile to the east of our campground, reportedly filled with black pearls...!