I rolled the rental car up to the end of the road, shut off the engine and got out. Still in my citizen clothes, I was wearing the sport jacket and casual business uniform I usually travel with. But this time I had lugged a backpack through the airport, feeling a bit odd to be hoisting a pack over my sport coat.

But I wasn't in an airport anymore, and there wasn't anyone around to see whether I seemed out of place. I was at the picnic ground in Lower Covington Flats in Joshua Tree NP enjoying the warm sunlight of a spring day. I had flown from Colorado to California to reunite with my cousins, and to say farewell to one of our number, Diane, who had passed away a few weeks earlier. At 58, I am now at an age where nearly all my aunts and uncles have passed on. The funerals now are for my cousins; this was the second cousin memorial in as many years.

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