PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - James West first thought they were spam.
The emails contained dozens of inside jokes he didn't understand and pictures of people he didn't know.
The emails kept coming into his Gmail account, dozens of notes over the course of three years.
West, a journalist in Sydney, Australia, finally decided to read one of the emails. Curiosity quickly had him hooked.
"Dozens of emails from the same family," he says. "It's too long, you want to find out who these people are."
One of the emails centered around the family's Thanksgiving plans.
West couldn't resist. He posted a video on YouTube called "Tracking Down the Trans."
"This video is to come clean to the Tran family and say, I'm sorry for perving on your Thanksgiving preparations for three years," West says in his video post. "It's also a plea to the Tran family to say, can I come to Thanksgiving?"
West emailed a link to his YouTube to Martha Tran DeForest, one of the people who'd been emailing him for the last three years.
Martha thought she'd been emailing her brother-in-law, also James West.
"I thought he had two emails, so I would just send it to both," she explains.
"She would just start a thread and he would get these emails and I wouldn't get them," says James West of South Florida.
When the Australian West revealed himself, it was Martha DeForest who couldn't resist. She replied, "You're so invited."
So West bought a plane ticket and flew 20 hours from Sydney to Miami. He's documenting the entire trip and sharing the journey on YouTube and Twitter.
"Maybe there's a bit of cynicism around at the moment on people's intentions for things, people's motivations for doing stuff. I simply saw a good story and some really lovely people," he says.
"I hope we have a good weekend," says West. "That's all I really want to take out of this, a really good, bloody weekend."
You can follow James West's adventure on Twitter: @ jameswest2010
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company
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