C-Day is the start of Cassey’s Excellent Adventure.

Dang! I had no idea what I was getting into when I got to Texas. Everything really is bigger in Texas. When I sped over the Texas state line it was about 04:30am. Yep, I had posted up at a Veteran’s Park in a small town in Louisiana the night before and it was sweltering. Like, swamp pants, shirt, and head sweltering. That, combined with a large amount of random cars pulling in and out, blasting music, stopping right behind my parked vehicle, can send any person from angry, to wary, to a complete tizzy in any sleep deprived state.

So, I woke up from already being woke up around 2:30am and I packed my shit as best I could and just started driving. I just wanted to feel a strong wind on my face and I wanted to get out of the sweltering heat. 

I was only about an hour and a half from the boarder so after filling up my gas tank, I was on my way, and the first sign I saw along the way was for El Paso, which was over 860+ miles away! Thank the lord I was not going to El Paso. I can drive from Pittsburgh PA to Milwaukee WI in just 600 miles s that just tells you how big this state is. Luckily I was just going to Houston, which was about a 3-4 hour drive in total (if I recall correctly) and once I determined that the humidity had already dropped considerably I pulled into a waffle house parking lot laid down and dozed for the next few hours until I realized the sun was rising and the parking lot was filling up. Dang, people love their waffle houses.

At this point I got back on the road and arrived at a starbucks in downtown Houston for the remainder of the day until my Cousin’s Cousins, Jenn, Lindsey, and Missy got off work and could meet me for dinner that evening with their significant others. It was so much fun! We met at a open mic night and told stories back and forth (they all work for the oil business) until it was time to go home and go to bed. Jenn and I talked into the night but I am certain I passed out on her because I was suffering from the night before.

The next morning, she left for work early, I packed my small bag, headed to the van and drove from Houston down to Corpus Christi to meet up with my friends dad, Mani.

I did not even know what I was in for over the next 2 weeks, nor did I realize I would be staying that long. It is so crazy how everything works out. Corpus Christi TX for me, was a boatload of firsts: First time camping on the beach and a National Seashore at that, first time crabbing, first time early morning fishing, shooting pistols for time, inventing mods for my van, fixing things and learning new systems, trying the keto diet, fasting for 24+ hours multiple times in a week, and even salsa dancing! I tried salsa dancing and attended my first salsa social! Also, rescuing and keeping alive a wild dove that was hit by a car!

I mean, these were some of the most innovative things I’ve ever done, and all while teetering on the edge of the U.S. and Mexico. Having the boarder taunting me from just down the way.

To start, Miguel’s dad Mani, is a wiley motherfucker, so you have to keep on your toes when you are around him. His knowledge is extensive, and his book collection is even more extensive so you are dealing with the top brass if you know what I mean. I also say that because he is a 30 year Navy Veteran retired O-6 submariner, another layer to the puzzle. Let this also be stricken into the record, on the first day we began playing cribbage (because who as a submariner does not have a hand made submarine shaped cribbage board from one command or another), and we may have played 20+ games in total over 2 weeks, and he may have won the majority of all of them, but not the first one. NOT THE FIRST GAME! That was my honor and I will hold that honor triumphantly through to the end of this post.

When I arrived to Corpus Christi we got right to it. The second day we were packing up his trailer with his brother and his 2 giant french Bovier dogs and my van we were driving to Padre Island National Seashore. It was glorious! You can drive down almost 60 miles of beach and post up to camp, fish, enjoy to your hearts content. We ran on the beach, tried cast netting for mullet (also a first for me) so we could fish for larger fish, camped out right on the sand under the stars and a very large milky way. It’s the best when you get away from some of the light pollution.

I went to bed on the top of the pop top, with all the windows down listening to the waves crashing right beside me and the wind whipping through the openings. It was glorious! We were all up very early, out fishing again, playing cribbage, drinking coffee out of porcelain tea cups, smoking cigars, having some scotch. I don’t even know what day of the week it was, but if this is what retirement can be like I definitely can’t wait. 

Then we packed up and headed back to the house so I could go out and lay crab traps with Mani’s neighbor Jeff who owns a boat and goes out often to fish and crab. He is officially the best fisherman I know, and also works as a high ranking manager of a natural gas company so a motivated individual with a lovely family.

He and I went out with his boat to drop the traps and it was awesome, we navigated the channels and placed the traps were we could hope for the best. He even let me drive his boat while he prepared the traps!

After this the days started blurring together. Mani moves at 1,000 miles per minute. He is up early researching health and wellness, he has ideas, he gives you about 2 seconds to be ready at any given time of the day, and the debates are often and endless. We agreed to disagree at times but I am always up for a good challenge when it comes to debating, beliefs, and history.

At one point, on either my 5th or 6th trip to Lowes/Home Depot I somehow got bamboozled into mixing and laying down 13 18-pound bags of cement to make concrete pads for his trailer to rest on in front of his house. That was a grueling day and I think I went to bed at 7pm because not only were we lifting 80 pound bags of cement it was like 100+ degrees outside. Props to everyone who does that often. 

In compensation Mani and his neighbor helped me add a second solar panel to the roof of my car as I realized very quickly that only one was not enough power to keep me happily on the road for 6 months. It couldn’t even keep the refrigerator running for a full night in most instances, so I ordered another one and we made 52094+ more trips to lowes to come up with a custom design and buy more cables to run as we had to take into consideration the pop-top.

Between all of this, we were going to the athletic club every few days for grueling workouts and then there was the matter of impromptu and forced fastings that I did not appreciate very much. I’m telling you, Mani is a wiley motherfucker. You have to watch him, because at one point I had not eaten since lunch, attended my first ever salsa social which lasted well past 11pm, was up at 5am and was out with Jeff and Mani on the boat fishing and none the wiser to realize that I had not eaten in 24+ hours and now I was trapped on a boat with no food. Oh and by the way, I was forced to put the croakers on the fishing line and was also told on 2 occasions that if I didn’t catch a fish I would not be getting any food till the next day!

Jeff and Heatheran to the rescue. Jeff did not let me starve to death. We only got 5 good blue crabs in 12 crab traps, and afterwards we went and bought a large amount of shrimp, made guacamole, and had a proper fish boil with the crabs. Thank. The. Lord. The after dinner treat was a round of cigars and it was wonderful. I never felt so full and happy. The fasting has become much easier but those days were complete hell.

It was the day after that if I’m not mistaken that Heatheran was driving home from work and saw a dove get hit by a car and stopped to rescue her. I had told her that I had a pet dove so she immediately came and got me to see if anything could be done. I realized right away that she had a pierced crop but it was a very large piercing as she must have just eaten before the incident and full corn kernals were coming out of her wound. It was a trying couple of days where I waited to see if she was going to make it, and after using pain soothing essential oils (lavender and tea tree oil) and an Indian healing powder that I got at the Vitamin Shoppe, were we able to seal the wound enough for it to heal.

At this time, Mani was heading to Houston for a salsa congress and I was supposed to be off to Mexico, but I stayed through the weekend to nurse the dove and relax while also getting some research and paperwork done.

At some point I think I forgot to mention we also went to the shooting range and that was so much fun. The shooting club that Mani goes to in Texas is bomb.com. State of the art and very nice. We shot the .22 pistol for time and I could definitely see how addictively fun that would be. Also thrown into this time was me getting 4 new tires at the Corpus Christi military base, getting my car aligned, figuring out a make shift hydraulic system for the pop top, ordering very way past the last minute items on amazon, buying a new dive knife, getting a hatchet and sharpening it. I mean this was a 90 mile an hour 2 weeks and it was so freaking satisfying and fun.

Although the day before I left for Mexico I had a complete meltdown, this was the best scenario for me to stop in Corpus Christi for 2 weeks before continuing on. I am so grateful for that opportunity and feel mentally challenged, out of my element, a peer to a master, learned so many things, started changing my overall diet and health based on Mani’s teachings, and i am so grateful to start learning these things now rather than later.

Mani was originally supposed to accompany for at least a major portion of my trip, but since he has so much going on with home renovations, visiting his other children, helping his brother, it was easy to see that it would be hard for him to do at this time.

And with that I bid you all adieu and I will def. be back to Corpus Cristi again in the future, if only to see the dove whose life I saved, dearest Maya.

This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.