It’s 3:30pm and I just arrived in South Padre Island. I’m 20-years-old. Mom, Dad & family expressed their enthusiasm of my trip via tears, threats of being grounded, and sheer disapproval.
Dropping my college courses to live in a tent on the beach seemed like a good idea at the time. In a tent I bought from Wal-Mart that was less than Hurricane proof, yet still claimed to be on the box.
(In two weeks I’d be laying in my tent at 3:30a.m., 45 mph winds ripping my “home” apart. Lightening would crash and ocean waves would spit on me, along with cold, piercing bullets of sideways rain. That, would prove to be the longest night of my life).
But today is good, because I have $400 in my pocket, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (that I packed back home in Coffeyville), and a tent with 2 feet, long metal stakes (to drive into the sand).
4:00pm—I’m here…but I don’t really know what to do… I opt for convenience and go to a corner store. Ask the clerk where vagabonds and pitch a tent. “North end of the Island,” she says. “Woah…hey, I’m doin’ the same thing,” said a stranger behind me.
The stranger’s name is Dave, a college graduate from Rhode Island who tried to go backpacking through Mexico, but somehow wound up in Brownsville TX. When Dave arrived in Brownsville at 3AM, he hitched a ride from a homosexual.
13 hours later, Dave was in the corner store preparing to ask the clerk where a failed backpacker could pitch a tent. But I beat him to the punch.
Dave was a great neighbor because he loved to drink, but never alone. We also shared the same affinity for Keystone Lights and lawn-chairs. All in all, Dave and I were destined to be BFF (for two weeks—BFTW?)
Our typical day went something like this: Wake up at the ass-crack of dawn.
Why? Cause in the genius of decision making, when picking a paradise to escape to, I chose a location next to a Coast Guard Base. This particular base played a bugle every morning in some apparent attempt to wake the dead (along with everyone within a 15 mile radius). It’s not bad if you enjoy waking up and feeling like you’re at the horse track…Thus my “beach/tent neighborhood took on the name, “the Pardre Downs.”
We’d go looking for jobs throughout the day and eat peanut butter/jelly sandwiches. Mostly though, we just played in our front lawn (the beach)…played meaning, sit in lawn chairs, drink K.L. Smoothies and pee in the ocean.
But the good times did not last forever. (Contrary to what you might think, $400 does not last forever). Harsh times were yet to come……